Hot Water Heater Conversion kits

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Hot Water Heater Conversion kits

Post  chuck on Mon Jul 26, 2010 10:25 am

I discussed my hot water heater problmes at River Plantation with a few of you.. and followed up in a thread here. Dave showed me an advertisement for a cool little thing that would add the electric option,.. to a gas hot water heater. I thought it was a fluke. I have since done some looking on the internet.. and read several reviews. I think I may get one. Most people who have bought them report that they are a pretty easy install,.. and they work pretty well.

I am still going to clean and/or repair the problem with my pilot light and/or thermocouple.. but I would rather heat my water with campground supplied electric than gas that I pay for. Plus no more pilot light igniting.. unless I want to. And .. though it may be silly.. I will sleep better knowing there isn't an open propane flame burning under my bed (thats where the WH is).

The only downside seems to be the inital heating of the water. It takes longer than gas or even a factory installed water heater. Most say it will take about an hour for the first tank to be heated.

There are 3 or 4 different people making these things.. CAMCO HYBRID HEAT, one called a LIGHTNING ROD, etc etc.

Take a look at this one and see what you think:
http://www.amazon.com/Camco-11673-Gallon-Hybrid-Heater/dp/B0024ECCJW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=automotive&qid=1280147586&sr=8-1

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Re: Hot Water Heater Conversion kits

Post  chuck on Mon Jul 26, 2010 10:33 am

by the way.. here's how they work. A heating element is inserted into the tank through the drain opening. (yes you can still drain your tank).

Then a heat sensor is placed on the outside of the tank. It comes with a thermostat.. and an on and off switch that can be mounted inside the camper.

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Re: Hot Water Heater Conversion kits

Post  Richard on Mon Jul 26, 2010 11:39 am

Chuck, one other thing to consider is the load on your power center. Since the RV Air draws about 15 amps, and most 110-volt water heaters draw about 15 amps, is there going to be enough juice left for the microwave, fridge, lights, TV, etc.

My PUP just had a 30-amp connection, so I had to add an extra 15-amp plug-in to power my water heater. I just bought a 15-amp rated cord at Lowes (with a circuit breaker built in) and plug it into the 20-amp plug that is always on the power pole at campgrounds. I bought an electrical mouse-hole cover at camping world and the cord goes into a cabinet space that is hard to access for anything else.
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Re: Hot Water Heater Conversion kits

Post  chuck on Mon Jul 26, 2010 11:45 am

Richard.. that was one of my main concerns.. since I already have to juggle the MICROWAVE and THE AC.. Actually these little units only have (something like) a 400 watt heating element.. they pull 3.3 - 4amps. The element in your HW heater is probably 1000 watts or more.

I guess thats why these take longer to heat the water.

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Re: Hot Water Heater Conversion kits

Post  chuck on Mon Jul 26, 2010 11:47 am

by the way.. I am not an electrician or anything.. this is just research stuff from the internet and product reviews.

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Re: Hot Water Heater Conversion kits

Post  Richard on Tue Jul 27, 2010 2:11 pm

Yes Chuck, Mine was built for use in a building, like for hot water for a sink, so it pulls up to 1500 watts. It makes sense that one designed for a camper would pull less. I think adding such a unit makes great sense. especially if you can make sure it's on the circuit that's not already powering the AC and Microwave.

I don't know what the payback time would be on propane savings, but it would be nice to have hot water without fooling with that flame and gas. A thought just hit me, since it would still work with propane when you wanted, if you needed hot water right after plugging in, you could always fire up the propane for the initial heatup. All in all it sounds like a good and relatively easy mod.
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Re: Hot Water Heater Conversion kits

Post  chuck on Tue Jul 27, 2010 3:12 pm

Richard wrote:A thought just hit me, since it would still work with propane when you wanted, if you needed hot water right after plugging in, you could always fire up the propane for the initial heatup. All in all it sounds like a good and relatively easy mod.
thats what I was thinking too. Usually though,.. when I set up camp, one of the first few things I do is start the hot water heater. I seldom need any hot water till shower time later that night. That would probably be 8 hours later.. So heating the water up with electric shouldn't be a problem.

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Re: Hot Water Heater Conversion kits

Post  chuck on Tue Jul 27, 2010 3:15 pm

some of the people trying to sell these.. say you can save $200 a year. I doubt that very seriously.. but it doesn't matter to me. I would get the electric conversion kit.. mainly for the convenience. Any propane savings would be a bonus.

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Re: Hot Water Heater Conversion kits

Post  coolbreeze1 on Tue Jul 27, 2010 4:24 pm

Chuck, I know that this doesn't apply to you, but if you water heater is still under warranty, the manufacture will void your warranty if you use something like this.
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Re: Hot Water Heater Conversion kits

Post  merrykalia on Tue Jul 27, 2010 5:23 pm

We usually fill our propane tanks before our first trip of the year and we will have one tank empty and the other will be a little over half.

Unless we lived in our tt full-time, we sure couldn't use up $200 in propane during a year. We only have propane water heater, cook with it and also heat with it. We camp until at least T'giving each year, so we have to use the heat then.

I believe it costs us about $70 to fill both tanks this past spring.


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Re: Hot Water Heater Conversion kits

Post  chuck on Tue Jul 27, 2010 5:27 pm

coolbreeze1 wrote:Chuck, I know that this doesn't apply to you, but if you water heater is still under warranty, the manufacture will void your warranty if you use something like this.
that's true.. and right.. it doesn't apply to me. But I wanted to say.. thats mostly becuase the manufacturers would rather sell you a new $600-$700 gas/electric water heater. In the RV game.. its all about the $$.

There really is nothing in one of these that would hurt any parts of a gas water heater. The only thing it alters is removing the drain plug.. and inserting an element in the water. The rest of the kit doesn't change any part of the original system. Its all still intact.. it all still works

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Re: Hot Water Heater Conversion kits

Post  merrykalia on Tue Jul 27, 2010 6:54 pm

I did look at it and for about $100, it probably would pay for itself in a few years. I am like you and if I am paying for electric at a campground, I would rather THEY pay for my hot water instead of ME!!

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Re: Hot Water Heater Conversion kits

Post  coolbreeze1 on Wed Jul 28, 2010 9:12 am

Would agree with Richard. You could run your gas & electric to heat it up initially. You could as do a electric only, if hot water demand is needed for sometime, if the hot water was needed sooner, just fire up the gas. Smile
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Re: Hot Water Heater Conversion kits

Post  Crawford on Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:12 pm

I put 1 in years ago never had any problem with it or amount of power it draws I have a 30 amp service run my ac,microwave.tv's,and refrigator on ac with the hot rod turn on remember it's not on all the time it's got a theromastat on tank when it reaches temp it shuts off. crawford Very Happy Smile Cool
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Re: Hot Water Heater Conversion kits

Post  Richard on Sat Jul 31, 2010 2:51 pm

Hey Chuck, I recently switched tanks on my grill with a half full "propane excahnge" tank I re-discovered in the garage. I may have discovered the cause of your problem in doing so. It seems the valve on this tank is faulty.

These new "triangle" valves are not simple on/off devices. They have safety features built in that can disrupt or even shut off the flow of gas based on the pressure on the non-tank side of the valve. More safety stuff means more parts that can cause problems.

The grill lit, but went out about half-way through the cooking. I shut everything off, including the valve, and re-lit the grill. The regulator on my grill makes a tone when the tank pressure is low. It started making that sound the next time I used it, even though there is roughly half a tank of gas left in it. The next time I used it it worked perfectly, but for the flame getting low once, and going out once, but without the low-pressure tone.

A simple test with a different propane tank would let you know if the valve on the tank is the problem. My grill problem just sounded too much like your water heater problem. I've never had this kind of problem with either of the other two tanks I own.

My plan is to re-exchange this one when it's empty. I did a google search for "faulty propane valve" and found that quite a few people have had similar problems.
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Re: Hot Water Heater Conversion kits

Post  coolbreeze1 on Sat Jul 31, 2010 5:10 pm

Very interesting. What would be the odds that both of Chucks tanks have a faulty valve. Question
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Re: Hot Water Heater Conversion kits

Post  chuck on Sat Jul 31, 2010 8:02 pm

nice theory Richard.. but I already tried switching tanks.. back and forth. Makes no difference. Also.. the stove inside the camper worked fine at R-Plantation.. My sister used it a couple of times.

I am almost positive it is the pilot light assembly (pilot and thermocouple). It could be either/or both the pilot and thermocouple. So.. anyway.. I ordered a new assembly.. It should fix the problem and get me down the road a few years.

I also ordered the CAMCO HYBRID HEAT conversion kit.. to operate my water heater on electric. Found a pretty good deal on AMAZON.. got pilot assembly and HYBRID HEAT for $103 (tax, title and delivery).

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Re: Hot Water Heater Conversion kits

Post  KralCamper on Sat Jul 31, 2010 8:20 pm

chuck wrote:I also ordered the CAMCO HYBRID HEAT conversion kit.. to operate my water heater on electric. Found a pretty good deal on AMAZON.. got pilot assembly and HYBRID HEAT for $103 (tax, title and delivery).


Careful Chuck, you're showing that old car salesman in you!Twisted Evil

It sounds like a pretty good deal to me though, Please let us know how you like it.

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Re: Hot Water Heater Conversion kits

Post  coolbreeze1 on Sat Jul 31, 2010 8:34 pm

Hope that it works out for you. I am sure the electric will be a big savings in not having to use the gas all the time.
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Re: Hot Water Heater Conversion kits

Post  chuck on Sat Jul 31, 2010 8:37 pm

KralCamper wrote:Careful Chuck, you're showing that old car salesman in you!Twisted Evil

I should have said "Out the door!"

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Re: Hot Water Heater Conversion kits

Post  Richard on Sat Jul 31, 2010 9:37 pm

Did they give you the "I'm going to write a number down on this slip of paper" and then slide it over to you and ask if you would be prepared to make the buy if they could make that number happen? I loved that.
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Re: Hot Water Heater Conversion kits

Post  coolbreeze1 on Sat Jul 31, 2010 9:51 pm

Richard wrote:Did they give you the "I'm going to write a number down on this slip of paper" and then slide it over to you and ask if you would be prepared to make the buy if they could make that number happen? I loved that.
I always loved it when they tried that. I would always say no Very Happy
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Re: Hot Water Heater Conversion kits

Post  KralCamper on Sun Aug 01, 2010 8:05 pm

Chuck,

Be sure to let us know when you get it installed! If it was difficult or whatever.

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Re: Hot Water Heater Conversion kits

Post  coolbreeze1 on Thu Aug 12, 2010 10:09 pm

Haven't heard any updates on your hwh conversion. Over on ETNCC they have someone from Campers Corner who is going to answer questions again. Lets see how it goes. Smile
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Re: Hot Water Heater Conversion kits

Post  Crawford on Thu Aug 12, 2010 11:25 pm

When I installed mine it took about a half hour time most of the time was running the wires to hot water tank and to 110 line very simple install.
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