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Old 06-14-2016, 07:29 PM   #11
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I actually did this mod this year. All of the small switches for lights including the switch for the gas side of the water heater were all rated at 12v or 120v. I confirmed this by calling the manufacturer of the switches. The switch also stated this on it. What I did was to run a new wire to the water heater, disconnect the existing switch, put spade connectors on the new wire and wire the new switch as if it was the switch outside.


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Old 06-23-2016, 11:10 PM   #12
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The bottom pantry area where my water heater is located on my camper has a removable panel that I keep permanently removed on my Wildcat. I physically unplugged the heater so it only runs on propane. On the rare occasion I need electrically heated hot water, I can plug it back in. Since I'm running solar and my 120VAC power is provided by an inverter, I don't ever see myself plugging it back in.

Switch idea is nice, I like it.
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Old 06-24-2016, 12:12 AM   #13
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Here's a wiring diagram for what I did, and some pics. You basically wire the new switch into the existing outlet; no need to go back to the breaker.

Pic 1: I put in a larger electric box to hold a "real" 110VAC outlet (threw away the crappy single plug "RV outlet" - you'll need a real one so you can actually screw the wires to it).

Pic 2: Switch box installed in the cabinet under my bathroom sink (WH is directly behind the new switchbox, under the sink).

Pic 3: Switch with pilot light installed.

PDF Attachment: Wiring diagram and PN for switch from Mendards (last character in the PN is the color; you can get white, almond and brown, IIRC). You need a 3 conductor (plus ground) wire between the new switch and the outlet. The extra wire provides the ground for the pilot light. When you flip the switch the light and the outlet are actually powered in parallel.
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Old 09-14-2016, 12:18 PM   #14
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Sorry this post is a little late but I just discovered this Belkin switched single receptacle product and thought of this thread

Belkin Conserve Power Switch, F7C016q

If you have easy, inside access to the receptacle that your WH is plugged into, this may be an ideal, cheap, easy solution complete with a lighted switch. Although it's not rated, reviewers claim they run toasters and coffee makers through this device so it may be fine for an RV's WH element.
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Old 09-14-2016, 12:25 PM   #15
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Lots of reviews! Looks like these things melt and burn. Go ahead and use one on a water heater and see what happens.
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Old 09-14-2016, 02:22 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by itat View Post
Sorry this post is a little late but I just discovered this Belkin switched single receptacle product and thought of this thread

Belkin Conserve Power Switch, F7C016q

If you have easy, inside access to the receptacle that your WH is plugged into, this may be an ideal, cheap, easy solution complete with a lighted switch. Although it's not rated, reviewers claim they run toasters and coffee makers through this device so it may be fine for an RV's WH element.
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Originally Posted by Toddupton View Post
Lots of reviews! Looks like these things melt and burn. Go ahead and use one on a water heater and see what happens.
I'm not sure the reviews on the Amazon page are for the device shown. Some of them talk about a timer or something, which this item does not have.

According to the Belkin website, this switch is rated for 1800 watts or 16.3 amps at 110VAC, which should be adequate. The Suburban electric element is 1440 watts or 13 amps at 110VAC (i.e., 20% margin), so it should work OK.

Conserve Power Switch™

The one I used in Post #13 above is only rated for 1650 watts or 15 amps at 110VAC (about 13% margin) and it's been working fine for many days over 2 seasons.

Furthermore, I doubt it's any less robust than the switch on the outside of the water heater, which a number of people have reported have burned up.

For 10 bucks and almost no work, I'd certainly give it a try.
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Old 09-14-2016, 09:26 PM   #17
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I agree with Rockfordroo. Most of the negative reviews, including the one that claims his product could have "killed my kids", are about the square shaped timer version, not the simple switched outlet. Belkin is a reputable company.
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