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 Looking for smart timer for electric water heater.
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Starting Member

1 Posts

Posted - 05/31/2011 :  5:33:45 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I have a 50 gallon electric water heater that costs a fortune to operate. Even though it's "energy efficient" because it's new, it's still costing me about $400 and some change annually to operate for ONE person. I have been looking everywhere for an intelligent, user-friendly timer that I can control a little easier than with those antiquated gray box mechanical timers. We live in an age of internet and smart phones and I'd like to think that there's a product SOMEWHERE that I can use that will allow me to turn my electric water heater on and off as I wish either from my iphone or the internet. Or at the very least, with a little bit better controls, say with an electronic digital programmer similar to my heating & cooling thermostat.

Does such a product exist here? Can someone recommend something? Thank you.


8604 Posts

Posted - 05/31/2011 :  5:45:36 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
This lets your iPhone work as a remote control:
It can communicate with this unit to turn your heater on and off:

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Junior Member

50 Posts

Posted - 02/25/2012 :  5:58:29 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Did you give this a try? I would like to measure how much electricity I could save by turning off the element in the heater for most of the day when no one is around.

It's too bad they don't have a Kill-a-watt for a 240 volt device like the dryer and the water tank!
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Starting Member

1 Posts

Posted - 01/27/2013 :  12:00:53 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I too live alone, and my hot water needs are minimal. You didn't say how much hot water you need each day, when you need it, or if you even need hot water every day.

Virtually all of the electricity used by a hot water heater is converted into heating the hot water, and much of that heat is lost through the water heater itself. That lost heat is just wasted energy.

"Intermatic" makes a double pole 240 volt 40 amp 24 hour timer (T101, T103 or T104 - it will be one of these part numbers) that you can use to turn your water heater on and off. On eBay, they cost maybe $40, maybe less. It will take some knowledge to hard-wire it with your water heater, but it is pretty easy if you know what you're doing with electricity and tools. I installed it next to my 220V water heater outlet by rewiring the water heater outlet to put the little gray box in line and ahead of the water heater plug.

These timers can be set to run for 15 minutes in the morning when you need a shower and 15 minutes at night to wash dishes. They also have a built in manual on-off switch. They used to be called the "little gray box".

I live in Florida where 15 minutes gives me all the hot water I need for a good shower or to do my wash, maybe 12-15 gallons of hot water. I mostly use the "little gray box" manually, because I don't need hot water each day at the same time. I set my oven timer to remind me to turn it off. I turn it off before I use any water, which lowers the average water temperature until I need hot water again.

If you live in colder climates and your water heater is outside the house, or your incoming water temperature is colder than 75 degrees, heating your shower water will take proportionally longer. This, you determine by trial and error.

You can turn down the bottom water heating heating element to a minimum setting, say 90 degrees, and set the upper element to maybe 120 degrees, which will also save electricity. The lower element comes on when the upper element temperature is reached. The first 15 gallons or so is all you will use for a shower or most other uses.

You can also wrap your water heater with reflective aluminized bubble wrap, or with reflective Mylar film (both are available on eBay), which will be cost effective over time. Or - get a water heater insulation kit from your local home improvement store.

I would guess I cut my water heating bill to a third or less of what it was when I was leaving my water heater on all the time. What you will save depends on the temperature environment of the water heater, what water heater thermostat settings you use, and the temperature of your incoming water supply.

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Advanced Member

1171 Posts

Posted - 01/27/2013 :  12:58:21 PM  Show Profile  Visit jdale's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Some other considerations...

Actual efficiency gains depend, of course, on the base efficiency of the hot water heater.

Insteon FAQ:
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Starting Member

United Kingdom
8 Posts

Posted - 02/07/2013 :  04:53:52 AM  Show Profile  Visit tomkent45's Homepage  Reply with Quote
You can check out SmartHeating
It will allows you to programme and remotely control heating anywhere over the internet or using a smartphone.

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Starting Member

1 Posts

Posted - 02/22/2013 :  08:49:24 AM  Show Profile  Send Jim@rexco an AOL message  Reply with Quote
More information is available at concerning programmable water heater controllers. You can contact the company for pricing and shipping.

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New Member

22 Posts

Posted - 02/27/2013 :  5:02:10 PM  Show Profile  Visit pwfletcher's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Why not just get a tankless water heater? They are so cheap now, with the tax rebate they are almost free.
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Average Member

68 Posts

Posted - 05/15/2013 :  11:03:14 PM  Show Profile  Visit Autonow's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Thoughts While in the shower.... We all want a hot shower so lets look at what it takes to make the water hot. You add heat (gas or elect) to the water to raise the temp. The amount of energy required to do this is fixed. (meaning you can not reduce the amount required to do this task) But the moment you are at temp the water starts to cool off. Here is where you can save! Insulate.. Insulate... Insulate.. If you were to get perfect insulation (a vacuum bottle is close)the water would not cool off and you would not need to heat it up again. Note: you may also consider insulation the hot water lines in your house as they are a source of heat loss too.

Another fact the bigger the temperature difference between the air and the water the faster it cools. insulation will slow the rate.
So the question is how many times do you have to reheat the water before you take the next shower! This is where timers come in. A timer works because it allows the water to cool rapidly to room temp (poor insulation) At room temp there is no temp difference so no heat loss. Also remember the closer the temp difference the slower the heat loss. Timers are betting that it takes less energy to reheat the water at the time of the next shower than it does to keep it hot all day. This assumption only is true if the heater is poorly insulated and looses heat quickly! SO Insulate! The other thing you should do is turn down the heat. Smaller temp difference = less heat loss.

Tankless water heaters try to bypass the whole heat loss scenario. Only problem they are difficult to control with changes in flow. You will see instabilities in the water temp. The timer is a poor attempt to make your regular heater a thankless heater..

Food for thought... Most heaters run at about 140f a high temp. Consider building a lower temp solar powered preheater that heats the incoming water to say 80 or 90F (reasonable limit of solar heat) then this water is fed to the main water heater when you shower. In this scenario you will impact the actual energy required to take your shower. Something timers, insulation, and tankless heaters will not address. savings of the actual heat could be about 50%

Insulate insulate insulate. consider another 6" of fiberglass around your tank! (don't forget the top and bottom!)

Its all smoke and mirrors for the sales guys.. Thermodynamics is the only reality!

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