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.

If you’re planning to buy this Suburban water heater, however, 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…

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
  • Pilot or electronic ignition
  • Combination gas and electric models Three-year limited on tank
  • 12 Gallon, 12, 000 BTU, Combination Electronic Ignition and Electric Model


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


  • Comes at a bit higher cost
  • Boor customer support

Suburban SW12DE Water Heater Features and Benefits:

Combined Gas & Electric Model

Both the 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 of them while enabling you to enjoy the best of both worlds.

This is exactly what the SW12De water heater—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.

Apparently, simultaneously using both the electric and gas options will result in an increased recovery rate of up to 16.2 GPH.

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.

Compact, Space-saving Design

This water heater is also loved by many RVers due to its small size which enables 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.

Hassle-free installation

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

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

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

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. is this water heater the same as the SW12DEL model from Suburban?

Now, the two models are not the same…the key difference is that the SW12DEL has the capabilities of controlling both the electric and gas heating elements inside your RV. This is unlike the SW12DE which is only capable of controlling the gas heating element.

2. 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

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

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

4. can I replace the 6-gallon Suburban heater with the 12-gallon model without any major 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 appear 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 to the back of your heater for the extra length.

5. Does the unit come with anode rod?

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

Our verdict

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

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