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Thread: Circuit Breakers - Household Hot Water System - One for the electricians

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Location
    Canberra
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    15,567

    Circuit Breakers - Household Hot Water System - One for the electricians

    One for the Electricians or is it Plumbers

    I have a large 400l off peak hot water system. It has a top element and a bottom element - my understanding is that the bottom element is connected to the off peak system and the top element is connected directly to power and is set to a lower temperature than the bottom one. I believe the system is heated off peak via the bottom element but if some reason temp goes down like when all the hot water is being used up the top element kicks in and heats the water irrespective of the offpeak system.

    So when the system is normally used within its capabilities (400litre for 2 people - means all the time) the top element rarely kicks in.

    Recently the circuit breakers (20amp) (not earth leakage) for the hot water system have been popping. Looking at the bottom element - after clearing all the redbacks away looks all OK.

    The top element connections shows evidence of arcing but not all the time. I cleaned everything up and sprayed with WD 40 and after one loud bright arc it settled down and seems to be working OK - I guess the WD40 has removed any moisture that may have been creating a short. I guess ultimately I need someone to get out and replace the connection box etc (plumber or electrician) or what ever is needed, however I am away from home from this afternoon.

    So after all that - can I simply disconnect power from the top element (making all the precautions etc) and still get hotwater just based on the bottom element heating away on its off peak cycle?

    Thanks

    Garry
    REMLR 243

    2007 Range Rover Sport TDV6
    1977 FC 101
    1973 Haflinger AP700
    1971 Jaguar V12 E-Type Series 3 Roadster
    1957 Series 1 88"
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    New Lambton, NSW
    Posts
    669
    Hey Garry,
    Yes you can

    Should be wired like one of these?



    Do you have two supplies to the heater?

    Craig

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    New Lambton, NSW
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    669
    Can you take some photos for us?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Woolgoolga
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    7,231
    You can, you need to join the 2 nuetrals at the top thermostat, this will by pass it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Location
    Canberra
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    15,567
    Hi Craig - thanks for the response - yes I guess it is one of those. Here are pics of the two control boxes - there are two active wires coming into the bottom control box - the closest goes straight to the top.

    Bottom Unit.jpgTop Unit.jpg

    Bottom unit to the left and top unit on the right - pics are actually upright but the process tips them over.

    It is shorting where the two red wires are on the top unit - crackles a bit and may pop but not straight away power can be on for hours before it pops the circuit breakers - I assume water is leaking in from the tank (no visual evidence though) but and slowly shorting until the short exceeds 20 amps and pops the circuit breakers.

    Craig - actually I am leaving now to head to Belmont as that is where my family comes from. By any chance do you live with that family of Landrovers (RR, and D2s) that are on the highway opposite the High School?

    Hi Vern - thanks I am not an an electrician and only have basic knowledge so not sure how to do what you suggest.

    I am out of time so - the pics will not right themselves, on the right hand pic I have disconnected the brown active power wire and isolated it with shrink tube, I have removed the blue neutral wire and isolated it and left the silver earth in place. I am assuming that with only one person in the house until I get back home, the bottom off peak element will heat the water enough.

    When I get back I will get my neighbour who is an electrician to have a look and if the themostat heating unit can be replaced insitu -great if a new water system is needed - that is bad $$$$$$$.

    Thanks

    Garry
    REMLR 243

    2007 Range Rover Sport TDV6
    1977 FC 101
    1973 Haflinger AP700
    1971 Jaguar V12 E-Type Series 3 Roadster
    1957 Series 1 88"
    1957 Series 1 88" Station Wagon

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Woolgoolga
    Posts
    7,231
    On the top thermostat you need to join the blue and clear wire, just put them under the same terminal. Then remove the element wires from the thermostat and tape them up. Now only the off peak bottom element will work.

    Or juat replace the top element, all fixed! Quite easy, turn the power off to the unit, turn the water off to the unit, drain a good 50L or so out, remove element, fit new element, turn water back on, let fill, turn power back on.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Geraldton WA
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    4,916
    When my electric storage heater started to play up a few years ago I got rid of it and fitted an instantaneous gas HWC.
    No problems with power outages, No running out of hot water, No maintenance, No anodes to replace and on top of all that it is far cheaper to run than my old electric HWS
    You only get one shot at life, Aim well

    2004 D2 "S" V8 auto, with a few Mods
    2007 79 Series Landcruiser V8 Ute, With a few Mods.
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    2012 Navara twincab GONE

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Location
    Canberra
    Posts
    15,567
    Well with the top element disconnected there is not heating at all - not even off peak.

    Electrician time when I get back home - the person still at home is not liking cold showers in the cold Canberra mornings - was -1 the other day.
    REMLR 243

    2007 Range Rover Sport TDV6
    1977 FC 101
    1973 Haflinger AP700
    1971 Jaguar V12 E-Type Series 3 Roadster
    1957 Series 1 88"
    1957 Series 1 88" Station Wagon

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Location
    Avoca Beach
    Posts
    11,866
    When my electric storage heater started to play up a few years ago I got rid of it and fitted an instantaneous gas HWC.
    No problems with power outages, No running out of hot water, No maintenance, No anodes to replace and on top of all that it is far cheaper to run than my old electric HWS
    It's horses for courses.

    In Avoca there is only bottled gas. a friend has an instantaneous gas HW system and it uses a 45KG cylinder at $140 every six weeks for 2 people.

    This accords with my calculations which I did 10 years ago when I had to replace my old system.
    My 350L off peak for
    2 people costs about $27-30 per quarter to run. At an initial capital cost of $800 and life of >10 years , There is nothing that even comes close in lifetime cost. The last one in my house lasted 21years AFAIR and I have mine on the lowest thermostat setting.

    My biggest fear is that in future there will be no off peak as they are busily destroying coal fired power stations.
    BTW , I would be happy to hear of any recent developments that change this calculation. I recently looked at a new type of electric instantaneous made in Melbourne with AFAIR a "flash" type heater , but I would need 2 to run the shower.
    Regards Philip A

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Geraldton WA
    Posts
    4,916
    a friend has an instantaneous gas HW system and it uses a 45KG cylinder at $140 every six weeks for 2 people.
    That sounds really excessive.
    Our system is hooked up to a 9kg bottle and this will last 6 weeks and that's with 2x showers a day for 2 of us and doing the dishes etc.
    We don't use hot water in the washing machine, Maybe that is why we don't use as much gas.
    We had an electric storage HWS originally But we got sick of replacing anodes and elements that got eaten away by the harsh bore water here, The Instantaneous gas heater doesn't have a problem with the calcium build up or corrosion that the old tank did and we never run out of hot water except when the gas bottle runs out (which I normally cop).
    We paid about $700 for the unit and it came with a 10 year warranty, I doubt that an electric storage system comes with that sort of guarantee.
    You only get one shot at life, Aim well

    2004 D2 "S" V8 auto, with a few Mods
    2007 79 Series Landcruiser V8 Ute, With a few Mods.
    4.6m Quintrex boat
    5.4m Trailcraft Sportscab Boat
    20' Jayco Expanda caravan

    2012 Navara twincab GONE

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