Sunday, January 11, 2015

Water Heater Propane / Electric Mod

2002 thru 2004 Atwood Propane Water Heater with Electric GC10AA-8

Circuit 1, Large View of Propane wiring 

Circuit 2, Large View of Electric wiring
This water heater has two individual control circuits for the water heater.

1 switch to send 12 Vdc to the control board for propane
1 AC electrical Wall switch wire directly to the electric heater.

2005 and Up Alfa’s Atwood Propane Water Heater with Electric GE10-EXT

With the Combination DC and AC Control board.
Notice the AC relay is controlled by the Control board. The control board has two separate 12 Vdc inputs:
Propane Switch
Electric Switch
The wall switch, which was in the 2002 thru 2004 Alfas, was eliminated because the AC heater is controlled by the 12 Vdc control board.

There are two different methods for controlling the water heater.

Single switch (10), which turns on propane AND electric simultaneously.

Dual switch (11), this allowed control of either propane or electric separately. Alfas produced after 2004 were installed in this manner.

During our stay in Indiana, we choose to upgrade/replace our aging water heater. Our option was the GE10-EXT, with the combination propane & electric control board. The cost for the unit was $385. The replacement was a simple change out. I suggest one mod prior to re-installing. Install a 90 degree elbow on the check valve. This reduces the strain on the supply line to the water heater. If you choose to replace your unit I recommend this mod
Since our coach is a 2003, the switch place was a single 12 Vdc switch for the propane and 1 AC electrical wall switch for the electric heater. Our combination was the following:
Propane and electric or Propane only

In the beginning this seems to be ok, but as time has progressed, I found that having item 1 or 2, was antiquated, especially at night when the water heater would ignite. So we were always forced to turn on/off the heater. With this in mind I set out to make a change without running an additional wire to the control switch plate.

I located a miniature toggle switch and with my trusty soldering iron, wired a couple of quick disconnects (I remembered to have the protected end on the Hot Side), I installed an on/off switch for the propane. I located this inside the heater on the right side using an “L” bracket.

This little trick allows us the ability to have the following:
Propane, Electric or Propane and Electric.

The switch assembly cost me less than $5, which is cheaper than running new wires. For anyone needing to replace their unit, I would be willing to make a switch assembly for you instead of someone charging you to run a new wire.

Since the install I have learned that going in and out to turn on/off the propane is easy, however me being me I thought there must be an easier way to turn on/off the propane without going outside or installing a new wire.

A few years ago we purchased a product from Harbor Freight. It is called Indoor Wireless Controller. The product contains a 3 channel remote with 3 controllers. The controller plugs into an AC outlet, letting you to turn on/off the AC device. You can see what it looks like here 

We paid about $25 at Harbor Freight. we used these as a way to turn off all AC power when dry-camping, especially the TV’s, satellite receivers, as even in sleep mode they draw a current.

Now in my mind I knew that the circuit inside converted the AC to DC for power. The question was what was the level of the DC voltage. So once again I went into development mode and took one apart. I found that the relay was controlled by 12 Vdc. So that solved my biggest concern.

I removed the AC part of the plug, soldered 3 wires, 1 = DC (+), 1 = DC (–), 1 for Switched DC 12 volts out, and extended the antenna.

So I ended up with a 12 volt switch remote control for our water heater. We can now turn the propane On/Off from inside the Rv. I left the toggle switch installed in case of problems later on.

Without modification

 Open up to verify operation. The 2 wires are 12 Vdc to power the unit.
What the final product looks like when done.

Safe Travels & Journeys

from DaGirls        "Della                     &                     Tilly"