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Old 10-10-2019, 11:30 AM   #1
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Using Circuit Breaker to turn Suburban Water Heater on Electric

The Suburban water heater in my Salem Hemisphere has the switch for the electric element located on the base of the heater. This is very inconvenient when trying to manage loads so as not to overload the 30 amp service and trip the main breaker or the breaker on the park's pedestal. The electrical panel has a breaker labelled Water Heater. Is there any down side to using this breaker to turn the water heater on and off? If you do this, have you noticed anything else on the circuit?
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Old 10-10-2019, 11:35 AM   #2
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You can do that as some do but I don't like using a circuit breaker as a switch.
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Old 10-10-2019, 11:45 AM   #3
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You can do that as some do but I don't like using a circuit breaker as a switch.
No down side worked for Westinghouse and for years test up to 2,000 on and off no fails. Many large building turn off and on power daily every day with breakers.
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Old 10-10-2019, 11:49 AM   #4
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Some owners add a standard single-pole switch between the breaker and the water heater. It's easier to reach, particularly if you can mount it at a more convenient level.


You can also add one with a pilot light to make it obvious that it's on, but make sure the rating of the switch matches or exceeds that of the circuit breaker. (It's a heating element.)

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Old 10-10-2019, 11:49 AM   #5
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Well since my fancy dancy In-Command doesn't do it (although there is a function for it which is so frustrating), I shut my off via the breaker. That way I don't have to mess with the water heater cover and stuff.
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Old 10-10-2019, 11:53 AM   #6
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I don't like to use a CB as a switch either. I've been told if it's marked "SWD" (usually used in lighting circuits) it's rated to be a switch.
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Old 10-10-2019, 12:00 PM   #7
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Thanks to all for the quick replies!!!
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Old 10-10-2019, 12:10 PM   #8
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The switch on my heater has been stuck for some time. I use the switch on the control panel when in season, but when winterizing, I unplug the heater from the socket behind the panel.
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Old 10-10-2019, 12:23 PM   #9
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Well since my fancy dancy In-Command doesn't do it (although there is a function for it which is so frustrating), I shut my off via the breaker. That way I don't have to mess with the water heater cover and stuff.
There was just a recent thread on this. It may have been in the dynamax subsection but don't quote me on that. They were maybe fixing this electric heating element part with the in-command systems.
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Old 10-10-2019, 12:23 PM   #10
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Frankly, I don't see any difference in either opening the service panel and flipping the breaker off/on or opening the WH door and flipping that switch off/on.

I'm not a fan of using a CB as a regular switch. In my travels I have noticed how flimsy & weak the pedestal CB's are in some CG's after being flipped on and off every couple of days.
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Old 10-10-2019, 12:35 PM   #11
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I went to the factory for some repairs. When we picked it up the hot water heater didn't work. They turned off the breaker to protect it in case it was dry.
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Old 10-10-2019, 12:42 PM   #12
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Water Heater switch

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Originally Posted by Trailer traveler View Post
The Suburban water heater in my Salem Hemisphere has the switch for the electric element located on the base of the heater. This is very inconvenient when trying to manage loads so as not to overload the 30 amp service and trip the main breaker or the breaker on the park's pedestal. The electrical panel has a breaker labelled Water Heater. Is there any down side to using this breaker to turn the water heater on and off? If you do this, have you noticed anything else on the circuit?
I have a wall switch for my water tank in the control panel that has both the lpg and electric switch. I shut the breaker off only when winterizing.
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Old 10-10-2019, 12:51 PM   #13
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I run my AC and everything on 30 amps and never had an issue.
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Old 10-10-2019, 01:05 PM   #14
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Both are kinda inconvenient to me. And I dont want to forget and leave it ON.

For this reason, I only use the convenient wall mounted GAS switch only and find it very suitable for us. We only heat water once per day dor an hour or so showers.... water in tank remains hot for other occasional uses for 20+ hours.

The propane is very efficient IMO.
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Old 10-10-2019, 01:07 PM   #15
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Many breakers are rated for switch duty. (SWD)
Even those that aren't do OK (think pedestal breaker that gets thrown hundreds of times) and we don't think twice about using it that way.
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Old 10-10-2019, 01:24 PM   #16
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I rigged up a 12 guage extension cord to run the water heater on the 20 amp outlet that is on most pedestals. That way I don't worry about overloading the 30 amp circuit.
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Old 10-10-2019, 01:27 PM   #17
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I’ve used the breaker as a switch for years. DH is a master electrician so if he says it’s good that works for me.
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Old 10-10-2019, 01:36 PM   #18
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Well, in our previous camper that had an electric/gas WH I used to turn off BOTH switches when we left and turned them both back on when we got to the campground.

Never burned out an element.
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Old 10-10-2019, 01:47 PM   #19
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There was just a recent thread on this. It may have been in the dynamax subsection but don't quote me on that. They were maybe fixing this electric heating element part with the in-command systems.
I remember that thread. Someone had attended a Rally (I think in the Indiana area) and they brought this to the engineers who worked up a solution. I would love if FR would publish this "fix" or something as it's annoying to see the option in the IC yet it does nothing. I'm a technologist by trade and not much irritates me more than software/hardware that doesn't function as it was meant to do. Either make it work or don't have the feature there to tease me.
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Old 10-10-2019, 01:58 PM   #20
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No down side worked for Westinghouse and for years test up to 2,000 on and off no fails. Many large building turn off and on power daily every day with breakers.
Yes, but were they the circuit breakers they use in an RV? I think not!
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