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Q1: Should there be a(n emergency) power switch next to an electric water heater?

Q2: If A1 is no, is it okay to have one anyway?

Q3: If A2 is yes, what kind of power switch should I use? I don't think I can use a regular light switch because this cable is 10/2 AWG and both the black and the white are hot. I need something that has two charges in and two loads out.

  • What kind of emergency would you think would warrant flipping the switch? In 30 years of home ownership, I've never had the need to turn off the wateheater at the source. (though I have flipped the breaker off for maintenance). Is there some reason why you couldn't just flip off the breaker in this "emergency"? You could purchase a cutoff switch with sufficient capacity for this use, I just can't see why you'd need it. – Johnny Jan 22 '16 at 3:42
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    To turn it off if I go away for a long time, instead of flipping the breaker. Or if I want to work on it. Can we please focus on the exact questions I asked rather than spend space questioning motives? – amphibient Jan 22 '16 at 3:49
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    Your first question was Should there be an power switch..., so it seems that clarifying what kind of "emergency" would require such a switch is an important part of answering the question. Based on your reply, this seems like more of a convenience switch than an emergency switch. For a fixed appliance like a water heater, it seems like there's little need for a rarely used convenience switch, but I don't think there's any code prohibition against it. – Johnny Jan 22 '16 at 4:34
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Q1: Should there be an (emergency) power switch next to an electric water heater?

Doesn't have to be, but we always have a disconnect switch by water heaters for any commercial building.

Q2: If A1 is no, is it okay to have one anyway?

Yes, it's fine as long as it's wired right and such.

Q3: If A2 is yes, what kind of power switch should I use? I don't think I can use a regular light switch because this cable is 10/2 AWG and both the black and the white are hot.

Seems you've already discovered it, but yes they do make double pole switches. Typically a disconnect is used (as answered prior) and they're not any more complicated, but are safer. It's just a big switch.

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If you want a "switch" near your water heater, you should probably use a "SPA disconnect panel", rated for the circuit amperage or higher. There is no need for fusing, circuit-breakers or GFCI in the disconnect so it can be pretty cheap.

An example would be Home Depot link

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As per [this link][1], I need a double pole power switch

[1]: http://waterheatertimer.org/Install30As2.html this link

  • The switch is fine (we use one for that) but that web site is a hot mess. The guy thinks neutral and ground are the same thing, he shows using white wires for hots without marking them (no, no, no!) and the site's whole purpose is paid affiliate links to Amazon. I would rely on other sources for your hookup advice. – Harper Jan 22 '16 at 7:53

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