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Old 11-28-2022, 10:36 AM
 
570 posts, read 517,208 times
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I have two specific questions about electric water heaters:

(1) Is it bad to use the breaker to turn an electric water heater on for one hour every three days? Is there a risk of wear and tear on the breaker switch?

(2) Are there timers that can be set to come on for one hour every three days, or do they have to come on at least once a day? Please post a link if you have one.

Thank you!
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Old 11-28-2022, 10:50 AM
 
Location: Johns Creek, GA
16,633 posts, read 61,390,711 times
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Let’s get to the “brass tacks”- WHY???

What’s the purpose of wanting to turn on an electric w/h for an hour, every few days?

With the breaker- you or someone is there (seems strange). With the timer- there’s no need for anyone to be there.

So, what gives!?
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Old 11-28-2022, 11:21 AM
 
18 posts, read 9,309 times
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yes, you could prematurely wear out the breaker by using it like an on/off switch regularly. But, for what purpose do you want to only have it operate for 1 hour every 3 days? to save money on electricity vs having it have power 24/7? It will lose all of it's heat in those 3 days and then will run a full cycle to completely heat up the water when you finally turn it back on. You might be better off turning it down to like 120F and putting a water heater insulating blanket on it to help minimize heat loss.
Also, letting it regularly cool down to near ambient temperature and then heating it back up on a repeating basis will encourage bacteria growth which you do not want to happen.
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Old 11-28-2022, 11:56 AM
 
22,267 posts, read 65,572,696 times
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No. The breaker will not be damaged. In movie theaters, power to projection equipment was always controlled by the breakers and they were cycled at least once a day for years. Over dozens of theatres I cannot remember one time when a breaker fault was due to use as a switch. I'm talking about thousands of breakers.

One hour every three days for power to a tank heater is horrible idea though. Bacteria, thermal expansion cracking, odor - not worth it.
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Old 11-28-2022, 01:25 PM
 
Location: Brawndo-Thirst-Mutilator-Nation
21,267 posts, read 22,174,041 times
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Yes, there is extra wear and tear doing that extra switching.

And yes, there are water-heater timers, much more convenient.

Last edited by tickyul; 11-28-2022 at 01:57 PM..
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Old 11-28-2022, 02:56 PM
 
Location: Keosauqua, Iowa
9,551 posts, read 20,031,282 times
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Assuming you have a modern, reasonably energy-efficient water heater that's located in a heated space, it probably doesn't run much more than an hour every three days if you're not using hot water anyway so there's really not much point to worrying about it.
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Old 11-28-2022, 04:31 PM
 
Location: on the wind
19,399 posts, read 13,014,104 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by niceguypmp3 View Post
yes, you could prematurely wear out the breaker by using it like an on/off switch regularly. But, for what purpose do you want to only have it operate for 1 hour every 3 days? to save money on electricity vs having it have power 24/7? It will lose all of it's heat in those 3 days and then will run a full cycle to completely heat up the water when you finally turn it back on. You might be better off turning it down to like 120F and putting a water heater insulating blanket on it to help minimize heat loss.
Also, letting it regularly cool down to near ambient temperature and then heating it back up on a repeating basis will encourage bacteria growth which you do not want to happen.
This. Also asking what your goal is OP. If you want to save electricity/$, forcing the heater go through much longer cycles to reheat an entire tank of cold water versus shorter cycles to maintain a steady temp may not save you anything. Insulate the tank and turn down the thermostat. Easy to accomplish and doesn't require any fussing with electricals. Get more efficient with the hot water you do use: shorter showers, don't wash one or two dishes by themselves, once the faucet water is hot, do everything you can with it, use cold water for hand washing and laundry (use soaps intended for cold water), etc.

Last edited by Parnassia; 11-28-2022 at 04:47 PM..
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Old 11-28-2022, 06:32 PM
 
10,253 posts, read 3,939,950 times
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If you need hot water every few days, get a tankless model that is designed to sit there without heating the water. If you really need a switch, put a wall switch in, rather than using the breaker, especially the AFCI breakers that are required these days that cost $40 each.
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Old 11-28-2022, 06:39 PM
 
3,508 posts, read 7,188,817 times
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I have a timer that was used to turn on an electric hot water heater for several hours once a day. It was set up in conjunction with another timer for a hot water recirculation pump. It had something to do with reduced heat loss and time of day pricing. The hot water heater timer was motor-driven with nice chunky electrical contacts.

No longer used after replacement with a gas hot water heater.
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Old 11-28-2022, 07:08 PM
 
Location: TEXAS
2,846 posts, read 842,440 times
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Op, if this is to 'save money' - you probably won't save any!

The built-in thermostat normally will cycle/run the heating strip, usually only for a short period, to 'maintain' the temp range.

If you 'turn it off' for three days, the heating strip will have to run continuously /full blast for that whole hour to bring the cold water back up to temp - using at least as much energy as three days of brief cycles.

What will save money is lowering the thermostat temp (to 120), AND putting an additional Insulating Blanket, or even two, around the wh to minimize idle heat loss;
a wh blanket $20 (or even 2) ,
will be cheaper than a wh timer - $69 - https://www.homedepot.com/p/Intermat...0D89/100088282
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