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Old 06-13-2016, 10:37 PM   #1
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Inside water heater switch

I want to install an indoor on/off switch for my gas water heater. I can't believe my 10 y/o rig had one and my brand new FR only has an on/off switch outside on the heater.

None the less, can I simply splice the wires from the outdoor switch and run them up through the floor into my main switch panel?

Thanks!

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Old 06-14-2016, 06:16 AM   #2
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The WH should be plugged into a 120v AC receptacle. You could add a switch before the receptacle.
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Old 06-14-2016, 06:23 AM   #3
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You said that you want to add a switch for your GAS water heater. Every propane only water I've ever heard of has a switch for the propane side in the RV somewhere.

The switch on the outside is for the electric side.

Do you have a gas/electric model and what you're wanting to do is add a switch for the electric side inside the RV?
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Old 06-14-2016, 07:17 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GuppyWN View Post
I want to install an indoor on/off switch for my gas water heater. I can't believe my 10 y/o rig had one and my brand new FR only has an on/off switch outside on the heater.

None the less, can I simply splice the wires from the outdoor switch and run them up through the floor into my main switch panel?

Thanks!

2015 Wildcat Maxx 28RKX
Yes. Another option, if it's easier to route the wires, is to splice into the circuit breaker wiring. Splicing into anywhere along the AC power input to the water heater is doable (cutting that wire and inserting your switch by splicing). Be sure and size the wire and switch amp rating correctly. You end up with your switch in series with the switch on the outside which you leave on for your switch to control the heating element. You probably know this though.
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Old 06-14-2016, 10:03 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bama Rambler View Post
You said that you want to add a switch for your GAS water heater. Every propane only water I've ever heard of has a switch for the propane side in the RV somewhere.

The switch on the outside is for the electric side.

Do you have a gas/electric model and what you're wanting to do is add a switch for the electric side inside the RV?
Yep, had a brain fart! The electric power switch is located outside at the unit and I want to bring the on/off switch inside so I don't have to leave the heater on full time while plugged in.
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Old 06-14-2016, 10:11 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by GuppyWN View Post
Yep, had a brain fart! The electric power switch is located outside at the unit and I want to bring the on/off switch inside so I don't have to leave the heater on full time while plugged in.
Flip the 110v breaker off in the panel box.
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Old 06-14-2016, 10:20 AM   #7
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Many just use the breaker as the switch, provided nothing else is wired on the same subcircuit that you need.

Others have wired a switch to the electrical outlet that the water heater plugs into. If you have access, this may be the easier route. Here are some other threads to maybe give you an idea:

Water Heater Switch with Power-on Light

Electric Hot Water heater question

What you have to realize though, is the switch (and wiring) for the electric element switch on the face of the water heater is 120 volt AC. The switches and wiring in your main panel of switches (ie slide, awning, lights, etc) are all 12 volt DC. They do not cross.

Suburban does make an inside 12 volt DC switch for the electric heating element, but this 12 volt switch actually controls a 12v/120 v relay, that then turns on the 120 volt AC to the electric heating element. This is what you most likely had in your older trailer, if you had a Suburban water heater.

You can find more information on the SWDEL model in post #4 here:

Suburban's electric switch and much more
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Old 06-14-2016, 10:36 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GuppyWN View Post
Yep, had a brain fart! The electric power switch is located outside at the unit and I want to bring the on/off switch inside so I don't have to leave the heater on full time while plugged in.
I understood what you wanted to do and post 4 addresses that to answer your original question. May not be the answer to your dilemma though.
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Old 06-14-2016, 01:36 PM   #9
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Here's what I added between the breaker and water heater. All I had to do was add wire from switch to breaker and connect lead from heater to switch. Got lighted switch from home depot.
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Old 06-14-2016, 01:41 PM   #10
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I added a relay and wired from the breaker and then up to my switch panel.
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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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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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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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