Added timer to my Hot Water Heater - What did I do wrong?

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1/1/2017 10:02 AM

I have a Solar Hot Water system and it supplies all the hot water I need for the most part. Just need a little help from the electric element for showers first thing in the morning. I like my water really hot. The breaker for the HWH is a pain to get too so I bought the Intermatic Little Grey Box and a 6' conduit with 3 wires (just like what comes from the breaker - same gauge) from Home Depot.

It was wired perfectly. I disconnected the existing conduit from the heater, ran it into the timer, connected the new conduit to the timer and ran it back to the heater. 120 going in to both line poles and 120 coming out of both load poles. Even checked the heating element and 120 was going to both connections (when timer was in on position). In off position, 120 was going into timer and nothing was coming out. Installed in about 45mins. Easy peasey.

Except that it would not heat the water. Wife said I did something wrong but I triple checked all connections and voltage and everything was exactly how it should be. Just to shut her up I disconnected the timer and wired it back to how it originally was and then the thing worked perfectly. UGH!!!!!! I can't figure it out.

The only thing I think could've been an issue was the new conduit I bought did not have the solid wires inside (this is what is in the wiring that came from the breaker). It had the kind with a bunch of thin wires twister together (like speaker wire). Both were the same gauge though.

Was that it or is it something I can't think of? The fact it had 120 on both connections and that heating element is what is making my nuts.

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1/1/2017 10:10 AM

The first question that came to my mind was, are we really talking about a "hot" water heater or just a water heater? I guess in your case you really are talking about a hot water heater since the water is already hot. You just want to make it hotter. Sorry I don't have an answer to your question though. smile

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1/1/2017 10:23 AM

XXVoid MainXX wrote:

The first question that came to my mind was, are we really talking about a "hot" water heater or just a water heater? I guess in your case you really are talking about a hot water heater since the water is already hot. You just want to make it hotter. Sorry I don't have an answer to your question though. smile

Ha! I just really like my water to be extra HOT.... Good point. That doesn't make any sense.

Well I guess it does since the water is already almost hot from the solar system so I am technically heating hot water. Anyway, thanks for the response...

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1/1/2017 12:24 PM

Exactly what is the new wire? If something isn't up to carrying the required amperage, you can still read 120v but it might not be carrying enough amps. Do you have an amp meter?

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HAF

1/1/2017 3:08 PM

I'll have to look at the wiring again. It's in a storage bin now. My slightly educated guess was that there wasn't enough amps with the different type of wire. The wire is copper just like original wiring but it's. it the solid wire.

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1/1/2017 3:19 PM
Edited Date/Time: 1/1/2017 3:21 PM

jasonward73 wrote:

I have a Solar Hot Water system and it supplies all the hot water I need for the most part. Just need a little help from the electric element for showers first thing in the morning. I like my water really hot. The breaker for the HWH is a pain to get too so I bought the Intermatic Little Grey Box and a 6' conduit with 3 wires (just like what comes from the breaker - same gauge) from Home Depot.

It was wired perfectly. I disconnected the existing conduit from the heater, ran it into the timer, connected the new conduit to the timer and ran it back to the heater. 120 going in to both line poles and 120 coming out of both load poles. Even checked the heating element and 120 was going to both connections (when timer was in on position). In off position, 120 was going into timer and nothing was coming out. Installed in about 45mins. Easy peasey.

Except that it would not heat the water. Wife said I did something wrong but I triple checked all connections and voltage and everything was exactly how it should be. Just to shut her up I disconnected the timer and wired it back to how it originally was and then the thing worked perfectly. UGH!!!!!! I can't figure it out.

The only thing I think could've been an issue was the new conduit I bought did not have the solid wires inside (this is what is in the wiring that came from the breaker). It had the kind with a bunch of thin wires twister together (like speaker wire). Both were the same gauge though.

Was that it or is it something I can't think of? The fact it had 120 on both connections and that heating element is what is making my nuts.

Is the electric water heater 120V or 240V? It makes a difference, since the timer switch you installed is a 208-240V unit. The wiring would be different for a 120V unit

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Many thanks to everyone helping me out this GNCC season: SRT Offroad, Acerbis, FCR Suspension, O'Neal Racing, Evans Waterless Coolants, Rekluse, Twin Air, Braking Brakes, Carbsport

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1/1/2017 3:22 PM

Also you say it won't heat the water. It won't heat the water automatically, or it won't heat the water when you manually turn on the timer switch? (my question is this: is the timer clock keeping time?)

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Many thanks to everyone helping me out this GNCC season: SRT Offroad, Acerbis, FCR Suspension, O'Neal Racing, Evans Waterless Coolants, Rekluse, Twin Air, Braking Brakes, Carbsport

Profile image credit Ken Hill Photography

1/1/2017 5:24 PM
Edited Date/Time: 1/1/2017 5:36 PM

If it's a 240 volt unit, and virtually all are, you should have 120 to ground both legs, and 220 to 240 across the
Red and black wires going into the water heater.

If not, you are pulling 110 and 110 off the same bar in the panel box, or the timer isn't working, or its wired wrong.
Remember, unlike a gas fired water heater, electric will need maybe an hour to heat up 40 gallons,

Red to black before the timer, 220, red to black after the timer 220, it should heat.

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1/1/2017 6:17 PM

motogrady wrote:

If it's a 240 volt unit, and virtually all are, you should have 120 to ground both legs, and 220 to 240 across the
Red and black wires going into the water heater.

If not, you are pulling 110 and 110 off the same bar in the panel box, or the timer isn't working, or its wired wrong.
Remember, unlike a gas fired water heater, electric will need maybe an hour to heat up 40 gallons,

Red to black before the timer, 220, red to black after the timer 220, it should heat.

I will double down on what motogrady says. You may have a single pole timer. If your heater is 240v then you need a double pole timer.
Is the the timer specifically designed for your heater?
Reading 120 doesn't tell it. Like motogrady says you need 220 to 240 across the wires going to the heater.

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1/1/2017 6:58 PM

motogrady wrote:

If it's a 240 volt unit, and virtually all are, you should have 120 to ground both legs, and 220 to 240 across the
Red and black wires going into the water heater.

If not, you are pulling 110 and 110 off the same bar in the panel box, or the timer isn't working, or its wired wrong.
Remember, unlike a gas fired water heater, electric will need maybe an hour to heat up 40 gallons,

Red to black before the timer, 220, red to black after the timer 220, it should heat.

borg wrote:

I will double down on what motogrady says. You may have a single pole timer. If your heater is 240v then you need a double pole timer.
Is the the timer specifically designed for your heater?
Reading 120 doesn't tell it. Like motogrady says you need 220 to 240 across the wires going to the heater.


In the old days, yes, most everything was double pole.
But, they found out it's cheaper to just break one leg of 220, and that stops the flow of electricity jumping back
and forth between legs. Which stops the juice from moving, which stops everything.

To me, it's dangerous as hell, electricity just sitting there, static, waiting for someone to touch it and a ground.
That's how you can get lit right the fuck up.

Remember, there are 2 bars in the panel box, both are hot. If you let it, if you give it a way, each bar will
give a pulse, or hertz, of 110 volts that will head to ground. 60 times a second,
Put a light bulb, heater, or motor in that line, and it will light up or start turning. If it's 110.
I think of it as water in a pipe, spinning an impeller, juice going one way to ground.

220, the pulses are timed opposite, so the juice jumps back and forth between the wires, or bars, still 60 times a second, as long as there is a way, a wire, bar, whatever. Doesn't go to ground.
You break that wire, open a switch, in the loop between the 2, it stops the flow between the 2 legs of 110.
But, the one leg will back feed thru the loop and give you a 110 to ground reading, or shock when you touch it,
everywhere in that 220 loop.

Agreed, he just might have the wrong voltage timer, not matched with what the water heater is.
If it's a 120 timer, and 220 was applied, it's toast.

Either way, be careful, don't be standing on a damp concrete floor with wet shoes messing with that kind of juice.
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1/1/2017 7:06 PM

Click the link I provide for the timer. It's a 240v water heater and the timer is same.

As I noted in my original post, the 2 hot leads from the breaker (120 each for a total of 240) are connected to the the 1 and 3 line poles on the timer. Both lines show 120 each (240 total). Also noted above, with the timer ON the load poles (#2 and #4) show 120 each (240 total). These are the lines going to the water heater. The ground wires are also securely connected. The two hot leads both show 120 (240 total) at the heating element as well.

It's not possible to set my meter on both poles at the same time.

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1/1/2017 8:52 PM

Go tankless and use your solar to power it. Problem solved.

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ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟΝ ΔΑΙΜΟΝΑ ΕΑΥΤΟΥ

1/1/2017 9:13 PM

They make both kind of units. I mainly install the whole house but have added the smaller units for garages, pool houses, things like that. I want to convert my camper.

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ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟΝ ΔΑΙΜΟΝΑ ΕΑΥΤΟΥ

1/1/2017 10:06 PM

People over think it. I love them and put them in my flip houses. I've done gas and electric depending on which works best. They are awesome.

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ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟΝ ΔΑΙΜΟΝΑ ΕΑΥΤΟΥ

1/2/2017 12:55 AM
Edited Date/Time: 1/2/2017 12:57 AM

jasonward73 wrote:

Click the link I provide for the timer. It's a 240v water heater and the timer is same.

As I noted in my original post, the 2 hot leads from the breaker (120 each for a total of 240) are connected to the the 1 and 3 line poles on the timer. Both lines show 120 each (240 total). Also noted above, with the timer ON the load poles (#2 and #4) show 120 each (240 total). These are the lines going to the water heater. The ground wires are also securely connected. The two hot leads both show 120 (240 total) at the heating element as well.

It's not possible to set my meter on both poles at the same time.

"It's not possible to set my meter on both poles at the same time"

Why not ? Line 1 (#1) and line 2 (#3) should each show 120 when testing to ground, but need to read 240 when the leads of your tester are put directly on 1&3 and 240V across 2 and 4 when it's on.

You're not using one of those testers that's a little light that test's for 120V only and assuming 120 plus 120 equals 240 right ? Does your tester show if it's 240 ? 120V plus 120V doesn't mean it's 240V. Are you using a digital multi-meter or a "Wiggy" that can read 120 and 240 ?

Test the voltage at the heater, you need 240 when you test across both lines. 240V at the heater and it should work, it doesn't matter if both lines go though a 240 time clock, or 1 line goes direct to the heater and the other goes through a 120 time clock. As long as you get 240 at the heater it should work.

You said without the time clock it works. The wires that used to go directly to the heater should now go to #1 and #3 (line 1 and line 2) and #2 and #4 (load 1 and load 2) should now go to the heater (Where the original wires were)



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1/3/2017 6:38 AM
Edited Date/Time: 1/3/2017 6:47 AM

Possible that the timer is bad out of the box?
Are you reading 208 or 240
across the lines when the timer is on?
Most full size water heaters are 208v or 240v

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1/3/2017 8:01 AM

If you are only measuring for 120 to ground instead of 240 across the legs,
then if only one leg has power you will read 120 on both sides because the voltage will
go through the heater element and come back the other leg to the contactor where you can
read 120 to ground again but there will not be a circuit unless both legs feed power.
So in short, if only one pole is making contact in the unit you will not get a 240 circuit,
but you will be able to read 120 to ground on both sides. Measure for 240
TM

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1/3/2017 9:53 AM

Never seen a bad time clock out of the box but it could happen. When you move the lever to on make sure both contacts are touching. They look like big oversized points in the back of the timer. I've seen them fail from ants being electrocuted between the contacts, emery cloth will solve that, but your is new so I doubt that's it. You need to be able to test for 240, not just 120...

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1/3/2017 4:45 PM

I fixed it.

So the stupid wiring diagram in the box isn't very clear. Their are 5 connections inside the box and apparently the one on the far left is a neutral. I thought it was connection #1. I moved the wires accordingly and now it works perfectly.

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