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Old 11-30-2015, 09:36 AM   #1
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Question Water Heater electric element?

When showering on Propane heated water, have to mix Hot and Cold to get right temperature and plenty of hot water.

When showering on Electric heated water, no cold is needed, valve is all the way on Hot and water runs cold after @ 5 minutes.

Is this normal or would I be correct in thinking the heating element needs replacement?


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Old 11-30-2015, 10:15 AM   #2
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Yes, propane provides a LOT more BTU's than the electric element.

Note: You can use both propane and electric at the same time.

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Old 11-30-2015, 11:10 AM   #3
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My experience is different than Brett's with regard to hot water. I have lots of hot water when using electric but on gas it does not get very hot and it runs out quickly. It would be a good idea to replace the electric element, not very expensive and can't hurt. BTW when using gas only the water is not hot enough to properly rinse dishes per DW.
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Old 11-30-2015, 11:20 AM   #4
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Really odd.

From Suburban's website: Suburban > Products > Water Heaters > Faster Recovery

Recovery rate on propane: 10.2 gallons per hour. Add electric (1,440 watt heat element) and it increases by 6 gallons per hour.

Strange they do not list electric alone, but 10.2 vs an additional 6 for electric probably gives the story.

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Old 11-30-2015, 11:36 AM   #5
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On your 2002 Year RV

If you have an Atwood WH the Electric element has it's own set of t-stats (on back of WH tank with element) and the LP has it's own set on front of WH tank where burner is.
Both sets are the same temperature ---pre-set normal 140*F and ECO 180*F
Only difference is electric are 120V AC and LP are 12V DC

If you have a Suburban WH the electric and lp have their own set of t-stats in outside compartment under rubber cover (Push to Reset)
Electric are 120V AC and LP are 12V DC
Normal is 130*F and ECO is 180*F

IF normal t-stat was not tight against tank wall temps usually are hotter cause of over heating (takes longer for normal t-stat to reach set point temp when not in tight contact with tank)
If normal failed to open then water would be scalding ---ECO would open and you would WH would not refire until fault cleared.

Electric and LP should heat water to SAME temperature during heating cycle
Electric is slower to recover but same temps set points

IF water heater on electric doesn't last as long or is not as hot then element is probably scaled up and not transfer heat.

IF water heater on lp doesn't last as long or is not as hot then burner/combustion chamber needs cleaned OR gas pressure is low
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Old 11-30-2015, 01:40 PM   #6
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It might be worthwhile to pull the element and check it out but I have to agree with Brett--the propane side is much more robust vs the electric. Got to figure that a single 120v electric element is going to be pretty wimpy. If multiple showers or a quicker warm-up is needed--I turn on both propane and electric for max heating. Interesting thought--I have never noticed the temp setting/adjustment [like on residential W/Hers] for either the propane side or for the electric element--news to me!!!!
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Old 12-09-2015, 06:40 PM   #7
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The suburban water heater manual identifies a "thermostat" as part of the reset button is used for protection against excessive temperatures (over 180 degrees). There is NO adjustment for setting operating temperatures.

I typically turn on the AC breaker for the water heater after establishing shore power but leave the main switch (LPG) off for atleast an hour. This action allows time for the water to heat without having to use the LPG. Often times I turn on the main switch and the gas burner does not light because the water is sufficiently hot. I take most showers in which the gas burner doesn't light because the water is still sufficiently hot. Whereas, my wife takes longer showers and always requires the gas burner to light for recovery.

My point being that both the electric & gas sources provide sufficiently hot water. Using both sources serves to decrease the recovery time as Brett stated.

If your electric heating is not heating water sufficiently, I suggest you try changing the element. Make sure you purchase the properly rated element from Suburban. Most hardware & home improvement stores have replacement elements that vary in size (length) and temperature rating, and ultimately may not perform as expected.
Bob Bowers (Surprise, AZ)
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Old 12-30-2015, 06:39 AM   #8
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Electric element was cracked and element exposed. Probably explains it. Annode Rod was a needle. Both replaced. Also replaced pressure relief valve.
They are sending old awning motor to be rebuilt. No one here had any clues on replacement.

Happy New Year!
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Old 12-30-2015, 12:10 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by wolfe10 View Post
Yes, propane provides a LOT more BTU's than the electric element.

Note: You can use both propane and electric at the same time.
This is partially correct. YES propane provides more BTU's YES on many heaters you can use both at once for still faster recovery.

But it is also wrong. ON SOME heaters (Many Surburban models for example but not limited to) there are two thermostats one for Electric, one for Gas

On many others (Most Atwood models for example) there is but one set of thermostats that control both Gas and Electric via the control board (I say set because in addition to the primary T-Stat there is an Emergency Cut off.)

How hot the water is when you start your shower is NOT dependent on the number of BTUs. even a 400 watt Lightning Rod (yet another T-Stat) can get it up to 120 or 130 degrees. given enough time (1200 watts takes about an hour to do that)
But the temperature of the water is controlled by the thermostat.

So you have one of two situations.. Either the electric side T-Stat is set too low. or it's the wrong factory set model Either way it should be an easy fix.

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