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Old 08-06-2020, 12:00 PM   #1
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double switch on water heater

Hi
I recently purchased a Rockwood Mini Lite camper and on our first camp out discovered that while I switched on the water heater inside (electric mode) I still had no hot water after an hour and even over night. But when I investigated why I did not have hot water I discovered a switch on the outside access port where servicing is done.
Why the second switch and do I need to turn that off every time I am done camping?

Also this is the first camper that I owned that had a anode rod. I see with use the rod dissolves.
My question on that is where do these dissolved particles go and are they safe?
thank you
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Old 08-06-2020, 12:08 PM   #2
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The switch outside it to shut it off when you drain the tank. If you were to accidentally turn it on inside when empty it would burn up the element.
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Old 08-06-2020, 12:09 PM   #3
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The switch you are referring to needs to be "ON". These switches tend to go bad also. So it's best to have it stuck in the on position. Use the indoor switch to turn your water heater on/off.

The anode rods will last a long time. We usually change ours about every two years with about 180 days of use per year. They are safe.

Be sure to drain/clean your tank out periodically and don't leave it sit to long full of water when camper is not in use.
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Old 08-06-2020, 12:27 PM   #4
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Here's what a lot of us use to clean out the tank. You use this through the anode hole with the anode removed. Here a pic of the "life of an anode"
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Old 08-06-2020, 12:50 PM   #5
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The dissolved aluminum/zinc from the anode will tend to collect as a gray-white goop in the bottom of your water heater. All metal water heaters with electric elements have anodes. When you change out your anode, or remove it for inspection, it's good to flush out the deposits. A strong stream from a water hose will help but the spray wands are better.
Turning off the outside water heater switch is part of my regular routine when breaking camp. Otherwise, if you get home and plug into shore power, you may be likely to forget it and will be heating water for a few months (so says a friend!). It is also likely that at some point in the future that the external switch will fail, since it really is the bare minimum for its purpose. I carry an extra right in the compartment with wire leads already made up so it can be changed in a matter of a few minutes, if necessary.
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Old 08-06-2020, 12:53 PM   #6
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You sure both operate the electric element? Most have the internal switch for gas heat, the one on the tank for electric. I'm not familiar with this particular trailer. Two of my past trailers were like this.
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Old 08-06-2020, 12:57 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by nayther View Post
You sure both operate the electric element? Most have the internal switch for gas heat, the one on the tank for electric. I'm not familiar with this particular trailer. Two of my past trailers were like this.
I have two water heater switches inside on the panel. One for electric and one for gas. I can turn them both on and the water heats up quick, but we normally just use one or the other.
The switch outside is for electric.
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Old 08-06-2020, 01:06 PM   #8
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I think there can be some confusion when it comes to 'what does this switch do', even with all of this input... but, simply:

the SWITCH on the water heater itself is for ELECTRIC heating

the SWITCH inside the RV is for PROPANE heating

but, some will say that they have 'two' switches inside the RV, and while this is true, the second one, while also for 'electric heating', is only for Convenience, since the outside switch on the water heater will STILL have to be ON for it to work, but it DOES give the owner the option of 'elec heating' or 'no elec heating', without having to go outside.

Some of us even have water heaters with NO external switch, but only on the inside of the coach - one for propane, one for electric. You can use both at the same time, or either separately, depending on your needs, or desires, or camping style.

Also, every water heater does NOT have an anode rod - those of us with 'ceramic' type water heater tanks don't require one - there is nothing to 'rust' inside, which is the only reason for an anode rod to begin with - to be the 'sacrificial' metal, that is replaceable, versus the tank itself.
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Old 08-06-2020, 01:14 PM   #9
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The OP has a suburban SWDEL model water heater, that does have two switches for the electric heating element.

The operation of the SWDEL and SWDE model (only one electric switch for the element) are both explained in the thread link below

https://www.forestriverforums.com/fo...ore-36197.html
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Old 08-06-2020, 01:30 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kcoulter View Post
The switch outside it to shut it off when you drain the tank. If you were to accidentally turn it on inside when empty it would burn up the element.
No; that switch is for the AC (shore power) mode to heat the water ONLY.

The switch inside is for the Gas/DC method to heat the water ONLY.

You can use both systems simultaneously for faster system recovery.


<sigh> I see I am late to the party once again ...
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Old 08-06-2020, 01:35 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Herk7769 View Post
No; that switch is for the AC (shore power) mode to heat the water ONLY.

The switch inside is for the Gas/DC method to heat the water ONLY.

You can use both systems simultaneously for faster system recovery.


<sigh> I see I am late to the party once again ...
Lou... don't forget the SWDEL models have a 120v switch INSIDE and OUTSIDE. That is what I have on my current 5th wheel and I typically leave the outside 120v switch on and control it with the inside 120v switch which is right next to the LP switch.
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Old 08-06-2020, 01:43 PM   #12
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Lou... don't forget the SWDEL models have a 120v switch INSIDE and OUTSIDE. That is what I have on my current 5th wheel and I typically leave the outside 120v switch on and control it with the inside 120v switch which is right next to the LP switch.
I have a goofy touch panel in mine as well with two "electric" hot water switches one on the panel and the "real" one on the heater itself.

Did not forget about it; I was replying to Kcoulter's implication that the outside switch was for maintenance of the system. It actually only applies to the AC heating element, not any of the DC/Gas part of the system as they operate independently.
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Old 08-06-2020, 01:47 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Herk7769 View Post
I have a goofy touch panel in mine as well with two "electric" hot water switches one on the panel and the "real" one on the heater itself.

Did not forget about it; I was replying to Kcoulter's implication that the outside switch was for maintenance of the system. It actually only applies to the AC heating element, not any of the DC/Gas part of the system as they operate independently.
Gotcha! Thanks for the clarification.
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Old 08-06-2020, 02:08 PM   #14
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This was the OP's first. I think he got an ear full and completely understands his WH now!
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Old 08-07-2020, 10:26 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Herk7769 View Post
No; that switch is for the AC (shore power) mode to heat the water ONLY.

The switch inside is for the Gas/DC method to heat the water ONLY.

You can use both systems simultaneously for faster system recovery.


<sigh> I see I am late to the party once again ...
Well, there is no DC method to heat the water. The water heater in question has only two methods of heating water - propane and a 110v AC heating element. The switch for the electric side on the inside of the trailer is actually a 12v DC switch - which controls a relay on the control board of the water heater - which also requires 12v DC.

When the inside switch in the trailer is on, 12v DC is supplied to the coil side of the relay causing it to close, which then allows 110v AC to flow through the contacts of the relay. It then goes to the outside switch, and if the outside switch is also on, then the circuit is complete to allow 110v AC to flow through the electric heating element.

The touch panel type controls do the same thing. They don't control the 110v AC going to the heating element directly - they control 12v DC going to the relay which controls 110v AC.

Now, an AC/DC/Propane absorption type refrigerator is different. It actually does have separate DC and AC heating elements along with a propane burner.
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Old 08-07-2020, 10:52 AM   #16
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Pretty sure most of us have in our possession or have seen these posted previously... but for those that don't/haven't...
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Old 08-07-2020, 12:23 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by NavyLCDR View Post
Well, there is no DC method to heat the water. The water heater in question has only two methods of heating water - propane and a 110v AC heating element. The switch for the electric side on the inside of the trailer is actually a 12v DC switch - which controls a relay on the control board of the water heater - which also requires 12v DC.

When the inside switch in the trailer is on, 12v DC is supplied to the coil side of the relay causing it to close, which then allows 110v AC to flow through the contacts of the relay. It then goes to the outside switch, and if the outside switch is also on, then the circuit is complete to allow 110v AC to flow through the electric heating element.

The touch panel type controls do the same thing. They don't control the 110v AC going to the heating element directly - they control 12v DC going to the relay which controls 110v AC.

Now, an AC/DC/Propane absorption type refrigerator is different. It actually does have separate DC and AC heating elements along with a propane burner.

So then 12 volt DC IS required to heat water with propane. Or did I miss something?

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Old 08-07-2020, 01:01 PM   #18
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To the OP,after all this "Back & Forth" in regards to Water Heating,you can also just use your Propane Stove and a Vessel like the "Old Days" for a 3rd option! Youroo!!
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Old 08-07-2020, 01:28 PM   #19
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So then 12 volt DC IS required to heat water with propane. Or did I miss something?

Well, actually yes, that is true.
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