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Old 02-28-2007, 08:51 AM   #1
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Talking Help needed: Water heater lighting...

While rebuilding my project '73, I wanted to test my water heater, and went to light it. I just can't figure out what to light!!!

I am pricing a new water heater, an Atwood 10 gallon combo gas and electric. I debated on DSI (direct spark ignition; a heap more $$$$$), but will probably go to standing pilot while on gas. When camping in our normal mode, I would plan to plug in and merely use electric.

But... it's about 12 amps though. I am considering adding a 20 amp cord (dedicated to the water heater) in addition to my existing 30, and see whether I can plug in both. If not, I could just use gas. I really do not want to upgrade my one cord to 50 amp, but that must be how the bigger SOBs can run 2 A/C and all accessories. I have my electric torn out now to do the floor repairs, so I do have options available now.


Any thoughts? Actually, I would like good advice, but thoughts are helpful too.
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Old 02-28-2007, 09:02 AM   #2
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My first thought is you don't have a burner or pilot assembly to light.
You could run a separate wire from the water heater to the campground outlet with a dual power unit, that way you won't have to mess with 50 amp, and you won't be taking away from your 30 amp service.
If you want to go over the top, you can have dual power, plus DSI.
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Old 02-28-2007, 10:15 AM   #3
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Why use electric, if you don't want to go to 50 amp? Gas works just fine and will always work, no matter what hookups you have.
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Old 02-28-2007, 10:34 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AYRSTRM2
Why use electric, if you don't want to go to 50 amp? Gas works just fine and will always work, no matter what hookups you have.
BTW, I realized immediately upon opening the outer cover that there were no guts. Made me chuckle.

AYRSTRM2, thanks for your thought. When I considered my options, I wanted to have gas available for boondocking (or when stopped enroute).

However, in another thread (on furnaces) I read something to the effect that if you can plug in and use the campground's electricity instead of your own gas, why not? Seems to make sense to me here (save gas).

As overlander63 confirmed above, since most of the campgrounds I have seen have elec connections with a 30amp and a 20 amp in the same weatherproof hookup box, maybe I can use two cords: one for the 30 amp existing, and a new one dedicated to the water heater.

I am just concerned that the campground may not like that arrangement.

I also have to think through conceptually having the two service entrances for power entering the trailer. I would never mix them, or cross-feed, and they certainly would be on the same ground/neutral as long as they came from the same box...That could be critical to safe connections...

But the DSI cost is much higher than the standing pilot and that is a choice I still need to decide.
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Old 03-01-2007, 12:09 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil and/or Sue
...I am pricing a new water heater, an Atwood 10 gallon combo gas and electric. I debated on DSI (direct spark ignition; a heap more $$$$$), but will probably go to standing pilot while on gas. When camping in our normal mode, I would plan to plug in and merely use electric.
But... I am considering adding a 20 amp cord (dedicated to the water heater) in addition to my existing 30, and see whether I can plug in both. If not, I could just use gas. I really do not want to upgrade my one cord to 50 amp, but that must be how the bigger SOBs can run 2 A/C and all accessories. I have my electric torn out now to do the floor repairs, so I do have options available now.
No better time than the present to "do it right the first time"...

I am in the process of doing exactly what you have described above - see thread below.

http://www.airforums.com/forum...-new-post.html

On the question of two 110 volt connections - I have done the same thing on the 345 - only for two AC's - as long as you specify a 50 amp hookup when you register there should be no question of legality. I carry a 50 amp to 30/20 connections in the MoHo, and just use a 10 gauge extention cord for the second umbilical.

Be careful of the size of the heater when you order - a 10 gallon unit has a larger "footprint" and cut out area than the 6 gallon. I would wager that your Project '73 has a side entry sized for a 6 gallon unit. I really do not know what would be involved to open the cut out up to fit a 10 gallon unit.

As far as utilization goes, I plan on doing the same thing you describe - using the electric when at an appropriate electrical connection, and the gas when electric is not available.

I went with the manual light for two reasons - first is cost, second is the fact that when you are forced to go out and light the unit (I really think that travelling with an open flame is inviting disaster) you are forced to think "is there water in the heater?". I know that my SO is used to flipping on the "autolight" on the MoHo, and she would do the same if that option was available in the trailer - whether there was water in the unit or not.

The Atwood unit I purchased does not have an adjustable thermostat on the electric element - the thermostat is preset at 160 degrees. It does have an overtemp protection device that must be manually reset if the temp goes above a certain point for whatever reason, so do not set the gas thermostat too high.

The great thing about about a dual (gas/electric) water heater is that you can run both heat sources at the same time making for a quick heated water recovery.
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Old 03-01-2007, 04:23 PM   #6
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I see little reason to upgrade to a 50 amp service.The only time you might draw above the limit on a 30 amp service is when you are running the AC. At that time just run the water heater on gas. The additional cost of 50 amp service every time you camp can't be worth it.

While 50 amp service are becoming more available they are not yet universal and clearly not in most state campgrounds.
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Old 03-01-2007, 06:51 PM   #7
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I Chose DSI

I have not yet installed my new water heater but I plan on installing a new and separate circuit for it. (All that could change after I start) My original set up was a 30 amp power cable and a single 20 amp breaker. I guess that meant if I run the AC then nothing else can run. I put a second 20 amp breaker in and separated the last circuit and ran it for a second outlet as well, one outlet has the charger on it. Everything else is on the original circuit. (My AC is set up to run on 20 amps, I checked the spec.).

My current plan is to run a dual breaker and single circuit for the water heater. I did get the DSI + gas or electric option type Suburban 6 gallon unit. It did cost a bit more but than just gas or just electricity, but when I thought about it the option was worth it. Shop around, the prices were quite variable. I ended up orderinf from bigdiscountrv.com (I think that is the address. The outfit had a web site. When I looked at what I wanted and the versatility that the dual system offered the price diffference was not so bad. I like the DSI and the easy ignition, without having to go outside to light the water heater like the old Bowen required. I also like the Suburaban set up for a sacrificial anode which was lacking in the competition. Though the Atwood looked like an easier fit, I guess I will find out about that in about a month or so.

I will admit that another factor made my choice to spend the $$ was that someone previous to the PO cobbled some of the plumbing and did a rather poor job of it and then failed to correct the mistakes. I also needed a new pump and a better method of draining the tank....so it seemed a good idea to replace everything short of the fixtures (some of those may end up going out as well). Hopefully by early summer I will have allmost all new supply plumbing. On the drain side the only thing that appeared bad is the knife valve on the blackwater tank, but that may just need a cleaning and some lube.

Getting back on subject, think about a cool breezy night when you are warm in your trailer - DSI sounds pretty nice if you have to relight a pilot. The Dual energy source is handy as it gives an option. Cost is always a factor, but sometimes it is cheaper in the long run to upgrade. With what we spend on eveything else such as gas, park rent, and the many other parts I have had to get, the top of the line was not that major of an extra expense. Convienience, flexibility and reliability were my top priorities. I did end up spending the odd 110 bucks or so more.
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Old 03-01-2007, 06:55 PM   #8
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forgot something

I forgot to mention one thing, the 12 amps will only be the high draw when the heater is cooking the water! It is not like it will draw 12 amps all day and you can use a breaker or switch to turn it on or off as needed.
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Old 03-01-2007, 08:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokin Camel
I have not yet installed my new water heater but I plan on installing a new and separate circuit for it. (All that could change after I start) My original set up was a 30 amp power cable and a single 20 amp breaker. I guess that meant if I run the AC then nothing else can run. I put a second 20 amp breaker in and separated the last circuit and ran it for a second outlet as well, one outlet has the charger on it. Everything else is on the original circuit. (My AC is set up to run on 20 amps, I checked the spec.).

My current plan is to run a dual breaker and single circuit for the water heater. I did get the DSI + gas or electric option type Suburban 6 gallon unit. It did cost a bit more but than just gas or just electricity, but when I thought about it the option was worth it. ... When I looked at what I wanted and the versatility that the dual system offered the price diffference was not so bad. I like the DSI and the easy ignition, without having to go outside to light the water heater like the old Bowen required. ...
Getting back on subject, think about a cool breezy night when you are warm in your trailer - DSI sounds pretty nice if you have to relight a pilot. The Dual energy source is handy as it gives an option. Cost is always a factor, but sometimes it is cheaper in the long run to upgrade. With what we spend on eveything else such as gas, park rent, and the many other parts I have had to get, the top of the line was not that major of an extra expense. Convienience, flexibility and reliability were my top priorities. I did end up spending the odd 110 bucks or so more.
Good points. Thanks for your thoughts. For the next several months, my wife and I are not in a position to spend much, so any purchase is a stretch. Adding a C note is like salt in the wound...especially knowing as you pointed out, that after being "thrifty" now, a cold night will require a trip out to light/relight, as well as turning off when leaving.

But I'm not sure that I follow your wiring plan. When you say a new and dedicated circuit, I am not sure if you mean from your existing 30 amp cord/breaker box, or from the campground. I figure that my 30 amp cord is going to have to carry 9-14 amps for the rooftop A/C, 2-3 amps lighting, and the occassional 8-13 amps for the coffee maker/espresso machine. That doesn't seem to leave any headroom for the fridge, microwave, fan, waffle iron, TV, hair dryer, and certainly not 12-14 amps for the water heater. That's why I was thinking about adding an additional 20 amp cord (to go to the campground elec feed) dedicated to the water heater.

Heater must be full of water to light/turn on safely. Thanks for that reminder, 87MH! A mere switch to control does seem like a potential forgetful expensive "future memory".
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Old 03-06-2007, 09:11 PM   #10
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Adding AC Circuit

My original box had two breaker positions but only one breaker. I added a second breaker and put the two rear oulets on it, the wfco charger is plugged into one in the bathroom.

When I install the water heater I will change a breaker into a double breaker and take that line to the water heater; thus it will be on it's own circuit.

I save a buck over using circiut GFI by instlling a GFI outlet in the line in front of the water heater. Get this, the GFI outlet is cheaper than the stand alone GFI. The end result is I end up with 3 AC circuits. The original minus the outlets that I segregated into a separate circuit, The second circuit where I rewired the two outlet (changing the first one in line to a GFI--protects the rest of the circuit). The third will be from the additional breaker going to a GFI outlet then onto the water heater.

My AC is only a 20 amp draw. The heater could take 12 at max draw so I may have to shut the AC off, I won't know for sure until I test the draw while it runs. Still it is nice to be able to run the AC and still have 10 amps available. I probably confused you even more. I can diagram it if you think it may be of use?
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Old 03-06-2007, 09:27 PM   #11
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One more thing

I forgot, check the draw on your AC, a lot of the newr units will draw in the mid to high twenties. 30 Amps are recomended for them. Running an AC (or many electric motors) on low amp draws can cause some problems. Unless you know the draw, make sure you are plugged into 120v 30 amp AC.

Also...check e-bay and even more important, your local RV dealer. Tell them if you are looking for something--furnaces, fantastic vent, etc. One of our local dealers (Jerrys RV - Madison WI) will sell used parts to do it yourselfers. If they don't have it they keep a list and if they do an upgrade, remodel or get a wreck in, they will call. Prices have been reasonable as well.
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