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Portable Heaters – Cold Weather is Here!

By: Jim Simmons, Mr. Electric

Portable heaters (any heater that plugs into an outlet) are wonderful things. They can keep us warm and increase our comfort, but they can also be dangerous.

More than 25,000 residential fires and 300 deaths are associated with the use of portable space heaters every year. (Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission). As an electrical contractor, one of our jobs is to repair wiring in homes and businesses that have been damaged.

In many instances in the winter months we find wiring that has been damaged by overloading it with portable heaters. Most homes have electrical wiring for outlets and lights that is rated at 15 amps. A standard 15 amp general circuit will have a combination of 10 – 20 lights and outlets which will serve TV’s, lights, computers, exhaust fans and similar items. A typical portable heater uses 1500 watts or 12.5 amps (the heater nameplate has this information). When you connect a portable heater rated at 12.5 amps to a circuit that is designed to handle 15 amps maximum, the problem is easy to see. You can easily overload the typical electrical wiring in your home if a few lights, TV’s, computers or other electrical appliances are turned on at the same time that you are running a portable heater.

Companies like; Ednepure, Heat Surge, Amish Heaters, and many others spend a lot of money to convince you that you can save money with their heaters. The truth is all portable heaters basically work the same and can save you money. But the savings come from heating a smaller area, not the heater itself.

You should always use the original heating system that was installed in your home. If it is not working properly, get it repaired. If it is not efficient have it replaced.

Remember portable heaters should never be used as permanent heat sources unless they are connected to a dedicated circuit (an outlet with nothing else on the circuit). They can, and in many cases will cause damage to your electrical system and will possibly cause a fire. If you are using portable heaters to heat your home – please stop! Be safe! Don’t cause a fire!

To find out how we can help keep you safe and warm this winter, give Mr. Electric a call at 360.705.4225. 