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Old 09-06-2011, 12:44 AM   #1
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Question about electric operation of water heater

Gents,
I've looked in the owners manual, (Horizon Owners Manual) and, supplimental flyers/manuals etc in the owners package and I can't find an answer to my question. As many of you do, we have a dual operation water heater. And, while the manual for install/operation for the water heater itself tells of the electric operation vs the gas operation, it mentions no "detail" of the switch itelf.

In the Horizon Owners Manual, they show the "One Place" operation panel with all the operations of the coach built into one place, including both electric and gas switches for the water heater ops. But, the switch for the electric side of it, looks nothing like the switch I have. It looks like a regular wall switch for turning on a light. But the one I have is a red, semi-clear plastic rocker switch. Now, the water gets hot, when the switch is put into what appears to be the correct position for electric operation but, the switch does no light up, like it looks like it's supposed to. So, does any of yours light up, when in electric operation? Thanks
Scott
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Old 09-06-2011, 01:09 AM   #2
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I don't have a Horizon, but my wh switch sounds like what you describe. I believe the default power is electric, but gas will be used if electric is not available. I did have to press the reset button -- outside after removing the access panel door -- to get the gas to light the first time. It appears that the light on multi-panel inside only glows when power is being used. Once the water is hot, the light goes out until power is needed to reheat. I'm surprised that water will stay warm in the tank for days despite the cooler than most of the country Seattle weather. Must be well insulated.
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Old 09-06-2011, 01:11 AM   #3
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Confusing is it not? My 2005 Horizon has the same rocker switch next to the L.P.Gas rocker. As long as it is in the on position it will operate your hot water heater unless you are in a less than 50 amp service and then it may automatically shut down when other appliances are turned on. No it doesnot illuminate, although I too think it should.

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Old 09-06-2011, 02:36 AM   #4
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Red rocker switch (120V AC) lights up when that switch is on. It is common for the bulb to burn out in this switch and can only be fixed by replacing the switch, which I already had to do. Tried to open the switch and replace it the bulb with and LED bulb but wasn't successful in opening the switch without damaging it.

The wall switch next to it (to the right)is the engine block heater switch. It turns the outlet in the electrical compartment (behind the drivers side ear wheel) on and off. There is a short electrical cord near that outlet which needs to be plugged in to that outlet. This short AC cord goes to your engine block heater. I usually leave it unplugged until I need it.
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Old 09-06-2011, 03:38 AM   #5
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In my 2003 Horizon, if the electric heater switch was on, it glowed red, and I had hot water from electric. If I turned on the propane (with or without the electric being on), that switch glowed green, and I had propane heat to the hot water tank.

In my 2010 Journey, switches are slightly different, but I still get a red or green glow from the corresponding switch if I have them turned on.

Now if the switch for the engine block heater circuit had a warning light, I would be happy.
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Old 09-06-2011, 11:43 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry B View Post
Red rocker switch (120V AC) lights up when that switch is on. It is common for the bulb to burn out in this switch and can only be fixed by replacing the switch, which I already had to do. Tried to open the switch and replace it the bulb with and LED bulb but wasn't successful in opening the switch without damaging it.

The wall switch next to it (to the right)is the engine block heater switch. It turns the outlet in the electrical compartment (behind the drivers side ear wheel) on and off. There is a short electrical cord near that outlet which needs to be plugged in to that outlet. This short AC cord goes to your engine block heater. I usually leave it unplugged until I need it.
Harry B,
Thank you sir for your help here. When I shine a flash light directly at the switch, you can see electronics inside of it. I suspect they would not waste the time to install such gadgetry if, it was not to illuminate. Otherwise, it would look like the other "plain" rockers in the same area. I too would try and disassemble the switch to try and repair it with an LED but, since you've tried and were unsuccessful, I'll just go find one or order one up from the Winn/Itasca parts catalog.

As for the Block heater switch, I had no idea it "powered up" an outlet in that compartment. I've been in and out of that compartment a zillion times and simply not paid attention to the fact that there's an outlet there, behind the light, with a short plug, plugged into it. I guess I should be more aware of what's right in front of my eyeballs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Journey39n View Post
In my 2003 Horizon, if the electric heater switch was on, it glowed red, and I had hot water from electric. If I turned on the propane (with or without the electric being on), that switch glowed green, and I had propane heat to the hot water tank.

In my 2010 Journey, switches are slightly different, but I still get a red or green glow from the corresponding switch if I have them turned on.

Now if the switch for the engine block heater circuit had a warning light, I would be happy.
Journey 39n,
Am I correct in assuming that the same "red tinted rocker" seen in the pic below, will glow "GREEN" if, the operation for the water heater is on LP? And, that it will glow "RED" if the operation for the water heater is on 110V? That change of color illumination was not mentioned by Mr Harry B in the above comments. Maybe he forgot it acts that way or, for some reason, maybe his is different from yours or even mine.

And as far as a "warning light" for the block heater, I think that would be very easy to install. A simple 110V, small, indicator light of some sort should do the trick. Good idea Sir, I think I'll look into that, even though, I've yet to use the block heater. In southern CA, based on area lived, and time of use for the coach, there's really no need to use it. But, if we traveled to colder climates and found the need to use it, a warning light and, AN AUDIBLE TIMER would maybe be of some value too. Hmmmmm.

Thanks to all who've responded to this issue. Always a pleasant feeling to know someones there to help.
Scott
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Old 09-06-2011, 07:08 PM   #7
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water heater

Hello. Have same switch, My lite went out after about 2 years. Water heater works fine. Don
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Old 09-06-2011, 07:19 PM   #8
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Hello. Have same switch, My lite went out after about 2 years. Water heater works fine. Don
Don,
Our water heater does work just fine. It's just that the switch "Lighting" is in-op. It's not the end of the world if I leave it that way, I just like things working the way they're supposed to. And, that way, I can, at a glance, tell if if I've left the water heater on, in the electric mode. Thanks for your input.
Scott
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Old 09-06-2011, 10:31 PM   #9
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Here's an earlier post describing how to replace the switch/light (it's easy): 110 volt water heater switch
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Old 09-06-2011, 10:37 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FIRE UP View Post
Harry B,
...
Journey 39n,
Am I correct in assuming that the same "red tinted rocker" seen in the pic below, will glow "GREEN" if, the operation for the water heater is on LP? And, that it will glow "RED" if the operation for the water heater is on 110V? That change of color illumination was not mentioned by Mr Harry B in the above comments. Maybe he forgot it acts that way or, for some reason, maybe his is different from yours or even mine.

And as far as a "warning light" for the block heater, I think that would be very easy to install. A simple 110V, small, indicator light of some sort should do the trick. Good idea Sir, I think I'll look into that, even though, I've yet to use the block heater. In southern CA, based on area lived, and time of use for the coach, there's really no need to use it. But, if we traveled to colder climates and found the need to use it, a warning light and, AN AUDIBLE TIMER would maybe be of some value too. Hmmmmm.
...
The red-tinted switch (should) light up when the electric element is on and is not illuminated otherwise--it has no connection with the gas side of the heater, which is controlled by the black switch to the left of the generator hour meter.

I added a small red 110V neon light from Radio Shack to my block heater switch so that it lights up when the switch is on.
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Old 09-07-2011, 03:32 AM   #11
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For my two RV's there has always been a 'red' lighted switch indicating when 110v was supplied to the hot water heater. The green was next to the LP on switch in the 2003 Horizon, but the green is part of the LP switch on my 2010 model.

I do plan on adding a lighted switch for the block heater switch, as I use that compartment outlet for other things, sometimes, and would like to know when they are powered up.
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Old 09-07-2011, 03:04 PM   #12
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In my previous motor home, a Country Coach, there was a small switch next to the hot water heater, down inside the compartment that could only be accessed by removing a cover. After head banging for a while, I called them (they were in business then). They explained that most manufacturers ship their vehicles, or trailers with a 110 v. switch inline that must be turned on after the vehicle is serviced and full of water. The switch is to prevent new owners, or sales/service people from turning the 110 power on before the system is full of water, thus burning up the element. I found one on my neighbor's new trailer after he experienced a problem with 110 hot water heating. Just a thought.
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Old 09-07-2011, 10:10 PM   #13
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I have a 2008 Tour and the hot water set-up is very similar to that shown in the picture that Scott provided except that the LP Valve switch is not there. The red hot water electric switch lights up when turned on.

One thing that I did not know until I had the coach for a few months is that there was a heat exchanger between the diesel radiator and the hot water heater. I could not understand how I had hot water when I arrived at a campsite and forgot to turn on either the electric or LP for the hot water heater. After looking at the hot water heater manual and some of the on-line manuals that Winnebago supplies, I realized that I had this option. I very seldom use the LP option and only turn on the electric after I arrive at camp and plug in. Even so, I always have hot water for showers and dishes as soon as we arrive.
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Old 09-08-2011, 11:14 AM   #14
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I have had to replace my red switch because the light (12VDC) burned out. The bulb is integral with the switch - cannot just replace a bulb. Replacement of the switch was simple after removing two screws that attach the frame of the "One Place" panel to the wall.

I ordered the switch from Lichtsinn RV (an iRV2 sponsor) in Forest City, IA.

FJF
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Old 09-10-2011, 10:50 PM   #15
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Hi Ho: One reason that the switch has a red light is that you will burn out the heater if it is switched on with no water in the water heater (as for example when it is winterized.) I actually put a piece of tape on the switch when it should stay off so someone doesn't forget.

We have also discovered that when a lot of hot water is required (for example when lots of people want to shower one after another) turning on both the electric heater and the gas heater makes the recovery time so short that you can really supply hot water almost continuously.

Just some thoughts.

Dirk
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Old 09-11-2011, 09:21 PM   #16
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Hi Ho: One reason that the switch has a red light is that you will burn out the heater if it is switched on with no water in the water heater (as for example when it is winterized.) I actually put a piece of tape on the switch when it should stay off so someone doesn't forget.

We have also discovered that when a lot of hot water is required (for example when lots of people want to shower one after another) turning on both the electric heater and the gas heater makes the recovery time so short that you can really supply hot water almost continuously.

Just some thoughts.

Dirk
Dirk,
Thanks for taking the time to reply. By the way, what you're doing when you activate both heating sourses for the hot water heater actually recommended by Itasca in the Horizon Owners Manual. Thanks
Scott
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Old 09-12-2011, 08:09 PM   #17
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The water heater switch for 110V is a 12v control for the 110V heater. If you get behind you will find that it has 12v there. My light went out after three years and rather change the switch, I went to radio shack and bought a small green 12v lamp (#2720334). I drilled a small hole (7/32") under the switch and installed the new lamp. On the back side I connected one wire to the white (ground) terminal and the other one to the yellow one that is hot when the switch is on. This was a lot cheaper than a new switch and green is like the other switches when they are on. I found that you could slip the light wires along side of the blade terminals so you don't have to do any splicing. You can verify the operation by adapting down to a 20 or 30amp service. Now you can see the current draw on the panel when you turn the switch on. It takes a couple of seconds, then will show about 12amps. The light only shows that the switch is on. If the power panel sheds the water heater circuit, the light will stay on.
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Old 09-12-2011, 10:18 PM   #18
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When I replaced my switch a few years ago (see my earlier link) it cost me $3 for a pair of the switches at my local Winnebago dealer. I don't know what the price is today, however.
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Old 09-12-2011, 10:29 PM   #19
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That's pretty cheap. I didn't even check the dealer because that last time I bought a switch for an after market mod, I paid about $30 for one to match the other ones in the coach. If a replacement is only $3, then that's the way to go.
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Old 09-14-2011, 09:56 AM   #20
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Regarding the red lamp burning out... The lamp burns out because Winne is applying too much voltage to the lamp. If your batteries are charged as they should be, there is approx. 13.3 to 13.5 VDC on the lamp. The lamp will burn your finger when you touch it when it is on and will burn out.

The fix is... I added a garden variety silicon diode in series with the +12 VDC lead before the lamp. Works great, drops .7 VDC so the lamp does not get hot or burn out because the voltage to it is to high. I did this fix after Forest City changed the switch/bulb once and I changed it once. Switch/bulb #3 has lasted > 2 yrs now.
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