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  1. #1
    Thailand Expat
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    Thailand - Electric Showers - Water Heaters

    Water and Electric for some reason don't mix too well, actually quite a few Thais in Pattaya have died from badly installed shower heaters, not sure if any farangs have but wouldn't be suprised, now generally these accidents are caused by really crap wiring, ie no earth and stuff like that, so this shower is quite a classic example of what not to allow when you get your water heaters fitted.

    In the picture you can see the shower head is actually above the water heating unit, it is about 15 cms away from it, the heater doesn't contain an earth leakage breaker as it is a cheap 3.5kw 2,000baht jobby, although 3.5kw is enough for most of the year and when it gets really cold just let it run for a couple of minutes or turn down the tap a little bit so less water passes through the heating element, also there are only 2 cables going into the unit, neither of these are green they goto a normal breaker which is by the door on the inside of the bathroom, its a wet floor bathroom

    Obviously the shower heaters are splash proof to a certain degree, but this is just way too close even if it was earthed, when the shower is on the water is going over the casing all the time



    Here is a better shower unit, it is 3.5kw but does have an earth leakage breaker, costs less than 3,000baht and you stand a greater chance of coming out of your shower alive, which is always quite handy.



    Also the mains breaker is just outside the bathroom door.

    This picture shows that the water heater is well away from the shower head and will rarely if ever get splashes on it.



    With the earth leakage breakers you are supposed to check them periodically, doubt many people do, so make sure it has a hard wired earth aswell.

  2. #2
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    Good post Dirtydog on a much overlooked hazard here. I was badly shocked at a Jomtien Massage place last year by one of these when my forehead brushed against a metal pipe leading into the unit while I was showering. Was lucky, ended up on the floor on the other side of the bathroom more angry than hurt. How can someone tell if theirs is earth grounded? Thank you.

  3. #3
    Member tuktukdriver's Avatar
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    What do you look for? More than two wires leaving the unit?

  4. #4
    Guest Member S Landreth's Avatar
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    Good thread!

    The first time I saw one of these water heaters was when I visited Thailand and thought to myself,…..What the F! This isn’t safe!

    Never been shocked, thank goodness. But every time I flip the switch on to one of these heaters,……I wonder.


  5. #5
    watterinja
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    Excellent thread.

    I wonder if Thailand covers the installation & operation of these devices in some sort of building code? If not, are there suitable alternative standards that could be used?

  6. #6
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    Really good thread containing important info, nice going, DD.

    I wonder if the deaths of American soldiers in showers in Iraq due to faulty wiring installed by that most patriotic of companies, KBR, were caused by these kinds of heaters:
    Wonk Room » The KBR Disaster In Iraq
    The sad story of Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth, a Green Beret, really tells it all. He was electrocuted as he showered in a shower stall on a U.S. military base. His mother was told he was electrocuted because he carried an electrical appliance into the shower. She refused to accept that explanation and forced an investigation which determined that the real cause of Sgt. Maseth’s electrocution was faulty electrical wiring.
    “You can lead a horticulture but you can’t make her think.” Dorothy Parker

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by tuktukdriver View Post
    What do you look for? More than two wires leaving the unit?
    no dead body on the floor is good

    I remember a guest house in Laos where the shower unit was a little old, and the wiring was totally exposed with a breaker that a museum would pay a fortune for

    It even sparked and arced during use, eventually giving off a slight burning aroma

    I only used it once
    I have reported your post

  8. #8
    Thailand Expat
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    Actually another thing which I have seen quite often is the valves on the cheap ones similar to the first picture are installed on the wrong side of the shower unit, these shower units work on pressure, ie when there is water pressure it flips a pressure switch to turn on the heating element, there should only be pressure when the valve is turned on, so this needs to be on the feed side of the shower, not the outlet side, normally if it is on the outlet side the heating element stays on and eventually the whole unit becomes a molten mass of burnt plastic.

  9. #9
    or TizYou?
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    Quote Originally Posted by watterinja
    building code

  10. #10
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    Is there a standard 'feed in side' of the unit? right or left? I had a new one installed and it wasn't working that well so got the landlord to send someone back to look at it. Chap said it was back to front (the water inlet) the guy that put it in was the plumber, electrician, carpenter, jack of all trades master of none. Now the light comes on the unit when I turn the water on, so seems O.K. I'm a sparky by trade and I am constantly amazed by 'who gives a fek, it's sorta working' LABOURERS.
    We know when they have messed up the plumbing as you will see the water leaking, but with electricity?????????

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by isdatu
    We know when they have messed up the plumbing as you will see the water leaking, but with electricity?????????
    even easier, but it hurts more

  12. #12
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    They are all shite DD and I only use Solar Panel heated water to service my houses.

    These wall mounted electric heating units burn out regularly and are a fvcking eye-sore apart from the fact they are dangerous when not fitted correctly.

  13. #13
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    Sadly most farangs coming to Thailand don't get to stay at your houses loytoy, they stay in hotels with shower units just like these
    Actually I use these in my place, they are all over 7 years old and work fine.

  14. #14
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    Attention to detail, like polarity and grounding is not one of the Thai's good qualities. The first time I saw one of these was when I went to London in the 1990's, but I was not as concerned there about whether it was properly installed.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loy Toy
    They are all shite DD and I only use Solar Panel heated water to service my houses. These wall mounted electric heating units burn out regularly and are a fvcking eye-sore apart from the fact they are dangerous when not fitted correctly.
    I would definitely agree Solar heating is better but the electric heaters I have used previously all worked fine for a long time, still do. I did need a service engineer round one time, and it cost B200 to fix

    However, they are Japanese. The Thai made ones are as bad as their cheap kettles etc, dangerous and break down quickly

  16. #16
    watterinja
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    Use the Steibel-Eltron brand - they are well-made.

    .:Welcome to Stiebel Eltron :. The water heater Germans love most

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrAndy
    However, they are Japanese. The Thai made ones are as bad as their cheap kettles etc, dangerous and break down quickly
    Exactly and when you start adding up 5 or 6 imported or top quality Japanese water heaters, and although they do a good job and are mostly reliable there is not a lot of investment difference when considering one medium sized solar panel.

    Not to mention the savings in electricity you will find the payback is very quick.

    Just the look of them hanging on the walls in a nicely tiled bathroom makes me want to vomit.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loy Toy
    Just the look of them hanging on the walls in a nicely tiled bathroom makes me want to vomit.
    luckily it is tiled then

  19. #19
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    Would one medium sized solar panel be enough for a 5 or 6 bathroom place?

  20. #20
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    ^ I run a medium sized unit which from memory cost me 60 odd thousand baht fitted and we ran 3/4/5 bathrooms, the kitchen and laundry and never had a problem.

    Always had boiling hot water and the savings re; electricity is noticeable.

    I have also purchased wall mounted water heaters that cost up too and over 10,000 Baht each fitted in other houses.

    On the larger house we have 5 bedrooms, 2 kitchens and large laundrey and have 2 Thai made solar units which cost 80k and have operated without problem for the last 6 years. One services upstairs and the other downstairs.

    Really there is no comparison as far as I am concerned regarding intitial investment and later on return on investment as well we get hot water we could boil an egg in.

  21. #21
    Thailand Expat
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    This thread really isn't about different ways to get hot water, it is about electric shower heaters and thats about it, most expats rent or lease properties that are already built so don't have the option of getting solar water heaters installed, ie smashing out everything to run copper pipes from the roofs to the bathrooms and that.

    Next thread will be about electric bath water heaters and sink water heaters

  22. #22
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    Fairly nuff mate!

    It's your show, carry on and I can't wait for the kitchen sink water heater thread!

  23. #23
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    Bath and sink water heaters are generally one and the same beast, ie they work on water flow where as shower units turn on when there is water pressue, can't find any exciting pictures of bath water heaters at the moment on my hard drives

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by tuktukdriver View Post
    What do you look for? More than two wires leaving the unit?
    It doesn't matter how many wires you see. In Thailand, a third wire may well connect to nothing or connect to a rawl plug in concrete. This is NOT an earth.

    Quote Originally Posted by watterinja View Post
    Excellent thread.

    I wonder if Thailand covers the installation & operation of these devices in some sort of building code? If not, are there suitable alternative standards that could be used?
    No. Thai Standards do not have any installation requirements regarding domestic electrical items (I've searched them high & low) & as well as that, there are no standards for domestic installations. There are standards on certain products but these standards do not relate to the installation of such products.

    In a country such as Thailand, it bewilders me why people bother to buy hot water heaters when solar power is not only abundant but also incredibly cheap. I have a friend in Klaeng (between Rayong & Chantaburi) & he lazily insists upon using hot water heaters. Why? Because he thinks that he won't save much at all. I've tried explaining to him that he will pay NOTHING for hot water (& I mean HOT water...60 degrees plus), if he goes solar.

    The "built-in" earth leakage breaker for these hot water units cannot be seen. What type of RCB is it? What is it's trip time? What is the trip current?
    I would never trust a "built-in" RCD. On the other hand, I would spend the money & have a proper RCD unit installed just for that particular heating unit. This device needs to have the following;

    a] a trip time of no more than 20mS (20 milli seconds).
    b] a maximum trip current of 30 mA (30 milli amps).

    These things should NOT be adjustable.

    An earth wire is good but an RCD is better.

    Just remember, an RCD (an earth leakage device) is NOT the ultimate protection. The ULTIMATE protection is to have your whole installation properly earthed AND use RCD's.

    I'll post some pictures of things soon.
    Oh for fucks sake! Get a life & stop trying to fuck mine up!

  25. #25
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    I don't like the earth leakage breakers in the shower units, nobody ever checks them to see if they will work, they are in an area of soap and shampoo, it wouldn't take much build up of soap or shampoo to block the breaker from being able to trip, only got to look how much congealed soap collects in your soap dish each week and what a pain it is to clean out, shower unit up for 10 years is gonna collect some.

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