Novel Electric Shower

B

Big_Spark

Just after I got into the office this morning we recieved a phone from a local resident complaining their electric shower did not work and could someone come and sort it out as they don't have a bath as back-up.

As all the Guys were out, and my partner no-where to be seen, I decided to drive down and take look.

When I got there I was shown the "bathroom" and immediately was confused, all I saw in the shower cubicle was a Thermostatic mixer tap feeding a fixed head unit mounted at high level..really nice one actually.

I said this can't be electric, and asked if they had a Combi Boiler, I was told Yes we do, but the shower comes off the Immersion heater!!

When I investigated the matter, it would appear some smart bugger had used a standard immersion heater tank in conjunction with a central heating pump and flow switch to drive the shower through a standard Thermostatic valve!

The problem was the flow switch not kicking in the pump..one of the Guys will call in and change it later...but I was quite impressed.

I am not sure the work was done by an amateur, the elctrical work is top notch and the plumbing is some of the best I have seen in years, and before anyone asks, Yes it was all cross bonded together.

It's a novel idea for a shower, apparently the combi installed will not power a shower as it is one of the older type, and the client said it was the best shower he has known! Even without the pump working the flow rate was reasonable, but I can imagine with the pump it will be a blinding unit!


Never seen it before, but a great idea.
 
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I am confused here, you mean they had a standard immersion heater and tank, pumped through to a thermostatic mixer? If so then that is the same arrangement I have, although mine uses a shower pump not a central heating one!

I have often thought that if someone could make a standalone electric shower water heater that can be mounted in the loft/cupboard and used in conjunction with a standard mixer valve then people could have electric showers with nice fittings if they wish. They can do it with power showers after all.
 
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As I know sweet fa about pipes, is it plumbed to regulation?

Reason I ask is that if this is kosher, then I will mention it as an alternative set-up to my clients.
 
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Big_Spark

securespark said:
As I know sweet fa about pipes, is it plumbed to regulation?

Reason I ask is that if this is kosher, then I will mention it as an alternative set-up to my clients.

Apparently it is perfectly OK. It was inspected, when the guy bought the house about 8 months ago, by a corgi registered heating engineer, and he said it was one of the best plumbing jobs he had seen.
 
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FWL_Engineer said:
Apparently it is perfectly OK. It was inspected, when the guy bought the house about 8 months ago, by a corgi registered heating engineer, and he said it was one of the best plumbing jobs he had seen.
Must have been DIY then....
 
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ban-all-sheds said:
Must have been DIY then....

No way was this a DIY job, no disrespect to the Very Good DIY plumbers that exist, but this job was an act of love..and I am not kidding.

The only joints in the pipework was straight connectors, not a single bend in sight, all made using a pipebender, no kinks or burrs in sight.

In the bathroom the hot and cold feeds to the thermostatic valve are chrome plated copper, no joints visible except where it has a compression joint to fix to the Valve.

Whoever did this knew what they were doing electrically too, the feed to the motor and the flow switch are in Kopex using the correct terminations, with the links in singles..LSF singles too, every connection numbered, and in the IPX4 Junction box they terminate in, DIN rail mounted terminals, all terminals numbered and all cores numbered, on the inside of the lid is a sealed, printed connection chart so even a complete idiot could follow it, all colour coded!!

The Isolator on the wall for the Immersion elemnents is an enclosure containing a 20A Double Pole Contactor, 16A Type B RCBO, and a 40A Contactor linked to a 40A Type B RCBO, with the contactor being controlled by a pair of 6A Plate switches to act as an overides (Both labelled). The link from the enclosure to the immersions are also in Kopex and LSF singles.

The contoller for this is a Logic Controlled unit that takes input from the stat in the immersions, but also a pair of digital thermostats mounted inside the insulation for the tank (obviously in contact with the copper cylinder).

Normally the 3.5kW side mounted element heats the water, but looking at the connections and the drawing that is there, Laminated on the wall!! the 2nd Element is a 7.8kW Industrial element to act as a booster, probably during heavy use.

There is kit in this that no DIYer would be able to get their hands on, let alone connect up like this, the Logic circuit looks purpose made, there is no Manufacturers identifiers on it, but the board is photo-etched!

John, the electrician that went back this afternoon to replace the flow switch, has taken a load of pictures on his digital camera, as soon as I can get copies I'll post them.
 
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Logic boards? Blimey, must have been a physicist who installed that shower. Look at the evidence: Pipes bent for corners, must have a knowledge of fluid flow and turbulence. Good knowledge of electronics, everything painstakingly labelled, recorded and documented. :D

Well, the 7.8kW immersion element would explain something I was wondering, which was "how tepid would a pumped 3kW shower be?!"

How silently does it run?
 
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AdamW said:
How silently does it run?
Totally silent at the moment, it seems, but FWL is about to remedy that!

As for DIY or not - he's probably right, but no guarantee - sometimes DIY-ers will put hugely more effort into something than a professional would, because cost can be no object. Look at some of the lengths that car customisers go to. Do you know any car manufacturers who use Aeroquip hoses, for example?

My plumbing skills are not up to the standard described, but I'm sure some peoples are. If I was doing all that, I'm not sure I would have bothered with Kopex and DIN rail terminals, and LSF cables, (well, actually I am sure) but if I had wanted to I could have got all of that, and so could anybody who wanted it.

As for the logic controller, it's probably not beyond the wit of an electronics hobbyist to design such a thing, and making your own photo-etched boards is a DIY possibility. Or maybe the guy worked somewhere where he could make it? Or did the design on his PC and had it made?

OK - it is a long and improbable chain, and it is v.unlikely that a DIY-er would have done that, but you know me - never one to duck an argument, and I didn't see anything in your list that could not be obtained and used by a determined or obsessive DIYer.

If it was done commercially though, what would it have cost? Let's face it, it is a trifle over-specced....
And who would want to install such a custom system in someone's house, given the possible ongoing support problems? Who would commission such work? Would you want a one-off shower system that would baffle your average drip or spark when it went wrong? Could even the great FWL diagnose a fault in the control logic?

My pet theory is that it was, technically DIY, but not done by an amateur - someone with a good knowledge of control systems and high-spec installations did it in his own house.

Very nosey I know, but what's the rest of the house plumbing and wiring like, I wonder?
 
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Big_Spark

Ban, I suppose your logic is in the ball park, whilst the person who did the work may not have been a professional plumber or spark (so the work is if effect DIY) I would certainly argue that they have far more knowledge that 99% of professionals in the contracting game of either profession.

I can confirm it is running, John replaced the faulty flow switch this afternoon, and tested the system. No sound at all as the Pump is in the cupboard with the Immersion etc, and the bathroom is across the hall. Apparently it is so well sound proffed (The Cupboard) that the pump cannot be heard out in the hallway!

Could I fault find a Logic board? Yes I could, could one of my Guys,. probably not as they have never worked in the field of this part of industry, whether I would accurately diagnose a fault with a one off piece of kit I have no idea. It is several years since I messed with this sort of Kit.

To answer the question about the rest of the property. I was curious so took a look, and John had a good look into it this afternoon to right a report for the client.

All the electrical Installation is OTT, singles in galv conduit, all LSF. Lighting is in 1.5mm2, however the rings are in 4.0 with 4.0mm Earths.

Each Spur in the kitchen that controls a low level unswitched socket is on it's own circuits, again 4.0/4.0 LSF and protected by Type B 16A/30mA RCBO's. The Kitchen sockets are protected by 32A 30mA Type B RCBO's, again wired in 4.0/4.0.

The surprise I got, reading Johns initial report was that the Cooker point in the kitchen is wired in 10mm2 3 core LSF sheathed Pyro, including the link from the control unit to the connector plate.

There are 10mm2 Earths linking the Kitchen, Bathroom and Kitchen Gas pipes to the main Earth block. Every piece of copper pipe is cross bonded using 6mm2 cable.

The Office on the upper floor of the extension has four socket circuits in it.

One is a ring in the main board and wired in 4.0/4.0 LSF, the others (3 of Radials in 4.0/4.0 LSF) are wired to a second enclosure, seperate from the main consumer unit, this unit contains active filters on both the Phase and Neutral conductors of the outgoing circuits, and also a seperate Earth Electrode has been installed just for this board, and the electrode feed (25mm2) has a transient filter on it with a 45kA fault current capacity.

The House has professionally installed Lightning protection, whether it was done by the owner personally or by a contractor we'll never know.

It would appear the plumbing in the rest of the house is of a similar standard to the shower. The Kitchen cupboards are all hand made.

Someone took a lot of pride in this house, it must have been a massive decision to sell.
 

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Some House! Would love to see the photographs :)
 
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AdamW said:
Logic boards? Blimey, must have been a physicist who installed that shower.


Sneaking suspicion that this is FWL showing off his own shower.....!! :LOL: :LOL:
 
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securespark said:
AdamW said:
Logic boards? Blimey, must have been a physicist who installed that shower.


Sneaking suspicion that this is FWL showing off his own shower.....!! :LOL: :LOL:

Nah, mine is an everyday powershower fed from the Combi (Vaillant 824E)
 
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FWL_Engineer said:
Ban, I suppose your logic is in the ball park, whilst the person who did the work may not have been a professional plumber or spark (so the work is if effect DIY)
I've changed my mind...

I would certainly argue that they have far more knowledge that 99% of professionals in the contracting game of either profession.
Possibly - you know he business you work in - I would have hoped that quite a few people who design industrial premises, hospitals, leisure facilities, hotels etc to high standards would know how to do what was there. Whether they would dream of doing it for a house is another matter..

All the electrical Installation is OTT, {etc etc etc}
You can say that again...

The House has professionally installed Lightning protection, whether it was done by the owner personally or by a contractor we'll never know.
[lloyd grossman voice]Who would live in a house like this?[/lloyd grossman voice]
The chances of any of it being done by the owner personally I would say are vanishingly small. It sounds like a large-ish property. You said it was local. Knowing the area as I do, that makes it an expensive property. I'm sure that every bit of joinery is to exceptional standards too? And the walls are all perfectly true, and the corners are all perfect right angles?

Someone with a great deal of money has had that house made to exacting standards. Lots of people could have set the requirements for kitchen, joinery, bathrooms, general quality of work etc, but to have specced the infrastructure like that would have required specialist knowledge. Probably an electrical engineer. Someone with a lot of experience of designing/specifying large installations. Maybe had his own company and used his own people. Not his nearest NICEIC house basher...

But DIY? He would never have been able to afford the time. If it had been just the shower it might have been him, if he missed the hands-on, but the whole house would have been a lot of hard graft, nobody would do that for fun and relaxation over a couple of weekends...

Someone took a lot of pride in this house, it must have been a massive decision to sell.
Maybe he's built another one?
 
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Big_Spark

Ban, in your position I would use the same train of thought..but the house is not overtly expensive..only in the 350K to 400K region, and in excess of 70 years old.

All the work has been part of a whole house makeover, from what I saw about 2 to 5 years ago.

For someone in that sort of house to get contractors to do the work would be prohibitively expensive..so I'm still not sure of the reason for the work.
 
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Bizarre, isn't it.

I wonder if the new owner is happy to know that he has such high spec stuff, or if he's worried that it might not be easily maintainable?
 

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