Suburban SW12DE Water Heater Review: Is It Worth It?

The Suburban SW12DE Water Heater is rated as one of the best water heaters for RV.

As you already know, a reliable water heater has become a necessity for all RVers who want to enjoy the comfort and luxury of their home, even when they’re far away from home.

However, if you’re planning to buy this Suburban water heater, don’t do it until you read our full review below to help you make a wiser decision.

In the review, we’ll talk you through the top features and benefits you’ll get from the water heater, its upside and downside, and so much more.

Let’s get it on.

Table of Contents

Suburban SW12DE Water Heater – Pros and Cons

Suburban - 1236.2037 12 Gallon Gas and Electric water Heater with Dark Spark Ignition
  • SUBURBAN WATER HEATER Steel tanks with porcelain lining
  • Anode rod protects against electrolysis


  • Durable, long-lasting construction
  • Compact, lightweight size
  • 3-year limited warranty
  • Quicker recovery rate
  • Convenient to operate, maintain
  • Super-easy installation


  • It comes at a bit higher cost
  • Boor customer support

Suburban SW12DE Water Heater Features and Benefits:

Suburban SW12DE Water Heater Combined Gas & Electric Model

Both electric and gas fuels have their own set of advantages and disadvantages.

However, combining the two fuel options can help you solve the cons associated with each while enabling you to enjoy the best of both worlds.

This is what the SW12De water heater is—bringing you the two fuel options into a single unit.

You can choose the gas burner with gas input or around 12000 BTU to offer you recovery of 10.2 GPH or the electric heating element with 1440W and recovery of up to 6 GPH.

Simultaneously using both the electric and gas options will increase the recovery rate of up to 16.2 GPH.

Suburban SW12DE Water Heater Longer Performance Life

One of the top benefits you’ll enjoy from using this Suburban water heater is its extended service life. This is attributed to the protective elements integrated into it.

One such element involves the anode rod that excellently neutralizes the aggressive water action on the steel tank, providing it with cathodic protection.

That being said, keep in mind that you should only remove this anode rod during an inspection, drainage or when you want to replace it (replace it once every year or whenever ¾ of its weight is gone).

The other protective element revolves around the porcelain lining, a well-known corrosive-resistant material that ensures the heated water does not harm the metal tank in any way.

And yes, the fact that the tank itself is made of heavy-duty steel metal hugely contributes to its overall durability and longevity.

Suburban SW12DE Water Heater Compact, Space-saving Design

Many RVers also love this water heater due to its small size, enabling it to easily fit in many recreational vehicles without taking away too much space.

As you already know, the space is always limited when it comes to your RV, so having a water heater that takes less space while executing its intended job well is a huge plus.

Suburban SW12DE Water Heater Hassle-free installation

It’s also pleasing to note that this water heater installs quickly and easily.

It comes with a simple design, enabling you to figure out which part goes where quickly.

Besides, the package comes with all the installation tools as well as a comprehensive instruction manual.

Suburban SW12DE Water Heater – Frequently Asked Questions:

Is this water heater the same as the SW12DEL model from Suburban?

Now, the two models are not the same. The critical difference is that the SW12DEL can control both the electric and gas heating elements inside your RV. This is unlike the SW12DE, which is only capable of handling the gas heating element.

What are the exact dimensions of this water heater?

the exact measurements of Suburban SW12DE are: 24 L x 47.6 W x 16.7 D inches

Do I have to shut it off when traveling down the road, or can I leave it on?

You can leave it on when traveling without experiencing any issues.

Can I replace the 6-gallon Suburban heater with the 12-gallon model without any significant changes?

Yes, you can switch to a 12-gallon Suburban model without making a lot of changes. This is because the cutout diameter of all the Suburban heaters appears to be the same. Only the heater length extends a little as you move to higher capacities, so you should make sure you have enough space for the back of your heater for the extra distance.

Does the unit come with an anode rod?

Yes, an anode rod comes included in the box, ready for installation. Remember, this rod helps prevent electrolysis, extending the lifespan of the metallic unit.

If you love RV-ing and like spending some quality time outdoors with your family or friends, then we recommend you to buy the Suburban SW12DE Water Heater.

The fact that this water heater comes from an industry-leading and reputable company should clear any doubts you have regarding its quality and reliability in providing you with hot water.

With a 12-gallon water capacity, dual fuel option, durable construction, and easy pilot ignition operation, this water heater will meet the needs of an average family while out there.

Though the price might seem a bit higher than the competition, it’s nothing compared to the benefits you’ll reap from this heater.

Characteristics Of A Good Water Heater (including the Suburban SW12DE Water Heater)

Water heating in residential homes is a frequent activity. Water heaters can be electric, gas-fueled, or solar heaters; it depends on your preferences. Most residences opt for electric water heaters like suburban sw12de water heaters due to its endless list of advantages that overweighs other heaters.

However, the cost of electric water heating is higher than other water heaters. All types of water heaters have different features, but some of the features are not beneficial.

Below are features you should look for when purchasing water;


Electric water heaters are safe enough for everyone. There are multiple fire hazards associated with fuel-fired water heaters; the combustion process can be life-threatening. The fire-fueled water heaters poss a great danger in the presence of flammable vapors.

Flammable vapors include petrol, diesel, spirits, and cleaning fluids. Electric water heaters are ideal for places with flammable vapors, e.g., garages, stores, basements, etc. Going the electric way for your water heating solutions is safe all through.

Simplicity And Convenience

Electric water heaters are quick and straightforward for hearing your water. At the touch of a button, you get hot water instantly. Most electric water heaters are ideal and convenient for both residential and commercial purposes. Use suburban sw12de water heater for Simplicity and Convenience.

 Costs of Operations

Electric water heater costs are relatively high compared to other types of heaters. However, the high prices are nothing compared to the electric water heating efficiency. The gas-fired water heaters are cost-effective. The electric water heater’s high operating costs are preferred over the hazardous gas-fueled heaters.

The installation, maintenance, service life costs are rational compared to gas-fueled heaters.

Lower Standby Losses

The electric water heater’s appropriate insulation ensures zero or minimal heat loss when heating water. On the other hand, the fuel-fired units lose substantial amounts of heat since their storage tanks are not insulated.

The heat loss for fuel-fired tanks is approximately 3.5 percent, while the electric heater’s in as little as one percent per hour. Electric water heaters are cost-effective than natural gas units in cases where there is low hot water demand.


Electric water heating systems are globally available, unlike natural gas heaters. Electric water heaters are considered ideal for both commercial or residential areas. Electric heating systems can supplement other water heaters like; solar and heat pumps since they are readily available.

Design And Installation

Electric water heaters’ designs make their installation straightforward and flexible. They can fit anywhere on buildings, whether residential or commercial areas. It is possible to place under-sinks and in spacious cabinets.

The installation of fuel-fired heaters is cumbersome and time-consuming. You require lots of materials to complete the installation. Their designs restrict the installation locations. They have multiple components as are necessary for a complete installation hence complicating the installation process even more.

The fuel-fired heaters components include; gas-piping, combustion air, flues, and combustible materials.


Electric water heater maintenance is simple and cheap compared to that of fuel-fired water heaters. The fuel-fired water heaters require regular maintenance since their burners and flues are vulnerable to corrosion and physical damages.

Periodic maintenance and burner adjustment are recommended to sustain the efficiency of the sw12de water heater.

 System Life And Warranties

Electric water heater life expectancy is ten to fifteen years and twenty years for point of use water heaters is up to twenty years. The longevity is attainable only under proper maintenance. For the fuel-fired water heaters, the life expectancy is eight to twelve years under strict supervision.

Pros And Cons Of Electric Water Heaters

Even though electric water heaters are dominating the water heating world, they still have their shortcomings. Everything with an advantage has its disadvantages also. Below are some of the significant pros of an electric water heater;

Lower Upfront Costs

An electric water heater is the cheapest water in the market today as per the initial costs. The size and water heater type are the primary determinant of the upfront price of the water heater. Installation cost is another factor affecting the initial costs of various water heaters.

The gas water heater installation is costly due to their different piping requirements, making the initial price very high.


The efficiency of a water heater is determined by the rate at which the heater can provide hot water and how much energy it will use to heat the water at a given period. Those two energy factors are the best in measuring water heater efficiency.

Electric water heaters come out as a win in efficiency competition with other conventional water heaters. The lower efficiency in gas water heaters is due to frequent energy loss, unlike electric water heaters. The higher the energy factors, the higher the efficiency of your water heater.


Overall, the electric water heater’s safety is on the pitch compared to other water heaters. Gas leakages are more likely to occur due to worn-out piping; this can be hazardous. Proper and frequent maintenance of your gas water heater can help with leakages.

Electric water heater safe issues are minimal, hence making it stand out among other conventional heaters. Feel safe when using the sw12de water heater.


In almost every home today, electricity is on the ground. Electric water heaters are readily available in the market today. People prefer electric water heaters over other conventional ones since the source of power is available whenever you need it.

Your home must be connected to natural gas supply; the gas is only available for some, especially in rural areas.

Cons of Electric Water Heaters

Even though electric water heaters have multiple advantages, they also have their downsides. The following are some of their significant disadvantages;

Recovery Rates And Heating Time

Electric water heaters can keep you waiting for the water to heat unless it’s a point of use water heater. On the other side, gas heaters generate heat fast thanks to the combustion process. The recovery rate of water heaters is measured in gallons per hour. It is the volume of water a heater can provide for a given time. An electric water heater recovery rate is relatively low.

Power Outages

In places with frequent power outages, electric water heaters are not the best. In case there is power, all the water heating applications standstill, hence causing inconveniences. Gas water heaters are not affected by power outages whatsoever.

Operating Costs

As mentioned earlier, electric water heater’s operations are very costly. Their upfront costs are very lucrative compared to gas heaters, but gas heaters operations are cheap. The cost of electricity is becoming more expensive daily though it may vary depending on location.

5 Things You Should Know Before Buying A Water Heater

Buying a water heater is not something you frequently do since it’s now time to do it; you have no option but to do it the right way. If you are searching for a commercial or residential water heater, it should be standard to avoid disappointment.

The following are factors to consider before buying a water heater,

Fuel Source

The standard water heaters in offices and homes are electric water heaters and gas-fueled water heaters. The fuel source is a significant factor when purchasing a water heater. If you opt for the gas-fueled water heater, know the type of gas it uses; propane or natural gas. A gas-fueled heater’s upfront cost is high, but it offsets the initial costs over operating costs within time.

On the other hand, electric water heaters have a low upfront cost but a high operating price. Settle for the water heater, whose fuel source is readily available and affordable.

Energy Efficiency

Water heating is among the most significant energy consumers in your homes regardless of the fuel source. An energy-efficient water heater like sw12de helps you save energy and costs. Modern heaters have top-notch energy efficiency. Energy efficiency is rated on the energy factor.

The rating measures the conversion rate of energy to heat and also the heat quantity lost during storage. If the energy factor is high, the water heater efficiency is more.

Type Of Storage

Most residential homes prefer water heater tanks over tankless water heaters. The tank water heater stores heat at all times, ready for use. There is a lot of heat loss; hence energy wastage in the storage even no spout is on. Modern tank water heaters are adequately insulated, thus minimizing heat loss and waste of energy.

Tankless water heaters, gas-fueled or electric serve, can reduce heat loss by twenty to thirty percent. They are reliable energy servers too. Point of use tankless water heaters are among the best heat and energy savers. The tankless water heaters have the benefit of a continuous flow of hot water.

Their major downside is homes with a high demand for hot water due to their limitations in flow rate.

Storage Capacity

The Storage Capacity of your water heater is measured in gallons. To tell how fast the water is heated and delivered at a given time, you rate the first hour and gallons per minute. Standard home water heater’s storage capacity ranges from twenty to one hundred and twenty gallons.

Space Required

Space availability is another primary concern when purchasing a water heater. Traditional tank water heaters occupied a lot space since there was only one time, one with a tank. If you have space limitations in your home, a tankless water heater is an ideal option for you. Buy sw12de heater.

The tankless water heater’s installation is flexible; they can be fitted anyway, e.g., under sinks, inside cabinets, etc. This is due to their small size. If you are lucky enough to own a spacious home, you can go the standard size way.

The above factors help you settle for the best water heater; you rarely buy it; therefore, buy the right one.

Maintenance Of Water Heater

Providing appropriate maintenance for your water heater is an assurance of its long life expectancy. Proper maintenance goes hand in hand with a water heater from your manufacturer. Your manufacturer will always give you a guideline for the maintenance of your water heater.

Lack of maintenance may result in uncovered warranties; hence a waste of money should anything happen to your water heater. Inappropriate water heater maintenance cuts its life expectancy.

The following are some of the basic maintenances of a water heater;

Flushing The Heat Exchanger

You should drain and flush the heat exchanger, at least two to four years, depending on water quality. Flushing the heat exchange eliminates scale buildup. It is advisable to rinse and drain the heat exchanger every two years if the home area has hard water.

Installation of drain out is a great kid in flushing the heat exchanger. Use vinegar to flush the heat exchanger of your water heater; vinegar is a significant scale buildup remover. In the case of soft water, maintenance can be done every three to four years.

Clean inlet filter screen

Cleaning the inlet filter screen helps in reducing the debris entering the water heater. Sediments can clog the water heater that may result in malfunctioning of the water heater. Run the filter screen under hot, scrub it with a brush to remove the debris thoroughly.

Replace the inlet screen filter only if it is damaged.

Inspect the burner and temperature

Inspecting the burner and the temperature should be done annually. It should be after every six months. Inspect the pressure relief valves and venting system after every six months. Replace any leaking valves. The maintenance of the three components also highly depends on the type of water in your area.

Anode Replacement

Carry out the maintenance of anode after every two years. Replace the anode rod if it corrodes to extend the life expectancy of your water heater. The rods tend to corrode more faster in hard water than in soft water.

Draining The Tank

Draining the tank helps altogether to remove sediments from the bottom of the tank. It should be done after every six months.

How To Cut Water Heating Costs In Your Home

Twenty percent of energy consumption in your home is a result of water heating. Cutting your utility bills feels like a good experience. Below are some tips to help you reduce water heating costs;

Taking Shorter Showers

Long showers are the greatest consumption of energy in your home. Taking shorter showers has a significant impact on reducing your water heating costs. In any case, longer showers do mean you become cleaner.

Water Heater Insulation

Insulating your water heater helps retain heat in your heater hence less energy consumption.

Installation of low-flow spouts and showerheads

This is another significant way of cutting costs on water heating; due to low water consumption. The low flow spouts minimize the water getting through at the source.

Pipes Insulation

Insulation plays a significant role in conserving heat hence low energy consumption that reduces the cost of water heating. Insulating your pipes will help significantly cut your utility bill.

Suburban SW12DE Water Heater – Final Verdict

Water heating is a large energy consumption in your home. Different types of water heaters, tank, and tankless water heaters perform differently in water heating. Choosing the best water heater requires a lot of keenness and concern.

Saving utilities is wise of extra cash in your pocket; follow the above-mentioned cost-cutting tips in water heating.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.