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Old 02-26-2012, 07:23 PM   #1
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New low tech water heater

Okay, onward and upward: our gas system is working, and the water system works, and the water heater is the next item up for replacement. We have what appears to be the original Bowen unit, and I'm thinking that we'll get a 6 gallon Atwood. I'm also thinking that we'll get the basic one with a pilot light, and looking for the best place to buy one. I'm curious what others have to say... or should we get a Suburban? Any input is appreciated.
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Old 02-26-2012, 07:26 PM   #2
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Cost aside, I would go on demand. I think they cost about double the money.
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Old 02-26-2012, 07:34 PM   #3
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Hi, yeah, I was thinking about an on-demand, but they're about 3x the cost. If we end up using the AS more it might make sense, but I can't justify it at this point. That is, I can't justify it to the person who would require suitable justification.

I'd also like to keep the devices simple.. maybe I'm mistaken about that.
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Old 02-26-2012, 07:40 PM   #4
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Think there are pretty good deals on the 6 Gal Atwood...the stock model that was installed in my CCD works very well -- and if you have shore power you get double duty with both gas and electric to rapidly get your water hot. I have mixed feelings about the on-demand. Very expensive -- and do you REALLY need that long a shower?
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Old 02-26-2012, 08:12 PM   #5
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Bab, how does that work? Is it electronic ignition?
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Old 02-26-2012, 08:21 PM   #6
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If the keywords are "low tech" that seems to imply a manual lighting burner. That was an option when I put in my Atwood about 5 years ago. The burner lights from the outside access panel.
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Old 02-26-2012, 08:38 PM   #7
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We splurged for the electronic ignition unit - definitely easy to use - flip a switch and you get hot water a little while later. We were camping this weekend at Bodega Bay, and the weather was cool and windy; I was happy to minimize the trips out of the trailer. The difference in price is about $110; the fact that I can take a shower and turn off the water heater from inside the trailer is pretty handy, too.

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Old 02-26-2012, 08:45 PM   #8
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Peter, I swapped out my original Bowen with a 6 Gal Atwood with the electric ignition and gas/electric heating. It has worked flawlessly for me. I liked the idea of being able to use electric to heat the water when I had shore power and propane when I didn't.

Palomino RV used to sell them for less than anyone else. I'm not sure if that's still the case.
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Old 02-26-2012, 08:51 PM   #9
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Okay, thanks @ Cameron, that's a great tip, I'll check it out. @Barts, thats a good recommendation too, we have the same wind here too and it may be that the electronic one is more reliable in the wind than a pilot?
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Old 02-26-2012, 09:17 PM   #10
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Okay, thanks @ Cameron, that's a great tip, I'll check it out. @Barts, thats a good recommendation too, we have the same wind here too and it may be that the electronic one is more reliable in the wind than a pilot?
Well, the original Suburban was clearly defunct when we bought the trailer, so I've never compared the two. The only time I've had to fiddle with the switch is when I've changed propane cylinders and gotten some air into the lines; otherwise it has just worked.

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Old 02-26-2012, 10:00 PM   #11
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To keep things simple and reliable I would go with the 6 gal- electronic ignition or pilot, your choice. I would not go with the on demand at 3 times the cost (again, do you really need that long hot shower- especially when boondocking). I also don't think it will be as reliable until they have made a gazillion of them.

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Old 02-27-2012, 09:44 AM   #12
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I would agree- we take short showers, having grown up in the California drought of the late 70s. I think there may be an advantage to having the additional 6 gallons of water on board. I'm a fan of on demand, for residences of if we were going to camp a lot, but I want fool proof as I can get. I did read about the electronic ignition, and for not a lot more it seems much easier. Thanks you guys
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Old 02-27-2012, 09:55 AM   #13
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The point of the on-demand isn't long showers, the point is when you're not taking a shower. It's when you do *not* need hot water that the on-demand doesn't consume energy while the tank-based ones use energy to keep the tank hot. So the *less* you use it, the more you save with an on-demand heater.
That being said, we have a 6gal atwood with electronic ignition, which is nice because we only switch it on in the morning and the evening when we need hot water. So we're not keeping the tank hot all day & night. Of course, each time when we're done we're left with a warm tank of water that will just cool off, so there's still waste. But going on a trip isn't about saving energy...
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Old 02-27-2012, 08:53 PM   #14
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The point of the on-demand isn't long showers, the point is when you're not taking a shower. It's when you do *not* need hot water that the on-demand doesn't consume energy while the tank-based ones use energy to keep the tank hot. So the *less* you use it, the more you save with an on-demand heater.
That being said, we have a 6gal atwood with electronic ignition, which is nice because we only switch it on in the morning and the evening when we need hot water. So we're not keeping the tank hot all day & night. Of course, each time when we're done we're left with a warm tank of water that will just cool off, so there's still waste. But going on a trip isn't about saving energy...
Yup... that 6 gallons of water is about 50 lbs; assuming 50F input water and 110 F temp in the water heater, that's 50 * (110-50) = 3000 BTU, or a bit less than 3 ounces of propane allowing for some inefficiencies in the water heater.

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