Electric Water Heater Timer
Review & Buying Tips

Electric water heater timer

Installing an electric water heater timer is a great way to reduce electric bills and heating costs. The water heater timer is designed with one goal only; to turn the heating off during the periods when hot water is not used.

Use this article to learn about different timer types and how to install one on the electric water heater, probably the biggest user of the electricity.

According to some studies, you can cut the utility bill from 5 to 12% if you install a timer.

With this installation, you are actually preventing water heating when there is no demand, and the device could pay for itself in a short period (usually over a year).

You want the electric water heater timer to activate the water heater only when you need hot water to be ready, and at the same time to avoid unnecessary water heating when you don't need it or when away.

How much energy/money you will save depend on the water usage habits of the household members.

Note: Installation is an easy DIY home project, but you can always hire an electrician if you prefer or don't have the right tools and skills.

Electric water heater timer types

  • Countdown timers
  • Box-type timers
  • Programmable timer
  • ON/OFF timers

The simplest hot water heater timer type is with the on/offsetting. The best ones are with multiple on/off times, digital or electronic.

Countdown timers

Countdown timers are available as a mechanic and electronic types. Mechanical dial timers are inexpensive, easy to use, and reliable. Electronic countdown timers are equipped with a light to indicate when it is on. The time setting is from one minute up to 60 min.

They work on 110 V and cannot be directly wired to the tank. They are designed for small jobs like washing clothes or showering.

Box-type timers

Box-type timers can be found, such as electronic and mechanical timers, and they are the most common form of water heater timers.

Digital or electronic water heater timers provide automatic control of your heating appliance, and they are accurate in programming and timekeeping. You can program them in multiple settings, including 5-day working week scheduling, weekend, and individual day scheduling (42 on/off cycles per week, for example). Some models are equipped with an override switch to resume regular functioning.

If you include an AA battery, you can protect what you have programmed (no memory loss) for a period of battery life.

The most popular timers you will find online, like amazon.com, are Intermatic water heater timers.

Mechanical hot water heater timers are also popular but less sophisticated. They are 24-hr timers that work on 120, 208, 240, and 277 V. The settings repeat daily unless the external manual lever is used. If this lever is used, you can turn the unit ON or Off ahead of schedule. If there is a power outage, you should reset the clock dial to the proper time.

To maximize savings, the timer should be used to operate for one hour in the morning and two hours in the evening and set to turn ON one hour in advance of the usage periods.

Manufacturers usually provide one year warranty.

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Programmable timers

The programmable timer features comprehensive programming with a wide range of programmable settings per day and for the whole week. Each day of the week can be different.

A lighted LED screen is easy to read and use. The button panel helps you program the heating schedule, with an option to set half-hour intervals for 24 hour period.

Digital programmable electric water heater timer usually operates at 110 V, and they are designed for indoor use only. With the stylish design and availability of useful controls, the best location spots provide easy and quick access.

Installing tips

Installing an electric water heater timer cannot be simpler. Use the provided manual or hire an electrician. Be sure about the voltage the heating appliance is using. If it is 220 V, buy the timer that works on 220 V.

  • Before installing the timer, make sure that the power is OFF.
  • Select a location for mounting the water heater timer. The best place is the area where it is accessible and easy to install and connect to the power source and the heater. We recommend the wall close to the electric heating unit. Be sure to secure the timer to the wall with the screws.
  • Use the tester and verify that the power to the heater is OFF. Unscrew the plate on top of the electric heating unit where the power cable goes in.
  • Remove the electrical cord and connect it to the timer through the provided hole.
  • Have the #10 electrical wire ready (check the instructions in the manual), connect one end to the timer and the other end to the heater.
  • Bring the plate from the heater back and screw the timer into its case.
  • Set the timer and turn the power ON.

The instructions above are for box timers.

Programmable timers are more difficult to install as they cannot be wired directly to the electric storage tank; they require additional wiring.

How to use a timer

One of the reasons why to use the electric water heater timer is to program the time when you want your heating unit to turn ON/OFF and without using the energy.

For example: if you and your family have to wake up at 7 am, you will program the timer to turn the electric water heater ON at 6 am and prepare hot water for your morning shower. At 8 am, when you are leaving your home, you want your electric appliance to shut down, therefore, saving energy.

When you come back home, you want hot water to be available for showers, dishes, and washing machines, so again, your digital timer will run the water heater an hour before and prepare hot water to be used.

You can buy the electric water heater timer at almost any home improvement store or online for $50 on average.

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