Smart Switch for Water Heater
March 27, 2019 8:56 AM   Subscribe

We are installing a water heater for an outdoor shower and will turn it on to warm up water to take the occasional shower and then turn it off in the times between. Siri already controls our lights with a combination of Hue and iDevices products. Are there products that would enable us to ask Siri to turn on a hardwired water heater?
posted by 10ch to Technology (13 answers total)
Rather than hardwiring it, would it be possible to utilize an outlet? If so, this outdoor outlet is Homekit compatible.
posted by jquinby at 9:07 AM on March 27

Even a lowboy water heater is going to take along time to warm up that mass of water.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:22 AM on March 27 [1 favorite]

They make small tankless water heaters. They draw almost no power when not in use.
posted by Marky at 9:48 AM on March 27 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I wonder if maybe insulating it better isn't a wiser choice. This is kind of the same the idea that turning your AC *off* when you're not home, which sounds like a good idea except that maintaining a decent temp turns out (often) to be cheaper / more efficient than letting it drift way up and then clobbering it back down.
posted by uberchet at 9:49 AM on March 27

Any competent electrician could combine something like the Fibaro single switch with a definite purpose contactor (or other suitably sized relay) to control your water heater.
posted by Mitheral at 9:50 AM on March 27 [1 favorite]

It sounds like what you really need is an outdoor tankless electric water heater.

There is no tank to heat up. You get near instant hot water when you turn on the faucet. When the faucet is off, it automatically turns off and uses no electricity. You don't need an external switch. The switch is built into the heater.
posted by JackFlash at 9:53 AM on March 27 [1 favorite]

Not to mention that an on-demand water heater provides endless hot water as well.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:55 AM on March 27

[Couple comments deleted; let's stick to the question about Siri and remote switching of water heaters.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:11 AM on March 27

Thanks LobsterMitten.

To all who offer helpful alternatives, the choice to heat the water this way was deeply considered and, given the design/use constraints, the one we feel most comfortable with.
posted by 10ch at 10:43 AM on March 27

In that case you are going to have to tell us the electrical specs for your water heater -- watts and voltage.
posted by JackFlash at 10:50 AM on March 27

You might be looking for a hot water heater with a thermostat that's remotely controllable to the point it's effectively off rather than a smart switch. Most smart switches are not designed for the amperage that a hot water heater draws.

Depending on your ambient temperature, be aware of Legioneer's Disease.
posted by Candleman at 11:20 AM on March 27 [2 favorites]

There are hardwired high-power switches like the GE Enbrighten Z-Wave Plus Heavy Duty 40 Amp, but Apple's HomeKit doesn't support Z-Wave hubs unless you're willing to kludge around with Homebridge.

However Red Coral Tech. combines HomeKit compatible low-power switches with high-power contactors (relays) that should work for you.

That's assuming US market and water heaters in the normal 4000/4500 Watt range. Even the little 6-20 gallon point-of-use heaters I found at Home Depot draws 2000 Watts & hard-wired smart switches seem to draw 1800. There is a 10 gallon that draws 1440 Watts, so it would work with the Insteon switch, but it's going to take longer to heat that water. You need a HomeKit-enabled Insteon hub to drive it.
posted by ASCII Costanza head at 12:25 PM on March 27 [2 favorites]

Smart circuit breakers seem to be a thing but look to fall into 2 categories: for commercial building applications or home-use, but with their own apps. This one, for example, purports to work with Google and Alexa, so some kludging/bridging would be necessary, maybe with IFTTT.
posted by jquinby at 12:32 PM on March 27 [1 favorite]

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