I have a GE50M06AAG water heater and likely need to replace my elements. I've read the manual and looked on the tag on the water heater itself but am a bit confused as to which elements I need to buy at Home Depot.

Here's a picture of the tag: enter image description here

I noticed that the UPPER/LOWER says "4500/3380" but wasn't sure if that meant use a dual watt element or I could use only use a 4500 watt element at 240 volts and a 3380 on 208 volts?

4 Answers 4


I agree with both above answers but don't jump into throwing parts at it, get an ohm meter and measure the resistance of the elements with the breaker off the conductor should be open to ground and have a low resistance end to end , sometimes both elements are good and the controllers are bad or 1 controller bad possibly just 1 bad element, you might save quite a bit by checking things out. Longer elements at the same 4500 w is lower watt density if they will fit go long the last longer. Also don't forget about your anode it probably needs replacing.

  • Thanks for the info. Turned out to be a burst pipe under the house. Nov 30, 2017 at 17:16

The best and easiest way to check a heating element it to leave it connected, set your meter for AC voltage and carefully measure across the two terminals. If your water heater is 220v and your meter reads 220v then you have a bad element

If the element is working since it is completing the circuit, you will read a very low voltage.

Check a fuse the same way.

My credentials? 2 years of formal electronics education. A 2 year electrical degree and 32 years of experience in those fields

  • If you read a very low voltage across the element, where did the rest of the volts go? It's a series circuit, so there has to be a total drop of 220V. You should see pretty close to 220V across the heater element; it's the load in the circuit, after all, and any other voltage drops along the way are just wasting energy. Jan 21, 2023 at 18:36

If you are replacing your elements you should use a 4500 watt element for both the upper and lower elements.

More information if you care:

Voltage=Current * Resistance

Watts=Voltage * Current.

Any element you purchase will have the same resistance at different voltages, so the current though it changes (Increases with higher voltage). This results in the wattage chaining as well. This all means that a 4500 Watt Element @ 240 Volts is the same as a 3380 Watt Element @ 208 Volts.


If I could recommend in addition, get low watt density elements. They will last longer. Also the higher grade sheathing is a good choice if you feel you can put out the extra money. When the elements are out consider cleaning out the lime deposits. When you reinstall make sure the electrical connections are tight.

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