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Old 07-08-2011, 09:16 PM   #1
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Water Heater Indicator lights and 120V Switch.

Two things bothered me about the water heater controls. The fact that to switch the 120V AC on one had to contort their fingers in the outside access panel to turn it on and off. As well, it was real easy to forget it is on. Secondly, have not indication that either the gas was on other than looking to see which way the switch was (and it is backwards to normal protocol), or that the electric was on.

So I did a trip to the BORG and The Source for parts. From The Source I picked up THIS 12V lamp, and THIS 120V lamp, and from the BORG I picked up a switch/plug combo and a plastic duplex cover.

To mod the existing gas switch I pulled it out, drilled a hole for the lamp, and connected the leads from the lamp to the terminals shown. That's all there is to it, it was then put back in place. About a 15 minute job. See the photo below for the lamp connections, polarity must be correct or it won't work.






The finished product. It seems my hands were dirty and the plate needs to be wiped.






As we never use the plug under the fridge anyway, I decided to give up one of the plugs on it, and use the other spot to switch the feed to the water heater.

I pulled the electrical panel out to get access behind, cut the cable to the water heater at an appropriate spot, and installed the ends into the box the plug was in using a proper connector.

I then wired the existing plug wires into the single plug, and the spliced the neutrals to the heater together, and the hots to either side of the switch. (NOTE that there is a bar on the hot side that connects the switch to the plug, this must be broken off. It is used for a single circuit to run both the plug and the switch and we don't want that in this application as they are separate circuits).

For the lamp I drilled a hole in the plate to install the lamp in. There was plenty of room to fit in the box beside the switch. I connected one lead to the switched (load) side of the switch, and the other into the wire nut that twisted the neutrals together.

Then just put the plug/switch in and install the plate. The electrical panel was put back in place. This part took me a bit over an hour to do.




Here is the result.






And here are the two together. In the second photo I had them both on, and the gas was still calling for ignition, thus the large (original) lamp was lit.







BAGLO, no holes were made in this modification (except of course one more in the electrical box).
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Old 07-08-2011, 09:28 PM   #2
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Re: Water Heater Indicator lights and 120V Switch.

When are you coming over to do the mod?

baglo
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Old 07-08-2011, 09:31 PM   #3
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Re: Water Heater Indicator lights and 120V Switch.

It is a piece of cake, you will have it done, and all the beer consumed before I could ever make it there.

BTW, I took some cleaner and a rag to it, it looks much better now.
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Old 07-09-2011, 08:30 AM   #4
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Re: Water Heater Indicator lights and 120V Switch.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Bennett
It is a piece of cake, you will have it done, and all the beer consumed before I could ever make it there.
BTW, I took some cleaner and a rag to it, it looks much better now.
I couldn't help but "rag you" about it! Nice job, nice modification. Might save me some gas (that I might need sometime in the middle of the night, when it's snowing, and I have the second tank cut off...now who would do such a thing)!
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Old 07-09-2011, 11:56 AM   #5
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Re: Water Heater Indicator lights and 120V Switch.

Why would you want to pick on me, Dan? I have never been anything but courteous and cordial to you.

We have accidentally kept our heater running on gas at home for a few days before, it was only when I heard it run once going by it that I realized.

The electric switch inside will be WAY more convenient too.
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Old 07-09-2011, 12:18 PM   #6
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Re: Water Heater Indicator lights and 120V Switch.

For the lamp switch.. I know I'm American, but if the light's on doesn't that mean it's switched on..

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Old 07-09-2011, 12:21 PM   #7
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Re: Water Heater Indicator lights and 120V Switch.

Jeff, for an American you are sure are quick.

*readies self for a barrage of abuse from other Americans*
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Old 07-09-2011, 12:32 PM   #8
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Re: Water Heater Indicator lights and 120V Switch.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Bennett
The electric switch inside will be WAY more convenient too.
Unfortunately I didn't get the dual fuel (gas/electric HWH)...since I had one in the Casita, I assumed they were ALL like that....wrong! But, it's not worth the cost of replacing a perfectly good, working gas HWH! But, I do remember the contortions of trying to switch from gas to electric, and without a doubt, that is a GREAT modification. I'd do it in a minute if I had one!
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Old 07-27-2011, 01:10 AM   #9
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Re: Water Heater Indicator lights and 120V Switch.

Jim,

This is awesome, I need it for my trailer!! It would make remembering what is 'off' or 'on' way easier!!

Cheers,
Nadia
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Old 08-04-2011, 07:30 PM   #10
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Re: Water Heater Indicator lights and 120V Switch.

Another benefit we discovered by using the trailer in propane mode. The LED is fairly bright when we turn out the lights for bed, and it is a great reminder to shut the heater off, saving fuel and keeping the noise down as it always seems to turn on once or twice during the night. We just flip it back on in the morning and in no time have hot water.
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Old 08-06-2011, 12:23 PM   #11
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Re: Water Heater Indicator lights and 120V Switch.

Great ideas! Especially as to having the reminder for the electrical "on". Since I turn off my refrigerator before leaving, I try to remember "hot and cold" to turn the water heater off ads well. If I was closer, I'd stand in the "mod" line. In any event thanks for the inf, and when I locate a good electrician, I 'll do that for the "Suite Escape"
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Old 05-11-2016, 09:29 PM   #12
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Could you not just simply replace the plain on off switch with an on off switch that lights up when the furnace is on and goes off when it not on ?
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Old 08-07-2017, 06:42 PM   #13
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Could you not just simply replace the plain on off switch with an on off switch that lights up when the furnace is on and goes off when it not on ?
Jim's mod was for the water heater and it is possible to do it as you describe with an illuminated switch. I just did it today. This works exactly as you describe- light on when the water heater is on and light off when switch is off. The switch is hard to come by in white, but I found the perfect size in black. Looks fine. All that is needed is a jumper wire from the new switch ground terminal to the ground on the existing reset light right next to it.

https://pepboys.com/product/details/8320836/00040
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Old 08-07-2017, 06:59 PM   #14
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For the lamp switch.. I know I'm American, but if the light's on doesn't that mean it's switched on..
The light being on does not always indicate that the switch is on.
Many switches have lighted handles which glow when the switch is in the off position so you can find the switch in the dark.
If you have two devices in a junction box that are fed off separate circuits they are often fed from a two pole breaker so that when you shut off the breaker both devices are deenergized.
Not a code requirement but some would assume that if the light went off everything in the box is dead.
Nice Job Jim !!
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Old 08-07-2017, 08:21 PM   #15
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The newer Escapes now have the water heater switch illuminated.
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Old 08-07-2017, 09:08 PM   #16
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The newer Escapes now have the water heater switch illuminated.
Good to know Jim. Nice that Escape is continually improving. Do you know what the electric mode functionality is for the 2 way water heaters? Still the clumsy switch buried in the outdoor compartment or something better?
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Old 08-08-2017, 06:56 AM   #17
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I do not have the electric option and there is no provision on the control panel for it.
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Old 08-08-2017, 07:14 AM   #18
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Good to know Jim. Nice that Escape is continually improving. Do you know what the electric mode functionality is for the 2 way water heaters? Still the clumsy switch buried in the outdoor compartment or something better?
Yes, that is the way they are done, but if you wish you can get a panel that switches the 120V too. All it requires is a relay on the water heater tank, and an extra wire run from there to the control panel. I have the parts, but this getting my house listed thing has had me too busy to look at doing it. And now, we take possession of our new house next door Friday, so........
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Old 08-08-2017, 09:05 AM   #19
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Yes, that is the way they are done, but if you wish you can get a panel that switches the 120V too. All it requires is a relay on the water heater tank, and an extra wire run from there to the control panel. I have the parts, but this getting my house listed thing has had me too busy to look at doing it. And now, we take possession of our new house next door Friday, so........

Jim,

Can you give us the brand and part number of the panel with the electric water heater switch? I've looked and all I can find are panels with extra things like two gray water tanks.

I previously asked if I could use the same type of relay at the water heater that I use for the toe kick heater, but I thought you said the water heater already had a relay. I must have misunderstood.

Thanks!

Rich
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Old 08-08-2017, 09:53 AM   #20
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Jim,

Can you give us the brand and part number of the panel with the electric water heater switch? I've looked and all I can find are panels with extra things like two gray water tanks.

I previously asked if I could use the same type of relay at the water heater that I use for the toe kick heater, but I thought you said the water heater already had a relay. I must have misunderstood.

Thanks!

Rich
Rich, I have the parts packed away now for the move, with not much idea right now where they are. Work on my 5.0TA will be minimal in the next while, but it works just fine as is anyway. The parts were listed on here before, the water heater relay is a Suburban part that attaches to the water heater, and the panel is the same as the Escape supplied one, without the 120V switch.

You could use a relay like with the electric heater, tied into the electrical feed to the water heater, and put a low voltage switch wherever you like to switch it. Or, one could do just as I did in the original post here, and just put a 120V switch in line.
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