5500 watt elec hot water heater - 5000 watt generator

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snipped-for-privacy@ece.villanova.edu wrote:

Then swich off lower 5500 heater during outages and take quick showers
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Or use some of the 20 kW "waste heat" :-)
Nick
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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.
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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"

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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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wrote:

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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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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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Yabutt.... I don't know that much about generators, but I would guess that such an off-balance load wouldn't make it happy....
Either wire them in series, or replace one with a 3KW element. Me, I'd replace both with 3KW elements. That way it's passive, no switches, no parts, no forgetting to change things over. OK, recovery is a bit longer, but with a high-efficiency 80 gal tank, you probably wouldn't notice unless you take long showers....
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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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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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That's for sure.

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

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 240volts=Ohms*20amps, Ohms
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$0v*240v/24ohms, Watts$00.
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: Watts0v*120v/12ohms, Watts00 (or 1/4 the wattage).
sdb
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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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