Adding a wall switch for electric water heater

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  #1  
Old 04-06-07, 05:10 PM
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Adding a wall switch for electric water heater

I wanted to add a wall switch for our electric water heater, something I can turn on/off from the upstairs easily. I know they make timers, but I'd really rather have a simple on/off switch instead. The water heater is on a 30 amp breaker and 10/2 wire runs to the water heater. I don't think I can put a 20 amp wall switch on the wall for it since it's on a 30 amp breaker, can I? I figured it might just short out. Do they make any type of simple switches, or am I stuck with buying a big metal box with a lever on it?
 
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  #2  
Old 04-06-07, 05:30 PM
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you do need a 30 amp (or greater) rated switch. A double pole single throw.

They're out there but I'm not having any luck finding one on an internet search
 
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Old 04-06-07, 05:45 PM
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I think you're probably better off buying that big metal box with the lever on it. Put it in a closet if the appearance bothers you. You might find the timer useful after all.
 
  #4  
Old 04-06-07, 05:48 PM
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I would think there would be a simple switch and relay combination out there.
 
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Old 04-06-07, 05:52 PM
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after re-reading the post, I really must ask why you are doing this. Not only are you making an inconvenience fpr yourself, I don;t see how you are really going to save any money if that is your intent. Since a water heater only runs when needed to heat the water, fixing leaks and insulating the heater and lines would reduce any heat losses from a standing system that would require the heater to run.


and yes, I could come up with a very simply contactor and control that would serve the purpose. (rockpro's suggestion)
 
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Old 04-06-07, 05:55 PM
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They make tankless water heaters for this purpose.

I don't thinking adding a switch is at all feasible like Nap was saying. It would take AT LEAST an hour to heat the water in the tank up.

At least with tankless, minus the initial cost, is very cost effective and efficient.
 
  #7  
Old 04-06-07, 05:57 PM
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The reason I just want a switch is that I am not home a lot of times. A timer would turn it on even if I'm not home for the weekend. The water heater is insulated and fairly new. No leaks. It will definitely be cheaper for me to heat the water up when I need it as opposed to letting a timer turn it off and on. Switch will be mainly for convenience. I have a double switch box at the top of my basement steps and one of the switches is unused, so I thought I could use that. Unfortunately I can't find a 30 amp switch of any kind. I thought about a relay but don't know how to wire one up.
 
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Old 04-06-07, 06:09 PM
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we can help with the relay/contactor situation if you want to explore that option.
 
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Old 04-06-07, 06:46 PM
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Would a relay be much more work? The extra switch already has a 12/2 wire running to it that isn't attached to any power source. Could I use that?
 
  #10  
Old 04-06-07, 07:06 PM
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You can use 12/2 to activate the relay, but you can run the water heater power neither through 12/2 nor through a 20-amp switch.

Where does this 12/2 going to the existing switch come from? You suggest that there is something already in place that you want to leverage. That's a strange story. Can you fill in the details?
 
  #11  
Old 04-07-07, 12:28 AM
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Leviton Enclosure
(Model # N13NC)
http://www.twacomm.com/catalog/model_N13NC.htm?sid=D6DFCC5697F0D04D757012FE3CCE3EA6


Leviton Side Wired AC Manual Welder Starting Switch 40Amp 600V AC
(Model # WS402)
http://www.twacomm.com/catalog/model_WS402.htm?sid=D6DFCC5697F0D04D757012FE3CCE3EA6

I belive this is OK as its over rated and designed for continuous amperage. and not a motor starting switch
 

Last edited by BenfranklinPA; 04-07-07 at 12:41 AM.
  #12  
Old 04-07-07, 05:35 AM
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that switch looks good. It also looks as if it will fit into a typical device box.

The one caveat I see to be careful of;

It would have to be connected with, at least #10 wire. Depending upon distance involved, it may need to be larger. Box wire fill may come into play as well.


It also will require 4 conductors plus a ground.
 
  #13  
Old 04-07-07, 06:17 AM
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John,
The double box was already existing on the wall with one working light and one switch with nothing at all attached to it (strange,huh?). I was going to run a switch to the electric water heater and got as far as running a 12/2 wire from the switch to the basement, however, I then realized the wire going to the water heater was 10/2 and not 12/2, so I didn't hook it up. So I basically have a wire running from the switch to nowhere. Thought I could use that to pull a 10/2 wire thru the wall, but since I can't find a 30 amp rated switch, I didn't bother.
 
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Old 04-07-07, 06:19 AM
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Originally Posted by BenfranklinPA View Post
I belive this is OK as its over rated and designed for continuous amperage. and not a motor starting switch

A motor starting rated switch would work as well. They are a higher quality than the non motor ones. Just be carefull to not get the ones that require overloads, as they would be more expensive in the long run. (overloads are sold seperately)

I will take a stab in the dark and assume that at some point the wire to the hot water tank comes out of the wall and is run exposed down or up to the water tank. One could just put a 4 sq deep box on the wall. Put in two 3/4 romex connectors, and install the switch right at the water heater. A few feet of 10-2 w/g and we have a wonderfull thing. lets not forget the ground screw and pig tail for that metal box.

An experienced DIYer could have it all done before he takes me to lunch.
 
  #15  
Old 04-07-07, 06:26 AM
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OOps I missed the part about the tank being located in the crawl space or basement. sorry. Guess I will have to wait for supper.

You will need two 10-2 w/g to the wall switch one to bring power from the panel, and another to continue to the water heater.

If you want to put the switch in the wall you will need at least a 3 1/2 deep single gang box. You could also use a two gang box, and get a cover that is blank on one side.
 
  #16  
Old 04-07-07, 06:37 AM
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That WS402 switch looks like just the ticket. I will try to get one (locally if I can) and I'll just use the 12/2 wire I have in there to pull a 10/2 wire thru the wall. At least that part should be easy to do this time. Hopefully there will be enough room in the box to connect the 10/2 wires to the switch. If not, I'll put a separate box next to it. From there I'll run the wire down to the basement where the water heater is, which is just under the stairs luckily. I'll cut the power wire going to the heater (after shutting off the breaker of course) and use the switch wire on the black wire, reconnecting the white wire going from the breaker box to the heater. So the black wire will be interrupted by the switch. Sound right?
 
  #17  
Old 04-07-07, 06:42 AM
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It sounds like you are planning to interupt only one side of the 240 volt feeding the water heater. This is acceptable per code as long as this switch is not to be the required disconnect for the water heater. The water heater needs a disconnect means within site. The breaker box counts if you can stand at the water heater and see the panel.

Be sure to re-identify all of the white wires that will be used as hot conductors with black electrical tape.

the big box stores may not have the swtich you need, but the electrical supply house should.

I think we are back to having this done before lunch.....
 
  #18  
Old 04-07-07, 06:55 AM
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Could be done by lunch if I had the switch I'll bet. Unfortunately I live about a half hour or so from civilization, so I'll wait till I go to work next week to hunt one down. Thanks for all the help. I'll try to report back soon.
 
  #19  
Old 04-07-07, 09:19 AM
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You've probably already got a 30 amp switch to turn the water heater off....in the breaker panel.
Why add another?
steve
 
  #20  
Old 04-07-07, 12:55 PM
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I know I have one in the breaker box. Just would rather not run up and down when I want to turn it on or off. A switch upstairs will be much more convenient.
 
  #21  
Old 04-10-07, 06:14 PM
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After another careful look in Lowe's I found that they did indeed have a 30 amp light switch for $10.86. Now I just need to find a block of time (before lunch ;-) to install it.
 
  #22  
Old 04-10-07, 06:22 PM
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OH geez... anything to get out of buying my lunch.....



Ok.. I can wait till supper..
 
  #23  
Old 04-11-07, 06:39 AM
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Talking

That will leave me the whole afternoon to get myself wired as well.
 
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