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GE Mechanical Time Switch 24-Hour Water Heater Timer Review

Home Test of GE Indoor 24-Hour Mechanical Timer for Water Heater Use

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GE Mechanical Time Switch 24-Hour Water Heater Timer Review

GE Mechanical Time Switch Indoor 15251

Photo © Mifflin
On average, water heaters can account for 10 - 15% of a monthly energy bill, depending on use and that can be substantial especially for a large family. It's one appliance that usually operates continually keeping your water hot, whether you use it or not. In an effort to reduce our electricity bill, we took control of our water heating and installed this GE Time Switch to restrict operation to a mere fraction of the 24 hour cycle.

Product Description

GE Mechanical Time Switch for Indoor Use Model 15251
  • 24-Hour timer; economizer energy-saving timer
  • Ideal for spas, pools, fountains, electric water heaters, lighting
  • Universal voltage tension 120/240/277 selectable
  • Indoor Use (there are models for outdoor uses)
  • Single-poll single-throw; single-pole double-throw; double-pole single-throw; double-pole double-throw
  • NEMA 1-Rated Enclosure
  • Heavy-duty rust-proof construction
  • Tamper resistant
  • Easy wiring diagram; easy to program
  • Manual override switch
  • 1/2" and 3/4" knockouts
  • Accommodates up to 48 on/off settings
  • Lockable enclosure
  • Based on general purpose home use
  • Ratings - Full ratings for normally open contacts and normally closed contacts listed on the package
  • Installation hardware included

Installation and Operation Notes

Water Heater Timer Installed

Photo © Mifflin
August 15, 2011
Though a 24-hour timer is a good idea when it comes to saving energy on any appliance to control operation time, it took being on a smart meter and time-of-use (TOU) electricity rates, to nudge us to take action and install this timer, to control when and how often our water heater is on.

Here are some installation tips. Before you open the box, determine a suitable position for the timer. It should be either close to the device you are timing, in this case - the water heater tank and your electrical panel box. If you have some slack in your wiring, you might be able to get away with installing it inline without additional lengths of wire. Should you need wiring, make certain it is the same gauge as the device you are adding the timer to. The timer itself should be mounted on a solid wood surface. There was enough room on the wood my electrical panel was attached to. The screws and anchors are provided in the box.

There are a few pages of instructions, each dealing with different voltage/timer configurations. Determine which is the right one for your circumstance and remove all others or you will get mixed up very easily. If you take it one small step at a time, for instance - install the jumpers first, then move on to the power section and if you have a fair bit of electrical knowledge, this should be no problem. Installation took less than a hour but best to take whatever time you need.

If on the other hand, you are like myself and have very little experience with anything electrical, the aid of a qualified electrician would be advisable. The last thing you need to do is blow up a sixty dollar unit over one small wiring error.

As said before, the instructions are many and you need to sort through them carefully. Setting the timer is very easy and it's explained very well. There's lots of ways to set the timer - we chose to have the water tank come on for one hour at 6 am and again at 6 pm. So far, we have not run out of hot water and it has worked faultlessly.

It saves on the electrical bill, the minute you install it. One excellent feature of this GE timer is that you can switch (red switch) off and override the timer manually, if for some reason you want the water heater on the whole day, as when you have a household of guests. Then switch the timer back to your preset schedules.

As always, ensure your own safety and those around you by turning off the main electrical breaker before you enter the panel box and while you are installing and working around the device and timer.

Overall Impression

Since this time switch was installed, we are seeing some good results on our electricity bills, with energy reductions in the range of about 13%. Since water heating is not consistent month-to-month, I do expect electricity savings to fluctuate on a monthly basic. We generally use more hot water during the summer months when guests are numerous (more showers, washing dishes, laundry), or when I tend to do more hot-water laundry. We set the timer for the extreme savings - heating water only for two hours on a 24-hour period. This may not work for you; you have to explore the best scheduling and adjust accordingly. So far, we have not run out of hot water.

I'm glad we took the time to install this time switch to control operation of our water heater and we expect to recoup the cost of the heater (about $60) within a couple of months. Once the timer has paid for itself, it's clear savings. We'll look for other ways to control more appliances going forward to gain even more energy savings. We already use a smaller outdoor timer for holiday lights and one to heat the vehicle engine in winter, so there's lots of possible ways to save energy with the use of 24-hour mechanical timers. GE timers are available for either indoor or outdoor use, so chose your 24-hour timer based on where you'll install it and make sure the ratings are correct for your particular needs.

24-Hour timers are available in a variety of brands, so if you have difficulty locating this particular GE timer, find another suitable and rated for your water heater. Remember to chose a mechanical timer according to ratings, indoor or outdoor use and designed for the application you have in mind. This timer was installed on a 60-gallon water heater and you don't need to be on time-of-use electricity rates to make a timer a good energy-saving decision. The main objective of this review is to promote awareness of such timers, give an indication of installation ease and to help consumers cut down on their energy use.

Related Energy-Saving Resources

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