How to Convert a Gas RV Water Heater to Electricby Teeter Allen Morrison
There is a simple kit to convert RV hot water tanks to electric without interfering with the gas service to the tank. That means if you have a gas hot water tank you can operate it on gas until getting to a camp area that provides electricity and switch it over to electric. If the gas service is not functioning, you can plug the gas line off and just use the electric service. Most camping areas include electric in their rate so it is much cheaper to run the hot water tank on their electric.
Shut off the water pump or the water supply to the RV. Remove the drain plug from the bottom of the hot water tank located inside the external service door on the outside of the RV or camper. Allow the water to drain out.
Wrap pipe tape on the threads. Thread the electric element that comes with the electric conversion kit into the drain and tighten it. Once installed, the element takes the place of the drain plug.
Run a 110 service line to the hot water tank. Be sure to maintain the color code of the service wires. Most often white is the ground, but maintain consistency with your RV.
Locate the hot water tank's tin cover and remove it. Drill a hole in it for the wire if needed. Peel back the insulation and install the thermostat; some just sit against the tank. Cut the hot wire of the service line and wire in the thermostat: one cut wire to one post and the other cut wire the other post. Follow the included instructions to insulate the thermostat wires. Reinstall the tin shield
Attach the hot wire from the thermostat to one post on the electric heater element. Hook the ground wire to the other post of the heater element.
Fill the hot water tank with water and turn on the electric service. The water will take a few minutes to heat.
- It may be wise to add a switch in the area of the hot water tank and run the service from there.
- The electric element must stay submerged in a constant supply of water to avoid damage.
- Wear gloves when handling insulation.
Things You'll Need
- Socket set
- Hot water conversion kit
- Screwdriver set
- Wire strippers
- Pipe tape
- To avoid shock or electrocution unplug and or shut off the generator in the RV when wiring the 110 service.
- wear safety glasses when handling insulation or working under the hot water tank area.
Teeter Allen Morrison has been writing for more than 20 years. His work has appeared in Peterson Publishing's "Stock Car" magazine's Technical section and he has authored some popular articles for various websites. In earlier years Morrison accepted an engineer apprenticeship with the Local Iron Workers Union. He is a graduate of Writer's Digest University.