Suburban Water Heaters for RV Homes - Review and Buying Tips

Suburban water heaters are small appliances explicitly designed for efficient water heating in mobile and recreational-vehicle homes. Several models and types are available, such as the high recovery gas-powered and those designed for the combined use of gas, electric, and motor aid (it utilizes the heat from the engine). Different tank sizes are also available for various RV home styles, and they have capacities ranging from 4 to 16 gallons.

Suburban RV water heater

Almost all Suburban propane gas models come with the heat power of 12,000 BTU. In contrast, the electric models utilize one heating element with the maximum power of 1440 W, providing a maximum recovery rate of 10.2 for gas models and 6 GPH for the electrical. For faster recovery, Suburban water heaters can operate both electric and gas at the same time, as long as the RV is hooked on the grid or generator.

Main features

Suburban RV water heaters are small, the largest 16-gallon model is 16-7/32" x 16-17/32" x 27", for example, and they work and have similar components as the conventional gas home models. They include a gas burner and pilot (or direct spark ignition), a relief valve, and a metal tank protected by the porcelain lining and the anode rod.

The last two elements help Suburban water heaters last longer. Also, this is the major difference between this manufacturer and its main competitor Atwood (which uses the aluminum tank). Since Suburban models are equipped with anode rods, they are prone to the bacteria growth and rotten egg smell, so proper maintenance is needed, such as the flushing and chlorination.

As mentioned above, Suburban water heaters can use either pilot light or direct spark ignition to light the main gas burner. If the pilot goes out for some reason (weather, for example), a re-ignitor will relight the pilot again, which is very convenient, especially when driving or during the shower. Models with the direct spark ignition utilize the remote switch, which electronically controls the heating unit.

All units can fit almost any RV, and they use the flush mount and standard mount doors for protection and a better look.

Below is the information you might find on the unit's data sticker, which is helpful to identify the right model and its features. The 10-gallon model is used as an example:

  • SW10P is the Suburban gas models with the pilot light (P)
  • SW10PE is the combination of gas (with the pilot) and electric (E)
  • SW10D is the gas model that uses the direct spark ignition (D)
  • SW10DE is the combination of DSI gas and electric
  • SW10DEM uses gas, electric, and engine heat (M)

If replacing an existing RV water heater (built by another manufacturer) with the Suburban, always check the dimensions first, and if it is needed, buy the replacement kit. There is a warranty of three years on the heater's tank.

If you would like to go tankless and enjoy hot water in continuous supply and on demand, buy a Girard water heater.

Suburban water heaters are products made by the Suburban Manufacturing, a supplier of HVAC equipment to the RV industry. They are located in Dayton, Tennessee.