water heater

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danford49

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Oct 20, 2021
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23
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130 Ransom Rd lumberton nc,
I have s suburban sw6 de water heater, how do i get the water heater to work off propane, the switch on the inside only has a button for the heater and the water pump here is the switch on the inside.IMG_0321.JPG
 

Rene T

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Farmington NH
I have to ask but do you have propane?
Is the propane tank valve open?
Does your stove work on propane?
 

DonTom

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Apr 21, 2005
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Auburn, CA or Reno, NV
You run out of hot water and in 35 minutes it's hot again On Gas.
35 minutes seems like a long time to recover!

I am glad my new RV cannot ever run out of hot water. It has the tankless option. I also like the way I can set the water temperature to exactly what I want.

-Don- Silver Springs, NV (motorcycle ride)
 

John From Detroit

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Apr 12, 2005
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Davison Michigan
No argument DON if you are waiting to take a shower.. But after my wife died I swapped the 1500 watt electric heat for one 1/4 that size (375) so it took an hour or two to recover.. Always hot by the time I needed it.
 

Kirk

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screen-shot-2018-09-05-at-7.17.07-pm.png

That is a direct spark ignition model which means that if you have propane available you just turn it on and it should ignite. If there has not been propane on for some time it will probably take 4 or 5 attempts as the ignition only tries 3 times and then locks out and must be cycled off and back on. That isn't standard switch that is normally used by Suburban but if it is wired as Suburban does the light should turn on when you turn the switch on and once the propane is burning the light will go out and stay out as long as the water heater functions normally. If you happen to be looking at the switch when the water heater calls for heat again, you would see the light come one for a few seconds as the ignition fires, then go back out again.

If propane has not been used in some time it will help to turn on a burner of the stovetop first and allow that to bleed out the air that gets into the gas line when it sits with gas turned off for very long.

The E of the designator does indicate that yours also has a 120V heating element and in most installations there is a separate switch for electric and one for propane. If the one on your panel is heating the water with electricity, then there must be another switch somewhere. This is a picture of the switches supplied by Suburban for their gas/electric models.
15-3031-2T_grande.jpg
 
Last edited:

Edd505

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Mar 22, 2021
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307
Location
Elephant Butte, NM
35 minutes seems like a long time to recover!

I am glad my new RV cannot ever run out of hot water. It has the tankless option. I also like the way I can set the water temperature to exactly what I want.

-Don- Silver Springs, NV (motorcycle ride)
If that water heater can be run on gas & electric at the same time it cuts reheat time. I have a 12 gallon suburban and last summer changed the thermostat from the stock 130 to a 140 big differance. (wife like long showers)
 

CharlesinGA

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Oct 6, 2017
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545
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50 miles south of Atlanta, GA
I'm betting the switch on the panel shown by the OP is the GAS control. It has the fault light with it. Most Surburban water heaters only have a rocker switch for the 120v electric heating element outside. You open the panel and look in the lower LH corner kinda behind stuff and you will find it. Of course the circuit breaker also has to be on, and its possible someone installed a switch inside somewhere and then you leave the outside switch on and use the inside one (if it exists) to control the heat element.

If the model were a SW6DEL with the L being the key here, it would have a rocker switch inside and this rocker switch would use 12v DC to cycle a relay that controls the 120v AC heat element (the same way an Atwood/Dometic water heater does. Since yours is apparently NOT and L variant, I would not expect to find a switch inside. A friend recently bought a used 2017 trailer with a SW6DE water heater and he added an internal switch to avoid running outside all the time to turn the heater on and off.

Has the OP tried switching on the heater with the inside switch and immediately going outside to listen for the heater to operate?

I love Atwood heaters, MUCH better heater.

Charles
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Feb 2, 2005
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At my Silver Springs FL home
I think Charles is right - that is the gas heater switch. The standard electric switch on a Suburban is on the tank itself and some (many) RV builders don't bother to add a remote electric switch. It's not hard to do yourself, though.

Once the water in the heater cools, it's usually easy to hear the gas burner light. However, you can always go outside and listen.
 

Kirk

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Danford49, if you see these new replies, it would be very helpful if you would update us on any progress or additional questions.
 

JB23

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Apr 30, 2019
Posts
16
Location
West Central Ohio
Referring back to danford49’s pic, the heater light that is lit I assumed (yea, I know...) was the black and grey tank heaters (heating pads) not the gas/electric water heater. I have the outside switch that adds electric heating to the propane hot water tank. Correct me please!
 

CharlesinGA

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Oct 6, 2017
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50 miles south of Atlanta, GA
Referring back to danford49’s pic, the heater light that is lit I assumed (yea, I know...) was the black and grey tank heaters (heating pads) not the gas/electric water heater. I have the outside switch that adds electric heating to the propane hot water tank. Correct me please!
Tank heater pads are fairly rare on the average trailer (or motorhome) and would be marked as such. I feel rather sure that the switch in the pic you are referring to is for the gas side of the water heater. The switch illuminates when it is switched on, the red light next to it illuminates if the gas fails to ignite properly (Atwoods try 3 times, I bet Suburbans do too), basically a fault light.

Charles
 

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