How to install an electric water heater timer

Installing a water heater timer not only makes sense, it can also put money back into your pocket. Water heaters can operate at all hours of the day and night. The efficiency of new water heaters allow for a quick recovery time, generally in the range of 1 to 2 hours. It only stands to reason to shut off the electrical supply when you are sleeping or at work, and not waste the power to heat water you are never going to use. By following a few basic procedures, you can install a water heater timer in under an hour.

Remove the electrical power that is supplying the water heater. You can do this by either turning the circuit breaker off or removing the fuses from the power feeder circuit. Do not work on the water heater with the power on.

Mount the electric water heater timer in an area that you can easily reach and one that will allow the power wires to reach the screw terminals of the control device. Use the screwdriver and the provided screws to attached the timer to the wall. This may also include a set of drywall anchors provided by the timer's manufacturer. Follow the instructions for mounting the timer, as certain devices may have specific instructions for mounting (such as being level and plumb or having the correct side facing upwards).

Cut the power wires leading to the hot water heater. Be sure to hold the cable up to the timer so you cut the cable in the correct location. There should be enough slack in the electrical cable to have plenty of wire to connect in the timer housing.

Use the pocketknife and strip back the outer covering of the cable assembly approximately 3 to 4 inches. This should expose the black, white and fully bare copper wire contained in the cable assembly.

Strip the ends of the black and white wire insulation to expose 1 inch of the bare copper wire. This bare copper will be terminated to the screws of the timer controller.

Connect the wire to the timer controller. There should be two screws identified as "power in," " power feed" or "line." These are the wires coming from the circuit box or fuses. The second set of wires should be connected to the screw terminal, marked as "to hot water heater" or "load." These will be the wires going to the electric hot water heater.

Connect the fully bare copper wires to the green grounding screw on the timer device. Both fully bare copper wires must be connected to this screw terminal.

Apply the power to the hot water circuit.

Using the "at home time" and "away from home" schedule, program the electric hot water heater timer. This may involve having to set the correct time and date. Most timers will allow you to program every day of the week. Certain manufacturers will have various features far beyond the plain "on" or "off."

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