Re: Reliance 501 Hot Water Heater
Posted by Gary Swart on February 29, 2004 at 13:40:50:
In response to Re: Reliance 501 Hot Water Heater
Lights and applicances require 120 VAC. An electric water heater requires 240 VAC which is essentially two 120 VAC circuits combined. This means you have 2 "hot" wires instead of just one. Circuit breakers for 240 VAC have two wire connections, and a 120 VAC has just one. It is very likely that when your heater was connected, there was no regular 240 VAC breaker handy, but there were a couple of empty 120 VAC breakers. The person doing the connection simply connected one hot lead to each breaker and Voila! there was 240 VAC. Nothing terribly wrong about that, but it can be a tad confusing especially if these breaker are separated in the panel and not marked. Look at the water heater's wires, and note the colors. If the proper 240 VAC wire was used, there will be 3 or 4 wires, a black, a red, a green, and possibly a bare copper. Black and Red are hot, green is ground and the bare copper is an additional ground. If regular 12/2 wire was used (Black, White, Bare) Bothe the black and white are hot, and the white should be marked with black paint or tape to indicate that it is hot. The bare copper is ground. Now look at the where the wires connect to the breakers in the panel. (you have to take that outer cover off) Understand that only "hot" wires are connected to the actual breakers. You will find one breaker with the same odd color as was found at the heater. That will be one hot wire. The second hot wire will be a black wire, and you'll just have to flip breakers until you locate it's breaker. With luck, that may be the one you already have found. Even if the two 120 VAC breakers are separated in the panel, they are working OK, so leave them alone, just label them. NOTE: Of course always work carefully, but especially with 240 VAC. 120 VAC will jolt you pretty good, but 240 VAC does serious damage to a body.

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