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Off peak timer question

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  1. #1
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    Default Off peak timer question

    Not sure if this should be plumbing or electrical but here goes anyway. We recently moved house into a mid 60's 4 bed, the HWS is gravity fed 250lt in the roof space connected through an off peak timer. The power was off for about 2 weeks before we moved in, we had the power turned on the day before so we could have hot water, I called a plumber I know and asked about the off peak timer, "does it need to be reset due to the power being off" was told no it will reset itself. We moved in and had hot water no problem.
    I had occaison to look at the timer today and it does not look like it is smart enough to reset itself, it looks like pure 50's technology with a black knob in the middle that I assume needs to be loosened to set the time of day.
    If it is not set to the correct time are we paying peak rates for the HWS power ?
    How does the power company know even know if the timer is set to the correct time of day ? the timer comes on, element heats the water, the off peak meter registers, the timer switches off.
    The timer looks easy enough to set for the correct time of day except that there are lead seals on the front that would need to be broken. Who is allowed to set the time of day on these things, it looks like it needs resetting every time there is a power failure

  2. #2
    Slow but rough Uncle Bob's Avatar
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    Off peak power doesn't work by having a timer at your house, the power company turns it on and off by sending a signal thru the power lines. This signal sometimes can be heard in motors such as ceiling fans.

    Google "ripple relay" for more details.

  3. #3
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    If it's got lead seals on it, it sounds more like a meter than a timer. If so, it will have a few small dials (4 or 5 from memory) underneath a flat wheel which spins on a horizontal axis like a 'lazy susan'. Any chance you can post a photo up, it will help to identify it.
    All the best,
    Steve.

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    Yep photo's are the only way to solve this.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the prompt replies.

    It is a timer, there is no doubt. The power board has two meters (with dials and lazy susan type wheels) and a third bakelite device (about the same size as the meters) is labelled time switch wf-11, the dial is split into two sections, each with 12 major graduations one side is silver and the other side is black (am and pm) . Modern digital meters can be controlled with signals superimposed on the mains but this is 50's technology and is not smart enough to be turned on and off the same way.

  6. #6
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    Yes but we love to see what is still installed.

    In Queensland we never had some of the gear installed in other states and vice versa so if possible could you post a couple of photo's.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bros View Post
    Yes but we love to see what is still installed.

    In Queensland we never had some of the gear installed in other states and vice versa so if possible could you post a couple of photo's.

    Hi
    In those days timer swithes were used for off peak in QLD
    In those days blackouts were rare
    The relay system came in much later

    Yes, you would need to contact the supply authority.
    They may even consider changing to a relay

    PeterQ

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by familyguy View Post
    Thanks for the prompt replies.

    It is a timer, there is no doubt. The power board has two meters (with dials and lazy susan type wheels) and a third bakelite device (about the same size as the meters) is labelled time switch wf-11, the dial is split into two sections, each with 12 major graduations one side is silver and the other side is black (am and pm) . Modern digital meters can be controlled with signals superimposed on the mains but this is 50's technology and is not smart enough to be turned on and off the same way.
    We have a similar timer here, also made by WF (originally Warburton Franki) but maybe not identical - I think our one might be WF-12. The dial on ours has a red pointer for the current time, and then two silver pointers on the edge of the dial for the ON and OFF points.

    The current time setting on ours has never been exactly correct. It is now a couple of hours from reality, which could be partly because it never gets changed for daylight saving, but they don't seem to go out of their way to ensure accurate setting - perhaps they prefer having not all the switches turning on at exactly the same time.

    As far as I know, the one we have is actually driven by a spring - yep like an old wind-up clock, only difference is that the spring is somehow wound up electrically when the power is on. It certainly keeps running with the power off, but I have no idea how long it will keep going.

    Edit:
    To answer your question about paying peak-rate for your hot water: Power for the water heater goes through the off-peak meter, so I don't see that you will be paying at the wrong rate due to the clock being set to the wrong time. You would just get the off-peak rate at the wrong time time of day. Are you seeing off-peak usage on your bills?

    It could be a bit more complicated than that, because I understand that some heaters have two elements, one connected to the off-peak and a sort of booster connected to the peak. With that sort of set up, if the off-peak power was never on, then you would end up paying at the wrong rate.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle Bob View Post
    Off peak power doesn't work by having a timer at your house, the power company turns it on and off by sending a signal thru the power lines. This signal sometimes can be heard in motors such as ceiling fans.
    In Australia, Qld, NSW and ACT are the only places with this system. Everywhere else, including SA where the OP is, it's a timer and must be manually reset if there's a problem.

    As for making the adjustment, it is sealed to prevent tampering. By law, only the electricity distributor can adjust it. Give them a call. Since it's faulty, there should be no cost to you for this.

    Depending on the model, there's either a mechanical clockwork or a battery powered backup. Given the age, it would be the mechanical design. It will cope with any normal length power failure, the clock will keep turning, but not if the power is disconnected for an extended period.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf View Post
    In Australia, Qld, NSW and ACT are the only places with this system. Everywhere else, including SA where the OP is, it's a timer and must be manually reset if there's a problem.
    Well, there you go. You learn something everyday.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf View Post
    . . .
    As for making the adjustment, it is sealed to prevent tampering. By law, only the electricity distributor can adjust it. Give them a call. Since it's faulty, there should be no cost to you for this.
    Has it been established that it really is set to the incorrect time?

    Even if the power was off long enough for the clock to stop, it is not impossible that the power might have been restored at around the same time of day as the clock stopped. A long shot? Maybe, but I wouldn't expect any great accuracy at the best of times.

    In any event, having the clock set to the wrong time does not mean that you will definitely pay more than you should - it might not make much difference, or it might even be to your advantage. Just saying... how hard should you try to get it corrected after being told, as Familyguy was, "don't you worry about that"?

    Does the supplier even say when off-peak is? Our supplier does not - I wouldn't even know how many hours a day it is on for without figuring it out from the timer dial.

  12. #12
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    HI
    It certainly appears to be an off peak timer
    IF you have a seperate HOT WATER meter the timer simply keeps the HW heater from running during peak time.

    The meter cannot tell the time so your energy charge rate[ Cents per kWh] should not be affected.
    One problem YOU may have is cold/warm water in the morning, because the HW was not on overnight & heavy hot water use had occurred the previous evening


    PeterQ

  13. #13
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    Thanks for all the replies guys.
    I called the local supply authority and just my luck the call was answered by what sounded like a 19yr old girI, after 10 frustrating minutes listening to her say "if you have hot water what's the problem", I suggested they send someone out to check it, sure "I can book a service call for just $90" was the reply. Thank you but no thank you.
    On the weekend however I just happened to have a plumber over to discuss a new gas connection and I mentioned the off peak timer, he took one look, announced that it was way out, ripped off the seal and reset the time.

    The power company DON'T know if the timer is set correctly and it seems they don't care, the contractor that reconnected the power didn't bother to reset it and as the young girl said if you've got hot water then that's all that matters. The HWS power meter only registers power used and doesn't differentiate between peak and off peak, that's the job of the timer. As Ozcar says we were paying off peak rates at peak times simply because the timer was out. We haven't been here long enough to get a bill yet, but I'm sure this is the case. The HWS has only one element so there is no problem there. I'm not sure if my timer has a clockwork mechanism possibly it does, to cater for power outages.

    Who can reset it ? the plumber said they remove the seal all the time as needed, mostly to flick the on switch so customers don't have to wait until the next day for hot water. So it seems anyone can reset it. At the end of the day has it made any difference, probably not.

    There was no danger of running out of hot water, the combination of gravity fed and mixer tap meant a very meager shower, but over the weekend I fitted a flow activated booster pump, what a difference, decent showers again and wife can now rinse her hair properly.

  14. #14
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    Interesting that the power company doesn't seem to care. It's in their interest after all to not have off-peak hot water switched on in the middle of the day - that's the whole point of having off-peak in the first place.

    You've "done the right thing" by having it reset. Less load on the network but more importantly it means you're not contributing (for water heating at least) to the running of inefficient (fuel guzzling) peak load power generation. So it's a bit better environmentally and in terms of resource use. The higher load at night helps make use of wind energy (which is a major source in SA) and avoids the need to constantly shut down and restart the next day the gas-fired steam units and reduces the use of open cycle gas turbines (hugely inefficient use of fuel). One water heater won't change the world of course, but you've done the right thing.

    Here in Tasmania, if a plumber removed the seals then they'd be almost shot for doing so. An electrician with a metering license can do it, but they must notify the distributor who will then come out to re-seal the meter. Suffice to say that they don't like time switch seals being removed just to test that the water heater (or space heater etc) is working - there needs to be a legitimate reason for it.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf View Post
    Interesting that the power company doesn't seem to care. It's in their interest after all to not have off-peak hot water switched on in the middle of the day - that's the whole point of having off-peak in the first place.

    You've "done the right thing" by having it reset. Less load on the network but more importantly it means you're not contributing (for water heating at least) to the running of inefficient (fuel guzzling) peak load power generation. So it's a bit better environmentally and in terms of resource use. The higher load at night helps make use of wind energy (which is a major source in SA) and avoids the need to constantly shut down and restart the next day the gas-fired steam units and reduces the use of open cycle gas turbines (hugely inefficient use of fuel). One water heater won't change the world of course, but you've done the right thing.
    Yes,you are right about this but somehow the greenies got into our politicians heads and decided that it is better for us to run off-peak water heating into the peak load zone by legislating the removal of fast heating element heaters, with environmentally unfriendly to manufacture slow heating heat pumps.

  16. #16
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    It's technically quite possible to build a heat pump water heater that works nicely on off-peak supply. I have such a system running quite nicely to supply all my household hot water.

    Unfortunately, certain well known manufacturers decided to sell heat pumps that don't work on off-peak, and most of the time don't work at all, thus ruining the public's perception of what can be a good technology if done properly.

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