This may be a dumb question, but I'll ask anyway. I've noticed that most residential electric water heaters are rated at 4500W, so why are all of the branch cicuits that I have seen for them 30A @240V? Being that they are just resistive heating elements there is no inrush current that I know of. Just seems overkill running a 7200W circuit for a 4500W load. Comments? Ian
422.13 Storage-Type Water Heaters. A branch circuit supplying a fixed storage-type water heater that has a capacity of 450 L (120 gal) or less shall have a rating not less than 125 percent of the nameplate rating of the water heater.
4500 / 240 = 18.75 x 1.25 = 23.4 amps.
This puts you into a 10 awg, you could use a 25 amp breaker but most just use a 30 amp breaker.
Bob Badger Construction & Maintenance Electrician Massachusetts
Re: Water heater queries#48042 02/02/0507:32 AM02/02/0507:32 AM
Consider that there may be as much as 5% (or even more) variability in manufacturing tolerance, as well as 5% variability in your supply voltage. If the element is exactly 4500 watts and the voltage is exactly 240 then your have 18.75 amps (1.25x = 23.4375). Now let's raise the voltage by 5% (252 volts). The same resistance (12.8 ohms, not accounting for change due to heating) gives you 19.6875 amps (1.25x = 24.609375). Then if the element itself is 5% lower in resistance (12.16 ohms) you'd have 19.7368421 amps at 240 volts (1.25x = 24.671052625) and at 252 volts you'd have 20.7236842 amps (1.25x = 25.90460525). You may need that 30 amp breaker. And even the breakers themselves have some variability (why the trip curves have some width to them).
Re: Water heater queries#48044 02/02/0503:58 PM02/02/0503:58 PM