Convert Plug-in to Hard-Wire Connection

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by vistaman, Mar 22, 2011.

  1. vistaman

    vistaman New Member

    Messages:
    35
    My 18 year old 30 gallon electric water heater (240v/3500w) now plugs into a wall receptacle served by a 20a double breaker. The water heater just gave up the ghost and started leaking. The replacement is a similar sized/similar powered unit but code now specifies that the connection should be hard-wired.

    Do I just remove the existing plug cover and receptacle, wire nut the new wires into the box, pass them through a metal face plate into bx joined to the face plate, then to the water heater? The service to the water heater is with #12 wire in rigid conduit to a metal box at the wall.

    Is that the proper way to convert this setup or is there some other consideration/material to use that make it a proper connection?

    Thanks...Stan
  2. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

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    Stan
    Two things comes to mind here. First is the new water heater a 3500 watt? If it is a 4500 watt water heater the #12 will be to small. Second, is there a disconnect for the water heater within sight and no more than 50 feet away or a lock out on the breaker? If not replace the receptacle with a no fuse disconnect and proceed
  3. vistaman

    vistaman New Member

    Messages:
    35
    Thanks for a quick response :)

    Yeah, the new unit is 3500 watts. The breaker is only 20a with #12 wire, so that is about the max I can put in. Well maybe a 3800 watt unit would be borderline OK. That means that without upgrading the circuit to #10 and a new breaker, I'm stuck with 3500w. The water heater is in a closet on the patio of our townhouse/villa. It is about 5' away from the main panel which is just inside the front door of the villa. There is /no/ disconnect in the closet. I suppose the "disconnect" on the existing water heater was one of those "pull the plug out" styles of disconnect :) So I guess I will need to use a no fuse disconnect. I'll have to shop for something like that, do you know if it would fit inside the existing box or on top of the existing box?
  4. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

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    2,534
    Location:
    North Carolina
    A plaster ring and a 20amp toggle (light switch) will work great. Using an extension ring on the existing box (assuming it is a 4 square) gives access for the cable to the unit to be attached
  5. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    Just make sure the switch is a two-pole version (so it can switch both legs), and rated for the load.
  6. vistaman

    vistaman New Member

    Messages:
    35
    That's a nice approach. I was thinking I would have to find a large style of non-fusible disconnect metal box like are used for A/C's. And something like this (appropriately rated/two pole <---Thanks Jim!) would be code-approved by the inspector?
  7. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,534
    Location:
    North Carolina
  8. vistaman

    vistaman New Member

    Messages:
    35
    Great, much thanks...Stan
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