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Thread: An RV Electrical Question

  1. #1
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    An RV Electrical Question

    I have a RV trailer. I've had it since 2008. The only problem I have encountered so far is a electrical switch for using the hot water tank with electricity verses gas. Actually there are three switches involved. One on the outside of the trailer that you have to turn on whether using electric power or gas. Two inside, one that lights the gas if using gas to heat the hot water tank and one if you are hooked up to electricity. The one inside, for electric power is a paddle type that is placed about 3" above the kitchen counter. Right where things get pushed up against it. It must be a very cheap paddle switch because now for the second time the switch has broken. It will not switch on. The first time this happened I took it to the RV place and had them replace it. $90!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT A RIPOFF!! It takes them about 15 minutes to replace it, but you have to pay for an hour labor at their rate. The switch itself is $14 if I buy it from them, for the same cheap switch.

    I wondering why I couldn't buy a regular switch at the BORG an install it. Maybe even forget the paddle type and go with a toggle type. I don't understand the electrical ins and outs of an RV, so not sure if there is some electrical reason a regular light switch may not work. Can anyone enlighten me before I do it and find there was a reason I should not have?
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  2. #2
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    I'd at least pull the switch and see what the ratings are on the existing switch. Is it 12 volt or 120 volt?
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  3. #3
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    It is 120v. But since I took it out of the wall I see it would take some work. The switch itself is the enclosed box. There is a back to put on to enclose it. If I go with an regular switch, I will have to figure a way to mount a box to put it in. The "sheet rock" of coarse is only about 1/4" thick there. I'd need to glue some support to the back of the sheet rock. I'm thinking maybe Liquid Nails would hold the support? Probably would have to replace the receptacle next to it because it is also self enclosed and probably would not fit in an electrical box.

    Here are some pictures of the situation.

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  4. #4
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    I agree with Darren. There's nothing special about RV electricity, other than the fact that it might be 12 volt or it might be 120 volt. And of it's 12 volt, a 120 volt switch will work just fine.

    The only other concern in this case is the configuration of the switch. It is a single pole single throw (like a standard wall switch) or a single pole double throw (like a standard 3-way switch)? Or maybe something even more complex, like a double pole double throw? If you can pull the switch out of the wall and post a pic of the back of it - especially with the wires still connected to it - I'll bet the gang here can help you figure out the answers to those questions.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

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  5. #5
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    paul, if that switch has given you fits before i would look at using a remodel box, a double one and replace both the power outlet, and the switch with a normal one from the borg.. take your old defunck box with you for a idea of sizing but the they look like the old hole would work.. they have ears that fold out to put pressure against the wall to hold in place..
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
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  6. #6
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    Correct Larry, I remembered those boxes. My next concern is if I could find a box that is shallow enough. It is only 2 1/4" deep there to the outside of the wall. Guess I need a trip to the store. I guess if I have to I could build out from the wall a little with some nice looking wood. But I really don't want "Micky Mouse" it.

    Humm, looking at it, a normal light switch only has three connections. One wire not attached to it. This switch has all the hot and common wires attached separately (I can't remember is that is the correct terms, been a while since I have done the electrical stuff). Is that an indication of a different type switch? Like Vaughn is talking about.
    Last edited by Paul Douglass; 04-25-2014 at 05:07 PM.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Douglass View Post
    Humm, looking at it, a normal light switch only has three connections. One wire not attached to it. This switch has all the hot and common wires attached separately (I can't remember is that is the correct terms, been a while since I have done the electrical stuff). Is that an indication of a different type switch? Like Vaughn is talking about.
    Looks like a single pole. If you have an ohm meter you can probably check the white pair and see if they are just patched thorough to make installation easier. You should be able to find a shallow box, but may need to use a couple of the metal clips that slip in the hole on each box and bend over the edge of the box to hold them in.

    You may have to get a couple of these metal ones and remove the side screws to make a larger box... http://www.lowes.com/pd_141473-427-4...3D2&facetInfo=

    it will require those metal clips above for installation.
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  8. #8
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    here is a source of parts for you paul link
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  9. #9
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    Oh, oh, while i was checking the switch with an ohm meter too see if it was single pole, I checked it to see if it worked. It appears to work, at least with the ohm meter. Maybe I had better figure out how to check the element! Even if it is the element, I will eventually change out the switch, I just don't trust not like the switch they use.

    Oh, ya, I checked the fuse.
    Last edited by Paul Douglass; 04-25-2014 at 10:24 PM.
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  10. #10
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    The saga continues. Looking at my RV again, the switch is working. Checked it both with ohm meter and power tester. So I figure must be the heating element. I uncovered it. I get a reading with an ohm meter across it, but no power reading. I really don't know much about testing the heating elements, changed a few on hot water tanks in houses, but don't know what reading to take. Can any explain to me? I hate to take it in, if it is just replacing an element, the little switch cost me $90, I hate to think what they would charge to change an element!
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