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Old 01-13-2016, 12:57 AM   #1
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Electric Water Heater Switch

Does anyone have an idea of how to drop a switch in the control panel for the water heater? My 381RBOK has a switch for the propane on the heater but the electric switch is outside next to the element access. The tech that did my walk through said they did that for safety so you didn't turn it on with no water in the tank. Seems awfully inconvenient to me. I know I could just trip the breaker but would like it to be in the control panel. I have open switch slots that just have the covers over them because they are unused.
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Old 01-13-2016, 01:23 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chop249 View Post
Does anyone have an idea of how to drop a switch in the control panel for the water heater? My 381RBOK has a switch for the propane on the heater but the electric switch is outside next to the element access. The tech that did my walk through said they did that for safety so you didn't turn it on with no water in the tank. Seems awfully inconvenient to me. I know I could just trip the breaker but would like it to be in the control panel. I have open switch slots that just have the covers over them because they are unused.
It's a hair more complicated than just dropping a switch. First off, the electric heating element is 120 volt AC, not 12 volt DC (like most of the switches in the control panel).

You would have to get a switch and wire rated for 120 volt AC, to be able to do it just from a switch/wire standpoint.

Suburban does have an option for what you are trying to accomplish, but it utilizes a 12 volt DC switch/wire going to a 12vDC/120vAC relay, where the relay then turns on the 120 volt heating element.

What many people do instead, is to make a switch for the 120 volt AC outlet, that the water heater is plugged into. They then can just switch on/off the outlet..... and this turns the water heater element on/off.

Hold on and I will get you some links and schematics.
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Old 01-13-2016, 01:23 AM   #3
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Maybe a Mod can delete this thread. I can't find where I can. I actually found the info I need here: Anyone move there hot water tank switch?
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Old 01-13-2016, 01:33 AM   #4
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OK, here is what you have currently:



Now, This is how Suburban wires it, with an inside 12 volt DC switch for the electric heating element, utilizing a relay:



And here is just one link of where a member made a switched outlet for the electric heating element side of the water heater:

Water Heater Switch with Power-on Light
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Old 01-13-2016, 12:53 PM   #5
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Maybe not the best solution but this requires no mod or installation. Use the circuit breaker for the water heater that is in your fuse panel. It's not exactly proper to use a circuit breaker as a switch but many including me have used it for years and no issues.
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Old 01-13-2016, 01:20 PM   #6
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Evereddie X2 After 4 years the switch on my water heater started to stick. I went the circuit breaker route because I don't even want to think about replacing the switch (that I can barely touch with one finger) on the heater
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Old 01-13-2016, 02:04 PM   #7
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Circuit Breaker as a Switch

There is no problem using a circuit breaker as a switch, as long as it is switch rated (SWD). Just out of curiosity, I checked the manufacturer's web sites for the circuit breakers approved for my distribution panel. I found that ALL the approved 15A and 20A circuit breakers are in fact switch rated.
I would have no qualms about using my breaker as a hot water switch - except for the convenience factor (my panel is at floor level).

Be careful, however if you are using a circuit breaker as a switch for HID lights, THEY require a HID-rated switch, but I don't think thats likely in the RV world.
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Old 01-13-2016, 03:35 PM   #8
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I'm missing left leg from the knee down. I don't have any trouble going to my water heater and flipping a switch
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Old 01-13-2016, 03:42 PM   #9
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I turn my water heater switch ON when I'm standing next to it to connect city water.
I turn my water heater switch OFF when I'm standing next to it to disconnect city water.

I don't turn it ON/OFF any other time. I don't need/want a switch inside. Your mileage may vary.
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Old 01-13-2016, 03:50 PM   #10
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You can get matching switches as in you control panel. My Columbus cam with a electric and gas switches in the control panel. I however keep the switch on the water heater off unless I know I am staying in a park with electric. I do a lot of dry camping so that is my protection.
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