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DJW 03-13-2011 08:42 PM

How often to turn on water heater?
Hello, I might be posting this in the wrong spot- my water heater works great- no repair needed. 2004 25' Safari-

We just spent our first weekend in it. I wonder if folks just leave their water heaters on all the time, or turn on as needed? I turned ours off at night, and there was still enough hot water in the morning for a quick shower. And, when it ran out, it seemed to get back to "hot" within 10 minutes of turning it on.

Is it safe/prudent to leave it on all the time, or just turn on when needed?



tpi 03-13-2011 08:52 PM

I think you're going to find people who leave them on and others who don't. I turn mine on only as needed. It saves a little propane and I feel a little safer because my bed is directly over it.

However if it was very cold, and trailer occupied, I would run it to keep the compartment warmer for freeze protection.

mistermcfrug 03-13-2011 09:02 PM

I'd guess you'll get various opinions on this. We turn it on when needed. If you're camping, you usually get up in the morning and go somewhere or do something. It seems wasteful to me to keep it on when you not even there. Propane, of course, is made from crude oil. With the price of oil always high and now sorta sky high, why keep water hot when you're not there? We typically fire it up after dinner to wash dishes. If we take showers, we leave it on long enough after that to cover the showers, then shut it off prior to the conclusion of the second shower. We don't see a need to keep heating water when we can see the need for it ending that day. It really comes down to how much you want to pay for convenience. If you place a very high value on the trailer being just like a house, maybe you keep it on 24/7. If you don't feel like wasting, then you'll be more inclined to match the time that it is on with actual, planned need.

Strictly from a safety point of view, I think you can run them 24/7. They're supposed to be safe. On the other hand, I personally would not want to lay in bed and hear the unit firing up periodically during the night in an effort to keep the water temp at the set temperature when there is likely no need.

Finally, I would only add that if you camp in places that demand use of the furnace and maybe you use propane (and not hook-up electricity) for the refrigerator, you'd want to ask yourself if you like going to propane stores to get tanks refilled more frequently than would otherwise be necessary.

TBRich 03-13-2011 09:17 PM

There are two ways to look at it...does it take more propane to heat cold water to a hot temp...or is it more economical to keep the water at a constant hot temperature rather than starting from scratch every time you need it? Personally I think it's 6 of one and half a dozen of the other.

Personally, speaking, when we are camping we usually turn the water heater off when we don't need it. As mentioned above if it's near freezing we leave it on just for the added warmth it offers (and run hot water through the pipes before we hit the hay).

However you look at it, it is safe to leave it on all the time, however...especially in newer rigs.

Airslide 03-13-2011 10:02 PM

Our classic has the electric anode and I just keep it on the whole time we are camping. Its nice to have the hot water on demand. If we are using only the gas I fire it up about 20 minutes before needed.


azflycaster 03-13-2011 10:58 PM

You have to go outside with a lighter to start my water heater. We turn it on when we setup the trailer and turn it off when we are packing for the trip home. It only cycles on when you use some of the hot water in the tank. The rest of the time it keeps the water hot with just the pilot light burning.

It's nice to have hot water in the morning without heading out the door with a flashlight and a lighter.

pmclemore 03-14-2011 11:03 AM

The new rig has an electric option so I turn it on when we are camping with hookups. However when we are dry camping, I tend to light it only during times when we will use it...for example, if I leave it on at night, it will wake me when it fires up in the night.

If I didn't have an inside switch to light it, I would do like Richard and burn it all the time.


Jammer 03-14-2011 11:14 AM

Do what works for you.

The main problem with leaving it on overnight is the burner noise which might wake some people up. I usually shut mine off at night when I'm on propane for this reason, unless it's cold enough for me to worry about lines freezing. When I have shore power, I run the electric element all night, because it takes longer to heat the water than the propane burner does, and because it doesn't make any noise.

For overnight the propane or electric use to keep the water hot is minimal.

I do shut everything off if I'm going to be away from the trailer for a few days, mainly out of concern that the tank could run dry if someone walks up and opens the outside faucet or something.

au_ee 03-14-2011 11:30 AM

It depends on whether we have power connections or not. Our water heater has both 110V and propane. If we have power we leave it on. If not, we turn it on as needed to save on the propane. Plus during the nite we don't want to hear it cycle on and off. It is insulated well enough that in the morning I have enough hot water for a shave.

eubank 03-14-2011 03:22 PM

You can tell when I'm in need of a bath: The water heater is turned on.

Bill M. 03-14-2011 04:51 PM

I also just turn mine on once in the am and maybe once in the pm. the PO left it on all the time. I had one of the add on electric units but I took it out. thermostat did not work. the hwh is insulated well enough to stay warm all day and recovers very quickly, so that is the way I run it. might depend upon how well your thermostat works. mine tends to be too hot if I leave it on all the time

blmitch5 03-14-2011 05:04 PM

I've done both, leave it on all day and night and in the summer I turn it on only when I need it. I like the sound so it doesn't bother me and if I'm going to die from an explosion, well I can't think of a better place to do it! :) I think their safe and don't worry about it.

Jack46 03-14-2011 05:45 PM

We're fortunate to have both gas and electric capability. Assuming we are hooked up to shore power, we'll use both gas and electric to heat the tank quickly and then go to electric only for standby.

Jack46 03-14-2011 05:47 PM

When we had gas only, we'd turn it off and on as needed - I hate burning our propane.

C Johnson 03-14-2011 07:46 PM

I leave it on. I want that water piping hot when I want to use it. I don't mind burning the .25 cents of dino juice to keep my water hot for two days. :)

Cracker 03-15-2011 08:09 PM

I've found that, with my water heater, the propane pilot light usually keeps the tank hot - at least in the warmer summer months. On the other hand, if I'm hooked to shore power I run it on electric. It goes on when we're stopped and off when we're travelling.

Jim Foster 03-15-2011 09:05 PM

First one up in the morning turns it on. We turn it off after breakfast dishes. Back on again at dinner time, off again before retiring at night.

Works well for us.

Foiled Again 03-15-2011 09:06 PM

I only have propane, and I fulltime. I leave mine on - and have for almost 5 years now. I've gone for six months on two tanks of propane (during summer). So between doing dishes and showering daily - I just don't think I'd save that much re-heating from cold vs maintaining the temperature.

I've run out of propane at night and found the tank of water still quite warm in the morning. Newer water heaters are well insulated so choose what works for you.

I'd turn it off if I were going to be away for a substantial length of time.


spenfolder 03-15-2011 11:52 PM

I turn it on in the morning to heat things up, then turn it off and it usually keeps enough warm water for the things I need during the day.

SilverGate 03-16-2011 12:56 AM


Originally Posted by spenfolder (Post 964803)
I turn it on in the morning to heat things up, then turn it off and it usually keeps enough warm water for the things I need during the day.

dittto... what spenfolder said!


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