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How to Turn On the Electric Water Heater in an RV

How to Turn On the Electric Water Heater in an RV

Key Takeaways
● The water heater is turned on by a switch located inside the RV
● There are two types of RV water heaters: electric and propane
● If there is no hot water coming out of the faucet, the water heater might not be turned on
● The water heater should be turned off when leaving the RV

Just because you are vacationing in an RV doesn’t mean that you don’t need hot water. Washing the dishes, and your morning shower are just some of the daily tasks that are going to need a little heat in order to be effective. But how do you turn on the electric water heater in your RV?

The process is very simple, and all you need to do is find the heater access panel and make sure the water heater is switched on. With that, you’ll find the hot water starts pouring out in no time at all so that you can enjoy that shower.

Of course, things go wrong sometimes as well. In this guide, we take you through how to turn the RV electric water heater on as well as some common troubleshooting tips.

Simple Steps for Turning on the Electric Water Heater in an RV

Simple Steps for Turning on the Electric Water Heater in an RV

It’s time to check the hot water and make sure it’s switched ON so that you can have a shower or do the dishes. Here is a quick step-by-step to help you get the electric RV water heater on.

Step One: Check the Tank for Hot Water

The first thing you want to do is CHECK the water heater for any water that might be left over from the last time the electric heating element was used. This water can be quite HOT, so be careful.

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Step Two: Locate the Heater Access Panel

The next thing you’re going to want to do is FIND the heater access panel. This will be on the outside of the RV, and it will likely have a water heater switch.

Step Three: Find the RV Water Heater Switch

Once you’ve located the panel, it’s time to FIND the water heater switch. This will be a small switch that is either in the ON or OFF position.

Step Four: Flip the Switch to the On Position

Once you’ve found the switch, all you need to do is FLIP it to the ON position. At this point, you should start to see water running through the pipes.

Pro Tip: If you don’t see water running, then it’s possible that the water heater is turned off at the circuit breaker.

Troubleshooting Your RV Electric Water Heather

Troubleshooting Your RV Electric Water Heather

While switching the electric water heater on is easy, there are times when you might find that it DOESN’T work as you’d hoped.

Here are some of the most COMMON troubleshooting issues you’re likely to come across with your water heater.

Step One: Check the Circuit Breaker

The first thing you want to do is CHECK the water heater’s circuit breaker. This is usually located in the same area as the water heater switch.

Step Two: Check the Power Switch for 120v AC

The next thing you want to do is CHECK the power switch for 120v AC. You can find this switch near the water heater or on the electrical panel.

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Step Three: Press the Reset Button

If the water heater is still not working, then you might need to PRESS the reset button. This button can be found on the water heater itself.

Step Four: Check the Wire Connections

Finally, you want to CHECK the wire connections. This is especially important if you’ve recently moved the RV, as loose wires can cause all sorts of problems.

Step Five: Check the Heating Element

If you’ve checked all of the above and the water heater still isn’t working, then it’s possible that the HEATING ELEMENT is the problem.

You can test the element by using a multimeter to check for continuity. If there is no continuity, then the element will NEED to be replaced.

What are the Types of RV Water Heaters?

What are the Types of RV Water Heaters

While this guide has a strong focus on ELECTRIC RV water heaters, there are actually three main types that you can choose from. Here is a little more information on each.

Electric

Electric water heaters are the most COMMON type that you’ll find in an RV. They’re also the most AFFORDABLE and the EASIEST to use.

The only downside to electric water heaters is that they require a power source, so you can only use them when you’re plugged into an RV park or have a generator.

Propane

Propane water heaters are less COMMON than electric water heaters, but they’re still a POPULAR option.

The main advantage of an RV propane water heater is that it can be used EVEN WHEN you’re not plugged into an RV park or have a generator.

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The only downside is that they’re more EXPENSIVE to operate propane RV water heaters than electric water heaters.[1]

Combo

The final type of water heater is a COMBO water heater. These are less common than the other two types, but they offer the best of both worlds.

Pro Tip: Combo water heaters can be used with either propane or electricity, so you’re never without hot water.

The only downside is that they’re more EXPENSIVE than both electric and propane water heaters.

What About a Tankless Water Heater?

One last water heater option that you might come across is a TANKLESS water heater. These are becoming more and more popular in RVs, as they offer some UNIQUE advantages.

The main advantage of a tankless water heater is that it provides an INFINITE supply of hot water.

This is because the water is heated on demand without an RV hot water tank, so you never have to worry about running out.

The only downside is that they’re more EXPENSIVE than all other types of water heater tank available.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Tell if My RV Water Heater is Gas or Electric?

The best way to tell if your RV water heater is gas or electric is to look at the control panel. If there’s a switch that says “Electric” or “Gas,” then you know which type of water heater you have.

If there’s no switch, then you can check the water heater itself. Gas water heaters will have a vent pipe, while electric water heaters will not.

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Where is the Electric Water Heater in an RV?

The electric water heater in an RV is usually located in the same area as the water heater switch. This switch is usually located near the water heater or on the electrical panel.

To Conclude

To Conclude

If your water heater isn’t working, then the FIRST thing you want to do is check the circuit breaker. If the water heater is still not working, then you might need to press the reset button.

You can also check the wire connections and the heating element. Finally, if you’re not sure whether your water heater is gas or electric, you can CHECK the control panel or the water heater itself.

We hope this guide was able to help make the process easier for you and guide you through the steps (and solutions) for your electric water heater.

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

A bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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