Electric water heater: Setting lower element to higher wattage. Benefits? Drawbacks?

I got a new electric water heater. This one allows the element wattage for the bottom element to be set to two ranges. 3800 watts for both upper and lower elements and a 5000 watt for the lower element.
What would be the benefit of setting the lower element to the higher wattage?
Drawbacks of same?
Would doing this cause the heater to use more electricity.... becoming more energy inefficient?
Thanks....
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Depending on your needs for hot water. The 5k setting would heat the water faster as it is an larger draw. The 3.8k setting would use the top element when needed and then switch over to the lower element to finish off the tank. This setting would take longer to recover, might take a few minutes between showers, depending on the size of the heater and the amount of water used.
Efficiency? Your home your choice. Better talk to the SO before making changes. It can be real chilly in bed when the Mrs. has had an finishing cold shower or bath. Been there done that. If your in an colder climate you might consider the 5k during the winter time and the 3.8 during the rest of the year.
Wrap the rascal with insulation if it is in an colder area of the home or garage.
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SQLit wrote:

There would be no difference in efficiency between a 3.8KW heater and a 5KW one.
All of the energy dissipated in the element goes into heating the water, the only difference is that the 5KW setting will heat it faster. You will use "more electricity" but for a shorter time, and the product of the two in either case will be ithe same. (Unless you have some peculiar arrangement with your electrical supplier like a demand meter, which is almost unheard of in residential installations.)
Jeff
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The biggest thing you need to be concerned with is the wire size and breaker that is going the the water heater.
If you got a 20a breaker with 12g wire then you MUST use 3.5kw. If you got a 20a breaker with 10g wire then you MUST use 3.5kw. If you got a 30a breaker with 10g you can run at either 3.5kw or 5kw. Any other combo, call a qualified licensed electrician to fix it.
Assuming you have or rewire to a 30a/10g setup start at 3.5kw....if your recovery is not fast enough set it to 5kw. Pretty simple.
Electric is near 100% efficient, it costs no more or no less either way, recovery time is the only thing affected.
-Brian
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And forget about the blanket wrap. It's a brand new water heater and it's already insulated to the hilt unless it pre-90's stock.
If you're gonna insulate anything, insulate the pipes.
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my w heater has a lable stating "do not wrap with blanket!"

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very good advice, as most people do not think of wire size or breaker size.

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Thanks... to you and the others who replied. Before I do anything, I will check my wiring. Sionce I am going to install a timer, I will be able to check the wire guage and make the decision at that time. Currently, recovery time seems acceptable.
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What's the timer for? To keep the heater off when it's not going to come on anyway when you've no need for hot water?
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Better be one hell of a timer too, 220v and contact ratings of atleast 30a. This isn't your run of the mil timer. Payback on it is probably well over 10years....if it even lasts that long!
Your better off calling your utlility and see if they offer a timer service. My neighborhood up here in MA is full of them. They basically give you an 8$ credit per month for allowing them to shut off your water heater at night time. This service also requires that a phone line be run to the controler. It can be your regular phone line, so it's usually no big deal, it cannot be a VOIP type system like vonage.
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snipped

Demand meters on residential are required by most utilities in the SW USA when you meet certain conditions. Locally to Phoenix we have 2 utilities, one does time of day with demand the other does demand and time of day. I know that sounds the same but it is different. The requirement is to have an new service and air conditioning and you get the new meter.

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SQLit wrote:

Thanks for that info, always good to learn the latest, and I'm glad I played it safe by sticking that "almost unheard of" in my reply.
The subject of demand meters was still rattling around in my head as a result of a thread (IIRC it was tight here) about a month ago regarding power factor correction systems for household use.
One of the conclusions reached was that without demand metering any energy savings afforded by correcting the power factor of a home's equipment would all go to the electric company in the form of lower current (and hence lower losses) in THEIR distribution wiring, and possible savings in capital equipment investment if LOTS of homes corrected their power factors PROPERLY and the utility could get by with less peak current capacity.
Jeff
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