Need help wiring water heater


Old 05-02-07, 11:25 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 1
Need help wiring water heater

I'm replacing gas water heater with electric. I need a new 220v line. Water heater has only red & black wires. There's an empty conduit coming down from ceiling, right over water heater, but there's no wire in it. My breaker panel in garage is full, a breaker in every slot. There's no empty conduits coming into box, either. Only other 220 line is for A/C compressor, using 2 spaces. I think I understand that I could replace the A/C breaker with a double one, half-size, to fit in one space instead of 2 and free up one slot, which I could put another double, half-size breaker for new water heater. Is this correct? Then how do I physically bring wires from water heater to breaker panel? Do I need to bust holes in wall around panel and all the way to the water heater? Thanks in advance!
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Old 05-03-07, 05:01 AM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Wilmington
Posts: 4,219
From the sound of you questions, I would suggest you have a pro do this installation. A twin breaker, thin one with two switches for one slot, will not work for a 240V line. You need a double breaker, most likely 30A(check name plate on the heater), which connects each side of the breaker panel for 240V. If you have no space available in the panel, you will need to add a sub panel or upgrade the existing panel. Your local code may or may not require conduit.

But why switch to electric from gas??? Gas heaters recover faster and are usually less expensive to operate over time.
Old 05-03-07, 05:21 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
As Just Bill stated, you cannot use tandem breakers in the manner you stated. However, you could replace two regular breakers with tandem breakers and then eliminate two other regular breakers to free up two spots. This assumes that your panel allows tandem breakers.

As for running the wiring, you may be able to use the existing conduit if you can find where it leads. Otherwise, you need to run new wires. The new wires only need to be in conduit if conduit is required. If conduit is not required, then you can use NM cable.
Old 05-03-07, 10:05 AM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
If the panel accepts tandem breakers, then a quad breaker might be the answer. Depends on the size of the AC breaker, the make and model of your panel, etc. etc.

Don't forget to figure out if your service size is adequate to be adding an electric water heater to it. It'd be a real bummer to replace the water heater and then find that you need an expensive service upgrade. That could turn out to be one very expensive water heater.

If you want to provide more information (a lot more information), we might be able to guide you through it. Or maybe you want to get professional help. A pro will take these myriad of factors and options into consideration as a matter of course.

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