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Default 5500 watt elec hot water heater - 5000 watt generator

Hello all,

I'm looking at replacing my current 80 gallon electric water heater.
The current heater says the upper and lower elements are both around
3300 watts.

Most 80 gallon units I have seen in stores nowadays are 5500 watt units
(upper and lower element are both 5500 watt).

I currently have a 5000 watt gasoline powered generator. Our house is
wired with a transfer switch, and the current water heater is already
wired into the transfer switch. We have crappy electric service, which
is why I bought the generator a couple of years ago. We have had
outtages lasting 1-2 days. In my area we had an ice storm a couple
years back- remarkably, our crumby power stayed on, while most others
were out for between 1-2 weeks. My point? We have outtages that last
more than 3 or 4 hours, so there is a good chance we would need to heat
water using my generator. I have used the generator to heat our water
between showers when we were down for a day or so.

At my list visit to Lowes, I talked to a guy working there and
explained my generator situation to him. He recommended that I buy the
80 gal electric unit I was looking at and just buy some lower watt
heating elements to replace the higher watt ones that come with the
unit from the factory. He said he had done the same thing at his house
with no problem. Are there any problems that he or I don't know about
by doing this? (other than it will take a little longer to convert
incoming cold water to hot).

He claimed that by using the lower watt element it takes less energy to
heat the water - he compared it to cars you can buy with two different
size engines- one uses more gas than the others. I don't buy that. I
didn't argue with him there at the store, but I believe it takes the
same amount of energy to heat the water, just a longer time to use the
same amount of energy to heat the same quantity of water.

The other thing I thought about doing was keeping the 5500 watt
elements in it as is, and buying some extra lower watt elements for
emergencies where we would need to heat water using the generator. I
have never had to replace an element before- if you need to swap out
both the top and bottom elements, do you have to drain the whole water
heater, or can you do a fast swap, plugging the hole with a towel, etc.
while you quickly switch each of them out? The heater is down in our
unfinished basement, so if a little water got on the floor, it wouldn't
be the end of the world.

Thanks in advance for your advice!

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Default 5500 watt elec hot water heater - 5000 watt generator

why not disconnect the upper element when you're using the generator.

You could even wire in a switch to shut off externally.

Bill
"spam disintegrator" wrote in message
ups.com...
Hello all,

I'm looking at replacing my current 80 gallon electric water heater.
The current heater says the upper and lower elements are both around
3300 watts.

Most 80 gallon units I have seen in stores nowadays are 5500 watt units
(upper and lower element are both 5500 watt).

I currently have a 5000 watt gasoline powered generator. Our house is
wired with a transfer switch, and the current water heater is already
wired into the transfer switch. We have crappy electric service, which
is why I bought the generator a couple of years ago. We have had
outtages lasting 1-2 days. In my area we had an ice storm a couple
years back- remarkably, our crumby power stayed on, while most others
were out for between 1-2 weeks. My point? We have outtages that last
more than 3 or 4 hours, so there is a good chance we would need to heat
water using my generator. I have used the generator to heat our water
between showers when we were down for a day or so.

At my list visit to Lowes, I talked to a guy working there and
explained my generator situation to him. He recommended that I buy the
80 gal electric unit I was looking at and just buy some lower watt
heating elements to replace the higher watt ones that come with the
unit from the factory. He said he had done the same thing at his house
with no problem. Are there any problems that he or I don't know about
by doing this? (other than it will take a little longer to convert
incoming cold water to hot).

He claimed that by using the lower watt element it takes less energy to
heat the water - he compared it to cars you can buy with two different
size engines- one uses more gas than the others. I don't buy that. I
didn't argue with him there at the store, but I believe it takes the
same amount of energy to heat the water, just a longer time to use the
same amount of energy to heat the same quantity of water.

The other thing I thought about doing was keeping the 5500 watt
elements in it as is, and buying some extra lower watt elements for
emergencies where we would need to heat water using the generator. I
have never had to replace an element before- if you need to swap out
both the top and bottom elements, do you have to drain the whole water
heater, or can you do a fast swap, plugging the hole with a towel, etc.
while you quickly switch each of them out? The heater is down in our
unfinished basement, so if a little water got on the floor, it wouldn't
be the end of the world.

Thanks in advance for your advice!



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Default 5500 watt elec hot water heater - 5000 watt generator

In article . com, "spam disintegrator" wrote:
Hello all,

I'm looking at replacing my current 80 gallon electric water heater.
The current heater says the upper and lower elements are both around
3300 watts.

Most 80 gallon units I have seen in stores nowadays are 5500 watt units
(upper and lower element are both 5500 watt).

I currently have a 5000 watt gasoline powered generator.

[snip]
If natural gas (or LP) is available, I'd be looking at that as the first
option...

--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)

It's time to throw all their damned tea in the harbor again.
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Default 5500 watt elec hot water heater - 5000 watt generator


spam disintegrator wrote:
Hello all,

I'm looking at replacing my current 80 gallon electric water heater.
The current heater says the upper and lower elements are both around
3300 watts.

Most 80 gallon units I have seen in stores nowadays are 5500 watt units
(upper and lower element are both 5500 watt).

I currently have a 5000 watt gasoline powered generator. Our house is
wired with a transfer switch, and the current water heater is already
wired into the transfer switch. We have crappy electric service, which
is why I bought the generator a couple of years ago. We have had
outtages lasting 1-2 days. In my area we had an ice storm a couple
years back- remarkably, our crumby power stayed on, while most others
were out for between 1-2 weeks. My point? We have outtages that last
more than 3 or 4 hours, so there is a good chance we would need to heat
water using my generator. I have used the generator to heat our water
between showers when we were down for a day or so.

At my list visit to Lowes, I talked to a guy working there and
explained my generator situation to him. He recommended that I buy the
80 gal electric unit I was looking at and just buy some lower watt
heating elements to replace the higher watt ones that come with the
unit from the factory. He said he had done the same thing at his house
with no problem. Are there any problems that he or I don't know about
by doing this? (other than it will take a little longer to convert
incoming cold water to hot).

He claimed that by using the lower watt element it takes less energy to
heat the water - he compared it to cars you can buy with two different
size engines- one uses more gas than the others. I don't buy that. I
didn't argue with him there at the store, but I believe it takes the
same amount of energy to heat the water, just a longer time to use the
same amount of energy to heat the same quantity of water.

The other thing I thought about doing was keeping the 5500 watt
elements in it as is, and buying some extra lower watt elements for
emergencies where we would need to heat water using the generator. I
have never had to replace an element before- if you need to swap out
both the top and bottom elements, do you have to drain the whole water
heater, or can you do a fast swap, plugging the hole with a towel, etc.
while you quickly switch each of them out? The heater is down in our
unfinished basement, so if a little water got on the floor, it wouldn't
be the end of the world.

Thanks in advance for your advice!


Couple things:
1. Electric water heaters have never been known for their recovery
rate,
at least not in a good way.
2. They are very expensive to operate, unless you have unusually low
electric rates, because of limited efficiency of generating plant.
3. In all that I've seen, the elements are _not_ powered in parallel;
either to top one is on until upper section is heated, or the lower one
is on as needed. Derating them should not be an issue; just a little
bit tedious to do it right removing and replacing.

Suggestions:
Solar, gas/propane, derated elements in electric, with use of cogen.
The latter meaning: recover some of the 75-80% input loss (exhaust,
engine cooling) of your generator into heating water.

J
la

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Default 5500 watt elec hot water heater - 5000 watt generator

spam disintegrator wrote:

Thanks in advance for your advice!


For what do you need hot water?

Is this need so compelling that you can't heat what you need on a hot plate
for a couple of days?




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yeah, i agree with another poster- either the top or the bottom element
is on, not both at once. And, each is 5500 watt when either is on.

also, we live in a semi-rural area- there is no natural gas line past
our house. LP is not a near term option for us- we would have to bury
gas line and the way our property is, i don't see a good spot for a
tank where the delivery truck could reach his line to from our
driveway. I know and agree with others that LP or nat gas is the most
energy effecient. Trust me, if we were set up already for gas, we
would have a gas dryer, hot water heater, range etc.

i also have a 2nd part to my question- Sears has a 12 year water heater
on their web site. If you want to see what i'm talking about, go to
sears.com and paste the item number into the search box. Then click
the product specs tab. I'm looking at the Kenmore Power Miser 12-
sears item # 04232184000, in the product specs it lists an alternate
dual power option.

here is what it says:
"Alternate Dual Power- Max Fuse Req'd- 20 amps; Minimum wire size - 12
ga; Wattage at 240V - 3800 watts"

yet, at the bottom of the page, it says:
"Power - Type - Electric; Wattage at 240V - 5500 watts; Max Fuse Req'd
30 amps; Min wire size 10 ga"

When I called Sears cust service, I didn't get a warm fuzzy feeling
that the woman on the other end knew what she was talking about. She
said there is a bar that comes with the heater and that you put the bar
somewhere to make the electric work different (3800 watts vs 5500). If
this is true, it would possibly be an easy switch to run off of my
generator. What I'm wondering is if the lower watt option is possibly
for use in mobile homes, where the wiring is less beefy and different
quality than in regular homes. Again, I didn't hang up the phone with
a lot of confidence that she knew what she was talking about.

Thanks again!

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bathing

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"spam disintegrator" wrote in message
ups.com...
Hello all,

I'm looking at replacing my current 80 gallon electric water heater.
The current heater says the upper and lower elements are both around
3300 watts.

Most 80 gallon units I have seen in stores nowadays are 5500 watt units
(upper and lower element are both 5500 watt).

I currently have a 5000 watt gasoline powered generator. Our house is
wired with a transfer switch, and the current water heater is already
wired into the transfer switch. We have crappy electric service, which
is why I bought the generator a couple of years ago. We have had
outtages lasting 1-2 days. In my area we had an ice storm a couple
years back- remarkably, our crumby power stayed on, while most others
were out for between 1-2 weeks. My point? We have outtages that last
more than 3 or 4 hours, so there is a good chance we would need to heat
water using my generator. I have used the generator to heat our water
between showers when we were down for a day or so.

At my list visit to Lowes, I talked to a guy working there and
explained my generator situation to him. He recommended that I buy the
80 gal electric unit I was looking at and just buy some lower watt
heating elements to replace the higher watt ones that come with the
unit from the factory. He said he had done the same thing at his house
with no problem. Are there any problems that he or I don't know about
by doing this? (other than it will take a little longer to convert
incoming cold water to hot).

He claimed that by using the lower watt element it takes less energy to
heat the water - he compared it to cars you can buy with two different
size engines- one uses more gas than the others. I don't buy that. I
didn't argue with him there at the store, but I believe it takes the
same amount of energy to heat the water, just a longer time to use the
same amount of energy to heat the same quantity of water.

The other thing I thought about doing was keeping the 5500 watt
elements in it as is, and buying some extra lower watt elements for
emergencies where we would need to heat water using the generator. I
have never had to replace an element before- if you need to swap out
both the top and bottom elements, do you have to drain the whole water
heater, or can you do a fast swap, plugging the hole with a towel, etc.
while you quickly switch each of them out? The heater is down in our
unfinished basement, so if a little water got on the floor, it wouldn't
be the end of the world.

Your salesman is crazy. Electric heat is 100% efficient no matter how you
do it. The only loss is through the insulation, and the insulation doesn't
care what the elements are.

Consider running the heater on 120v during outages. It will only product
1375w, so your recovery time will be terrible, but it will work and doesn't
cost anything. It would be better if you could get both elements to run at
the same time, but I don't think that are designed that way.


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spam disintegrator wrote:

!


There is no problem swapping out the elements to lower power. Recovery
will be slower, but that is the only downside. I have a 3700 watt
Sears 35 gallon unit, and my 4400 watt generator runs it fine. I heat
a tank of water, turn the tank off and start the well pump. My wife
had the flu during our last outage, and being able to take a hot shower
did a lot to make her feel more comfortable. With 2 gpm shower heads,
a 35 gallon tank translates to a really long shower.

Swapping elements is not something you want to do in the middle of a
power outage. Yes, you have to drain the whole tank.

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spam disintegrator wrote:
bathing



Personally I would use a hot plate. Can't you get by a few days without
a hot shower? Trying to heat water with a generator is likely going to put
a lot of wear on the generator. Those are going to be real expensive baths.

--
Joseph Meehan

Dia 's Muire duit





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spam disintegrator wrote:

I'm looking at replacing my current 80 gallon electric water heater.
The current heater says the upper and lower elements are both around
3300 watts.

Most 80 gallon units I have seen in stores nowadays are 5500 watt units
(upper and lower element are both 5500 watt).

I currently have a 5000 watt gasoline powered generator...


Which probably makes about 20 kW of "waste heat" :-)

Nick

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spam disintegrator wrote:
bathing


Oh. Well, you could go French.


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I suggest you TRY your generator on the tank. Its very possible it
might run ok, although it will; be full load...........

Most enerators understate capacity and it may heat a bit slower while
still heating acceptably.I aSKED A FRIEND WHOS OLD HOME RAN ON
GENERATOR DURIUNG EMERGENCIES he had no choice being on A WELL

His 5KW generator tolerated his 5500 watt tank ok, although heating was
a bit slower

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I don't know about that. That might be "pushing the envelop" a little
too much.

We got the generator to run a sump pump when the power goes off. That
is the primary use if the pump needs to run a lot. If the pump isn't
running hard, we can turn it off and run the water heater, well pump,
etc.

I'd hate to fry our generator and then have to buy a new one or end up
with a few inches of water in our basement.

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spam disintegrator wrote:
I don't know about that. That might be "pushing the envelop" a little
too much.

We got the generator to run a sump pump when the power goes off. That
is the primary use if the pump needs to run a lot. If the pump isn't
running hard, we can turn it off and run the water heater, well pump,
etc.

I'd hate to fry our generator and then have to buy a new one or end up
with a few inches of water in our basement.



I take it a gas fired water heater is not an option? I'm not sure I'd
run a generator just to heat hot water. With power out and a tank of
hot water, it's going to last a day or so if you use it sparingly. But
if you want to use lower wattage elements, that is certainly an option.
And you;re right, the bozo at HD doesn't know what he's talking
about. It's going to take the same amount of energy with the lower
wattage elements to heat the water, just over a longer time.

Even at 3500 watts or so, it still going to be sucking up most of the
generator capacity for a long period of time. And I sure wouldn't try
running a 5KW generator on a 5500KW water heater, as it will already be
overloaded and then what about the rest of the house load for the next
bunch of hours while it;s heating? Don't know about you, but I'd
rather have the furnace, frig and lights going instead of the WH. You
can just heat a pan of water occasionally as needed. People lived
without showers for 1000's of years.



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yeah, gas fired water heater not an option. i'm not above going
without a shower for a day or two- on the weekend. However, I wear a
shirt and tie during the week. If it's summer time, I sure don't want
to show up for work smelling ripe. And yes, we have a propane camp
stove to heat water and cook with in an emergency in the summer time,
as well as a wood burner and fireplace if it's winter time.

I would just like to have the hot water tank available if we would be
down for a week etc.

anyone heard of the dual power option I mentioned a few posts back from
Sears? Is this typical with any water heater you buy or just Sears?

I called and talked to another person at Sears. She tells me that the
upper element is 3800 watts and the lower is 5500 watt. There is a
"bus bar" that you can convert the lower element to only run at 3800
watts. Of course she promised she would email me a copy of the owner's
manual- 12 hours ago (no email, big surprise).

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spam disintegrator wrote:
yeah, gas fired water heater not an option. i'm not above going
without a shower for a day or two- on the weekend. However, I wear a
shirt and tie during the week. If it's summer time, I sure don't want
to show up for work smelling ripe. And yes, we have a propane camp
stove to heat water and cook with in an emergency in the summer time,
as well as a wood burner and fireplace if it's winter time.

I would just like to have the hot water tank available if we would be
down for a week etc.

anyone heard of the dual power option I mentioned a few posts back from
Sears? Is this typical with any water heater you buy or just Sears?

I called and talked to another person at Sears. She tells me that the
upper element is 3800 watts and the lower is 5500 watt. There is a
"bus bar" that you can convert the lower element to only run at 3800
watts. Of course she promised she would email me a copy of the owner's
manual- 12 hours ago (no email, big surprise).



Did you look at Sears support online? Many times the manuals and
documentation are there to download.

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spam disintegrator wrote:

I called and talked to another person at Sears. She tells me that the
upper element is 3800 watts and the lower is 5500 watt...


Then again, you generator makes about 20 kW of "waste heat" :-)

Nick

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You will not want to mess with swapping out elements when an emergency
hits. First off the water will be hot so you'll have to do more then
just stuff a towel in the opening if you don't want to get burned. One
of the other posters said put a switch on or just run one element.
What about a compromise, change out just one of the 5500 elements to a
lower wattage element and put a switch in to disconnect the other 5500
element so it won't go on. Be sure and check the logic of the system,
mine has two elements but only one can run at a time, first it heats
up the water in (I can't recall if its the top or bottom element) then
it shuts it off and the other element is then able to turn on. For
several months, as it turned out, one of my elements was burned out
and so only one was working, we never even knew it till we had company
and discovered we were running out of hot water too soon.

Having said all that, elements are cheap, the simplest thing to do
would be as the sales guy suggested and just change the two elements
to 3000 watt ones. It will take longer to heat water but you'll have
a full tank of hot water once it's hot. Make sure it only runs one
element at a time, I'm pretty sure all of them are like that now days
as both elements would draw way too much current if run at the same
time.


On 22 Dec 2006 06:54:03 -0800, "spam disintegrator"
wrote:

Hello all,

I'm looking at replacing my current 80 gallon electric water heater.
The current heater says the upper and lower elements are both around
3300 watts.

Most 80 gallon units I have seen in stores nowadays are 5500 watt units
(upper and lower element are both 5500 watt).

I currently have a 5000 watt gasoline powered generator. Our house is
wired with a transfer switch, and the current water heater is already
wired into the transfer switch. We have crappy electric service, which
is why I bought the generator a couple of years ago. We have had
outtages lasting 1-2 days. In my area we had an ice storm a couple
years back- remarkably, our crumby power stayed on, while most others
were out for between 1-2 weeks. My point? We have outtages that last
more than 3 or 4 hours, so there is a good chance we would need to heat
water using my generator. I have used the generator to heat our water
between showers when we were down for a day or so.

At my list visit to Lowes, I talked to a guy working there and
explained my generator situation to him. He recommended that I buy the
80 gal electric unit I was looking at and just buy some lower watt
heating elements to replace the higher watt ones that come with the
unit from the factory. He said he had done the same thing at his house
with no problem. Are there any problems that he or I don't know about
by doing this? (other than it will take a little longer to convert
incoming cold water to hot).

He claimed that by using the lower watt element it takes less energy to
heat the water - he compared it to cars you can buy with two different
size engines- one uses more gas than the others. I don't buy that. I
didn't argue with him there at the store, but I believe it takes the
same amount of energy to heat the water, just a longer time to use the
same amount of energy to heat the same quantity of water.

The other thing I thought about doing was keeping the 5500 watt
elements in it as is, and buying some extra lower watt elements for
emergencies where we would need to heat water using the generator. I
have never had to replace an element before- if you need to swap out
both the top and bottom elements, do you have to drain the whole water
heater, or can you do a fast swap, plugging the hole with a towel, etc.
while you quickly switch each of them out? The heater is down in our
unfinished basement, so if a little water got on the floor, it wouldn't
be the end of the world.

Thanks in advance for your advice!



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First I have never tried this on such a large load but theres no reason
it shouldnt work I have used this idea on small heaters in office
equiptement over the years.


Put in a LARGE diode, and a switch.

On generator the heaters capacity will be cut by 1/2 the recovery rate
will be twice as long.

makes thatr 5500 watt heater a 2750W heater ell within your generators
capacity

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First I have never tried this on such a large load but theres no reason
it shouldnt work I have used this idea on small heaters in office
equiptement over the years.


Put in a LARGE diode, and a switch.

On generator the heaters capacity will be cut by 1/2 the recovery rate
will be twice as long.

makes thatr 5500 watt heater a 2750W heater well within your generators
capacity

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Default 5500 watt elec hot water heater - 5000 watt generator

First I have never tried this on such a large load but theres no reason
it shouldnt work I have used this idea on small heaters in office
equiptement over the years.


Put in a LARGE diode, and a switch.

On generator the heaters capacity will be cut by 1/2 the recovery rate
will be twice as long.

makes thatr 5500 watt heater a 2750W heater well within your generators
capacity

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On 23 Dec 2006 16:03:32 -0800, "
wrote:

First I have never tried this on such a large load but theres no reason
it shouldnt work I have used this idea on small heaters in office
equiptement over the years.


Put in a LARGE diode, and a switch.

On generator the heaters capacity will be cut by 1/2 the recovery rate
will be twice as long.

makes thatr 5500 watt heater a 2750W heater ell within your generators
capacity


That may not work (there is essentially no change in peak demand). I'd
like to hear from someone who knows more.


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It's definitely worth a try. Many generators have thier own
circuit breaker, which should help protect the generator. Please
expect th at 5,000 watts will burn probably two galons an hour of
gasoline.

You might be better served to get two or three of these
http://www.kitchenkapers.com/immersion-heater.html
and pour about ten galons of water into the tub. We had a
conversation about this on alt.survival, and aparently from what
we can figure one immersion heater will warm 10 gals of water to
bath temp in about four hours.

Please let us know how things go for you.

--

Christopher A. Young
You can't shout down a troll.
You have to starve them.
..

wrote in message
ups.com...
I suggest you TRY your generator on the tank. Its very possible

it
might run ok, although it will; be full load...........

Most enerators understate capacity and it may heat a bit slower

while
still heating acceptably.I aSKED A FRIEND WHOS OLD HOME RAN ON
GENERATOR DURIUNG EMERGENCIES he had no choice being on A WELL

His 5KW generator tolerated his 5500 watt tank ok, although

heating was
a bit slower



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Default 5500 watt elec hot water heater - 5000 watt generator



That may not work (there is essentially no change in peak demand). I'd
like to hear from someone who knows more.


copier heaters wattage are cut by 50% by installing a diode.

What happens is the heater only heats on 1/2 the cycle cutting power by
1/2

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Doug Miller wrote:
In article . com, "spam disintegrator" wrote:
Hello all,

I'm looking at replacing my current 80 gallon electric water heater.
The current heater says the upper and lower elements are both around
3300 watts.

Most 80 gallon units I have seen in stores nowadays are 5500 watt units
(upper and lower element are both 5500 watt).

I currently have a 5000 watt gasoline powered generator.

[snip]
If natural gas (or LP) is available, I'd be looking at that as the first
option...


The most cost effective, over the life of the unit, water heaters
available are the high efficiency oil fire units. The initial cost is
high but they will save you money over the life of the unit.
--
Tom Horne

"This alternating current stuff is just a fad. It is much too dangerous
for general use." Thomas Alva Edison
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On Sat, 23 Dec 2006 11:56:35 -0700, Ashton Crusher wrote:
You will not want to mess with swapping out elements when an emergency


That's for sure.

hits. First off the water will be hot so you'll have to do more then


Nope. If the water is hot, no need to swap elements.

Having said all that, elements are cheap, the simplest thing to do
would be as the sales guy suggested and just change the two elements
to 3000 watt ones. It will take longer to heat water but you'll have


Maybe the simplest, but then you live with a performance impediment all
the time.

I think the simplest would be to put in a switch or rewire the elements
ONLY DURING AN OUTAGE such that both elements run in series. This way
you get to heat your water, it takes an age, but when the power comes
back on you get the full performance again just by undoing your change.
No cost if you don't need a switch. And you don't have to deal with
doing an element swap during an outage or living with weak elements
during the other 99% of the time.

Given:
Watts=Amps*Volts
Volts=Ohms*Amps

If we use 240volt, 4800watt elements the math is nicer.

For a single element:
4800watts=Amps*240volt, Amps=20
240volts=Ohms*20amps, Ohms=12

Ohms are important, because they are the constant for a given heating
element. Amps and so watts will change if we change the voltage. (That
means your 5000w generator may be OK trying to run 5500w elements,
because the voltage will drop and the power will drop and it might be
fine.)

For two elements in series (2x the Ohms):
Watts=240v*240v/24ohms, Watts=2400.

So you get 1/2 the wattage when you run the two elements in series. For
your 5500watt elements, that means you get 2750watts. Nearly as good at
heating as 3000watt elements, but you get 5500watts when all is well.

This is MUCH better than using 120v on one element because you are using
both elements. With 120v and standard water heating wiring:
Watts=120v*120v/12ohms, Watts=1200 (or 1/4 the wattage).

sdb
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spam disintegrator wrote:
yeah, i agree with another poster- either the top or the bottom element
is on, not both at once. And, each is 5500 watt when either is on.

also, we live in a semi-rural area- there is no natural gas line past
our house. LP is not a near term option for us- we would have to bury
gas line and the way our property is, i don't see a good spot for a
tank where the delivery truck could reach his line to from our
driveway. I know and agree with others that LP or nat gas is the most
energy effecient. Trust me, if we were set up already for gas, we
would have a gas dryer, hot water heater, range etc.

i also have a 2nd part to my question- Sears has a 12 year water heater
on their web site. If you want to see what i'm talking about, go to
sears.com and paste the item number into the search box. Then click
the product specs tab. I'm looking at the Kenmore Power Miser 12-
sears item # 04232184000, in the product specs it lists an alternate
dual power option.

here is what it says:
"Alternate Dual Power- Max Fuse Req'd- 20 amps; Minimum wire size - 12
ga; Wattage at 240V - 3800 watts"

yet, at the bottom of the page, it says:
"Power - Type - Electric; Wattage at 240V - 5500 watts; Max Fuse Req'd
30 amps; Min wire size 10 ga"

When I called Sears cust service, I didn't get a warm fuzzy feeling
that the woman on the other end knew what she was talking about. She
said there is a bar that comes with the heater and that you put the bar
somewhere to make the electric work different (3800 watts vs 5500). If
this is true, it would possibly be an easy switch to run off of my
generator. What I'm wondering is if the lower watt option is possibly
for use in mobile homes, where the wiring is less beefy and different
quality than in regular homes. Again, I didn't hang up the phone with
a lot of confidence that she knew what she was talking about.

Thanks again!


If you have a 20A, 240V outlet close to the water heater, then your
wiring should be OK. You can see some pictures of various types of
outlets at:

http://www.levitonproducts.com/catalog/dept_id_963.htm

In poking around Google, it looks like this water heater is made by
State Industries a subsidiary of A.O. Smith. So, you might want to give
them a call and ask them how easy it is to switch back and forth
between the two wattages. Or, you might be able to go to the sears
store and if they have one in stock, you could ask to see the manual.
My bet is that it would be relatively easy to switch back and forth.

State Water Heaters
500 Tennessee Waltz Pkwy
Ashland City, TN 37015
phone: 800-365-8170

A. O. Smith Water Products Company
500 Tennessee Waltz Parkway
Ashland City , Tennessee, USA 37015
1-800-527-1953
FAX: 1-615-792-2163


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I thought I'd give an update on what I decided to do. (I already tried
to post this once, but for whatever reason, my post never made it
through).

First of all, a huge THANK YOU for all of your replies, ideas, and
discussion.

I decided to go to Sears and buy the dual power unit. It has a .95
effeciency rating, which is a few points better than the ones Lowes and
Homer Depot carry in my area.

I confirmed in the store what I was told by their reps on the phone-
the bottom element can run at 3800 or 5500 watts. The top one is
always 3800 watts.

Converting the bottom element back and forth between 3800 and 5500
simply involves adding or removing a metal "bridge plate" (i think they
call it a buss) from the bottom element. It comes from the factory w/o
the plate attached = 3800 watt. When you add the plate it bridges two
connections on the bottom element = 5500 watt.

I don't know a lot about water heaters, but I think most elements only
have two connections- this one has three, and when you bridge the two,
you get 5500 watts.

So, during the 99.9% of the time when I am not running on generator
power, I get better performance and during the .1% of the time when we
might be out long enough to want some hot water, I can convert wattage
w/o doing anything that 1) voids the factory warranty (ok, who knows if
running on generator power might void the warranty too LOL) and 2)
makes a big watery mess.

Anyhow, I don't have it in yet, as I'm waiting for a friend to help me
on a weekend, but it's sitting in my basement ready to go.

Thanks again for all of your help!!!

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