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Old 12-09-2019, 05:58 PM   #1
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Alpine hot water heater question

Hi alpine owners,
On a 99 alpine, does the hot water run on either electric or gas?
I am on shore power but the gas is still being used, how do you switch it?
What does the reset switch by the sink do for the hot water? The light is not on there and switching it on and off does not seam to do anything.

Thank you Ed
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Old 12-09-2019, 06:34 PM   #2
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I’m almost certain you have the same water heater as me. If so, it is a Suburban brand and likely a dual heat model. The electric element switch is on the heater itself, behind the outside cover. Remove the cover and look for the rocker switch in the lower left quadrant of the heater.

The switch by the sink is for the gas heat. The light remains OFF if the gas burner lights and stays lit. What you describe is normal for a working gas heating burner. If the water is already hot, turning the switch ON/OFF will not make the light come on nor the burner. When first switched ON with cold water in the tank, the light will come on for the ignition cycle, but go out once the burner fires up. It will not come on again, even when the heater needs reheating, unless there is a fault and the burner fails to stay lit.

One note. If the electric hasn’t been used, turning on the switch may not heat the element because of a malfunction of the element, the switch, or thermostat. Try it and report back.
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Old 12-09-2019, 07:00 PM   #3
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My Ď03 operates as you describe also.
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Old 12-09-2019, 07:12 PM   #4
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What Larry said.

If yours is the same as my 1998 in addition to the switch on the heater there is a circuit breaker in the 120V AC service panel. On my coach it is on the right side of the panel 2nd breaker from the bottom.

The switch on my tank had a lock out clip that had to be removed before the switch could be turned on.
I don't think either of the previous owners had ever used the electric heater.

If you don't need hot water when coach is stored and connected to shore power turn the breaker off.

Make sure you have water in the tank before energizing the circuit or the heating element will be damaged.
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Old 12-09-2019, 07:48 PM   #5
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What Gene said.…..recommend you use the breaker box inside the coach to turn on/off the electric side of the water heater vs opening the outside panel door.....also recommend you plastic tie the latch on the outside panel to avoid accidental loss of the panel door while under way--don't ask me how I know this!!!
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Old 12-10-2019, 11:56 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Scout View Post
What Gene said.Ö..recommend you use the breaker box inside the coach to turn on/off the electric side of the water heater vs opening the outside panel door.....also recommend you plastic tie the latch on the outside panel to avoid accidental loss of the panel door while under way--don't ask me how I know this!!!
I know EXACTLY how you know this

PS.....The previous owner installed a dual switch in the kitchen that allows turning on (and off) the electric or gas for the water heater......seems like Alpine should have done this in the first place for their coaches
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Old 12-10-2019, 02:46 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Ljwt330 View Post
Iím almost certain you have the same water heater as me. If so, it is a Suburban brand and likely a dual heat model. The electric element switch is on the heater itself, behind the outside cover. Remove the cover and look for the rocker switch in the lower left quadrant of the heater.

The switch by the sink is for the gas heat. The light remains OFF if the gas burner lights and stays lit. What you describe is normal for a working gas heating burner. If the water is already hot, turning the switch ON/OFF will not make the light come on nor the burner. When first switched ON with cold water in the tank, the light will come on for the ignition cycle, but go out once the burner fires up. It will not come on again, even when the heater needs reheating, unless there is a fault and the burner fails to stay lit.

One note. If the electric hasnít been used, turning on the switch may not heat the element because of a malfunction of the element, the switch, or thermostat. Try it and report back.

Sorry, I am trying to follow this....

So if the rocker switch on the outside panel is "on", it will function on electricity? Unless the switch on the inside is switched to "on" then it will switch over to propane?

I would like it to function like the fridge where it switches over to electric if plugged in. Is that possible?
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Old 12-10-2019, 03:03 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Hoaglandt616 View Post
Sorry, I am trying to follow this....

So if the rocker switch on the outside panel is "on", it will function on electricity? Unless the switch on the inside is switched to "on" then it will switch over to propane?

I would like it to function like the fridge where it switches over to electric if plugged in. Is that possible?
Yes, it will function on 120v provided the outside tank rocker switch is on, the circuit breaker in the main panel is on and the heating element is good. Ez check with ohm meter btw. Disconnect the two cold wires on the element (power off) and a good element will have continuity. A blown element will be open circuit. Replacement elements are cheap.
We use both propane and ac simultaneously on our 10 gallon suburban tank. It recovers quite nicely this way. Hot water is never an issue.
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Old 12-10-2019, 03:29 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Hoaglandt616 View Post
Sorry, I am trying to follow this....

So if the rocker switch on the outside panel is "on", it will function on electricity? Unless the switch on the inside is switched to "on" then it will switch over to propane?

I would like it to function like the fridge where it switches over to electric if plugged in. Is that possible?

Almost...
To function on electricity, the outside switch must be ON (and the circuit breaker on the AC panel is ON, and the element is good, and the thermostat is good). The inside switch for propane will not affect the electric heating. You can heat using both together for faster recovery.


Simply put, a functioning heater can use electricity only, propane only, or both together.


My suggestion. Since you've never used the electric element, turn OFF the gas switch and let the water get cold. Turn ON the outside switch on the water heater, check that the breaker in the panel is ON, then...wait. If you don't feel noticeably warmer/hot water in 30 minutes, then there is an issue with the electric circuit--switch, element, or thermostat.


Let us know if you run this test.
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Old 12-10-2019, 03:46 PM   #10
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Almost...
To function on electricity, the outside switch must be ON (and the circuit breaker on the AC panel is ON, and the element is good, and the thermostat is good). The inside switch for propane will not affect the electric heating. You can heat using both together for faster recovery.


Simply put, a functioning heater can use electricity only, propane only, or both together.


My suggestion. Since you've never used the electric element, turn OFF the gas switch and let the water get cold. Turn ON the outside switch on the water heater, check that the breaker in the panel is ON, then...wait. If you don't feel noticeably warmer/hot water in 30 minutes, then there is an issue with the electric circuit--switch, element, or thermostat.


Let us know if you run this test.
Exactly!!

If you have a good monitoring system like an EMS-50 it will also tell you the amp draw on each line....the water heater should draw about 10A when running on AC.

Cheers
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Old 12-10-2019, 03:58 PM   #11
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There is NO AUTO function like Fridge

YOU the operator select which heat source....Electric, Propane OR Both by turning the appropriate switch ON


Suburban uses Separate controls/t-stats etc for each.
120VAC Set of T-stats for the electric and a 12VDC Set of T-stats for propane
Both set are pre-set to Open at 130*F/T-stat and 170*F/Hi Temp T-stat
Either heat source should heat water to same/simialr temps
Propane will do so quicker then electric (propane uses a 12,000Btu burner/electric uses a 1440W element)


ELectric only....6.2 gal per hour (based on cold initial heat cycle)
Propane only...10 gal per hour
Both ----------16 gal per hour




Suburban OEM switch for electric is in outside compartment
Suburban OEM Switch for propane Inside the RV


Some MFGs do add another switch inside for Electric ---wired in series (both have to be ON for element)
Some OWNERS add switch as a modification......many just use a standard household lighr switch with gang box and romex wire (simple mod and beats running outside to turn electric on/off)
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Old 12-10-2019, 04:00 PM   #12
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Thank you folks! I do have an ems-pt50. I will do that this weekend on our trip. I appreciate the information.
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Old 12-11-2019, 08:12 PM   #13
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Looks like my heating element is working! Glad i found this out. Why waste propane if not needed.

One question, i am assuming the heating element is automatic shut off once water gets to certain temp?
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Old 12-11-2019, 08:19 PM   #14
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Looks like my heating element is working! Glad i found this out. Why waste propane if not needed.

One question, i am assuming the heating element is automatic shut off once water gets to certain temp?
Yes, it has its own thermostat and emergency cut off (ECO). The Suburban brands, like yours, have separate devices for the AC heat and DC (gas).

Just a point of reference. My heater did not work on electric when I bought the coach. Diagnosis revealed a bad element, which I replaced. That resulted in a working electric heater, but the water never got as hot as when heating with gas. After some further digging, I replaced the AC thermostat/ECO. Now, I have piping hot water from both gas and AC sources, separately.
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