Saturday, December 9, 2023


Gas/electric — staying out of hot water

By Chris Dougherty
Chris Dougherty is a certified RV technician. Here is a letter he received from a reader while he was serving as’s technical editor.

Dear Chris,
hot water manI am told that it is not a good idea to use propane and electric at the same time to heat water. Any thoughts? —Jim

Dear Jim,
It is absolutely fine to use both at the same time to heat water. Both the Suburban and Atwood water heaters are designed to operate this way, and it reduces the the amount of time it takes to refresh the hot water supply.




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Bob Godfrey (@guest_2071)
7 years ago

When I was a novice at RVing I had left both the electric and propane switches on and found that my neighbor was pointing out that the overpressure relief valve was spewing water from the water getting so hot so, at least in my case, I never use both unless it is to quickly build up hot water in the tank.

Roy Ellithorpe (@guest_2095)
7 years ago
Reply to  Bob Godfrey

There is a thermostat that shuts the electricity and/or propane off at a predetermined temperature. Running both does not change the setting on the thermostat. If your pressure relief valve was leaking, either it or your thermostat was defective. Often if you mess with an old pressure relief valve they will not reseat well.

Ami (@guest_2061)
7 years ago

I’d love to do this but it seems that the electric option uses way too much power. I was just at an RV park that specifically forbade the use of electric water heaters. I think I tried it once and watch the draw go way up on my meter. Is this normal or is it just me? I think I read it’s a 14w draw, which is a lot in my 30a RV. Thanks!

Darryl (@guest_2104)
7 years ago
Reply to  Ami

The electric draw is only when the water needs heating and since it is cheaper than paying for propane (unless you are running a generator/dry camping) the only time it becomes an issue is when A/C and a 2nd high draw appliance (microwave) are used when the water heater calls for heat. If the breaker trips either in the RV or the main box then it is time to evaluate what needs to be changed to manage power usage..

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