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Old 01-22-2018, 12:05 PM   #1
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Electric Water Heater Switch

I have 2018 Cardinal 3350RL.

The only switch to turn on/off the electric water heater is outside on the Suburban WH Unit behind the cover plate.
I can turn the propane WH on/off inside the rig on the LCI panel.
Has anyone install an on/off switch (for electric WH) inside their rig? How difficult was the install?

Thanks.
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Old 01-22-2018, 12:31 PM   #2
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Yes, you can turn the "propane side" of the WH on and off with the inside switch.
If your only "electric side" switch is outside, you'll need to turn that on and off outside.
You can use both electric and propane for faster recovery.
There have been many threads here about adding an inside switch for the electric side.
Also there are many great posts bookmarked in the library section.

Water Heater Library
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Old 01-22-2018, 12:44 PM   #3
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If the water heater is on its own circuit breaker, some folks use that.
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Old 01-22-2018, 12:53 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by ependydad View Post
If the water heater is on its own circuit breaker, some folks use that.
That is what I do, using the breaker switch to control it.
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Old 01-22-2018, 01:13 PM   #5
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Regarding an inside switch for my electric water heater element, here's what I wrote a couple of weeks ago. It reflects my operating process and my lack of need for said inside switch.
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Originally Posted by Mr. Dan View Post
... and I have the opposite view. When I break camp and unhook my water hose from my trailer, I'm standing 2 ft. from the water heater and I flip the outside switch to turn OFF the electric heating element. I don't flip the switch in any direction until I hook up my water hose at the next campsite. When I hook up the hose and test for flowing water (by flipping open the pressure relief valve which is outside and also on the heater face), I turn the electric element ON. I've never felt the need to turn my electric element ON/OFF in the middle of a camping trip.
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Old 01-22-2018, 01:19 PM   #6
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My 340RK has the electric switch outside AND inside. However, the outside switch must be left in the "on" position for the inside switch to work. It was installed by the factory right beside the "propane" on/off switch. I can use either or both from the inside of my unit. Very convenient to say the least.
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Old 01-22-2018, 01:27 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniellekristopher View Post
I have 2018 Cardinal 3350RL.

The only switch to turn on/off the electric water heater is outside on the Suburban WH Unit behind the cover plate.
I can turn the propane WH on/off inside the rig on the LCI panel.
Has anyone install an on/off switch (for electric WH) inside their rig? How difficult was the install?

Thanks.
No inside electric element switch for the Suburban indicates a SWDE model.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alsdas88 View Post
My 340RK has the electric switch outside AND inside. However, the outside switch must be left in the "on" position for the inside switch to work. It was installed by the factory right beside the "propane" on/off switch. I can use either or both from the inside of my unit. Very convenient to say the least.
And you have the SWDEL model having the additional inside electric heating element switch.

Both the SWDE and SWDEL models are explained here:

Suburban's electric switch and much more

As far as the OP's question, we do have several threads on how members have added inside the RV switches for the electric heating element. Some of the easier ways are to make the outlet that water heater is plugged into, as a switchable unit.

Here's a recent thread on such:

Move water heater switch
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Old 01-22-2018, 01:30 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CedarCreekWoody View Post
That is what I do, using the breaker switch to control it.
X2
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Old 01-22-2018, 01:31 PM   #9
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I installed a switch inside. You need to replace the water heaters "speed box" type electrical outlet with a household electrical box and duplex outlet. Then you'll need another electrical box for the pilot lamp switch. See below for pics and wiring diagram.

My water heater is under my bathroom sink, so I didn't have to route the wiring very far to put the switch on the front of my bathroom vanity.

New electrical box to replace water heaters speed box:
Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_20150620_161431_378.jpg
Views:	97
Size:	237.6 KB
ID:	160638

New electrical box for new inside switch:
Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_20150620_163631_023.jpg
Views:	93
Size:	185.1 KB
ID:	160639

New switch installed:
Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_20150620_171454_668.jpg
Views:	89
Size:	197.6 KB
ID:	160640

Switch on left side of front of vanity (factory outlet is on the right with a night light plugged into it):
Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_20150620_180334_161.jpg
Views:	78
Size:	158.6 KB
ID:	160642

Wiring diagram and switch part number in attached PDF file.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf WH Switch.pdf (180.6 KB, 31 views)
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Old 01-22-2018, 01:36 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Dan View Post
Regarding an inside switch for my electric water heater element, here's what I wrote a couple of weeks ago. It reflects my operating process and my lack of need for said inside switch.
Dan this plan is fine with a 50 amp RV but not for a 30 amp. The water heater uses half the power and sometimes need to be shut off in order to run other things.
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Old 01-22-2018, 01:40 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by CedarCreekWoody View Post
Dan this plan is fine with a 50 amp RV but not for a 30 amp. The water heater uses half the power and sometimes need to be shut off in order to run other things.
X2.
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Old 01-22-2018, 01:41 PM   #12
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I agree with Mr. Dan. My city water connection is just below my water heater so, in order to prevent energizing the water heater element w/o water, I always connect the city water first, lift the overpressure check valve and check for water in the WH, then switch the WH electric element on from the outside switch. Like Mr. Dan, I haven't seen a need to turn off the electric element during a camping stay...$.02
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Old 01-22-2018, 02:45 PM   #13
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We use the hot water heater's breaker to turn the heater on just after supper. The water is ready to wash dishes by the time I am. I switch the breaker off after I do the dishes. The tank keeps the water warm till the next morning. We camp primarily in our Provincial Parks so I figure any hydro saved might help keep camping costs down. Breaker use is approved by DH who is an electrician.
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Old 01-22-2018, 02:50 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wmtire View Post
No inside electric element switch for the Suburban indicates a SWDE model.



And you have the SWDEL model having the additional inside electric heating element switch.

Both the SWDE and SWDEL models are explained here:

Suburban's electric switch and much more

As far as the OP's question, we do have several threads on how members have added inside the RV switches for the electric heating element. Some of the easier ways are to make the outlet that water heater is plugged into, as a switchable unit.

Here's a recent thread on such:

Move water heater switch
Absolutely great info! Dilly Dilly
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Old 01-22-2018, 02:55 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CedarCreekWoody View Post
Dan this plan is fine with a 50 amp RV but not for a 30 amp. The water heater uses half the power and sometimes need to be shut off in order to run other things.
The trailer I have now is my 4th and the 1st 50 amp trailer I've had. I've used this process on each of them. With the 30 amp trailers, we've had to turn off the A/C unit a few minutes to run the microwave but we never turned off the water heater.
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Old 01-22-2018, 03:55 PM   #16
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If you're running a 1500 watt space heater, that's about 12-13 amps. Add the 1440 watt water heater element, that's another 12 amps or so. Now you're at 24-25 amps. Depending on how hard your converter may be working, and/or other things you may be running, it's very easy to exceed your 30 amp breaker rating. Don't even think about starting your microwave in this condition.

One issue is that you don't really know when the heating element is on or off, as it cycles with temperature, and there's no "on" indication. So the heating element could be off, you could be running your space heater and your microwave just fine, but then the DW uses some hot water, the heating element kicks on, and there goes your breaker.

Also allows you run on gas most of the time, but maybe kick on the electric for morning showers to help with recovery time, then turn it off.

It's not for everyone, but certainly improves your flexibility.
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Old 01-23-2018, 05:32 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rockfordroo View Post
I installed a switch inside. You need to replace the water heaters "speed box" type electrical outlet with a household electrical box and duplex outlet. Then you'll need another electrical box for the pilot lamp switch. See below for pics and wiring diagram.

My water heater is under my bathroom sink, so I didn't have to route the wiring very far to put the switch on the front of my bathroom vanity.

New electrical box to replace water heaters speed box:
Attachment 160638

New electrical box for new inside switch:
Attachment 160639

New switch installed:
Attachment 160640

Switch on left side of front of vanity (factory outlet is on the right with a night light plugged into it):
Attachment 160642

Wiring diagram and switch part number in attached PDF file.
I used my circuit breaker and never saw a need for an inside switch, per se.

But that is a VERY elegant installation!
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Old 01-23-2018, 06:02 AM   #18
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I actually went a different route entirely. I installed a short pigtail cord through the floor of my camper and plugged the water heater into that. About 6 inches hangs out below the floor with it properly sealed. I then connect a 12 gauge extension to that once set up and plug it into the 20 amp outlet that is on most pedestals. This way the heater does not use any of the 30 amps in my RV. If I'm at a campsite that does not have an available 20 amp outlet I simply plug the water heater the dedicated wall outlet it was originally connected to and share the RV 30 amp.
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Old 01-23-2018, 06:47 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CedarCreekWoody View Post
I actually went a different route entirely. I installed a short pigtail cord through the floor of my camper and plugged the water heater into that. About 6 inches hangs out below the floor with it properly sealed. I then connect a 12 gauge extension to that once set up and plug it into the 20 amp outlet that is on most pedestals. This way the heater does not use any of the 30 amps in my RV. If I'm at a campsite that does not have an available 20 amp outlet I simply plug the water heater the dedicated wall outlet it was originally connected to and share the RV 30 amp.
My previous camper was 30 amp and I did the same, except to make an outlet at the lav dedicated for DWs hair dryer. Never had an issue with WH and AC, just that Hair dryer. This solved the problem completely.
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Old 01-23-2018, 07:14 AM   #20
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I do as Mr. Dan does with our Cardinal - but, then again I have always had 50 amp service available so I've never had the need to turn the water heater off/on during a camping stay.
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