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Old 10-17-2013, 04:15 PM   #1
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Question Suburban Hot Water Heater: why no electric switch??

This is as much a rant as a question. Why in the heck is there no on/off switch on the control panel for the electric element in the Suburban heaters?? Our brandy new 2014 Flagstaff 27RLWS has a "Water Heater" switch on the inside panel that I just realized controls ONLY the propane side of the heater! The switch doesn't indicate propane or electric - just on off?? In order to activate the electric element in the heater one has to open the outside heater access door and turn on the (hidden) switch! This makes absolutely no sense to me. We've been on 5 outings now thinking that the propane automajically swiches to electric once we're on ground power! Duhhh!

The other bothersome thing is that when I did find the outside switch it had a piece of tape over it on the off position. I also discovered that the inside main breaker panel has a dedicated 15A breaker for the "electric" heater - which I can presumably use as an on/off switch without having to open the outside access panel. Has this troubled anyone else??
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Old 10-17-2013, 04:19 PM   #2
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I think that is a brand by brand thing. My camper has an on/off switch for both the electric and propane elements in the water heater. It also has the switch out on the water heater itself AND a break in the box for it (not sure what else shares that slot).

The reason for the tape in the off position is that if you turn on the electric heating element without water in the tank, it can burn out the heating element within minutes.
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Old 10-17-2013, 04:22 PM   #3
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This is as much a rant as a question. Why in the heck is there no on/off switch on the control panel for the electric element in the Suburban heaters?? Our brandy new 2014 Flagstaff 27RLWS has a "Water Heater" switch on the inside panel that I just realized controls ONLY the propane side of the heater! The switch doesn't indicate propane or electric - just on off?? In order to activate the electric element in the heater one has to open the outside heater access door and turn on the (hidden) switch! This makes absolutely no sense to me. We've been on 5 outings now thinking that the propane automajically swiches to electric once we're on ground power! Duhhh! The other bothersome thing is that when I did find the outside switch it had a piece of tape over it on the off position. I also discovered that the inside main breaker panel has a dedicated 15A breaker for the "electric" heater - which I can presumably use as an on/off switch without having to open the outside access panel. Has this troubled anyone else??
Yep pretty cheezy. I just ran a hot wire from the breaker to a switch. Yoila HW switch. Shouldn't have to tho...
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Old 10-17-2013, 04:45 PM   #4
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The reason I think they do that is to try to get you to think about whether or not your WH tank has water in it before you throw that switch.
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Old 10-17-2013, 05:08 PM   #5
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The reason I think they do that is to try to get you to think about whether or not your WH tank has water in it before you throw that switch.
Excellent point Barry, the electric element will burn out in seconds, not minutes without water in the tank. Putting an inside switch or using the breaker, IMO is asking for a burned out element.
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Old 10-17-2013, 05:12 PM   #6
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Excellent point Barry, the electric element will burn out in seconds, not minutes without water in the tank. Putting an inside switch or using the breaker, IMO is asking for a burned out element.
Thanks for the correction. I knew it was quick, but didn't want to exaggerate it.
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Old 10-17-2013, 05:14 PM   #7
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Thanks for the correction. I knew it was quick, but didn't want to exaggerate it.
Rumor has it around 15-20 seconds.
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Old 10-17-2013, 05:15 PM   #8
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Rumor has it around 15-20 seconds.
Yowza. Ok- I'll stick with saying "seconds" in the future.
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Old 10-17-2013, 06:45 PM   #9
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Ain't buying it! I get that U can fry a dry heater pretty quickly. But putting a switch inside the access door does nothing to assure you've filled your heater! On top of which the propane system's switch is on the control panel. How does that prevent a toasted heater should you errantly turn it on with an empty heater core?

How about Suburban just putting a water sensor in the heater - no water no fire! Like on our Rennai on-demand gas water heater here at home. Seems like in this day and age it'd be a no-brainer. Putting a piece of tape over a power switch to "remind" me to fill the tank seems like dark ages rationale!
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Old 10-17-2013, 06:51 PM   #10
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Ain't buying it! I get that U can fry a dry heater pretty quickly. But putting a switch inside the access door does nothing to assure you've filled your heater! On top of which the propane system's switch is on the control panel. How does that prevent a toasted heater should you errantly turn it on with an empty heater core?

How about Suburban just putting a water sensor in the heater - no water no fire! Like on our Rennai on-demand gas water heater here at home. Seems like in this day and age it'd be a no-brainer. Putting a piece of tape over a power switch to "remind" me to fill the tank seems like dark ages rationale!
At least if you have to go outside to check the switch, you are right there and can flip the relief valve to check for water. The propane will just heat the tank and has no electrical connection except to ignite the burner.

Regardless, you can do what you want as it is your trailer. I will leave mine as furnished.
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