Wolf's Motorhome Modifications

... and Other Stuff

Adding AC a "Heating in Progress" Light

to an LP Water Heater!

And, while we're at it, a pump pilot in the bath!


On a recent trip to Maine I took my wife, my son, daughter and my daughter's boyfriend.   Mornings were unbelievable.  Everyone absolutely HAD to take a shower before we moved an inch or did a thing.  YEEEESH!


AC Water Heater

I added a commercially available AC water heater element to the tank.  That was something I should have done YEARS ago.  As I sit in this Pennsylvania campground and write this my neighbor is, again, trying to light the pilot on his hot water tank.   Even with electronic ignition, AC is the way to go!  DO IT NOW!

I installed a "Hott Rod" modem made by PAK Manufacturing in California (www.hottrod.net, (661)829-1333 ).  I was quite pleased as the performance is good and current draw small (about 4 amps).  This means I don't have to jump up and turn it off everytime someone starts the toaster oven.  Camping World carries them.

The thing just screws into the drain hole.  You tape a thermostat to the back of the tank and plug it in.

Think about adding a switch.  I often winter camp.  When coming home, I need to do some minor winterization. 

(Here comes a winterization discussion.  Bear with me.  More on the heater in a bit)

First, I need to either heat the part of the basement where the pump is or I need to put a small amount of antifreeze in the pump.  Winnebago was really thinking on this one.  I have a waste valve just after the pump and a antifreeze hose/valve before it.   I can use the pump to suck a little bit of antifreeze and protect the pump without getting antifreeze in all the lines.

Next, I have to heat the area around the waste tanks to keep those pipes and valves free.  The heat drifts into the living area of the motorhome and protects that area.   I use a small thermostatically controlled 1500 watt heater for this purpose.

I have to drain the hot water tank.  The tank is not well enough insulated from the outside to survive a sub-zero cold snap.  We get quite a few of those in our "temperate" climate.

Once I put the AC heater in, I had no way to drain the tank!  The AC heater is installed in the drain hole.  I had to add a waste valve on a line under the tank to allow it to drain.

Hot water switch (40027 bytes)Next I had to address the problem of unplugging the darn AC heater every time I went into storage.  Phooey on that!  I put a small electrical box with a duplex AC pilot light and switch assembly into the wall under my monitor panel.  I can now turn the AC heater on and off at will.

It also allows me to turn off that drain when the wife has the microwave, coffeemaker, toaster-oven, egg cooker and about every other device in the house going.  Sometimes 50 amps is not enough, eh?

Why heat your water all year?  You HAVE to turn it off when draining the tank.   The switch is the way to go.


LP Water Heater Pilot

I have a pilot light to indicate that the LP water heater is switched on or off.   I don't have a means of knowing if the heater is heating (other than the noise).   My current heater makes very little noise.

So I have these four apparently dirty, filthy people who all need to take showers.   I needed hot water fast and running the LP along with the AC helps that process quite nicely.  Now ... how will I know it's time for the next person to take a shower?

Water heater pilot (32373 bytes)Bathroom pilot lights (74514 bytes)I stopped at a Radio Shack (I had all morning to work anyway) and picked up a 12 volt DC pilot light.  I drilled a hole in the fan over the stove and installed that light where everyone could see it.  A label even tells what it's for.  I ran the wire from the light to the gas valve on the outside of the tank.  That valve gets 12 volts DC whenever the heater is heating on gas.  Hence, the pilot light lets me know when the tank is actually heating water.  When it's done, the light goes out, the next kid gets in the shower.

Well, that tells anyone outside the shower but, guess what, the next shower was delayed because we were all outside and the person to take a shower was in the bathroom.  She couldn't see the light!  So be it!  I installed another pilot light in the bathroom.


Pump Pilot

I have a pump switch in my bathroom.  I don't know, however, if the switch is on or off.  I have an accumulator that gives me pressure for some time before the pump goes on.  Hence, turning the water on and having it flow does not tell me if the pump is on ... at least not until I have soap on my hands.

The next pilot went to the pump power plug to show when the pump was on and when it was off.

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