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Old 08-26-2009, 05:43 AM   #1
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Dry camping and water heater???

At some point we will get a 2000 Honda generator for "dry" camping. I'm curious how that works with the water heater--how do you know when the element is covered and when it gets so low in water that the element is exposed?? I guess I'm assuming that the water pump pushes water from the fresh water tank through the water heater ?? Or don't you have hot water when dry camping even though you have a generator?? Thanks for any enlightenment!!
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Old 08-26-2009, 07:42 AM   #2
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Nancy:

I think most people use propane to heat water when "Off-grid" The electric hot water element is one of the biggest power "eaters" in the trailer.

Before turning on the heater element you should run a hot water line, (kitchen or bathroom sink or shower) until no air is coming out. The water will "spit and sputter" until all air is out of the system. When you start to run low on water you will hear the "gurgling" of the air that the pump will start to pump through the system. You should also be able to check your fresh water tank level with the gauges.
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Old 08-26-2009, 08:13 AM   #3
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Yes--I momentarily forgot it runs on propane, but I was mostly worried about the element. So if you listen to the water and check the fresh water tank level frequently, the element should be all right??
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Old 08-26-2009, 08:13 AM   #4
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You're in danger of burning up your electric heating element in the water heater if your fresh water tank runs out of water.

You'll know when this happens when your fresh water pump won't stop running because it can't keep the system fully primed and pressured when there's no more water available to accomplish this.

If you've got ample water in your fresh water tank the pump will keep the hot water heater full and safe from burning up a dry element. (providing your bypass valves for winterization aren't in use)

I wouldn't suggest using other too many other electrical components while you're electric water heater element is in use as the ballpark usage is around 1500 watts to your available 2000 watts the genny is providing.

May I inquire as to why you don't use the propane setting to heat your water? Going this route your water will always be fully heated to the appropriate thermostat temperature. You only need worry about it when you're actually out of fresh water to prime the water heater tank as I mentioned above.

Also a word of caution regarding the generator you're planning to purchase... don't run the AC off this as it'll most likely ruin your AC unit by starving it of the necessary juice it needs to perform properly. They're not cheap to replace.

I recall someone mentioning here if you want to use the AC off a genny you'll need to bump up to the Honda 3000(yes, I know... 2x the cost ... you can buy 2 of the 2000s and piggy back them if you wanted to go that route... just more space, more noise, more gas, and twice as much to lug around ) and run nothing else in the camper while your AC unit cools the camper.... switch it off once you're cool enough, this will allow you to use other heavy electric consuming amenities.

Hope that helps.

Take care,
Lode
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Old 08-26-2009, 08:18 AM   #5
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Here's another question---if running your water heater on propane, is there even an element to burn out or is it a pilot light that heats the water? Does the pump run on electricity or have a propane option? (I should run out to the TT and check, but it's quicker to ask you guys!!)
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Old 08-26-2009, 08:28 AM   #6
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The water pump runs off the battery and is 12V. The battery is maintained through your power converter unless you're unplugged from an AC power supply.

Your water heater is very likely controlled by a circuit board as opposed to an older model like mine that uses a gas pilot and mechanical thermostat. Yours uses an electric spark provided by your battery to light the propane when it's time to heat up the water and is monitored by the board.

Here's a great link to give a ton of information on your concerns and maybe provide you with more answers than you're asking

http://www.ccis.com/home/mnemeth/plumbing/plumb.htm

Check out the section 'We're in Hot Water Now'

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Old 08-26-2009, 09:41 AM   #7
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We always keep our water pump on. This ensures that you always have water in the hot water tank, unless your water tank goes empty. If you're hooked to a source of pressurized water the pump stays off because most often the water pressure is greater than the pumps limit switch.

The element will burn out if there's no water, we've had it happen. The element is typically 400 to 600 watts, no more than a coffeepot, and draws on average little power because once the water's heated it takes very little power to keep it warm.

Air conditioners are a different issue. It's usually starting current that's the issue. We have an air conditioner in our Bounder and run it off a 20 amp circuit. Of course the house circuit provides necessary power for the start up surge.

I'd be surprised of a 2000 watt generator could not handle an airconditioner, though I'm sure you wouldn't want to be running a hair dryer or air conditioner at the same time. If you have a freind with a Honda 2000 you could try it, while measuring the AC level. If it drops below 110VAC you'll need something bigger.

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Old 08-27-2009, 10:36 AM   #8
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Nancy and Pat, here's another opinion. You can sift through the posts and pick what you want.

I don't believe it's possible to empty the HWH once it has been filled without physically removing the drain plug on the outside. When dry camping, the water pump pulls water out of the fresh tank and pushes it through the plumbing system in the direction of whichever tap is turned on. If that is a hot tap, it runs through the HWH on its way displacing hot water to the tap. If the pump runs dry, the HWH is still full and I can't see any way that it can be emptied. Someone please explain if this is wrong.

So there is no need to monitor whether the HWH is full or not--it is full and the best way to ensure it is full is to fill it at home with the city water inlet. If you stand beside the HWH right after turning on the city tap, you will hear the water running into the HWH until it is full. Six gallons is a fair amount of water so you will hear it running for awhile--don't forget to use a pressure regulator at home too. I always do this at home because it seems pointless, when dry camping, to immediately remove 6 gal. of water from the fresh tank and have the pump hammer away to do something that is a simple part of a pre-trip list.

In addition, we turn on the HWH in the morning for at most 30 min. and then still have enough hot water to do the supper dishes, although I would turn it on again before taking a shower. I know the heater is controlled by a thermostat and only runs when necessary, but it seems wasteful to heat hot water all day long when we don't need it--and I certainly wouldn't use my propane to heat water unnecessarily.

Another thing not mentioned yet: never travel with the water pump on--you just don't know what's happening back there. If there is a leak somewhere the pump will run until the fresh tank is empty. We once saw a trailer in a park hooked to city water and an inside water line broke while the owners were away. Other campers of course didn't notice until the water was pouring out the doors and all the seams. That trailer was still dripping when the owners returned in the evening. After seeing that ruined trailer, I always turn the pump or city water off when we leave for an extended time, and if I forget it spooks me for the whole day. In this way you also get used to using the control panel and its switches and are more likely to check regularly to see what's running and don't inadvertently leave something on.

I am also going to be contrary, or ornery, take your pick when it comes to generators. First of all I don't use one for camping. A Honda 2000 may have enough power to run AC, but it does not have enough power to start a typical RV 13,500 BTU unit which of course renders the issue irrelevant. However, a Yamaha 2400 will start and run this AC. I believe Yamaha deliberately hit this sweet spot in the RV market and Honda missed it. I know you can parallel two Honda 2000 to effectively get the full power of shore power and that a Honda 3000 is also a nice, albeit very heavy unit. However, unless someone was into big time boon docking I can't see buying two Honda 2000 instead of one Yamaha 2400. Again, someone who has done the comparison shopping, unlike this armchair quarterback, please tell us why the Honda is better than the Yamaha. Like everyone else I'm just looking for helpful information.

Thanks for that really good link, Lode. That is helpful information.
Henry
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Old 08-27-2009, 10:59 AM   #9
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I also have seen a trailer fill with water. Generally the problem is when hooked to city water where the water comes and comes when a faucet is left open or a leak occurs.

I had a neighbor that left the water in the bathroom sink on and filled the gray tank and eventually overflowed at the sink until water started running out the lowpoints of the trailer. Interestingly the owner had a wetvac with him. I was surprised. He told me he bought the wet vac the last time this happened to him. Yikes.

We do travel with our pump on and it is correct that we should shut it off while driving but we don't. I will say that when we're hooked up to city water and are going to be away for the day I shutoff the city water. Of course we leave the water on at our house all winter when we're thousands of miles away. Go figure.

I will say I have burned out a relatively new water heater element and I guessed that it happened because of lack of water in the tank. Though the water heater is pretty low in the water system making it hard to imagine that it ever goes empty without opening the system's drain plugs.

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Old 08-27-2009, 11:28 AM   #10
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Henry is right, once the water heater is filled, it stays filled until the plug is removed to empty it, even if your water tank goes empty. And as far as a generator goes, a honda or yamaha 2000 " should" run the a/c in a T-1950. They come standard with an 11,000 btu a/c.
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Old 08-27-2009, 12:34 PM   #11
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Honda Generator Info

The following Honda web site provides a lot of information about the use of Honda generators in recreational situations. It takes a little navigating about the site but really good info.

http://www.hondapowerequipment.com/p...er#Determining

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Old 08-29-2009, 08:03 PM   #12
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We saw somebody with a Yamaha this weekend at Glimmerglass State Park near Cooperstown--I hadn't seen them advertised anywhere--all you see is Honda--thanks for the tip.
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Old 08-31-2009, 07:50 PM   #13
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Here's another question on dry camping--what do you do when your fresh water tank is empty at a campground--revert to jugs of water or are there ways to refill--I saw the "water cheater or stealer" shown, but how and where do you do it?? Or does the fresh water tank last a week if you're careful??

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Old 08-31-2009, 08:58 PM   #14
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Nancy - water usage depends on how many people and the "way" you use water.

DH & I could make 5 days when we had the 1950 - don't know what your tank size is - newer 1950's had larger tanks (I think).

On the other hand - we are remodeling our bathroom and I have learned that we can get 7 days on the black & grey tanks, using them for every day usage and showers....we are connected to city water so I don't know what we would use if we were using the on board fresh water tank.

In most of the campgrounds we visit - there are water spigots within hose range (maybe 50-75') and we use the water thief if they do not have a threaded end - they work - just hold it tight. Only really had to do that once and that was when we had our grandson with us who liked to take long showers until he learned the Navy Shower from his grandfather!!!!!
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