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# Space heater trips the circuit breaker

## Space heater trips the circuit breaker

#1
11-04-13, 07:35 PM
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Space heater trips the circuit breaker

In this house both bedroom are in one 15 amp circuit so whenever we turn on space heater (1500 watts) it trips...and I understand why...it trips because load is too much 12.5 plus 12.5 on 15 amp circuit...

now both bedroom has a baseboard heater one in each room...

these baseboard heaters are connected to double pole 20 amp ciricuit breakers so if am not wrong they are 40 amp total...and these baseboard heaters are also 1500 watts but they are 208/240v.

so in my understanding baseboard heaters does not need this big circuit breakers ...so how can I divert one of the room outlets (which includes space heater) to this double pole 20 amp circuit?

Hope am clear and not confusing in my question...

#2
11-04-13, 07:48 PM
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A little confusing.

The double breaker is actually called a two pole breaker and supplies 240vac.
It's still 20amps.... not 40. It's 20amps at 240vac.

Each 1500 watt 240v baseboard is roughly 6 amps. So two on a 20A circuit is good.

Now...... if you have two new baseboard heaters there running on 240v.... why is another one still on the 120v receptacle circuit ?

#3
11-04-13, 08:06 PM
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No...actually we want to use space heaters as ...baseboard heaters are not that efficient(WE DONT WANT TO USE BASEBOARD HEATERS AT ALL)......but problem is ...sometimes we want to turn on both space heaters ...one in each bedroom but they are in 15 amp circuit ...so it trips the breaker...

and I have no nearby circuit that I can add one of heater (receptable where space heater is attached) in to that circuit so I was thinking if I can add this heater in to that baseboard heater circuit (20 amp double pole) ..
You are right that double pole circuit breaker is is for 240 v and this space heater is only 120V...

so please advice what is the solution so I can turn on both space heaters at same time??
even if I change that breaker to 20amp ..its not enough...as both space heater running at full 1500 watts will draw about 25 amp...so...

#4
11-04-13, 08:18 PM
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You don't want to increase the breaker size. The wire is limited to 15 amps and will overheat if a larger breaker is used to protect it.

Ok....so you have a 240v circuit that you would like to use. The only way to do it would be to disconnect those baseboard heaters and if there was enough wire, install standard duplex receptacles in place. Then you would have to remove the two pole breaker and install a single 20A breaker converting the circuit to 120v. The job is do-able. May require an electrician.

Is it possible to run a new circuit to one of the rooms ?

#5
11-04-13, 08:23 PM
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Well, it is possible to run a new circuit ( I guess) but am not electrician so was trying to find an easier solution.

We are done with baseboard heaters...so I can disconnect them as you advised.
But what about wire size???...in this baseboard heat circuit is 240v and has 20 amp circuit breaker so I am guessing wire size will also be different ...now if I put std. duplex receptacle and connect 120v heater....does not it need corresponding wire???

#6
11-04-13, 08:31 PM
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If those baseboard heaters are currently on a 20A breaker then you should find #12 wire feeding them.

#7
11-04-13, 08:33 PM
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Electric Heaters

It is obvious that your 1500watt heaters will not work on your existing circuits. There are some flat panel electric space heaters that are wall mounted 600watts and operate on 120V and will heat about 320sqft. I would look at using this type of heater in both rooms. The other option would be to remove the baseboard heaters and change the 20/2 breaker to a 20/1 and installing a receptacle for one of your 1500watt heaters and then using a flat panel heater in the other room. Of course all this depends on the size of your rooms. The flat panel style heater may be more efficient than the 1500 watt heaters you are using now.

#8
11-04-13, 08:39 PM
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So is it ok to connect std. duplex receptacle to this #12 wire and than connect 120v space heater to it?
No. 12 wire is not too big for 120v circuit at 1500 watts?

#9
11-04-13, 08:42 PM
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The #12 wire is larger than you need and will work fine for that heater.

#10
11-04-13, 08:45 PM
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No. 12 wire is not too big for 120v circuit at 1500 watts?
Wire can be too small but never too large. (Might be hard to connect past a certain size but not wrong.)

#11
11-04-13, 09:16 PM
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Larger wire than required is ok?

You mentioned #12 will be larger than my need for 15A circuit (for 120V heater) ...just making sure that will not cause any problem like starting a fire from heater because circuit did not trip in time?

#12
11-04-13, 09:50 PM
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just making sure that will not cause any problem like starting a fire from heater because circuit did not trip in time
That is opposite of how it works. The larger the wire the less likely it is to overheat. It is the circuit breaker that causes the circuit to trip. A 15 amp breaker will protect any wire #14 or larger (smaller the number the larger the diameter of the wire).

I'd suggest you buy the book Wiring Simplified so you can learn how electricity works. That will make your jobs safer and easier.

#13
11-04-13, 10:54 PM
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No...actually we want to use space heaters as ...baseboard heaters are not that efficient
Efficiency is about the same for both and both will probably be a lot more expensive then other forms of heat. Why do you think baseboard heaters aren't efficient?

#14
11-04-13, 11:55 PM
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Standard Receptacle??

By standard receptacle I assume you mean a 15amp duplex receptacle connected to your #12 circuit wiring. If you change you existing 20/2 circuit to a 20/1 circuit and install a Single Receptacle on that circuit, the receptacle must be rated 20amps. If you install a duplex receptacle on the 20/1 circuit then you can use a 15amp rated duplex receptacle. Since you know your using the receptacle for a 1500 watt heater you need to use a 20 amp receptacle because your heater load must be calculated at 125% which is slightly over 15amps and the reason the code allowes 15amp receptacles on a 20 amp circuit is because the code assumes there will be multiple loads on several receptacles unlike what you are doing with a single heater load at one location.

#15
11-05-13, 02:17 AM
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Since Ray already covered the efficiency of the heaters, I will add that you may want to look at better windows and insulation.. Electric is not getting any cheaper.

#16
11-05-13, 04:44 AM
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Almost all space heaters have low and high settings. The only difference is, it takes longer for a room to get warm using the low setting.

The low setting taxes the wiring far less than the high setting, especially at the receptacles. Plus, you may be able to run both heaters on the same circuit at the same time.

#17
11-05-13, 08:03 AM
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Thanks a lot guys....

We have decided not to use both space heaters....we will use space heater in one room like Rick suggested....and in other room we will use baseboard heater (this other room is small like 12x10 only....so that way we will enjoy space heater in our main bedroom and other room will have baseboard heat....no worries about tripping or fire etc...
I know now that space heater is far more riskier than baseboard and thats why we will use low setting..

Thanks a lot to all of you ...you guys are really helpful...I appreciate it.

By the way can any one suggest safest space heater out there in market...??

#18
11-05-13, 08:41 AM
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My pick is always gas. Cheap to run in many places and less likely to cause a fire. Electric space heaters can easily be moved to a spot close to cimbustacle materials or knocked over. For the latter there is a trip switch but it can fail. Even worse if not used on a dedicated circuit it can cause a fire in a room or unoccupied space other then where it is being used. Every receptacle and junction box between the heater and the breaker box is a place a fire can start. In older construction where wiring spiders out from ceiling light boxes I have seen them burn the wiring in the ceiling box for the room light.

#19
11-05-13, 08:55 AM
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What brand and/or model no. is safest space heater? Gas is not possible in our house....so ...

#20
11-05-13, 10:08 AM
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I know what you meant but with everything made in China who knows what a safe brand is.