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Old 06-26-2009, 08:45 AM   #1
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1965 24' Tradewind
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Atwood vs. suburban water heater what's better?

I will be replacing my old Bowen water heater with an Atwood or Suburban and I have read many posts in regard to water heater replacements. I would like to know if there are any pro's and con's for either one. I have tried to read all the previous posts but there are so many I thought I would just start one of my own.

1) Will one of them be easier to install and use the old vent cover?
2) Is one brand better then the other? (problems and breakdowns, performance)
3) Is it worth getting the electronic ignition or is a pilot fine other than the convenience of EI?

Thank You
Brian
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Old 06-26-2009, 09:24 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by briheath View Post
I will be replacing my old Bowen water heater with an Atwood or Suburban and I have read many posts in regard to water heater replacements. I would like to know if there are any pro's and con's for either one. I have tried to read all the previous posts but there are so many I thought I would just start one of my own.

1) Will one of them be easier to install and use the old vent cover?
2) Is one brand better then the other? (problems and breakdowns, performance)
3) Is it worth getting the electronic ignition or is a pilot fine other than the convenience of EI?
for #1 you will have to take some measurements

When I put my new Atwood in, the pilot light switch was higher than the original access door. I had to put some latches on the upper part of the panel so I had access to it without a screw driver.

#2 I think it's what ever fits best and is a better price. Some people only carry one brand or the other..

#3 If you want to wire it all in. personally I maybe turn it on every other day to shower or wash the kids. Even if I did it everyday it's not that big a hassle to go out and light it... It's a little more money and I don't think it comes with the switch but I'm sure thats not to much.. It's seems live RV stuff is marked up 100%.
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Old 06-26-2009, 09:36 AM   #3
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I can't speak for others and am going somewhat off track here. We had an original Atwood when we bought our trailer. We replaced w/Atwood gas unit. My husband did the replace and felt it wasn't the easiest job, but managed it. (confined space = grumpy guy!) Anyway, we had it for 2yrs. in which time, we didn't use a whole lot (not like we were full timing, just a couple of short camp trips), we were careful to unhook tank from water system and drain for winter, BUT, low and behold, this Spring when we opened Moonunit up to take her for a trip, we found the tank split along the seam!!! Well, we were #!(&&$@!* quite upset to say the least. Now we are looking into a tankless water system that is portable and can be de-coupled and removed each winter. We like the idea of instant hot water and the fact that the unit is very lightweight, only comes on to heat water when needed and will not take up space. What my recent post of the subject needs is some feedback and ideas of how to run all the appropriate water/12v/propane line from the trailer to the unit. Not wanting to hijack your thread, but thought you might be interested in another's approach. I guess as far as Atwood vs Suburban it would be space and cost as primary considerations. Good luck.
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Old 07-05-2009, 08:21 PM   #4
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Brian....dont know about the suburban, however if ya have a problem with the atwood it will test your tolerance with making phone calls followed by +#.., ==and what ever else they can dream up to make your give up trying to get a replacement or advice on a problem....just my exp.
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Old 07-05-2009, 08:31 PM   #5
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I replaced my original Bowen with an Atwood 10 Gallon. All I did was take out the old and shoved in the new. You drill out the old rivets of the old, and clean the area. I really did not have much problem except I did have to trim some of the insulation around it down to make it fit.

Brian
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Old 07-05-2009, 08:34 PM   #6
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Tankless?

Has anyone put in a tankless propane water heater? Do they make one small enough to fit into an AS?
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Old 07-05-2009, 09:14 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the helpful responses. It sounds like most of the people who replace there water heaters use the Atwood. If anyone has experiance either good or bad with the Suburban I would be willing to here your story.

As for the tankless I don't think I have seen one that would allow an easy exhaust hook up for the A.S. There are some that are electric that you simple install at the fixture. But since we often camp where there is no electricity the gas unit would be the best choice for us.

Brian
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Old 07-22-2009, 01:55 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ncbambi View Post
Has anyone put in a tankless propane water heater? Do they make one small enough to fit into an AS?
here's exactly what you're looking for at a price you may not want to, or in my case, can't afford:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/show...&postcount=391
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Old 07-22-2009, 03:58 AM   #9
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Attwood bought out Bowen some decades ago, and they are the closest fit.
OEM in my 63 Avion was a 10 gallon Bowen, however when I bought the trailer the only evidence of a HW heater was a burned out interior cabinet and a rectectangular hole in the skin, affecionatly called the Bowen Hole, that was covered by a sheat of galvanized metal afixed with sheetrock screws. Not pretty.
I origionaly tried a 10 Gallon suburban, because I got a screaming good deal on it, but it was 3 or 4 inches to tall for the Bowen hole, so I traded it for a used 10 gallon Attwood at an RV salvage yard with electronic ignition.
It was the same height as the Bowen hole, but not as wide. Riveting in a section of 1" square aluminum stock to frame in the hole and a 16 guage aluminum sheet filled in the gap. It also made for a handy place to put in a 30Amp power inlet later on.
The Attwood is lighter than the Suburban. If I remember right, the Suburban advertised a glass lined steel tank, where the Atwood is Aluminum.
This particular Atwood also has the electronic ignition, which I didnt want at first because the trailer was origionaly designed to work without a battery. But I like the convenience of flipping a switch to turn on the HW heater before breakfast or shower time and switching it off before going to bed.
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Old 07-23-2009, 07:47 AM   #10
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Thanks Volvophile and Brian thats exactly what I was looking for. You have saved me a lot of searching.

Brian
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Old 07-27-2009, 06:56 PM   #11
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I replaced my old Bowen with a Suburban ac-dc-gas model. I had a clay coated anode in it and the clay came off and I am still getting sludge out of the tank. I still have not found a stray voltage problem that may have caused the problem.

Suburban did respond to my emails, once. They ID'd the part as an anode, other than that--silence! I hope this thing lasts once I get the bugs out. I will probably be a bit reluctant to get another one.
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