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Old 04-30-2021, 05:54 PM   #1
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Water heater conversion

We have a gas fired (propane) water heater. We would like to upgrade to a dual fuel (propane and electric) if it is possible. So here are the obvious questions: Is it possible? Is my rig prewired for this from the factory? Who could do it for me? And finally, what would be a projected cost?

I appreciate any and all input.

Thank you!
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Old 04-30-2021, 06:07 PM   #2
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I don't know anything about your RV, however if it is prewired you should have an unused 120VAC cable in your water heater compartment. You may purchase a kit to add to your present heater plus a wiring kit if needed for approx. $150 from RVupgrades.com.
From remembering many years ago when I had one in my heater it worked quite well. We often ran both LP and electric to heat water faster so we both could shower after a days travel. Seems like both heating sources only took about 15-20 minutes to obtain hot water.
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Old 04-30-2021, 07:22 PM   #3
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My Mom's old camper, I think it was a pre 2000 year model, had a Suburban 6 gallon water heater in it. We thought it was propane fired only. But then I accidently stumbled upon the heating element and switch under the bed while doing some cleaning under it. The wiring looked good so I flipped the switch and the rest was history. I don't think she ever used the propane side again. I'm not positive but I believe this was a factory set up but it does seem weird, at least to me, that there wasn't a switch in a more conspicuous place.

On ours, we have a propane fired Atwood with 6 gallon tank. I added a Hott Rod (its brand name) and couldn't be happier. The element itself was a cinch to install as it takes the place of the drain plug on the Atwood. Installed the thermostat on the side of the tank, installed a switch with indicator light on the outside of a cabinet, and ran the 120 volts needed to fire it up. Was fairly easy on ours but I can imagine that doing all of this might be a booger on some rigs. I do know that it has more than paid for itself over the 17 years we've used it.

Only thing, I'm not sure if the Hott Rodd is recommended for Suburban water heaters because of their need for an anode rod. Maybe it installs in the back?

Betcha Old Biscuit knows!
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Old 04-30-2021, 10:26 PM   #4
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Current brand & model of water heater??

HOTT Rod aftermarket kits are NOT recommended by either Suburban or Atwood
Kits are available with a VERY small anode rod for Suburban Models
OEM is 9 1/2" --aftermarket ones maybe 4"

Kits for either brand are installed via drain hole
They have small electric elements (325W--450W) and take long time to heat---OK for maintaining
I am NOT a fan.

OEM Electric Elements are 1400W--1440W
much quicker heating and do not interfere with routine draining/flushing


YES you can swap out a gas only for a Gas/Electric Version
Suburban just needs a 15A Circuit breaker and wiring to the AC Junction Box on side of WH Tank
Atwood needs a 15A Circuit Breaker and wiring to the DC Relay on backside of WH Tank PLUS 12VDC Fused wire to the new On/Off Switch and then DC from that switch to the WH Wiring on backside of WH Tank
*Atwood uses DC to control Both Gas/Electric Functions


SO what Brand/Model do you have???????
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Old 04-30-2021, 10:39 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mudfrog View Post
My Mom's old camper, I think it was a pre 2000 year model, had a Suburban 6 gallon water heater in it. We thought it was propane fired only. But then I accidently stumbled upon the heating element and switch under the bed while doing some cleaning under it. The wiring looked good so I flipped the switch and the rest was history. I don't think she ever used the propane side again. I'm not positive but I believe this was a factory set up but it does seem weird, at least to me, that there wasn't a switch in a more conspicuous place.
Suburban OEM electric On/Off Switch is in lower left corner outside compartment
Some RV MFGs will add another on/off switch inside
Previous Owners may also add one
They would be in series with the OEM switch

Under bed would be a very strange location
????
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Old 05-01-2021, 07:09 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Old-Biscuit View Post
Suburban OEM electric On/Off Switch is in lower left corner outside compartment
Some RV MFGs will add another on/off switch inside
Previous Owners may also add one
They would be in series with the OEM switch

Under bed would be a very strange location
????
I agree, strange to have it there. I'm fairly certain there was no switch behind the outside cover so it may have been a previous owner's after market installation.

As far as the Hott Rod, all I can say is that I really like the one I installed. It's worked perfectly for 17 or so years. Except for maybe a yearly test to make sure it works, I never have to fire up the propane side. It works fine to provide hot water for the three of us that all take our showers before bed. Will admit though, we don't take long hot showers.

Since our rig is set up for 30 amp service, I like having the lower wattage element. Never have to worry about it being on along with the A/C or microwave. The icing on the cake is having an adjustable thermostat that I keep set at around 120. Also, it's very easy to unplug and remove the element when I want to drain the heater.

Just wanted to relay the positive experience I've had using the Hott Rod product.
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Old 05-01-2021, 09:19 AM   #7
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Just following thread. I'm in the same boat with a Suburban 6 gallon SW6 D gas only the SW6 DE is the dual version I'm thinking about installing.
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Old 05-01-2021, 11:35 AM   #8
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Suburban SW Series Installation/Service Manual
http://techsupport.pdxrvwholesale.co...ice-Manual.pdf
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Old 05-01-2021, 05:34 PM   #9
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Thank you. It is a Suburban model D. There are two black rubber plugs (buttons?) to the left of the burner that says Push to Reset. They apparently do nothing as far as I can tell. It makes me feel that it is prewired but I have not seen any kind of switch anywhere.
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Old 05-01-2021, 06:11 PM   #10
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Thank you. It is a Suburban model D. There are two black rubber plugs (buttons?) to the left of the burner that says Push to Reset. They apparently do nothing as far as I can tell. It makes me feel that it is prewired but I have not seen any kind of switch anywhere.
'D' model is GAS only

The Push to Reset are the manual resets for the High Temp T-stats

Left one would be for the 120VAC (when so equipped)
Right one is for the 12VDC ---propane

High temp T-stat Trips Open at 170*F should the Normal T-stat fail to open at 130*F
When tripped ---have to be manually reset by push button in.
When tripped you would feel it resetting
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Old 05-03-2021, 03:33 PM   #11
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I have a 2017 Vista 29 VE. There is a switch above the two drawers under the sink that lights when I turn it on. The water heater does not heat when I do, the light comes on but nothing happens. It looks to be wired, but is there something else I need to look for since it does not heat the water?
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Old 05-03-2021, 04:43 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Kelm130 View Post
Just following thread. I'm in the same boat with a Suburban 6 gallon SW6 D gas only the SW6 DE is the dual version I'm thinking about installing.
Just get a hotrod electric kit. Easy install and works great. Just spent a month in Key West and never used propane.
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Old 05-03-2021, 05:54 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Turnerp View Post
We have a gas fired (propane) water heater. We would like to upgrade to a dual fuel (propane and electric) if it is possible. So here are the obvious questions: Is it possible? Is my rig prewired for this from the factory? Who could do it for me? And finally, what would be a projected cost?

I appreciate any and all input.

Thank you!
Looking at the specks for your coach your water heater is 6 gal propane only. It does not show prewired for electric, but it is prewired for washer/dryer. If you don't have one you could use that circuit.

I would never recommend "adding" a heating element to a w/h that is not designed for it.

One mistake and this shower could be your last one.
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Old 05-05-2021, 10:38 AM   #14
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Looking at the specks for your coach your water heater is 6 gal propane only. It does not show prewired for electric, but it is prewired for washer/dryer. If you don't have one you could use that circuit.

I would never recommend "adding" a heating element to a w/h that is not designed for it.

One mistake and this shower could be your last one.
Are you implying that a heating element is not safe?

I installed the Hott Rod in our gas fired Atwood about 18 years ago. Wired it in with a breaker in front of it, it has an adjustable thermostat, and a resettable high limit switch. Imo, the set up is better and more dependable than those standard non adjustable snap disc stats used on most water heaters.
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