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Old 07-30-2020, 11:00 AM   #1
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Hot water heater electrical element

Hi all.
I have a 2001 T320SR that has the hot water heater electrical element option. The issue is the hot water heater was apparently changed out sometime prior to our purchasing the camper. The shore power wiring is still in place but I am not sure what else would be needed to convert my lp heater back to the dual system if that is even possible.

Any help or guidance would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks
Roger
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Old 07-31-2020, 08:25 AM   #2
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Hi Roger,

Can you post a picture of the back of the water heater so we can see what you have?
and get the model number of it. The model sticker is outside behind the white drop down cover on the left by the gas burner.

Once we see what model you have, we can better answer your question.

The original one would of looked like this behind the water heater.


What I am most interested in is the little box that the yellow romex cable connects too. We need to see if yours has this junction box and if it has the little black rocker switch next to it. If this box does not exist at all, then they may have converted the water heater to LP gas only. The pic and the model number can help confirm what your have and what can be done with it.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 07-31-2020, 12:11 PM   #3
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John
Here are the pictures. By what I am going to guess is that the hot water heater is lp only.

Roger
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File Type: jpg IMG_20200731_140653322_HDR.jpg (94.2 KB, 7 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_20200731_140501870_HDR.jpg (81.2 KB, 4 views)
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Old 07-31-2020, 12:14 PM   #4
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I am guessing that the original was leaking as the flooring is curled up from the floor. The floor is definitely soft behind the heater but is totally dry and is contained to just that area.
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Old 08-01-2020, 12:58 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roger66ogden View Post
I am guessing that the original was leaking as the flooring is curled up from the floor. The floor is definitely soft behind the heater but is totally dry and is contained to just that area.
You are correct, that is an all gas unit. Not sure why they did not spend the extra few dollars and get the combo unit.

There should be a piece of white Styrofoam insulation for the top of it to help slow down the heater cooling off. Not sure if you removed it to look or the prior owner never put in on. I think you can buy the insulation formed to fit the tank.

It sounds like they may have had a water heater piping leak to create the soft floor. Or a cracked tank from not winterizing correctly. Make sure there are no drips coming off the tank fittings in the back. A dry paper towel under the heater when the system is filled with water and pressurized and let it sit for a few hours, days, is a good way to tell if there a drip leak. While the leaking fitting is not a wide spread problem, it has happend, mainly due to the straight running threaded fitting Sunline use and siliconed it.

If you want to covert back to a combo/gas electric heater, you will need a new tank (the correct tank, they make several) and the temp controls that where in the little silver box if they did not leave them. The tank itself can be approx $200 more or less pending where you buy it. If you want to go that route, post back we can help find the correct tank number.

John
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Old 08-01-2020, 04:30 PM   #6
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Hey John thanks. I took the top piece of styrofoam off for a better picture. Back on now. None of the fittings are leaking. I redid those when I put the winterization kit on several years ago because they moved when I turned the bypass valves. I will have to look in the box and report back with what is in there with a picture the next time I remove the bunk. So you can just change out the tank? That's good because I was under the impression that we would have to get a complete unit.
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Old 08-01-2020, 08:12 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roger66ogden View Post
I will have to look in the box and report back with what is in there with a picture the next time I remove the bunk. So you can just change out the tank? That's good because I was under the impression that we would have to get a complete unit.
Hi Roger,

Glad you fixed up the fittings a while ago.

Your current water heater is a DSI (direct spark ignition) gas water heater. All those controls for the gas burner etc are at outside the camper behind the white fold down door.

Your original water heater, was also a DSI (direct spark ignition) water heater. All the controls the gas burner etc were at outside the camper behind the white fold down door like you have now. But that heater also had the electric element controls that where mounted on the back side of the water heater. On this vintage (pre 2003) the LP gas and the electric controls were separate.

You just need the replacement tank for your original water heater that will have the ports on the back and it will accept the silver electric box, the electric element is self and the 2 thermal disk switch that control the electric element.

There is work involved in the change out of the tank for convert back to what you had. Pull the water heater out of the camper, take the existing heater all apart, change the tank, put all the gas controls back on the outside part, put the electric element parts on the back of the heater, and put the whole heater back in the camper. This process could take approx 1/2 day to a full day. It costs less, but involves more work.

The post 2003 water heaters they changed the electric element controls. The PC board on the outside then controls both the LP gas and the electric element. The junction box on the back is a little different and there is no longer any thermal disk switches on the back of the heater. An all new complete water heater Gas/Electric can range from $400 to almost $900 for the same heater depending on where you buy it. (yes the price spread is that bad)

If you want to peruse the tank change to make yours have electric again, let me know and I will look into digging up the parts numbers. And you check what is all in the silver junction box so we know what you have and what you don't. Then you can compare the cost of an all new heater to the retrofit back to the original setup.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 08-02-2020, 06:22 PM   #8
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Hi John. Thanks.
Actually the control switch for the lp hot water heater is on the wall in the kitchen in the same area as the water pump switch and tank level sensor panel. There's not much as far as controls in the panel of the hw heater.
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Old 08-03-2020, 05:22 PM   #9
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Hi Roger,

By pure luck... I happen to have the water heater out of 2004 T317SR project camper which is undergoing restoration for some heavy water damage. This camper was built in June 2003. As such, it did not receive the Atwood design upgrade in 2003 for combo gas & electric water heater. Most likely both Sunline and the Atwood warehouses may have had a qty of old stock to use up, as I have other 2004 model campers built in Sept 2003 and beyond that have the new upgraded design.

Your camper being a 2001 model, more than likely had the exact same water heater, the pre-2003 combo gas & electric as I am going to show here.

Here is the model number and what the heater would look like from the outside behind the white drop down door.


The overall view of the gas valve and the gas control system.


The gas DSI control board.


The 3 wires that run the all gas DSI part of the water heater. A + 12 volts, - 12 volts and an ignition fault signal wire.


If you could, please repeat those 3 same pics above of your water heater (expect the model sticker) if you want me to dig up the replacement tank/parts. I suspect your current water heater was made after the Atwood sale to Dometic a few years back. I need to see and make sure Dometic did not change something that does not show up in the Atwood service manuals.

Now to the back side of the water heater where the electric element and controls are. This is what your original water heater would of looked like, and we can see what you are missing as far as the electric element controls.

The overall back side of the heater with the silver electrical box cover on. There is a small black on/off rocker switch in the silver cover to turn thge electric element system on and off.


The instruction label on the back with a wiring diagram.


The silver electrical cover off, step 1. There is a black insulation board cover the electrical connections behind it.


Removing the black insulation board cover. This shows the electric element, the thermostat thermal disk switch and the high temp shut off thermal disk switch known as the ECO (emergency cut off). You are missing the all these parts plus the metal plate that would hold these to the tank.


Here is a close up of the high temp shut off thermal disk switch (the ECO). It is a safety switch in case the system never shuts off. There is a reset button in the middle of it that needs to be pressed if it ever trips out. When this trips, an over-temp occurred and will kill the 120 VAC power to the electric element until it is manually reset.


As I was saying earlier, the pre 2003 configuration has a completely separate electric element and controls system. When you flipped the little black rocker switch on the silver cover, it turned on 120 VAC power to the system. The T stat would then control the electric element and start heating. This is all totally independent of the LP gas controls on the outside.

The new 2003 design upgrade uses a new PC board that runs both the LP gas and the electric element. You still need to supply 120 VAC, but a control relay turns the element on and off signaled from the control board on the outside. This made life easier for the camper owners as a 3rd switch was added to the KIB tank panel to turn on the electric element. Before, they use to have to crawl into the back of the water heater to turn the little black switch on and off. That got old real quick, and many folks with this vintage either flip the 120 VAC circuit breaker off, or they installed their own separate wall switch easily accessible to turn the 120 AC power on.

Also please confirm, is your LP gas on/off switch part of the KIB tank level monitor system? It would look like this. Just 2 red rocker switches, one for the water pump, the other to turn on the LP gas portion of the water heater.


Sunline changed the brand of the tank monitors over the years, and I do not know which year they switched to the KIB brand.

Let me know what you want to do.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 08-04-2020, 10:43 AM   #10
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Hi John.
Attached are the pictures of the hw heater switch and the other 3 pictures you requested. I also looked at the box that is attached to the hw heater on the back and the only thing in it is the rocker switch a thin piece of insulation and the short wire from the switch that goes to the hw heater. Not sure yet if we want to make the switch right now back to a dual system though. We will probably change our minds in October after our 2 week camp ground host stint at Greewood Furnace State Park not unless we decide to utilize the camp ground shower facility.

Roger
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_20200804_114817746.jpg (49.6 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_20200804_120114405_HDR.jpg (105.5 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_20200804_120438722.jpg (87.7 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_20200804_120210382_HDR.jpg (87.1 KB, 2 views)
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Old 08-04-2020, 11:08 AM   #11
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Hi Roger,

OK great! Now I know what you have and what you don't. We are going camping soon too so I will be away from my normal files of camper "stuff".

Have a good time on your trip. Using the LP gas for the water heater works really well. Even better then the electric many times. The only down fall to the gas is, it uses gas and not not already paid for electric you paid for to the campground.

That and for fast recovery, you can turn on the electric and the gas at the same time.

Let us know when you decide to convert, or not to convert and we can work on finding some options if you want to go that way.

PS. The water heater was made by Atwood mobile before the buyout. It looks like around 2006 maybe.

John
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Old 08-04-2020, 11:16 AM   #12
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Thanks John and I hope you have an enjoyable time camping.

Roger
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