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Old 05-29-2014, 04:07 PM   #1
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1979 24' Airstream Excella 24
Tipp City , Ohio
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6 gal water heater with heat exchanger?

I am getting ready to order a new water heater for my MH. I noticed that you can get a 6 gal Atwood that appears to be the same size and shape as the original that has a heat exchanger that circulates engine coolant thru the water heater and heats the water as you drive. Seems kike a good idea. When you arrive at your destination you have hot water. Does any one have any first hand experience with such a system? Does the engine water pump have sufficient flow to operate the system? Are there other drawbacks?
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Old 05-29-2014, 04:12 PM   #2
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I know MH folks who have them and love them.

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Old 05-29-2014, 04:29 PM   #3
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Mine works well. It's hooked in line (or series) with the heater. No additional load on the engine water pump. I'm not sure if there is a bypas valve to keep the water temp from getting too hot.

I wish mine had and electric element also. Cheaper (free) and quieter than propane.
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Old 05-29-2014, 05:32 PM   #4
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When I replaced my water heater a couple yrs back, I guess I got the "fancy" Atwood. It is propane, electric and it has the engine coolant heating tube. The reason I got this one is that it also has the electronic start. Propane or electric heat up the water fairly quickly...I turn both on when I'm in a really big hurry!

This is just my personal feeling, but here goes...I have no plan to ever hook up the engine coolant tube. It is just one less water leak issue to deal with and I would never want to see a coolant leak in the galley and spread from there. It was a lot of work installing laminate flooring and carpet! . Again, just my personal preference.
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Old 05-29-2014, 05:46 PM   #5
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Also was going to say, having the electric is nice. At the "ranch" property, we have full hookups and other then our yearly assessment payment, we only pay a small extra fee for electricity if we want to leave the RV plugged in while not there. So it's nice to not be using the propane up.

We do have a propane "filling station" at the property and basically sell it at coat to owners. Better then a round trip into town and back...80 miles. I'm rolling my eyes to myself at the moment though...in a good polite way...there are only two maintenance guys that I ask when I get propane. The others don't get it that the propane tank on the MH is not removable. They always say to just drop of my tanks and come back later. Even after the explanation, there is still a puzzled look on their faces. And of course it's a major pain to disconnect and drive over to the propane tank. Again I really like having the electric element!
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Old 07-15-2014, 04:10 PM   #6
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New to HOT WATER TANK replacement , I purchased a 1975 Argosy that had the copper pipes cut that went to the old water tank .
here is what I have 2 pipes coming from the rear or the trailer and cut right before thay were hooked up to the water tank and a cut pipe on the floor in front of the water tank only One Pipe leading to the front for the fresh water tank .
Here is my question the two pipes comeing from the rear that were cut do they go into the hot water tank and how would I connect the pipe leading to the front of the camper that gos to the fresh water tank? would like some photos on a hot water tank hooked up as I my be able to figure out were these pipes go .
Were removed before I purchased the trailer?????????? need help ASAP have new hot water tank but do not know how pipes are to be hooked up ??
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Old 07-18-2014, 07:49 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Gosman View Post
New to HOT WATER TANK replacement , I purchased a 1975 Argosy that had the copper pipes cut that went to the old water tank .
here is what I have 2 pipes coming from the rear or the trailer and cut right before thay were hooked up to the water tank and a cut pipe on the floor in front of the water tank only One Pipe leading to the front for the fresh water tank .
Here is my question the two pipes comeing from the rear that were cut do they go into the hot water tank and how would I connect the pipe leading to the front of the camper that gos to the fresh water tank? would like some photos on a hot water tank hooked up as I my be able to figure out were these pipes go .
Were removed before I purchased the trailer?????????? need help ASAP have new hot water tank but do not know how pipes are to be hooked up ??
Gosman,

You're in the Motorhome section of AirForum. Don't know if you'll get too many responses here to your question.
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Old 07-18-2014, 07:52 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Gregsch View Post
I am getting ready to order a new water heater for my MH. I noticed that you can get a 6 gal Atwood that appears to be the same size and shape as the original that has a heat exchanger that circulates engine coolant thru the water heater and heats the water as you drive. Seems kike a good idea. When you arrive at your destination you have hot water. Does any one have any first hand experience with such a system? Does the engine water pump have sufficient flow to operate the system? Are there other drawbacks?

Hi,

Love the heat exchanger in mine. Dadstoy has pointed out the biggest concern with having the heat exchanger. In mine, there's about 70 feet of heater hose that would have to be replaced when it's time for replacement. I've camped a few times before realizing that I had heat exchanger. It's really nice NOT to have to turn on hot water heater until next day at camp.

I will say this, I do plan on converting mine to also have 120v heater element installed.

And yes, I do plan on keeping aux heater and heat exchanger on hot water heater. Hoping for an Alaska trip next summer, have a feeling, I may need aux heater once I get further north......
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Old 07-18-2014, 10:00 PM   #9
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The heat exchanger in my now gone '83, 310 worked as advertised, made hot water while you had the engine running. Very hot water in fact, almost dangerously hot. I didn't consider it a great asset though, propane works well for me.
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Old 07-18-2014, 11:28 PM   #10
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My former Airstreams had propane only water heaters, the new one has electric and propane. I really like having that choice - but having propane only wasn't a real problem. I do live in Virginia where winter normally lasts 5-8 weeks, but I can turn off the water heater and have at least warm water for 12 to 15 hours!

Plus, with propane six gallons will heat within 10 minutes on propane, 15 to 20 minutes. Both should be seven minutes or less. Seems like it's just one more thing to break... and solve something that isn't really a problem.

Paula
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Old 07-19-2014, 01:28 PM   #11
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Thanks new to web do not get on much ; will try and get on the right site here on the fourm.




Thanks again
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Old 07-20-2014, 07:17 PM   #12
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I bought the water heater with all three sources of heat. I intend to hook up the heat exchanger. I am just finishing a major floor repair, should install the waterheater in a week or so. Crazeevw; what kind of hose did they use to supply antifreeze to the heat exchanger?
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Old 07-24-2014, 09:12 AM   #13
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me too

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakota View Post
Mine works well. It's hooked in line (or series) with the heater. No additional load on the engine water pump. I'm not sure if there is a bypas valve to keep the water temp from getting too hot.

I wish mine had and electric element also. Cheaper (free) and quieter than propane.

love mine wish it was electric too
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Old 11-29-2014, 09:22 AM   #14
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So glad to find this thread. Just completed installing a new Atwood water heater.
It is gas , electric, and engine heated.
Surprising to see that the pipe from the engine cooling water on the heater is just welded to the outside of the tank and heats with heat transfer thru the skin of the tank.

My challenge is the electric supply to the heater. I pick up power for the heater at the main power box. Just tied into an existing breaker there. But the heater is too large a draw and keeps flipping it off.

Has anyone found a way to add a breaker into the main electrical box, its so crowded I'm not sure how to make one fit. Please post pics if you have made this happen.

Cheers Richard
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Old 11-29-2014, 03:27 PM   #15
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That's a dilemma! I need some sort of a prioritized load center. Something that would disconnect the hot water element if the load maxed.
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Old 11-29-2014, 03:47 PM   #16
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My boat had an Atwood 6 gal with engine heat exchanger and electric..worked fine for the 16 years I had the boat. Makes sense that a MH would have a heat exchanger in it...free hot water.
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Old 11-29-2014, 06:59 PM   #17
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I love mine. It's great to take a hot shower after a long drive. It also makes it easier to do dishes after stopping for lunch during the trip.

Gregsch: If you haven't done it yet, my MH uses copper line from engine to area of water heater. It looks a lot like the thinner walled rolled copper tubing. They are connected by flexible heater hose that is common for autos.

tevake: I plan on getting the electric also version should I have to replace my current water heater. For the power i was going to tap off the isolated circuit that runs the 2nd A/C unit off the generator. There would also be a switch box that would automatically disconnect the generator when plugged in at a campsite. This circuit would be plugged into the extra 20 amp. This way I don't overload the 30 amp main circuit and would be able to keep the water hot at all times. Unless it's so hot I need both A/C's. I imagine there would have to be a switch between A/C and heater, but haven't given that much thought yet. Still dreaming/ planning ahead for that day.
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Old 11-30-2014, 05:56 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3 Dog Nite View Post

Gregsch: If you haven't done it yet, my MH uses copper line from engine to area of water heater. It looks a lot like the thinner walled rolled copper tubing. They are connected by flexible heater hose that is common for autos.
Ricki, Sounds like your install was re-done post factory. My came with rubber radiator hose (1"?) going all the way back to the hot water heater and heat auxiliary exchanger under the aft bench seat. I disconnected mine where it splits of the engine. Basically ran a hose from the output to the return isolating the engine. I was afraid of leaks in the 23 year old hose!
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Old 11-30-2014, 11:36 AM   #19
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tevake, My project has stalled temporarily but, I have finished the electric connections and the hot and cold connections. I have not fired it up yet but I assume it will work fine this way. My electric panel had several open spaces in the panel so I just added a dedicated breaker. I did a search on e-bay for the breaker needed and sure enough there were several listings for old used breakers that fit my 1979 breaker panel. If you do not have a open space for an additional breaker try searching for a 1/2 size breaker. I have done this on other projects. You just remove one full size breaker and replace it with two 1/2 size breakers.
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Old 11-30-2014, 01:16 PM   #20
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This is a picture of the breaker panel in my shop. Several times I have added circuits. See the small breakers on the left. They are 1/2 size breakers used to gain space when adding circuits. Be forewarned the manufacturer knows what you are doing with them, and how few other options you have, so they are priced accordingly. Expect to pay 5 times as much for the thin breakers.
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