How To Know If Your RV Water Heater Switch On Or Off (Simple and Straightforward)

One of the main appliances we use in our RV is the refrigerator. But the important one is the toilet and shower. Which no human can go without. 

But nobody wants to have a cold water shower on them when it’s winter. Which is the main time the water heater comes into service. And if you are a new owner of an RV, chances are you cannot tell if the heater is on or off. So how to know if your RV water switch is on or off? 

Well, you can tell it by looking at the water heater light. If there is no light, you have to locate the switch which will definitely tell you if your heater is off or on. Electric water heaters have their switch right beside the thermostat. And gas heater switches are most of the time right beside the propane tanks. 

But there are other places you will find the switches and other methods to tell your heater is turned on. Let’s talk about them. 

How To Know If Your RV Water Heater Switch On Or Off

Ways To Know If Your RV Water Heater Switch On Or Off

There are only two ways you can tell whether your RV water heater is switched on or off. It’s either by locating the switch or by turning it on and off manually. 

1. By Turning On The Water Faucet 

The first thing that tells your water heater is on is by turning on the water facet. Simply waiting for a minute after the water is turned on you can tell if the water is hot or not. If it is not running any hot water, then your heater isn’t turned on. And you have to turn on the switch. And the opposite to turn it off. 

2. By Locating The Switch 

The second easiest way to know if your heater is turned on or off is by checking the heater switch. Which is a no-brainer. As there are two types of RV heaters in the industry. An electric one, and a gas heater. 

The electric heater has the switch by the thermostat 3 out of 4 times. But if your RV is a bit of an older traditional model, it might be located outside. It can be right beside your water tank which is connected to the battery. 

Make sure to turn on and off the battery power for the heater to work and turn off. 

Gas heater however has its switch by the propane tank, or on the front or back of your RV. Also, make sure to check near the water tank for better measures. 

Switches will have ‘WH’ or ‘Water Heater’ written around the switch. And we all know ‘O’ means off and ‘I’ means on. 

Bonus Tips: Manually Turning On The Heater

Some RV water heaters don’t have a switch at all. You can turn it on and off by removing its heater plate. You have to fill it with water and then take off the plate to turn it on. And when you are done with it, turn it off again. 

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

How do I know if my hot water system is on?

You can check if your RV hot water system is on by turning on the faucet. If it is not, you will find the switch to your water heater beside the propane tank if it is gas-run. Electric water heaters have switches right beside the thermostat and anywhere back or front of the RV marked ‘WH’ or ‘Water Heater’.

Can I run my RV water heater without electricity?

A portable propane water would run without any electricity. But it will require a propane gas line which is easy to fix on your RV. 

Are RV water heaters AC or DC?

Electrical RV water heaters are DC-powered 12V systems. Older RVs come with a pilot-model water heater or propane heater. 


Heaters are not a luxury, but a necessity in any camping trip. So knowing how it is turned on or off is a must. The best way to learn where the switch is is to read your RVs manual. If you don’t have one, looking it up on the internet will help you. And always make sure to drain your water heater before storing it for the next use. Or the water will damage the interior of the heater. 

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