CoryAndCindy
Hi all - 
I just got a partial lesson in how the water heater (Suburban Model SW6DE) works in our new Retro 285FK. I'm hoping this group might be able to fill in the remaining blanks for me...

My wife and I are out camping and, after several days, this morning, the water heater stopped working. No hot water, no flame from the heating unit. We're pretty novice at RV'ing, so, I looked through the packet of manuals I got from the dealer and....it has a manual for every subsystem BUT the water heater. Anyway, I troubleshot it to an empty propane tank, flipped over to my other tank and it started working. 

Here's what I don't get: We're in an RV park, hooked up to power. I thought that it would switch over (like the fridge does) once connected to shore power, but a call to Riverside revealed that....it does not. There is an on/off rocker switch in the lower left corner of the unit. I gather that we have to flip that on when we are connected to shore power, which is fine, but....how do you cut the propane supply? Do we have to actually shut the tank valve off? Seems there should be a way to cut off at the water heater, but I don't see one.

How do you all manage your water heater needs?  Thanks!
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sunvalleyjoe
our jayco has dual water heater , When i select 120v it disables the propane function.I am not sure if you have same function ours is 10 gal suburban . We usually start of with propane when water is hot we switch to electric if we take a shower we use propane .Hope this helps GBA!!SVJ
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TravelerGuy
Our 177SE has a Suburban model SW6D which is a 6 gallon, 12,000 btu, propane-only water heater.  It does require 12 vdc to operate, to power the control module which turns on the gas, ignites it, and then turns off the litttle red DSI FLT light on the control panel when the gas is properly lit.  It does not use any 115 vac.  Only trick I know is that in the spring, when first lighting it up, it's good to turn on the propane tanks, then light one burner on the stove, to get the air out of the lines.  And then change the sacrificial anode each year or two as needed.  Also, drain it before winter by removing the anode.  Ours has bypass valves (3) which are very useful when winterizing.  And very important, NEVER turn it on when it's not full of water.   Here's 3 pages from the manual which came with our Retro.  I think many Retro models have this one.
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TravelerGuy
Oops, CoryAndCindy,  I just re-read that you have a SW6DE with the electric element and the propane burner.  So you probably have the same manual as me, and it says to turn on the electric element with a switch at the heater.  The manual doesn't talk about disabling the gas.  Maybe if the gas portion of your wiring is just like mine, then you leave the switch on the control panel in the "off" position.  In that position, there is no 12 vdc sent to the heater, so it can't turn on it's gas valve.  Seems like the manual should explain that stuff.  That's not too clear to me, that you have the control panel water heater switch to "off', but you have hot water because of some hidden switch on the heater itself.  The danger in that is that if you leave the little switch on the heater "on", and one day you happen to have no water in the tank, you'll quickly burn out the element.  It also seems like you must have another circuit breaker I don't have, to control power to the heating element.
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CoryAndCindy
I appreciate the replies; I’m still not entirely sure about switching from LP to Electric and back again, but....I DO have hot water again; I filled my empty tank today so I ought to be good for awhile. It’s easier to research these things when the dishes and I are clean :-) 
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freewly
Hey TravelerGuy, can you send that link to the manual to my email address please:  freewly@aol.com.  Unable to open it from here.  Thanks!
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TravelerGuy
Hi Freewly,
My last post had a .pdf I made by scanning 3 pages of the manual I got with our 177.  But here's a link to a much bigger, better manual from Suburban.  It even has parts lists and exploded drawings:
http://waterheatertimer.org/pdf/Suburban_Water_Heater_Service_Manual.pdf
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Bcoem11
So from what I have found out through trial and error.  If hooked to 110v ac...turn on off switch hidden under heater to on.  You will not activate propane flow unless you turn hot water switch on control panel on, no need to close propane valve.
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sunvalleyjoe
one thing we dislike about the newer water heaters is no way to adjust water temp.
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