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Old 12-23-2020, 06:41 PM   #1
WeíreLivinTheAirDream
 
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1988 34' Excella
1988 34.5' Airstream 345
Franklin , Tennessee
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Full electric water heater recommendations?

Hello! We are new the the community, so Iím not sure if Iím in the right spot or not, but we are looking to eliminate our propane and are having a hard time finding an all electric water heater that our 1988 Airstream Excella 1000 will be able to support. Any recommendations? Or advice? We are first timers fixing up our AS!
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Old 12-23-2020, 06:45 PM   #2
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The power source at most campgrounds will not support an all electric water heater that will provide water quantity for a shower (neither tank type or tankless) without a major mod of your trailer's electric system.
If you don't need water for bathing, there are under counter residential tank type type 120v water heaters that will provide enough for hand and dish washing (2.5 gallon 1300 watt 120v)

ps:
If you add up the power used by each appliance, you will find that your trailer can't run everything at once. Air conditioner, microwave, refrigerator, and converter (charging batteries) running at the same time will use more than the 120v 30 amps that is available on your trailer. Any additional load, like a coffee pot or electric frying pan, over load the system. After camping for a while, you will learn and adapt to turning off one item prior to turning on another.
If you upgrade to a 240v 50 amp system, then maybe.....
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Old 12-23-2020, 06:54 PM   #3
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Cool ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by A W Warn View Post
The power source at most campgrounds will not support an all electric water heater that will provide water quantity for a shower.
I beg to differ. We set off on a journey to Big Bend with only the electric side of our water heater functional . It did provide hot showers for two people for over ten days. We used both 30Amp and 50 amp hookups on the trip.
YMMV . But I think A W Warn is wrong. I have since replaced the propane igniter board with a Dinosaur board and we have both modes back in service.
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Old 12-23-2020, 06:54 PM   #4
WeíreLivinTheAirDream
 
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1988 34' Excella
1988 34.5' Airstream 345
Franklin , Tennessee
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We were looking to eventually go solar. Would we be able to then? Or no? Sorry if this sounds dumb. We have just gotten into it all I’m still learning.
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Old 12-23-2020, 07:00 PM   #5
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Cool ?

I don't know about solar.
It would depend on your battery bank . Probably Not.
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Old 12-23-2020, 07:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lafitte View Post
I beg to differ. We set off on a journey to Big Bend with only the electric side of our water heater functional . It did provide hot showers for two people for over ten days. We used both 30Amp and 50 amp hookups on the trip.
YMMV . But I think A W Warn is wrong. I have since replaced the propane igniter board with a Dinosaur board and we have both modes back in service.
Yes, you are correct. I've done that too, when it's warm weather.
It works only if one is willing to compromise their norm. A navy shower for one, then wait while the water warms up for the next shower. It doesn't go so fast if it's winter and the water is cold.
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Old 12-23-2020, 07:32 PM   #7
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Wink A w

This trip to Big Bend was in Feb / Mar and some cold weather was experienced . Granted we did allow significant time for the WH to recover.
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Old 12-23-2020, 08:58 PM   #8
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1988 34' Excella
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Thank you for the responses! We will definitely have to look more into things before we really decide.
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Old 12-23-2020, 10:54 PM   #9
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Full electric water heater recommendations?

Atwood make a dual LP and electric water heater which came standard with airstreams for years (model number 96121). Just donít hookup the gas line if you want electric only. Weíve never had an issue with hot water and take regular showers and we do from time to time camp in the winter here in Colorado.

I have this Atwood model (link below). Draws about 11AC amps / 1,400watts when heating. Most any campground is fine for plugging in and you can even run it from an outlet in your home if nothing else in the trailer is running.

You would need about 6-$8000 of lithium batteries to run this full time in electric mode with another $5000+ in solar panels and related inverter/charger equipment and wiring. that does not include any installation services.

It will suck back quite a bit of power to heat the 6 gallon tank and then recover a few times per day (morning showers, dishes, evening showers, with 2+ people in the trailer, etc).

I have a lithium energy system of that size, but I choose to use mine in LP mode when boondocking. At campsites I use it in electric mode when plugged into shore power.

https://tweetys.com/atwood-combinati...hoCNCIQAvD_BwE

LP isnít so bad... easy to plumb for appliances such as the gas furnace, water heater and stove..... and readily available.
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Old 12-24-2020, 10:20 AM   #10
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2017 30' Classic
Carlisle , Pennsylvania
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Hi

There are a lot of variables here. How hot do you like to shower? How long do you shower? How many folks shower in a row?

You can easily find a number of threads here with people complaining that their hot water running on propane *plus* electric is not up to the task... in the summer no less. At the other extreme are the folks who boil a quart of water and use that with cold water for their bathing needs ... who needs a hot water heater ... yikes ....

Heating water takes a *lot* of energy. A typical residential hot water heater is up in the 6 to 12 KW range. A family of 4 can run one of those flat with long showers. That amount of power is what you get from a full 240V 50A feed.

To get 12KW straight off of solar, you would need up around 14 100W panels on the roof. Unless you have a 36' trailer, that will be difficult to do.

To get 12KW off of a 12V battery, you would have to pull 1,000A. If you have 100AH Lithium's, that means 10 of them. They will go from "full" to "dead flat" in an hour with that sort of load.

So can you do this? It's very much a "that depends" sort of thing. Propane makes a *lot* of sense in this case.

Bob
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Old 12-24-2020, 10:56 AM   #11
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Water heater

Perhaps now your starting to see that the decision to go all electric might not be the "best" decision.
Truth is that propane is a very good high energy solution for trailer/ camping for many reasons and is why it's a universal solution to the high energy needs of water heating for showers.

Having said that as a sort of "you might want to rethink this decision answer"

There are some 110v only solutions that produce over 10GPH (at 90 degrees)and have good ratings like this one from Lowe's the Eemax mini tank
https://www.lowes.com/pd/Eemax-Mini-...20116cc1c1e699

Now expect that you can take one quick shower then wait and take another etc. and without the gas solution this is what 110vac 30 amp will provide...your running into a physics problem there's only so many BTU's available in a certain amount of time.
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Old 12-24-2020, 11:09 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by captainkirk View Post
Perhaps now your starting to see that the decision to go all electric might not be the "best" decision.
Truth is that propane is a very good high energy solution for trailer/ camping for many reasons and is why it's a universal solution to the high energy needs of water heating for showers.

Having said that as a sort of "you might want to rethink this decision answer"

There are some 110v only solutions that produce over 10GPH (at 90 degrees)and have good ratings like this one from Lowe's the Eemax mini tank
https://www.lowes.com/pd/Eemax-Mini-...20116cc1c1e699

Now expect that you can take one quick shower then wait and take another etc. and without the gas solution this is what 110vac 30 amp will provide...your running into a physics problem there's only so many BTU's available in a certain amount of time.
^
X2

My noe-nutt'n question.
Why eliminate all LP, are you planning a "camp only" renovation? 🤔

Bob
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Old 12-24-2020, 03:03 PM   #13
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I installed a new Atwood LP/Electric water heater in our 1988 Excel. Works fine on electric. No need to hook up the LP if you do not want it. It is an exact fit replacement for the Atwood that was in there originally. You will need to add an outlet for the WH in the trailer. It is not too far from the WH to the electric panel.

We run the WH on propane all the time. With these older trailers you only have 30 amp service. The power converter draws power almost all the time. If you add an electric WH that might not leave enough power to run the microwave or the AC. You might have to cut the WH off when running the microwave or the AC. For this reason I left the WH with a separate power cord that can be plugged into the 20 amp outlet at a campground. That way it gets additional power in addition to the 30 amp.

My counsel is to leave the LP system in place and use it for the WH and the stove and the furnace. It will cost a hugh amount of money and work to replace those functions with solar. Maybe $8,000 plus or so to get enough lithium batteries and inverters and solar panels.

My trailer is plugged into the grid full time and I still use the LP for hot water. I pay for both the gas and the electricity. I have found it cheaper to use the LP for hot water.

I do not know your reasons for wanting to go to only solar. I do know that it will be expensive. I do know that if the desired result is self sufficiency off the grid that LP will be a big help. I do know that I have read that more RV's catch fire and burn from electrical issues than from propane issues. I do know that solar and 110 volt inverters involve high currents and the cabling must be professional and perfect.
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Old 12-24-2020, 05:13 PM   #14
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I have installed tankless water heaters in both my home and Airstream, Reason: a lot less energy use and more efficient for gas (60% electric vs. 90% for gas). Gas is safe if you know what you are doing. Just don't take short cuts.
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Old 12-24-2020, 09:05 PM   #15
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We have a 50AMP trailer. My wife and I don’t run out of hot water. Having said that if you are in a situation with 20 AMP service it would best to use LP. There’s a reason that LP is used in my house for heating the water; It has a far faster recovery rate.
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Old 12-24-2020, 10:32 PM   #16
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1994 28' Excella
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Isotemp and whale would be good electric water heaters to look at. But as mentioned, heating water requires a lot of energy.

The formula watts/volts = amps is good to know and apply when planning off grid electrical systems.

All the best,
Hein
DIYvan
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Old 12-25-2020, 07:52 AM   #17
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Hi

If it's cold out and the campground is feeding you 30 something degree water ( or if that's what's in your fresh water tank), even a 50A setup + propane can quickly get behind. I have data on this.

Bob
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Old 12-25-2020, 08:34 AM   #18
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There is also direct solar. You can purchase a camp shower, which is basically a black bag you fill with water and sit on the roof of your camper, attached to a hose and showerhead. On numerous trips to Haiti, I noticed that the locals there will sit 50 gallon drums painted black and filled with water on their roofs and plumb them into their homes for simple, effective hot water. Of course in Haiti, it can reach 90į before noon on a typical January day. Direct solar would not work nearly as well in the United States, especially in winter.

My vintage 69 Caravelle had just a simple 6 gallon propane water heater to which I added an aftermarket “hot rod“ which is simply a heating element that you stick into the drain port. It does a great job, taking about 20 minutes to heat the tank to a sufficiently warm level to take a hot-spicket-on only navy shower, in the warmer half of the year.
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Old 12-25-2020, 08:40 AM   #19
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At 35 degree inlet water and starting with a typical hot 6 gallon gas electric water heater one can do 9 3 gallon showers in an hour, or 6 3 gallon showers in 30 min. If one takes 5 gallon showers then you are down to 3 in 30 min and 5 in an hour. The longest single shower one can manage is 12 gallons without running out of shower suitable warmth.

Me, I use 2 gallons while my wife uses 5-10 gallons (she does not manage the tanks....)

Note that a 3 gallon shower will consume the equivalent of about 30 Amp Hr 12V battery power, or more than an hour of 400 watt peak solar charging in the early spring. As others have said, heating water with solar charging is not trivial and not cheap.
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Old 12-26-2020, 03:38 PM   #20
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88 BUCKS!

https://www.amazon.com/Camco-Hot-Wat.../dp/B0024ECCJW


I now have electric and propane. To tell the truth, I like having both but have not used propane since installing the electric. Comforting to know propane is there if I want it.



I am surprised how well this works and how easy it was to install. It takes a little longer to heat the water than propane but works very well. I had originally thought I had to run electrical wiring to the front panel but not true. Just need a 120v outlet near the water heater. I suggest putting the lighted switch where you can easily see it, so you won't forget to turn it off!
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