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Smart Boiler / Hot Water Tank


Bob Jones
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Hi guys!

As many of you know, I turned my Atwood hot water tank into a 180f boiler a while back using two InkBird controllers (one for gas and one for electric) and control the hot water temperature, unit-wide, with a thermostatic mixing valve set at 118.4f (my ideal shower temperature). I also upgraded the heating element to 2000 watts for faster recovery.

Anyway, I tend to work in the stock market and I'm on the left hand side of Canada which means the pre-market for me starts at 1:30 AM (groan) until the market opens at 6:30 AM (groan) and after the post market closes at 5:00 PM (more groaning). What I'm getting at is that sleep hours are horrible and change all the time when I'm active. 

Anyway, I turn my hot water tank off at night to save money. I'm just cheap that way. What bugs me is that when I wake up I always have to get up and turn it on and then go back to bed until it's up to temperature. Often, I'll fall asleep again, sometimes for 6 hours or more....meaning the tank is being unnecessarily heated. 

So I was thinking, wouldn't it be nice to be able to turn the tank on and off with my phone or on a schedule when I'm lying in bed?

Normally you would use a smart plug to control an electrical device with your phone. But this one 2000 watts on a 20 amp circuit. After some work, I finally found one that not only works but is high quality. The Sonoff POWR3 $48 CAD

It's a higher amp/watt capacity unit that offers power metering, power protection and integration with your phone through their app as well as Google. So you say to your phone 'Hey Google, turn on the hot water tank' and the like. It also works with Alexa and such. You can also set schedules for your hot water tank, ie, turn on at 7 AM and turn off at 10:30 PM. And, you can also just turn it on and off on your phone. It monitors the power being used and shows you how many watts, amps and line voltage the device has. If you enter your cost per killowatt hour it also charts out how many dollars running the unit is costing you. For instance, I was able to determine it cost .42c to bring the tank from full cold to full hot using electricity. That really surprised me because I often turn it off during the day, meaning it cools down and it's .42 to bring it back up, more if you're using propane as well as electric as I do. 

So now I'm charting it to determine if it's cheaper to leave it on. For instance, I can tell you that in my case it costs .02c when it cycles between the 175 cut-in set point and the 180 cut-out set point. I know that all seems trite when it comes to expenses but I've notice my power bill is trending higher and this device will allow me to determine if it's cheaper to leave it on or off and fine-tune the usage. It's entirely possible I'm wasting money by turning it on and off all the time when I thought I was saving money.......But in my case I can change the cut-in and cut-out set points at will on each of the Inkbird controllers. I can also account for thermal efficiency by lowering the tank temperature if it's fiscally smart. 

Anyway, I just got it installed and it's great. It came on, as scheduled at 7 am. You can also set it to come on 7 am and then run for only a set period of time. You don't have to use it to control a hot water heater, you can use it to control anything that draws up to 25 amps / 5500 watts. And it's WELL made. 

Anyway, here's a pic of it installed, don't mind the wiring mess, that will be cleaned up and loomed shortly. This was just hacked up for testing. Btw, it was $48 CAD so it's cheaper in USA dollars.

In the pic it's the white box on the wall and it's controlling both electric and gas in my case. Highly recommended if you want to control your hot water tank with your phone or schedule it's usage, or even just monitor how much $$ you're using etc. 

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Edited by Bob Jones
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