Electric Water Heater Wiring and Video
How are the wires connected to a new water heater? Common Wiring Methods for wiring an Electric Water Heater, Basic Water Heater Circuit Requirements, Connect the Water Heater Wiring.
Guide to Wiring an Electric Water Heater
Electrical Question: How are the electrical wires connected to a water heater?
- I’m wiring a electrical hot water tank.
- I have a 50 Amp wire to it out of the box is a white red and black and copper ground.
- Out of the hot water tank is only a red and black.
- Where does the white wire from the house hook up to?
This electrical wiring question came from: Nate, a Homeowner from Whittaker, Michigan.
Thanks for your electrical question Nate.
How to Wire a 240Volt Electric 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
- Basic Home Electric Water Heater Circuit Requirements
- An conventional residential 240 volt electric water requires a dedicated circuit.
- The the typical circuit is a 30 amp 240 volt dedicated circuit.
- The circuit cable wiring includes two insulated wires designated as Line-1, Line-2 and the ground conductor.
- IMPORTANT: Not all water heaters are alike. Please consult the installation manual that is included with the water heater you have for specific installation instructions.
- Does a Water Heater Require a Neutral Wire?
- At this time, the conventional hot water heater does not require a neutral, however that will most likely change.
- Neutral wires are required for other 220volt and 240 volt appliances that have electronic controls that require a dedicated neutral, which is included with the 4wire cord.
- If the circuit wiring is supplied by a 4-wire cable, and there is a spare white wire then simply cap off the white wire with a wire connector fastened onto the end of the wire.
- Connect Water Heater Wires
- It is a very common practice to install a 10/2 Cable with a Ground Wire.
- The 10/2 cable actually has 3 wires including the ground wire.
- With this type of cable wiring method, the black and white wires are used for the 240 volt circuit, so the white wire is colored typically with either red or black electrical tape or a permanent marker.
- A conventional electric water heater will come with a black wire and a red wire which are connected to the wires of the same color as described above.
- The ground wire is attached to the green ground screw which is in the same wiring junction box compartment which is built into the top of the water heater.
- Protecting the Circuit from Overload Conditions
- Never use a cable that is too small for the water heater circuit, and be sure the circuit breaker is sized correctly for the circuit.
- Typically the standard water heater circuit is wired with #10 gauge copper wire a 2-pole 30 amp 240 volt circuit breaker is installed.
- If existing circuit wiring will be used for the water heater and the circuit is larger then the circuit breaker should be replaced with a 30 amp breaker. The rule of thumb is to size the circuit breaker for the smallest size wire type within the circuit, or as indicated on the equipment label or as instructed in the installation manual.
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 220Volt 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.
The following may also be helpful for you:
Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.
The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wires!The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester that I use to easily Detect Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.
The Quickest Way to Check for Faulty Electrical Wiring!The Plug-In Outlet Tester
This is the first tool I grab to troubleshoot a problem with outlet circuit wiring. This popular tester is also used by most inspectors to test for power and check the polarity of circuit wiring.
It detects probable improper wiring conditions in standard 110-125 VAC outlets Provides 6 probable wiring conditions that are quick and easy to read for ultimate efficiency Lights indicate if wiring is correct and indicator light chart is included Tests standard 3-wire outlets UL Listed Light indicates if wiring is incorrect Very handy and easy to use.
Strip Off Wire Insulation without Nicking and Damaging the Electric Wire!The Wire Stripper and Wire Cutter
My absolute favorite wire stripping tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and this is the tool I use to safely strip electrical wires.
This handy tool has multiple uses:
The wire gauges are shown on the side of the tool so you know which slot to use for stripping insulation.
The end of the tool can be used to grip and bend wire which is handy for attaching wire onto the screw terminals of switches and outlets..
The wire stripper will work on both solid and stranded wire. This tool is Very Handy and Easy to Use.
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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?
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?
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.
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
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,
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.
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?
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,
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.
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,
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.
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,
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?
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,
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.
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,
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?
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,
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.
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.