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Old 11-12-2014, 12:14 PM   #11
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Re: Removing the SMB-installed propane H2O heater

I removed my water heater (Suburban 6 gallon propane) because it was a bit munged up. I bought a new one but then realized I really don't know if I need it, and I DO know I could use the extra space!

As far as removing, I just disconnected everything and plugged the propane line (was a 3/8" female flare) with a 3/8" male flare plug. For now just on the very end of the line in case water heater "wants" to go back in. I'm not 100% sure about not having one, but since it's out now (new one in box is at the ready) I'm going to try it without for awhile.

Here is what I'm thinking on the door/opening:

1) I will use it for outside storage for things that wouldn't be "killed" if they got wet and are not valuable. Hence I can use a regular water heater door there. I'm thinking Lynx blocks and maybe water hose, etc.

2) The way mine (Suburban) is designed the water heater door flange makes a seal with the water heater itself and that is what keeps (kept) the elements out of the van. So I'm thinking to fab a lightweight box of some sort that is around the size/shape of the water heater, and that will be the storage box that is accessible from outside and interlocks with the Suburban door/flange. That way if water gets into the "box" it stays out of the van, just like the original. I'll still probably cover the back of the "grates" in the water heater door/flange unit and also slope the bottom of the box to drain outside. Still in planning stage though and all ears if anyone has thoughts/ideas/etc.

3) This is easily reversible to put the water heater back.

For sink/dishes/hands, I'm 100% fine with not having a water heater. I'm not used to it and have been heating water up in a kettle when necessary for ages (on boats). Even with the water heater it's far enough from the sink that there is either water wastage waiting for it to "show up," or I have to first collect the non-heated water in a container and save it (a pain).

For the shower.... well, there is where heated water would be nice. I have yet to come up with a way to heat water in a kettle and "stuff it" into a place where it would come out the built in showerhead! I have used a garden sprayer on boats, but that is then something to store (and ahem, around the size of a water heater...). OTOH, it can easily be toted outside, which is a plus. So that's the one thing that's been slightly holding me back, but as long as things are easily reversible (i.e. I can easily install the new water heater I have sitting in a box) I think I'm going to give it a try.

Ultimately if it worked out, I'd think about laying up a fiberglass door instead of the slightly-awkward-to-use water heater door, but that's way down the road, and the water heater door (outside door to storage compartment) may work fine.
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Old 11-13-2014, 11:57 AM   #12
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Re: Removing the SMB-installed propane H2O heater

We use an MSR Dromedary bag with a shower hose attachment. It can be used as a solar shower or pour hot water into it. It rolls up very compact when not in use.
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Old 11-13-2014, 02:32 PM   #13
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Re: Removing the SMB-installed propane H2O heater

Quote:
Originally Posted by dhally
We use an MSR Dromedary bag with a shower hose attachment. It can be used as a solar shower or pour hot water into it. It rolls up very compact when not in use.
You know, that's not a bad idea. I have gotten used to using garden sprayers on boats (I cut down the wand and lengthen the hose to make it more convenient to use as a shower!), but they do have the negative of being the same size to store whether full or empty. On the other hand, I do find them handy for various chores outside (rinsing off muddy things, etc.) and it's nice not to have to hang it up (you pump it up and it's very pressurized). Still, an empty one takes up nearly as much space as a water heater, and space is at a premium, so I'm going to think about the Dromedary (or similar). Thanks for reminding me of the fact that they would store "small" when empty.
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Old 11-14-2014, 06:31 PM   #14
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Re: Removing the SMB-installed propane H2O heater

Quote:
Originally Posted by 86Scotty
Don, looks like you've got help with the uninstall. I was thinking about your door storage idea a little more. If I recall correctly the door and the HWH on RVs are separate, as in purchased separate. Your door is already color matched so I would think you could just keep it and maybe cut and glue some Reflectix to the inside. This won't be watertight though, just a way to insulate it a bit, and if you are meaning a storage area you could access from the outside OR inside it might get a little more involved.
Can you post a pic of the door open and shut, and maybe the cabinet inside? It is possible that with a little weatherstripping around the inside lip of the door the cabinet inside might not need bothering with at all.

How's this?





We're quite happy with this modification. It's a huge space that divided nicely into two. The outside door accesses levelers and similar items that are basic to setting up camp. (The photo is older, an earlier approach to storage triage.) We went with the black door panel to avoid color matching issues with the van.

The inside door accesses additional space that is as large as any other single location in the van. We heat water for dishes on the stove and showers are either solar-heated or augmented with stovetop heat. Our propane consumption plummeted over the summer. All-in-all, a nice change for our needs.

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Old 11-14-2014, 06:37 PM   #15
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Re: Removing the SMB-installed propane H2O heater

Quote:
Originally Posted by Viva
Here is what I'm thinking on the door/opening:

1) I will use it for outside storage for things that wouldn't be "killed" if they got wet and are not valuable. Hence I can use a regular water heater door there. I'm thinking Lynx blocks and maybe water hose, etc.

2) The way mine (Suburban) is designed the water heater door flange makes a seal with the water heater itself and that is what keeps (kept) the elements out of the van. So I'm thinking to fab a lightweight box of some sort that is around the size/shape of the water heater, and that will be the storage box that is accessible from outside and interlocks with the Suburban door/flange. That way if water gets into the "box" it stays out of the van, just like the original. I'll still probably cover the back of the "grates" in the water heater door/flange unit and also slope the bottom of the box to drain outside. Still in planning stage though and all ears if anyone has thoughts/ideas/etc.

3) This is easily reversible to put the water heater back.

Ultimately if it worked out, I'd think about laying up a fiberglass door instead of the slightly-awkward-to-use water heater door, but that's way down the road, and the water heater door (outside door to storage compartment) may work fine.
Our experience was similar, though we used a shop to do the work because we wanted them to fab the doorway and have no tools/skills for that work. The external door is waterproof and had been Road tested. IMHO, SMB ought to offer this as a standard option.

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Old 11-14-2014, 07:03 PM   #16
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Re: Removing the SMB-installed propane H2O heater

You mentioned its waterproof, but are you sure your exhaust gases can't get through there and into the passenger compartment? I realize that its not likely, but just something to think about given the proximity of the exhaust.


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