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Electrical Wiring in the Home/Genrator and electric hot water heater


 I have a very old Niagara by Geberac 4000 watt generator (briggs engine & orange alternator).  It works great still.  There is not much info out there about this device. I do not know if 4000 watts is it max, or running watts. Or if it can handle spikes beyond 4000?
 I also have a GE30M6A 30 Gal electric hot water heater.  It is a dual element, and pulls 4500 watts.  
  The electric water heater is hooked up to a generator transfer switch.  
 Would it be possible to briefly run (10-15 min per day) the hot water heater off this generator?  It is only 500 watts more, and since it is operating a heating element and not a motor (with no start up) I was hoping it would be safe to operate. My thought was that the water heater would just be a little slower to heat because it was recieving 4000 watts vs 4500.  
 What do you think?  Oh, I also tried disconnecting one element, but it seems both elements pull 4500 watts (I guess they don't operate at the same time). I was hoping to drop the Watt requirement of the water heater to something within the generator capacity.
Thank you

You are correct that the elements cycle in order to keep the entire tank heated and they are never on at the same time. I would say to try the generator with the heater and see how it does. The generator has many overload safety controls so if it pulls so many amps that it begins to affect the unit it will shut itself off automatically, but I agree with your theory that with less wattage it may just take longer to heat. Keep in mind if it is too much of an overload the generator may immediately shut down, I have seen this happen with smaller generators trying to pull too large of a load, but I think heaters are a little overated to begin with so it should work fine. Thanks J
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Electrical Wiring in the Home

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J Cook


General electrical wiring, including but not limited to, residential, panelboards, control wiring, low voltage wiring, Heating and A/C control wiring, single and three phase wiring.


I have been doing electrical since high school. I have been licensed by the State of North Carolina for ten years and am currently the Building Maintenance Superintendent for a municipality. I have extensive control wiring experience.

Refrigeration Service Engineers Society.

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