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ladydilynn: Replacing 120V Water Heater with a 240V Water Heater

ladydilynn: Replacing 120V Water Heater with a 240V Water Heater

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Old 07-22-12, 10:57 PM
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ladydilynn: Replacing 120V Water Heater with a 240V Water Heater

We currently have a 20 gallon electric hot water heater that operates on 120V, but is not working. We need to replace it, but it is nearly impossible to find another that runs on 120V, unless it is very small capacity, i.e. less than 10 gallons. All of our circuit breakers are 20 amp., for 120V. We would like to replace our heater with one of the newer ones that operate on 240V. In order to do this we would have to have a 240V breaker with a dedicated line to the heater. The heater we have now is on a dedicated breaker, nothing else on it. Can we convert 2 of the 120V breakers with a 2 pole 240V breaker in order to operate a new water heater? If we can do that, how do we do the breaker conversion? Until we can do this, we have no hot water, so please someone respond quickly.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 07-22-12 at 11:59 PM.
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Old 07-22-12, 11:55 PM
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Can we convert 2 of the 120V breakers with a 2 pole 240V breaker in order to operate a new water heater?
No you need a #10 cable for most 240v water heaters.

This is really an electric question so I am moving it to the Electric forum.
 
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Old 07-23-12, 04:11 AM
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As Ray said, you would need to run a 10-2 cable from the breaker panel to the water heater location. You would need to install a double 30 amp breaker in the panel. Do you have the room in the panel to have the double breaker installed? Is this a mobile home? Do you have aluminum wiring? The white wire in the cable will need to be remarked as "black" either by magic marker or tape on both ends. Both wires in the cable will be energized by attaching them to the breaker and to the wires in the water heater. The bare, grounding, wire will be attached to the grounding buss in the breaker panel and to the appropriate screw on the water heater. What size breaker panel do you have, in amperage?
 

Last edited by ray2047; 07-23-12 at 07:02 AM. Reason: Correct Typo
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Old 07-23-12, 11:45 AM
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Can we convert 2 of the 120V breakers with a 2 pole 240V breaker in order to operate a new water heater?
Likely yes. But, to do that, you need to size that circuit to serve the requirements of the water heater. This may require replacing the cable between the WH and the panel with one that has larger wires in it, as has already been suggested.

To help us help you, one more question: What is the make and model of the WH you are planning to install or, more importantly, what are its electrical requirements (from the nameplate)?
 
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Old 07-23-12, 11:48 AM
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In order to use it on a 20 ampere circuit the water heater would have to be rated at 3,840 watts or less at 240 volts. If you can find such a heater the electrical would likely be fairly easy.
 
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Old 07-23-12, 11:56 AM
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Ummmm...my local HD lists a 120V 20 gal heater as a stock item...less than $300. I also see RHEEM/RUUD having one....for about $450-500 at online sites.

I don't disagree with changing to a 240V unit if it's feasible. Will the space allow a larger unit like a 30 or 40 gal?

I'm guessing it's a mobile home?
 
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Old 07-23-12, 05:05 PM
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Most electric water heaters have replaceable parts (thermostat, element, etc) If it is not leaking water I suggest fixing it. We can help you troubleshoot to find the broken part.
 
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