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Old 06-24-2019, 12:04 PM   #1
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Hot water heater electric conversion kit

Hi all - does anyone have experience with hot water heater electric conversion kits (such as Hott Rod)? Unfortunately, we didn't order the electric option for the hot water heater and are finding we spend most of our time parked at campgrounds with electric hookups.
The addition of a conversion kit looks fairly straight forward, except for plugging it in to a receptacle. Looks like I'll need to add a receptacle inside the bench seat of our 5.0TA (where the water heater is located). Will adding an electrical outlet there be do-able? There's an outlet on the front of this bench area. Can I tap into that receptacle to add another receptacle inside the bench seat area near the hot water heater for the Hott Rod kit plug?
Thanks to anyone with electrical experience who can help!
John
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Old 06-24-2019, 12:40 PM   #2
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Normally I'd say yes and I would do this in the past, however Escape is now installing special electrical outlets that need special tools to wire. I had to remove the old outlet entirely and install a conventional outlet and then add an outlet to the conventional one. See here for details Prairie Schooner modifications
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Old 06-24-2019, 01:34 PM   #3
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The heather element screws into where your anode is mounted in the Sururban WH. They sell a special anode that allows the heater to be installed through the anode. Either Hott Rod or the Lightening Rod sells the special anode which I think will work with either heater. I installed a Lightening Rod in a Casita and it worked great. You also have to mount a thermostat on your tank.
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Old 06-24-2019, 04:34 PM   #4
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Can you really justify the cost and time to add electrical to your hot water heater? I normally use one tank of propane per 30 days. That’s for hot water, cooking and refrigerator. At $12 - $15 for a tank of fuel, if you figure 1/3 for hot water, maybe $.50 per day overall or $.17 for hot water. I average 65 days camping per year, so for $11 per year, I don’t need to remember to turn off electric to the hot water heater. (Or else add the cost of replacing an electric element)
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Old 06-24-2019, 05:13 PM   #5
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Can you really justify the cost and time to add electrical to your hot water heater? I normally use one tank of propane per 30 days. That’s for hot water, cooking and refrigerator. At $12 - $15 for a tank of fuel, if you figure 1/3 for hot water, maybe $.50 per day overall or $.17 for hot water. I average 65 days camping per year, so for $11 per year, I don’t need to remember to turn off electric to the hot water heater. (Or else add the cost of replacing an electric element)
Everyone is different.

We go through a bottle of propane in about a week on average, mostly depending how far above freezing we wish the interior temperature to be on colder days which we see a lot of, and whether we have hookups as we then use electric for hot water, how much cooking we do which is the vast majority at the trailer, and whether we use the propane firepit much.

The biggest advantage electric heat for the water heater is that if you have hookups you can leave it on an have hot water available all the time. Without electric we try to conserve propane and just turn in on for doing dishes or showering and cleaning.
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Old 06-24-2019, 06:09 PM   #6
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As Jim said above.
Most of the time we will just put a pot of water on the stove to heat up for dishes rather than fire up the tank on propane.
Propane is way more expensive here in BC making the electric hot water a great option.
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Old 06-24-2019, 06:38 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
Normally I'd say yes and I would do this in the past, however Escape is now installing special electrical outlets that need special tools to wire. I had to remove the old outlet entirely and install a conventional outlet and then add an outlet to the conventional one. See here for details Prairie Schooner modifications
Thanks for the information. I was able to find out about the "Self Contained Devises" type of outlet that is common in RV's and the special tool needed. It sounds like replacing the original outlet with a more standard house outlet box is the way to go (in order to add an additional outlet inside the bench area where the water heater is).
Appreciate it!
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Old 06-24-2019, 06:48 PM   #8
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I'm curious why hot water needs to be hot and on 24 hours a day? I have 2 electric 80 gal water heaters at home, each one on a timer that turns it on for 3 hours in am and likewise in the pm. I have never run out of hot water and likewise camping, I turn the propane on in am for an hour and again in pm for an hour. This allow me to have hot water when needed without using more than 2 hours of fuel. I do not like to waste energy nor money.
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Old 06-24-2019, 08:37 PM   #9
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Normally a fixed appliance ( Dishwasher Garbage disposal , Water Heater , Air Conditioner )are on a separate circuit and not on common receptacle circuits . It may be easier to run a NM cable from the
converter panel to the water heater then try to tap into an existing circuit .
All of our 3 FG trailers have all had dual fuel water heaters ( Electric / Propane) and we have never run any of them on propane , not even once .
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Old 06-24-2019, 08:59 PM   #10
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All of our 3 FG trailers have all had dual fuel water heaters ( Electric / Propane) and we have never run any of them on propane , not even once .
Do you just heat water on the stove when there is no 120V. We use the propane because most of the time we are off the grid.
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Old 06-24-2019, 09:30 PM   #11
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Do you just heat water on the stove when there is no 120V. We use the propane because most of the time we are off the grid.
We usually camp where there are hookups otherwise we heat water on the stove .
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Old 06-24-2019, 10:03 PM   #12
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Bear in mind that the power of Hott Rod is 400W versus the power of the stock Suburban element at 1440W. It will take much longer to heat a full tank of water.
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Old 06-24-2019, 10:24 PM   #13
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I only have gas HW, I hate going outside to light pilot. I just use a electric pot to heat water for dishes, if no electric i just use the stove. I did not understand everything when i ordered my scamp new in 2014. I wish i would have ordered an automatic fridge and HW heater. I will make do though. Carl
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Old 06-24-2019, 11:10 PM   #14
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I only have gas HW, I hate going outside to light pilot. Carl

I just flip a switch inside my 2009 17B Escape. Hot water half an hour later.
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Old 06-25-2019, 01:54 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by LatLongJohn View Post
I was able to find out about the "Self Contained Devises" type of outlet that is common in RV's and the special tool needed. It sounds like replacing the original outlet with a more standard house outlet box is the way to go (in order to add an additional outlet inside the bench area where the water heater is).
I agree that the SCDs are best replaced if there are any changes at that outlet.

On the other hand, you don't need to deal with the existing outlets at all: you can add a circuit breaker to the panel in the WFCO power centre, giving the water heater element its own circuit, as it does when a trailer is equipped with electric water heating from the factory. It should have its own circuit anyway, because it uses so much power and because that gives you an accessible way to turn it on and off. Also, if you have a built-in "all outlets" inverter, it is wise to keep the water heater off of the receptacle (outlet) circuits, so there is no risk of accidentally running the battery down by powering the water heater.
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