Using the Circuit Breaker

Robert: RE> I have a friend who just moved to the US from the UK. He went from a RE> Victorian house with a gas (I think) tankless heating system to a modern RE> apartment with an electric water heater tank; a new situation for him. He RE> is responsible for the apartment utility bills. RE> RE> He is frugal by nature and is used to having his domestic hot water system RE> on a timer. I doubt it would be practical to put a timer on the apartment's RE> water heater for the time he'll be there (and the apartment management mighRE> not like the modification), but he has asked me whether he should turn off RE> the water heater when he leaves for work, and I wasn't sure of the answer. RE> RE> My first thought was that he won't save much electricity -- it's not RE> especially hot water (set to child-safe temps by management, I assume) and RE> it's in an under-stair closet near the center of the building, so it's not RE> leaking a lot of heat to cold outdoors -- I think it might be served well RE> enough by wrapping the tank in an insulating blanket and wrapping the short RE> exposed length of pipe.
I would agree.
RE> But I also began to wonder whether a circuit-breaker switch is designed to RE> hold up being switched on and off a couple of times a day, every day. Any RE> trouble liable to result from him using the circuit breaker to turn off the RE> water heater on a daily basis?
AFAIK normal circuit breakers are not designed to be used as switches. There are "circuit beraker switches" (don't know what they are really called) for industrial/commerical applications. The problem would be any alteration he does along these lines would be in the 'structural' category and may not be approved by apartment management nor their insurance. (Renters insurance covers contents but not structure, the latter is insured by the apartment owners.)
* No one ever says "It's only a game," when their team is winning.
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