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Old 12-08-2010, 04:52 PM   #1
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Which water heater switch to use?

I own a 2010 Rockwood 2604SS Travel Trailer. I am confused as to which water heater switch to use when I want to operate it with electricity vs. gas. There is a switch in the outside panel which I have to remove a wire safety clip from before I can use it. And there is a switch on the wall in the bath with a red reset button next to it. I have never used the switch in the bath! When I make the water hookup on site I usually remove the safety clip and activate the switch outside. Can I leave this switch off and use the switch in the bath to operate the water heater by electricity. Of course I always purge my water heater of air when first connecting to water before turning on the heater so as not to burn out the element. I do know that I can get faster heating with gas but I like to reserve the LP for heating especially in colder weather and if connected to campsite power use the electric I'm paying for to heat my water. I have had this trailer a little over a year and I have drained the water tank a few time during longer storage periods, and I have just noticed that the anode (Drain Plug) is just about dissolved especially near the thread end of the rod. Is this to be expected or am I experiencing faster then average deterioration?
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Old 12-08-2010, 05:09 PM   #2
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The toggle switch on the outside of the water heater is for 120 volt electric only. The switch on the wall inside with the red reset button is for your gas only. The reset light should only come on while the heater is trying to light, or if it has failed to light.

This is what my anode rod looks like after 2 years of use.......I have another 1/2 dozen years more use out of it at least:

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Old 12-08-2010, 05:22 PM   #3
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The switch on the outside panel with the clip in it turns on the water heater in 110 VAC mode, when plugged into shore power. There is also a circuit breaker located in the power converter panel inside, that is labeled water heater. That should be on. Your water heater will now heat in electric mode. Aside from that, the switch INSIDE, with the reset button beside it is for LP gas water heater operation. Turn this switch on, and the auto ignition striker will light the gas pilot on the water heater, provided that you have the gas valve on your tank open. The light on the rocker switch will be red when it's on, and when it reaches it's set temperature, the light will go off, and cycle on and off, as required by it's thermostat. These are two entirely separate systems on the same water heater, meaning you can run both if desired, to really heat things up quickly, or if several people are showering, faster recovery time. Myself, and most other people on here leave the outside switch with the pin in it on all the time, and then use the breaker in the converter box to control electric on/off functions on the water heater, as it has it's own breaker, anyway. Hope this clears up your questions! Randy
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Old 12-08-2010, 05:37 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by 08flagvlite View Post
T The light on the rocker switch will be red when it's on, and when it reaches it's set temperature, the light will go off, and cycle on and off, as required by it's thermostat.
Randy, I think the gas water heater reset lite only stays on while the burner is trying to light.....at least on mine it does.
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Old 12-08-2010, 05:51 PM   #5
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Which water heater switch to use.

I want to thank you all for your reponses. I now understand how the two systems are to be operated. And to MTNGUY the picture of your anode convinces me I dont have to spend any money on a new one anytime soon!

Thanks again!!!
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Old 12-09-2010, 05:38 PM   #6
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Randy, I think the gas water heater reset lite only stays on while the burner is trying to light.....at least on mine it does.
I am quoting myself.....that is probably not good.

Randy and I have been PMn a little. We have determined that we have 2 different gas control panels for our water heater. On mine, the switch does not light up, but the reset light does during the 15 second purge and goes off once the heater fires. On Randy's, his switch lights up and stays lit while the gas is firing and then goes off, and the reset light doesn't come on unless the heater refuses to fire. Just thought I would throw it out there so others could be aware.
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Old 12-10-2010, 12:06 AM   #7
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I was just having this discussion with my local RV dealer earlier today. I have a Flagstaff V-lite and have the same switch configuration. We were discussing the options of adding another switch to operate the electric feature of the water heater. We discussed the option of leaving the outside switch on and using the breaker panel circuit to turn this option on and off. He stated this was not good for the breaker to be repeatedly turned on and off. Each time the breaker is turned on and off diminishes it's life expectancy. So my plan was to leave the external switch on. Add an internal switch with a light indicator that turns on when the electric option is on.
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Old 12-10-2010, 12:26 AM   #8
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"Add an internal switch with a light indicator that turns on when the electric option is on. "

Just make sure the switch is rated for the load. The water heater draws a fair bit of power.
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Old 12-10-2010, 08:14 AM   #9
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"Add an internal switch with a light indicator that turns on when the electric option is on. "

Just make sure the switch is rated for the load. The water heater draws a fair bit of power.
And make sure any lighted switch is rated for the
correct voltage and AC or DC as necessary.
The gas side of your HWH is 12v DC.
The electric side of your HWH is 120v AC.
You need the appropriate switch for either.
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Old 12-10-2010, 08:21 AM   #10
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... and using the breaker panel circuit to turn this option on and off. He stated this was not good for the breaker to be repeatedly turned on and off. Each time the breaker is turned on and off diminishes it's life expectancy.
This topic comes up often.
Everyone has an opinion.
Here's mine.

I've got 5 bucks that says you can't wear yours out in
the rest of your life. (OR the rest of the time you own your
current RV.)
I've got 37 years of industrial electrical maintenance
experience to back this up.
And the cost of a plug in single breaker is about
$5 just in case I'm wrong. If you want to add a separate
switch GO FOR IT but the cost of the switch and wire
and labor and the hassle ain't worth it to me.

I use my circuit breaker to switch my HWH off and on.

Just use your breaker and forget-about-it!!

YMMV
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