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Electric Water Heater Wiring and Video

How to Connected the Wires to a Water Heater | Common Wiring Methods for wiring an Electric Water Heater, Basic Water Heater Circuit Requirements, Connect the Water Heater Wiring.

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Basic Home Electrical Wiring by Example

Guide to Wiring an Electric Water Heater
Electrical Question: How are the electrical wires connected to a water heater?

This electrical wiring question came from: Nate, a Homeowner from Whittaker, Michigan.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical question Nate.

How to Wire a 240Volt Electric Water Heater

water heater

Application: How to wire a 240 Volt 4000 Watt Residential Electric Water Heater.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced. This electrical project is best performed by a Licensed Electrician, Electrical Contractor, or by a Licensed Plumber.
NOTE: Work in electrical panels is not recommended for homeowners, non-experienced individuals or non-electricians.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools, electric drill, auger bits and extension cord as needed depending on the scope of the project.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with tools and install 240 volt electrical circuit wiring.
Precaution: Identify the main circuit of the panel, turn it OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring or installing the 240 volt wiring and circuit breaker.
Notice: Installing an additional 240 volt circuit should be done according to local and national electrical codes with a permit and be inspected.

Wiring a 4000 Watt Electric Water Heater for a Home

water heater time clock control energy saver
Part Reference Example: Water Heater Time Clock Control
Water Heater Time Clock
I have found for example, that a Water Heater Timer Control works very well to regulate an electric water heater daily operation. The time of operation can be set from 1 to 23 hours, so this can help to reduce utility cost and lower the electric bill.

Sources and Citations

More information about Home Electric Tank Type Water Heaters

Residential Home Water Heaters

See More about Wiring 220VoltĀ  and 240Volt Electric Circuits

How to Install 220 Volt Appliance Wiring
See how some 220 volt appliances do not use a white common wire, instead they use two hots and a ground.

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A Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring

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Perfect for Homeowners, Students and Electricians
Home Electrical Wiring - Room by Room
120 Volt Circuits
240 Volt Circuits
Multi-Wired Circuits
Wiring Methods for Installing Home Electrical Circuit Wiring
Electrical Codes for Home Electrical Wiring
....and much more.

Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.

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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

20 Responses to “Electric Water Heater Wiring and Video”
  1. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Vlad,
    In most locations, a disconnect switch is not required for an electric water heater. Typically a metal surface junction box is mounted near the water heater in an accessible location where the dedicated 30amp 240volt circuit is installed. Then metal flex is installed between the junction box and the water heater. Keep in mind that you you have the option to install a water heater time clock which could be set according to your schedule which can enable you to save on your electric utility cost. Keep in mind that all the circuit components must be rated the same as the dedicated circuit, properly installed, grounded and bonded.
    Enjoy your electric water heater.

  2. Vlad says:

    I want change gas water heater to electric and I have #10 wires from 30amp breaker to the box in the basement. Do I need disconnect switch and what cord could use for water heater connection.

  3. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Mac,
    From what you have stated the electrical circuit wiring may not be standard, therefore it is in your best interest to have the wiring inspected by a qualified electrician. The circuit wires should be verified to be correct for your specific water heater having the right type of insulation and the right wire size. The circuit wires will need to be identified at the electrical panel, and the connected wires to the circuit breaker. The bare ground wire is typically the ground wire which should also be checked and verified at the electrical panel for proper bonding to the ground system. Once the circuit wiring has been verified the connections to the water heater can be performed.
    Your local qualified electrician will assist you to do it right,

  4. Mac says:

    I have a new electric hot water heater that has a green ground to a screw on top, and a red and black wire. The problem is my house is a 30 AMP two pole breaker that has a red, black, white and blue wire!! along with a bare copper ground. How do I wire up my heater to all these wires?

  5. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Sam,
    Please note that the article you have posted your question to is about 240 volt 4000 watt Residential Electric Water Heaters.
    The water heater you have described is a Rheem Commercial size unit that is 6000 watts, therefore the electrical circuit requirements are much larger and the 10 gauge circuit you have described which cannot be used for this unit.
    Please note that commercial water heaters have different wiring configurations that will apply to commercial buildings with electrical service that are typically different from the average American home.
    Please consult the installation manual that came with your water heater for more information and wiring options.
    The following may assist you as well:
    Rheem Commercial Water Heaters
    I hope this helps you,

  6. Sam says:

    I have RHEEMRUUD ELD80C Electric Water Heater, Commercial, 80 gal. The water heater has black, red, blue, and yellow wires. How can I connect 10 Gauge circuit wire with the water heater. 10 Gauge wire has red, black, and a day white wire. How to connect 3 wire cable with 4 wire water heater.

  7. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Vicki,
    It depends on what you would like to do with the circuit. If you wish to install a replacement water heater then you will not need a neutral wire, however the circuit should have a ground wire installed.
    I hope this helps,

  8. Vicki Martz says:

    I removed a hot water heater that was 12 years old. It was wired from the panel with just 2 red 110v (I assume they are 110) inside flexible conduit. Will I need to have an electrician rewire that circuit with wiring that includes a neutral?

  9. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Jeff,
    With the power off, use the existing wire to feed through the new wire by simply attaching them to each other and wrapping them with electrical tape.
    Thanks for sharing your water heater question with us,

  10. Jeff Anderson says:

    Is there any way to loosen the outer shell? I need to run a new wire down to the lower element and can’t get it to feed through.

  11. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Randy,
    Since this is a leased water heater that is located inside an apartment it is possible that the additional 10-2 cable is being used to measure the electrical consumption of the unit at the meter location where a current transformer or other measuring device is installed.
    I hope this helps,

  12. Randy says:

    Why would an electric water heater have a 10-2 from a 30amp breaker to the heater, then have a separate 10-2 going from the heater out to the meter. This is a leased heater from the electric company and is in a apartment.

  13. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Curtis,
    Application: Replacing a gas water heater with a 240 volt 30 amp hot water heater, and reconnecting to an existing 240 volt 30 amp hot water #10 gauge circuit.

    The original 240 volt 30 amp hot water #10 gauge circuit wires will need to be verified that they are not being used for some other purpose. Once this has been verified the white wires of the original circuit should be colored with red or black electrical tape to indicate that the white wire is not a neutral wire, but is instead being used for one power source of the 240 volt circuit.

    The water heater circuit wires both connect to a 2-pole 30 amp 240 volt circuit breaker for proper circuit overload protection. The ground wire is connected to the ground bar of the panel. All the circuit wires should be verified, identified and marked. This verification is essential from the panel location to the water heater location.

    I cannot speculate why the original circuit wires have been connected differently at the panel as you have described, and this is why circuit verification is very important, because if the circuit has been converted for a different application or purpose then the original circuit wires cannot be used, and further identification will be necessary.

    The typical circuit wire connections to the 240 volt water heater is black to black, the red wire of the water heater connects to the white wire which is colored with red or black electrical tape, and the ground wire is fastened and bonded to the ground screw of the water heater.

    I hope this helps,

  14. Curtis Nelson says:

    I had an electric water heater and replaced it with a gas water heater. Years later I now am going back to an electric water heater. The previous two ten gauge 2 wire cables are still there. However one of the cables is now hooked up ( in the control panel box) to another 10 gauge cable with wire nuts, and connected with the white wire to white wire, and black wire to black wire, and leads out to my electric meter. Why are the wires connected this way, and what is this for? To make it a live wire again can I just link those wire nut connections to a proper 30 amp breaker?

  15. JoAnn says:

    Thank you Dave for your response. I went out to the panel and the white wire is in fact wired to the ground bar with all the other green or white wires coming from the panel. I made the decision not to use the timer at this time. I wired the water heater just like the old one was wired, with the white wire connected to the ground screw. All is good and we have hot water!
    Again thank you for your answer.

  16. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi JoAnn,
    If the water heater timer requires a Neutral wire then one must be provided along with a separate ground wire. From what you have described the circuit does not have both of these wires. The solution would be to obtain a 220 volt water heater timer that does not require a separate neutral wire. The next important thing would be to have the white wire of the water heater circuit identified at the panel and verified or reconnected to be a ground wire, and marking the wire with green electrical tape at each end for proper identification.
    I hope this helps,

  17. JoAnn says:

    Hi, I have replaced my 220 water heater. The wiring from the panel is 10 gauge, with three wires red, black and white. when I disconnected the old heater for removal, the white wire was connected to the ground screw. My question. I am installing a timer with a manual on and off switch. The diagram for the timer shows where to put the red, black and white wires and a place for the green ground. but I have no green/bare wire. Should I put the white wire on the ground in the timer and on the water tank? OR should the white wire go where the timer instructions show it should and put the white wire on the ground of the water heater? OR maybe just tape the white wire off at the heater?
    Thank you for your time. JoAnn

  18. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Chris,
    If you are referring to converting a 30 amp 220 volt circuit to be used as a 120 volt, then yes, this can be done fairly easy. Keep in mind that the circuit wiring will need to be converted to 120 volts at the electric panel, and a new circuit breaker must be installed and sized to the amperage of the receptacle that will be installed, which is typically 15 or 20 amps.
    Working in an electrical panel is not recommended for homeowners, so this is best performed by an electrician.

  19. chris sterup says:

    I have a hot water heater that I want to remove and replace the wiring with an outlet to utilize the dedicated circuit. Is this doable for someone who’s pretty handy, or do I need an electrician and how?

  20. raiford adams says:

    I have a Envi-ro-temp Energy Saver model 90a-1980 30 gal. single element 220 volt electric water heater and need to wire it in to my house.How do I wire it?