Plug in Water Heater

I have never seen an electric water heater installed with a electrical plug. Any issues with doing this?

Saw one today. I don’t think there are any issues associated with it as long as it’s wired properly. Generally speaking they’re not though because homeowners don’t use BX

All of the electric water heaters in my area are plug-in units. That satisfies the “disconnect within sight” rule.

Thanks guys. BTW, nice to see you back RR.

Did I go somewhere that I don’t know about? :shock:

Same thing here in mid Texas. All electric water heaters are plung in type…

Also it gets away from the “Protected Wiring” Issue – same with garbage grinders

Why do I think that this is wrong — Plug in everything - AC - Furnace - lights - etc. Nothing hard wired

Did not I understand somewhere that if something is a fixed type of install that it should be hard wired with the exception of garbage grinders - garage door openers - built in MW ovens – (but not built in ovens) or range tops (Remember that a blower motor on a gas furnace draws less than an electric cloths dryer or a hot tub - Hot tub - plug = GFCI - hard wired = no GFCI)

Remember they all work and I see no technical issue with any of this but what is correct and why?

Where have I gone wrong I just do not understand??

Paul help

Now you know why I have a problem with the NEC - Just hard for us in the field to understand


PS – Paul - like my hot stick check system? – BTW if I touch my screen door with my hot stick it goes off. Should I not open the door without rubber gloves or call my wife to open it and greet me with “GREETINGS” or something


“Disconnect within sight” applies to water heaters?

In some states, yes. Ditto with furnaces and cooling condensers. We have plug in furnaces here, as well, gas and electric.

Peter, did you notice if there was an invisible armour cable protecting the electrical wire? And, also, we note that it is well supported as this helps to protect it from mechanical damage.
Most likely a home owner install.


Unless specifically stated by manufacturers manual, a storage type water heater can’t be cord and plug connected (per NEC). If it is allowed (most are not), it must be the correct type of flexible cable and plug (listed for that application).

I am from an area where plug in water heaters are not common. I was under the belief that water heaters were considered an appurtenance rather than an appliance. It seems like a term for lawyers to use, since after doing some research the definition of appurtenance is very vague. They refer to it as such in the Minnesota plumbing code. Apparently there is no clear distinction between appliance and appurtenance in the NEC.

I agree the picture simply looks wrong. I also agree with the comment about the manufacturer not allowing this sort of installation and if it does, use the “correct type of flexible cable and plug”. Since I’ve never encountered this type of installation, i’m not sure what the correct cord should look like. If anyone could post a picture of an armored cord that can be plugged in, I would like to see it.

Just a follow up. I know this is an electrical code issue but I always thought there was a difference between an appliance and an appurtenance. I had to look it up. The difference between an appliance and appurtenance was as follows according to the Minnesota plumbing code 4715.0100 (pasted below). In terms of plumbing, I always thought an appliance referred to a device that discharged water as part of its normal operation.

Subp. 78. Plumbing appurtenance. “Plumbing appurtenance” means a manufactured device, or a prefabricated assembly, or an on-the-job assembly of component parts, and which is an adjunct to the basic piping system and plumbing fixtures. An appurtenance demands no additional water supply, nor does it add any discharge load to a fixture or the drainage system. It is presumed that it performs some useful function in the operation, maintenance, servicing, economy, or safety of the plumbing system.

Subp. 77. Plumbing appliance. “Plumbing appliance” means any one of a special class of
plumbing fixture which is intended to perform a special function. Its operation and/or control may be dependent upon one or more energized components, such as motors, controls, heating elements, or pressure or temperature-sensing elements. Such fixtures may operate automatically through one or more of the following actions: a time cycle, a temperature range, a pressure range, a measured volume or weight, or the fixture may be manually adjusted or controlled by the user or operator.

Never seen a cord here but I’ve seen them on spas. They need more coupling on that ,what appears to be PVC, T&P pipe.