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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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Originally Posted by Globie64 View Post
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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Old 02-28-2012, 01:25 PM   #15
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If anyone has a Bowen 6 gal aluminum tank in good shape, I am interested.
For model # G6A2, 6.2 gal, spec # R807114, serial # 364602
My water heater gas part works perfect [1978 Argosy 27 ], has no corrosion in or on the tank after disassembly , BUT, the last owner let the unit get too cold and now the internal tank camper water line / coil leaks air [ tested at 30 psi] into the tank itself.
Has anyone attempted a repair by cutting the tank in two at the welded seam?
If not, are replacement aluminum tanks available, new or used?
Any help appreciated...
Bob C dobson, NC
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Old 02-28-2012, 04:28 PM   #16
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By the time you factor in the time it'll take to find a replacement, labour, welding costs, it would be cheaper to replace it with a new unit. They aren't very expensive.
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Old 02-29-2012, 06:02 AM   #17
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new vs old water heater

As I understand it, the new units are not alumimum, tankwise, and that doesn't bode well for long life.
With regard to the tank, it seems I was mistaken and there is no inside "coil , just high and low pipe for hot out and cold in, so my issue must have been a small camper pipe system leak, or leaking relief valve.
So, no tank new needed.....
My plan, while apart , is to incorporate a welded on bung for a 115 V AC electric element and mount adjustable control "switch" as used on commercial electric hot water heaters, with a lighted on -off switch some where convenient to the bathroom of galley area.
I do wish I could retrofit this Bowen G6A2 unit with a auto ignition gas vlave, but haven't found one yet.....
Know of any available?
Thanks for your thoughts..
BC
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Old 03-05-2012, 11:23 AM   #18
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Thanks Barts for the calculation. Regarding the fuel use and on demand- I think they make sense when there is a lot of use over a period of time, like in a residence or an RV where someone is living. For the way we use it, occasionally, the amount of fuel we use to heat water is minimal.

Dryenko, I think you're going to find that you'll get plenty of life out of a good quality water heater and that the grief associated with tracking down an aluminum tank won't by you any additional life over a steel tank. My tank is 48 years old and still holds water.
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