Steibel Eltron Tempra Water Heater Failure

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Chrisfol82

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I have a Steibel Eltron Tempra 24 electric on demand water heater. It has always worked well when it has worked but I have had three failures now. Each seems to have been the same and related to when I have had a power outage. I have had many power outages with no problem to the unit but three times now it seems that either when the power went out, or back on the circuit board has fried, the unit has let a good bit of smoke out and there are black burn marks on the inside of the unit. I had one replaced under warranty and had sent one back for repair. I have the repaired unit at home still as a back up but I'm worried about why this continues to happen.

Could it be related to a power surge, or a low voltage to the unit causing damage when the power went out? In all the reviews for these units I haven't come across another failure like this. I would think they would have some type of surge protection and/or voltage protection on the circuit board.

I went to an on demand to save space in my utility area, but I'm considering switching back to a tank unit as this seems like a fire hazard.

It is installed professionally per the instructions.
 

Fitter30

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Previous failures have the elements been replaced? How have the contactores looked? Has the heater been cleaned with vinegar once a year? Whole house surge protector should help. Some utility companys offer one for sale or rent. Wiring aluminum or copper if aluminum a diaelectric compound should used at power connections.
 
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Chrisfol82

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The elements were replaced in the repaired unit, the heater was never in for much over a year before it failed so i never got to cleaning it with vinegar but i do have the hookups for circulating it through to clean. It is copper wire, the connections all look fine, its all dirty smoke residue from the circuit board. I would have thought a unit like this would have some sort of surge protection built in to deal with power fluctuations.

Every time it has failed has been when there wasn't actually demand for hot water either, just when the power went on or off during an outage.

Im just at a loss for what would cause this. Would whole house surge protection protect it? I guess im hesitant to install that when im not sure if that would solve the problem since i don't really know the cause of the problem.
 

John Gayewski

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I have a Steibel Eltron Tempra 24 electric on demand water heater. It has always worked well when it has worked but I have had three failures now. Each seems to have been the same and related to when I have had a power outage. I have had many power outages with no problem to the unit but three times now it seems that either when the power went out, or back on the circuit board has fried, the unit has let a good bit of smoke out and there are black burn marks on the inside of the unit. I had one replaced under warranty and had sent one back for repair. I have the repaired unit at home still as a back up but I'm worried about why this continues to happen.

Could it be related to a power surge, or a low voltage to the unit causing damage when the power went out? In all the reviews for these units I haven't come across another failure like this. I would think they would have some type of surge protection and/or voltage protection on the circuit board.

I went to an on demand to save space in my utility area, but I'm considering switching back to a tank unit as this seems like a fire hazard.

It is installed professionally per the instructions.
Tankless water heaters are very sensitive. Even sharing an outlet on a gas fired unit can cause error codes or the board itself to go bad. So as far as a fully electric tankless I don't have much experience, but the boards I'm sure are similar. So yes this is a thing. Yet another reason I'm not into the tankless revolution.

There are surge protectors for this type of thing, but if the power going out is a common thing for you I'd look into heating your water another way.
 

Fitter30

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Go to dslreports.com then home improvements

[Plumbing] Trouble with Stiebel Eltron water heater​

Good article on the heater and failures. For some reason won't let me copy the link.
 
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Chrisfol82

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Thanks, read through the thread, seems like a completely different failure than mine. I took it apart today and there are 6 capacitors on the board, all of which were completely burned up. Looks like they were really the only component that went bad. I had a spare unit that i had sent back for repair last time this happened so i installed the rebuilt one today and its working.

On a side note i noticed today that my electric fence charger (cattle fence) had blown fuses, likely related to the same power outage event. Last time the heater went bad the fence charger had also blown its fuses. So i think it was something electrical supply related. Note that the fence charger is off a separate service feeding power to a barn with a separate meter. Thats cheap though and new fuses have always fixed it.

Seems like something like this should have some kind of internal fuses for the circuit board part of the electronics to protect it. Out of all the electronic devices in my house this is the only one that has repeated failure of electrical components like that.

I did install a whole house surge protector today when i put the new water heater in. I'm not convinced that it will help as i'm not really sure what the root cause of the problem is that keeps causing the same failure. But it sounds like a better idea than trying nothing and hoping it doesn't happen again.

If it happens again i guess ill do some rearranging in my utility closet and fit a tank unit in there. I originally went to the tankless because i installed a water softener and i needed a new water heater anyways, and it would have been very tight with a tank in there along with the water softener and pressure tank.

I also contacted the electric company to see if they would reimburse for damaged equipment, well see if that goes anywhere.
 

Bingow

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@Chrisfol82 your tight space problem sounds similar to mine. I had to have access to the back of our small utility closet, so when I upgraded to a Navien tankless to gain space and from a cabinet style softener to a twin tank softener plus its salt tank (18" dia x 33" high), I mounted the salt tank on a heavy duty castered base. That allowed me to pull the salt tank out for easier reloading or to temporaly gain the access needed.
 

Fitter30

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Is there by chance that the heater has any heat sinks on the back or air flow holes for cooling? Being in a tight closet board could overheat.
 
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