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Attaching a timer to a Storage Heater

Discussion in 'Electrics UK' started by Hedgehog77, 24 Jan 2019.

  1. Hedgehog77

    Hedgehog77

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    Hello there,
    First post on here so be gentle and thanks for any responses you might give.

    I've been reading through all of the storage heater posts and I don't think this question has been raised. (Probably because its not a practical idea)

    I've got 3 storage heaters in the house that run off of Economy 7.

    I sometimes spend 3 / 4 weeks away due to work commitments.
    As you can imagine the house is pretty cold at this time of year so when I return home it's not a pleasant environment!
    Don't really want to leave the heaters running while i'm away, seems a waste of energy.

    What i would like to do is somehow 'switch on' the storage heater/s the day before (say during Thursday night / Friday morning) so the house is warm on my return (say Friday afternoon).
    I was thinking along the lines of a Hive Plug (or similar) so I could use the app on my phone and have the electric to the heater turned on in time for the economy 7 to kick in and heat up the bricks. (although the hiveplug will only connect to the power during E7 times but should keep it's settings along the same lines as the Hive Lightbulbs)
    Currently the electric to the heaters is controlled by a on/off switch (assumed fused).

    I know I can't just can't stick a plug on the heater and plug it into a socket as the heater will overload the plug and socket.

    Was just wondering if anyone had and ideas / solutions of how this possibly can be done.
    Even having the heater come on every Thursday night on some kind of manual timer, instead of wifi based, would be better than wasting 4 weeks of electricity.

    Could i cut the wire from the heater to the fused switch and add something between ? (first idea was a plug and socket and hive plug but assume hive plug wouldn't handle the power either)

    Have attached a couple of pictures of heater / switch and E7 fusebox. (Plus a rough sketch of my silly idea!)

    many thanks.
     

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  3. blup

    blup

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    Don't know about the timer though I imagine it must be possible, however think on whether keeping the heat on low on the days you are away will help maintain a good if low basic temperature, and that heating from scratch the night before might need a similar amount of energy given the much lower temperature starting point especially in the current weather.

    blup
     
  4. Mottie

    Mottie

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    What is the individual wattage of the storage heaters? I have a couple of G Homa wifi sockets in work running a 3Kw and a 2Kw heaters so I can turn them on when I'm on my way in or turn on overnight from my house if it gets below freezing. You don't lose the settings when the power goes off and they've been working fine for a couple of winters.
     
    Last edited: 24 Jan 2019
  5. JohnW2

    JohnW2

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    I was going to ask that.

    However, even if (as it quite possible) it is low enough to allow use of 13A plug/socket (or any other 13A accessories), attempts to control the heater with some sort of plug-in timer (or wired-in 'immersion timing') etc. could be thwarted by the fact that the socket would only be powered during the E7 hours. That means that a 'mechanical' timeswitch' could not be used, but maybe an electronic one would work if it's internal battery were able to cope with it only being powered for only 7 out of each 24 hours. If one wanted to use a 'mechanical' switch etc., it would have to be powered from some 'always on' supply. with it feeding some sort of relay or contactor to switch the heater.

    Kind Regards, John
     
  6. flameport

    flameport

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    If the heaters are all like the one in the picture they will contain 4 elements, 850W each, 3.4kW, which is more than 13A.
    No 13A plug device will be suitable, for the same reason 13A FCUs are not suitable - they will overheat and fail.

    The solution - a contactor in the supply tails to the off peak consumer unit, controlled by to whatever electronic internet connected piece is desired.
    Plus a manual override switch to use for the inevitable day when the 'smart' timer or switch fails.
     
  7. seasickstevie

    seasickstevie

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    I'm not familiar with these sort of devices, but maybe an Immersion heater-type version is available that can be hard-wired at the DB, and will be rated at >13A.

    Presumably the one heater that the op wants to control is on a radial, so the device could be mounted adjacent to, and wired in to the DB.

    (Oh yes, this is where Part P rears its ugly head)
     
  8. JohnW2

    JohnW2

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    Indeed - those wire-in 'immersion' time switches are usually rated at about 16A, which should be enough for one storage heater.

    However, as I said before, a 'mechanical' one certainly could not simply be wired into the feed to a heater (and, obviously, one one heater), since it would only be powered during the cheap-rate hours (so the timer's clock would stop for 17h every day!). As I also said, one of the electronic versions might work, if it's internal battery could cope with it only being powered for 7h each day.

    Kind Regards, John
     
  9. seasickstevie

    seasickstevie

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    But do the Wifi versions of these things exist? I've done a search, but can't find any.
     
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  11. JohnW2

    JohnW2

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    Dunno (certainly haven't seen one), but I would probably not really have thought it all that likely that they would make WiFi versions of things sold as 'immersion time switches'.

    There are certainly 7-day electronic immersion time switches - so (per one of the things that the OP said might be acceptable), he could have the heating coming on every Thursday night, without any remote control (if, as I said, the device was happy with only being powered for 7 hours per day).

    I'm sure that one (e.g. you or I) could easily engineer an internet-connected switch of some sort feeding a contactor to deal with heater switching, but that might be more complicated than the OP was wanting.

    Kind Regards, John
     
  12. Mottie

    Mottie

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    How does economy 7 work then - separate circuits? I thought the whole house supply switched to it at certain times so that everything was always live.
     
  13. stem

    stem

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    Storage heater installations should have a separate consumer unit just for the heating. It is only 'live' during the 'off peak' times.

    on off peak.jpg
     
  14. Taylortwocities

    Taylortwocities

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    There are two systems.
    1. There are two feeds from the meter. One feed is timed to come on at off peak times, times controlled by the meter, or by an external timer. This needs a separate consumer unit for the heaters.
    2. There is only one output from the meter, but use of the electricity is charged at lower rates at cheap rate times. This requires separate timers that turn on heaters and immersions (eg) when its cheaper. The Horstman Economy 7 is a typical device that does this.

    Looks like the OP has type 1.

    Only suggestion would be a wifi switch that operates a hefty contactor that switches off the E7 supply to the off-peak CU. Maybe someone has something in mind that could do that?
     
  15. stem

    stem

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    Method 2 is not normally used for storage heaters, unless there is perhaps just one heater. The electrical load for several heaters would necessitate either each heater having its own timer, or a single timer being used with relays / contactors to switch the heaters on. It's much more convenient to use a dedicated off peak supply direct from the electricity suppliers meter. This also avoids the timers going out of sync with the off peak period and will allow the storage heaters to make full use of the entire off peak supply time.

    Also to be considered, is that with some economy tariffs such as Economy 10, the afternoon boost it provides doesn't always come at exactly the same time, so anyone using a timer might end up having the heater inadvertently charging up on the peak rate. The dedicated consumer unit avoids that risk, and will allow the storage heaters to make full use of the entire off peak supply period.
     
  16. Hedgehog77

    Hedgehog77

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    Thanks everyone for your replies and comments. It's been really interesting reading.

    I'm definitely looking for something fairly easy to install and not massively over complicated.

    Using an Hive WiFi plug socket timer means that even if the plug was offline (i.e no electric or internet) it would always save your settings as the on/off programs would be pre-programmed when the unit is active and are saved in the cloud. (Hive light bulbs work the same way. If the light switch is turned off then the on/off programs won't work but are still stored for he next time it receives power)
    Alas that's not an option though as the load of the heater load would be too much.

    I'd be happy with just the one heater be controlled with a timer and having the heater coming on once a week wouldn't be a massive problem. (Still better than heating an empty house for 3 - 4 weeks)
    Could I, however, install it between the heater and the wall switch?
     
    Last edited: 25 Jan 2019
  17. Hedgehog77

    Hedgehog77

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    rough sketch!

    Thanks again everyone for your help and advice.
     

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