Can You Use RV Water Heater Gas and Electric at Same Time?

When you are in a hurry hot showers are not something you need to wait for anymore. Not when you are in a hurry at least. If you have the right equipment you should be able to warm up your shower water quicker using two heat sources and not just one.

Can you use RV water heater gas and electric at same time? There are three types of water heaters for RVs, the electric-only, the gas-only, and the combination water heater. If you are lucky enough to have the last one, then you are in double luck as you can heat up your water faster using both heat sources at the same time.

To learn more about this topic, just continue to read our article. it has the information you need to use your RV water heater more effectively. Take a few minutes to get up to speed on this important issue that will save you some time when you are in a hurry.

Can a Water Heater Be Both Gas and Electric?


For RVs, the answer to that question is yes. You may or may not want to have both heat sources band if you don’t you can get them either electrically powered or gas-powered.

But why would you, when you can have the best of both worlds and have a heat source back up just in case one goes out on you. If the propane tank gets empty you can switch to electric and still have a hot shower.

Then if you are boondocking and want to save your battery power for other essentials, switch the water heater to gas and still get a refreshing hot shower whenever you want. Having a backup system already in place is a smart way to RV.

Then when you do not have a lot of time before check out and you do not want to drive smelling up the place, turn on both systems and heat your water faster. This will help you get out of the campground on time

The possibilities of having a dual water heating system do not end with your showers. You can get food cooked, dishes done, and even bathe the dog by using one or both systems. No delays need to be endured when you have a water heater that is connected to both electricity and gas.

Can You Use RV Water Heater Gas and Electric at the Same Time?

Yes, you can and this is done either accidentally or on purpose. Those who have switched both systems on at the same time, have discovered that their water heats up quickly with no adverse effect.

For those that knew about this trick for some time, they can plan a little strategy and use this option to its fullest potential and benefit. It is a great situation to be in and one that provides a necessary backup when yo have to heat your water quickly.

The only cautionary move you need to make is to make sure you have water in your hot water tank when you turn the electric power on. If you don’t you can fry your electrical system and give yourself a costly repair bill.

There will be no problem if the tank is full of water, so double-check it as some people forget to turn the electrical switch off when they are done using the hot water. That means there could be some problems if you are not careful and remember to flip the switch off.

Other than that, there should be no risks involved when both systems are on.

How do I Switch my RV Hot Water Heater from Gas to Electric?


This depends on the brand and model of the R you own as well as how many perks come with your rig. Some people have an indoor switch system where one side of the switch has the on and off button for the electrical system.

The other side of that switch system has the on and off button for the gas system. All you have to do is turn the gas button off, or press it off and then turn the electrical button on or press it on.

However, some models of RVs require you to go outside to the access panel and open it up. In the lower left-hand corner, there is a small switch that needs to be turned on for the electrical system to work.

On that switch should be a little clip that keeps it from being turned on or off accidentally. Remove the clip and turn that switch on. In about 30 minutes your hot water tank should heat up. The other good news about this system is that you can still keep the gas system on.

Since the two systems use two different heating elements and directly heat the water in two different places, there is no risk of running both systems at the same time.

Do Both Heating Elements Work at the Same Time in a Hot Water Heater?

Generally, no they do not. When your RV hot water or other hot water tank is equipped with 2 electric elements, then they do not work at the same time. The upper element is the priority mechanism and it starts up first.

After the upper half of the water supply reaches the temperature indicated on the thermostat, it will shut off and the lower element will turn on and heat the lower water. This is called a flip-flop system.

When the hot water is being used, the cold water generally comes in through the bottom of the water heater. When it does the lower element kicks in and starts to heat the water.

But when a lot of hot water has been used, the upper element will turn on and heat up the water as it did before. Stopping only when the water reaches the temperature level already set. Then the bottom one will take its turn and the system will go.

There is a fail-safe or high limit control switch installed in water heaters with this system. When the water temperature gets too high, it kills the power of both elements. The power comes back on when you hit the red reset button near the top thermostat.

How do I Know if My RV Water Heater is Gas or Electric?


The best way to tell is to go to the access panel and see if you need to light a pilot light or simply flick a switch. The gas-powered water heaters will have two ways to be ignited. One way is by lighting the pilot light.

To do that you may have to press the control dial and turn it from pilot off to pilot on. The exact method depends on the make and model of your water heater or RV. The other way to ignite a gas-powered water heater will have you confused with an electric one.

This system uses a switch, much like the electric option, and you just turn the switch on and the automatic lighting system takes over. When the indicator light goes out and remains out, the water heater is lit and ready for use in about 20 minutes.

For the electric model, you just flip a switch and the water heater will have the water ready in about 20 to 30 minutes. Then, you may have a water heater using both systems.

This means that the best way to tell which system you have is to read your owner’s manual or ask the dealer which one is inside your potential rig.

Some Common Water Heater Mistakes and Tips

  • 1. If you turn your water heater on, yet the water doesn't heat up, check your bypass valve and see if it is set to open or not. If it is not, turn it to open to have the water heat up.
  • 2. When driving down the road, make sure to turn the pilot light off. The pilot light cannot be on when you are driving or filling up at the gas station.
  • 3. If the water smells pungent that is an indication that an anode inside the tank needs to be replaced.
  • 4. Soot build up indicates that some parts have worked their way loose or have become misaligned. Tighten up those parts to get rid of this build up.
  • 5. If your flame is erratic when it burns, then there is a blockage somewhere and it needs your attention asap.

Some Final Words

There is nothing to fear when you use both the electrical and gas-powered hot water systems in your RV. In fact, you will have better recovery, and less time is spent waiting for the water to heat up. Just make sure to keep the pilot off as you drive.

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