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Thread: Choosing Electric Space Heater for Emergency.

  1. #1
    DIY Senior Member molo's Avatar
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    Default Choosing Electric Space Heater for Emergency.

    Hello,
    I know that electric space heaters are sometimes the cause of electrical problems (breakers/fuses tripping, parts of the circuit overheating, heater overheating because of poor design/materials, etc). However, I am trying to select heaters to use while we wait for service in the event that the primary heat source goes out.

    1. How should I size the heater to be sure that it won't overheat the circuit or trip breakers?

    2. Are there any brands that are know to be good or bad?

    Thanks in advance!
    "Any American who is prepared to run for President should automatically, by definition, be disqualified from ever doing so."
    Gore Vidal.

  2. #2
    DIY Junior Member Glennsparky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by molo View Post
    1. How should I size the heater to be sure that it won't overheat the circuit or trip breakers?
    For 120V circuits, 1440 Watts will max out a 15A breaker. 1920 Watts will max out a 20A breaker.

    You have to add up the heater watts and the watts of anything else plugged into that circuit.

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    Licensed Electrical Contractor Speedy Petey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glennsparky View Post
    For 120V circuits, 1440 Watts will max out a 15A breaker. 1920 Watts will max out a 20A breaker.
    This is not true at all. Why do folks insist on perpetuating this MYTH???

    1800 for 15A. 2400 for 20A.
    Continuous loads follow certain rules for circuit loading. A portable space heater is not considered a continuous load.

    I am no fan of space heaters. They cause more problems and fires than I care to know, but come on, facts are facts.
    Last edited by Speedy Petey; 11-14-2013 at 03:49 AM.

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    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    I like the cheap Walmart Lakewood.

    They are small and have a 750W and a 1500W setting.

    I have a few in use and always use the 750 Watt setting.

    1500 Watts is not safe for long periods.


    Have Fun.
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    DIY Senior Member BobL43's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonL View Post
    I like the cheap Walmart Lakewood.

    They are small and have a 750W and a 1500W setting.

    I have a few in use and always use the 750 Watt setting.

    1500 Watts is not safe for long periods.


    Have Fun.
    Long periods are not safe, and never fun. Sorry Don, had to say that.
    I am definitely not a pro plumber, but I am a pro crastinator

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    In the trades Dana's Avatar
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    The little oil filled finned radiator types (DeLongi, and others) are quieter and safer from a fire-hazard point of than anything with a blower or radiant-reflector. Many/most come with dual elements a 600W and a 900W separately swichable, so you can have it pulling only 600W OR 900W if you don't think the circuit can handle 1500W), and an adjustable on-board thermostat to limit the surface temp of the unit. Shop around, and can usually find a pretty good one for under $50.


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    DIY Senior Member Reach4's Avatar
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    While they are not space heaters, infrared heaters can make you more comfortable for fewer watts. The infrared produced turns to heat when it hits your skin or clothes (or anything else). So if it points to your sitting position, you can be comfortable with a lower air temperature. They will still heat the room as as well as a regular heater for a given power, but the infrared will make you feel warmer for the same watts.

  8. #8
    Sprinkler Guy Wet_Boots's Avatar
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    the Pelonis Disc Heaters were always touted for their safety, being that their thermistor heating elements never got fire-starting hot

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    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
    This is not true at all. Why do folks insist on perpetuating this MYTH???

    1800 for 15A. 2400 for 20A.
    Continuous loads follow certain rules for circuit loading. A portable space heater is not considered a continuous load.

    I am no fan of space heaters. They cause more problems and fires than I care to know, but come on, facts are facts.


    Why do you need to confuse things with the facts ?


    People do operate them at 100% load when they get cold.
    Theory only works perfect in a vacuum.

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    Sprinkler Guy Wet_Boots's Avatar
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    It is kinda interesting/significant that these things seem to max out at 1500 watts, which is just a hair away from 80 percent of a 15 amp load.

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    DIY Junior Member Glennsparky's Avatar
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    Thank You, DonL.

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    Licensed Electrical Contractor Speedy Petey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonL View Post
    Why do you need to confuse things with the facts ?


    People do operate them at 100% load when they get cold.
    What's confusing?
    And what does "100% load" have to do with it?

  13. #13
    Licensed Electrical Contractor Speedy Petey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glennsparky View Post
    For 120V circuits, 1440 Watts will max out a 15A breaker. 1920 Watts will max out a 20A breaker.
    Please tell me where I can find this in the NEC. Thanks.

  14. #14
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
    What's confusing?
    And what does "100% load" have to do with it?

    Nothing really.

    You are correct for the circuit being able to handle the load. The Line cord and plug won't last long.

    My 100% was about how people Put the heater on High, Blow and Go 100 percent of the time.

    Just because a Microwave Oven has 100% Power does not mean that you need to use it. Popcorn requires 100%.


    900 Watts is a good Max for what may be operating at 100 percent duty cycle and most likely is unsupervised.


    Just make sure to install a Smoke Detector near the heater and have 911 in quick dial to operate the 1500 Watt mode.
    Theory only works perfect in a vacuum.

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  15. #15
    DIY Junior Member Glennsparky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
    Please tell me where I can find this in the NEC. Thanks.
    Since the OP said "emergency" and "primary heat" failure, I could only imagine that the space heaters would be on the highest setting all night. Then I thought about how many back stabs the circuit might have gone through. As such, I only felt comfortable with numbers that reflected all loads being continuous.

    I admit to cowardice and cutting corners on my answer and I throw myself on the mercy of the court.

    But I still side with DonL's posts.
    Last edited by Glennsparky; 11-15-2013 at 10:01 PM.

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