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Old 08-31-2016, 12:04 AM   #1
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Electric Hot Water Heater Switch

While waiting on my new trailer to hatch, I keep thinking of stuff I could improve on my future trailer. One of the ideas is to put a switch inside the trailer to turn on/off the electric to the hot water heater. I know you've been there - you have to go out to the hot water heater, open the panel door, fumble around until you find the on/off switch hiding behind all that stuff, remember if it's switched up or down for on, and then close everything back up. Oh, and don't forget to turn it back off before disconnecting the water or you will be buying a new heater element.

So.... I was browsing around on Ebay and found this. It looks like a direct replacement for the panel that comes with the Escape but with an extra switch for the electric water heater. What do you think?
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Old 08-31-2016, 12:13 AM   #2
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Not just an added electric water heater switch, but the propane one as well. That'd mean deleting the water heater switch that comes with the trailer. Have you asked Escape if they'll use this instead of their battery/tank monitor/pump switch and their propane water heater switch? Might be a bit of a pain to do it afterwards. The water heater switch and the pump/tank monitor switch are not normally installed in the same location.

I'd just add a simple switch for the electric, as others have done.

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Old 08-31-2016, 12:15 AM   #3
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I don't even use the electric. Turn the heater on when I need it, then off. Water stays hot for hours.
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Old 08-31-2016, 12:20 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbryan4 View Post
The water heater switch and the pump/tank monitor switch are not normally installed in the same location.
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This is the one I'm referring to.
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Old 08-31-2016, 12:22 AM   #5
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This is the one I referring to.
Oh! Didn't know that they were using a new switch. That'd work. Simple, direct replacement, with just the additional wiring to the electrical controls on the water heater. I like it.

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Old 08-31-2016, 12:27 AM   #6
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The replacement panel makes sense to me... as long as the level gauge display is compatible with the Escape's wiring. One tidy panel would certainly be better than the scattered-switch approach, although both can certainly work. I think it's worth having a closer look at the trailer's wiring.
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Old 08-31-2016, 12:42 AM   #7
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I would still wonder if there is an electrical or code problem with putting a switch inside for the electric on the water heater. Escape refuses to do that. They put a propane switch but not electric. Wonder the reason, if anyone doing a build sheet can find out from someone who actually knows.
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Old 08-31-2016, 12:50 AM   #8
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I would still wonder if there is an electrical or code problem with putting a switch inside for the electric on the water heater. Escape refuses to do that. They put a propane switch but not electric. Wonder the reason, if anyone doing a build sheet can find out from someone who actually knows.
I think the request would have to be phrased to put your switch upstream of the electrical feed to the water heater; in effect you would have two switches in series. Escape wouldn't want to tie into the WH electrical switch as that would void the manufacturers warranty.
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Old 08-31-2016, 01:01 AM   #9
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I think the request would have to be phrased to put your switch upstream of the electrical feed to the water heater; in effect you would have two switches in series. Escape wouldn't want to tie into the WH electrical switch as that would void the manufacturers warranty.
And I am supposing that people who do this themselves are doing that and voiding the warranty probably. Escape, however, will not do it. I wonder why they will not just do it in a way that does not void the warranty then.
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Old 08-31-2016, 01:12 AM   #10
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And I am supposing that people who do this themselves are doing that and voiding the warranty probably. Escape, however, will not do it. I wonder why they will not just do it in a way that does not void the warranty then.
I think they would route a piece of Romex between the two desired points and leave both ends disconnected. That would leave it up to the owner to install the rest of the setup without code/safety issues for them.
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Old 08-31-2016, 01:20 AM   #11
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I think they would route a piece of Romex between the two desired points and leave both ends disconnected. That would leave it up to the owner to install the rest of the setup without code/safety issues for them.
What I am saying is that they do not do it at all. They will not put in such switches for the electric. Maybe they could use your idea to do it.
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Old 08-31-2016, 02:33 AM   #12
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This had me a little puzzled. People seem to be talking about 120V AC wiring for control of the electric element. Yes, there's a 120V AC switch behind the outside door of the heater, but wouldn't the remote control be 12V DC, just like the propane control switch? The little switch in the proposed replacement monitor & switch panel is probably only a low-power 12V DC switch, intended to be used this way.

Apparently my confusion arose from the version of the appliance used: although this is not mentioned anywhere I could find on the Airxcel (which includes Suburban) website, the SW6DEL has a relay allowing remote control of electric operation with a 12V switch (just like the propane), but the SW6DE doesn't have the relay, so all that is left is for you to control the 120V AC power directly. It looks like Escape is using the SW6DE, and that's all that's currently offered on the Airxcel website (although at least one retailer offers both the SW6DE and - for a few dollars more - the SW6DEL).

Quote:
Originally Posted by tractors1 View Post
I think the request would have to be phrased to put your switch upstream of the electrical feed to the water heater; in effect you would have two switches in series. Escape wouldn't want to tie into the WH electrical switch as that would void the manufacturers warranty.
Right - Even without the "L" version and the resulting easy-to-run light-gauge 12V DC wiring, there's no reason to break into the wiring within the appliance. The inside switch is just an ordinary 120V AC switch with suitable capacity (which means a 15-amp 125V AC light switch) in the circuit which supplies the heater. You might want one with an indicator light, if you are concerned about it being left on when it shouldn't be.
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Old 08-31-2016, 06:23 AM   #13
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I think the request would have to be phrased to put your switch upstream of the electrical feed to the water heater; in effect you would have two switches in series. Escape wouldn't want to tie into the WH electrical switch as that would void the manufacturers warranty.
I fail to see how putting the electrical feed upstream of the water heater on an inside switch would constitute a code violation as it is in effect already being done with, as Charlie and Brian says, two switches in series. Every 120v circuit in the trailer is protected by a circuit breaker which is nothing but a (smart) "switch." I cannot remember, but if the 120v water heater element is on a dedicated circuit, technically, the water heater switch could be left in the on position and turned on or off with the breaker. Adding a third switch in series would serve the same purpose, but it would add a third location to check if the electrical element failed to power on.
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Old 08-31-2016, 08:39 AM   #14
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switch

So you guys think ETI will put the switch in ?
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Old 08-31-2016, 08:45 AM   #15
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They might Jim, but they probably won't wire the switch for the electric water heater. You could always ask.

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Old 08-31-2016, 08:47 AM   #16
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I added an interior switch for two reasons. First, the outside switch failed on mine (it seems to be an often repeated problem) and replacing it wasn't much fun. It now stays on all the time. The second reason is I wanted an easy way to shut off the water heater when connected to a 15 Amp service. While I could go outside & use the heater mounted switch, it might be raining!

I wired a standard 15 amp household switch in series with the circuit breaker. I didn't add a light since I leave it on all the time (except when I need to reduce power usage) and didn't want another "glowing" nightlight.

I also added an "on" light to the propane switch so I will remember to shut it off after it gets hot...
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Old 08-31-2016, 08:52 AM   #17
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I added the LED in the water heater switch too Jon, taking the idea from you, Jim Bennett and others. Since I don't have the two way water heater, no need for the electrical switch. I still think a simple switch to control the electrical side is the easiest way to go -- unless Escape will install and wire the switch mentioned by the OP, and it can be wired to the model that Escape uses. That's a really elegant solution.

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Old 08-31-2016, 09:23 AM   #18
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I think they would route a piece of Romex between the two desired points and leave both ends disconnected. That would leave it up to the owner to install the rest of the setup without code/safety issues for them.
Charlie, we have installed disconnect switches ahead of appliances with their own controls lots. I doubt it would be a code issue, and definitely not a safety on. It would be good to hear from someone who knows definitely with this situation though.
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Old 08-31-2016, 10:26 AM   #19
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They are using the SW6DE. Maybe that is why they won't do the electric switches.
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Old 08-31-2016, 11:28 AM   #20
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The other component I planned to install is the Suburban Water Heater Relay no. 232948 , Suburban Water Heater Relay, 232948

The relay connects between the 120v supply and the heater - see the wiring diagram for the 12v and 120v connections. This should meet any code requirements as it matches the SW6DEL.
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