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How To Stop a Space Heater From Tripping a Breaker (10 Tips)

Space heaters require a lot of electricity, which is one of the many reasons they can overload circuit breakers. If you have a portable heater that keeps tripping the breaker, it’s important to find a solution before using it again. A tripped breaker lets you know something’s wrong, so it shouldn’t be avoided or ignored.

To stop a space heater from tripping a breaker, follow this process:

  1. Check your space heater’s voltage requirements.
  2. Adjust the heater’s settings.
  3. Test the appliances in another room.
  4. Disconnect nearby devices on the same outlet.
  5. Replace the circuit breaker.
  6. Use the right type of fuse or circuit.
  7. Don’t use extension cords.
  8. Ensure the space heater doesn’t overheat.
  9. Check for signs of electrical damage.
  10. Keep the space heater on a stable surface.

In this post, we’ll provide step-by-step instructions to help you stop your circuit breaker from tripping every time you use a space heater. Remember, circuit breakers are designed for safety purposes, so it’s crucial that you find out what’s causing them to trip as quickly as possible.

1. Check Your Space Heater’s Voltage Requirements

Space heaters require a lot of electricity. If you use a 220v space heater on a 110v outlet, it’ll trip the breaker every time you use it. We recommend checking the outlet’s capabilities beforehand, but it’s never too late.

Your space heater might also be consuming too many watts. The outlet could be overloaded if it runs well over 1,000 watts per hour. All circuit breakers have a limit of watts and volts that they can handle before they blow or trip. If your space heater exceeds those limits, you’ll never be able to use it on that outlet.

Producing heat is quite energy-intensive. Your space heater will put a heavy strain on your circuit breaker if it’s not energy efficient. Check for low-voltage, low-BTU models if you don’t want to overload the outlet. These heaters are perfect for small spaces, including bedrooms and living rooms. Furthermore, they won’t demand more volts than your breaker can produce.

2. Adjust the Heater’s Settings

Almost all modern space heaters have numerous settings. You can cycle through them to lower its energy consumption, which prevents the heating from overwhelming the circuit breaker. Reducing the settings will also save energy usage, which lowers your monthly utility bill. Below, you’ll find a handful of suggestions to change your space heater’s settings.

  • HVAC Guides recommends keeping your space heater on the lowest heat possible. It might take longer to increase the room’s temperature, but you won’t have to worry about tripping the breaker.
  • Adjust the heater’s fan modes (if applicable). A higher fan speed will spread the heater quicker, but it demands more watts from the breaker. This process increases the odds of blowing a fuse.
  • Place a small fan in front of the space heater. This helpful tip will spread the heat much quicker, lowering the voltage and wattage consumed by the space heater. It’ll also stop the breaker from overloading.
  • Use built-in timers to run the heater when it’s needed, not throughout the day. If your space heater runs while other appliances are at their peak energy usage, it can trip multiple breakers.
  • Consider turning off the oscillation modes. While they’re quite beneficial, these low-energy settings can demand just enough electricity to cause fuse and circuit breaker issues.

Another suggestion is to close nearby doors and windows until you’re done using the heater. This will allow you to run the space heater at a lower setting (preventing it from tripping the breaker) without sacrificing your comfort.

3. Test the Appliance in Another Room

If your space heater keeps tripping the breaker in a room, try another outlet in a different space. This method might seem tedious, but it’ll help you diagnose if one of these issues is present:

  • If the space heater works on another outlet, the previous outlet could be faulty and needs to be replaced.
  • If the space heater works in one room and not the other, the circuit in the other room could be overloaded, faulty, or too low in voltage.

To replace the outlet, follow these instructions:

  1. Turn off the power at the circuit breaker.
  2. Unscrew the two screws holding the outlet to the wall.
  3. Disconnect and label the wires on the back of the outlet.
  4. Connect the old wires to the new outlet, then secure the new screws to mount the outlet to the wall.
  5. Turn on the circuit breaker and check if the space heater works.

If the circuit breaker is overloaded, it’s best to use the space heater in another room or limit the amount of electricity used by each outlet.

4. Disconnect Nearby Devices on the Same Outlet

Too many appliances can overload an outlet or circuit breaker. Reducing the outlet’s strain will prevent the breaker from tripping. Frye Electric Inc. shows why you shouldn’t use another plug on the same outlet as a space heater. Space heaters use a lot of electricity, so they typically don’t pair well with other plug-ins.

You could connect the other devices to another outlet using an extension cord, but space heaters should always have a dedicated outlet.

Keep in mind that many outlets run on the same circuit breaker. If you have too many high-energy appliances on one circuit, it’ll trip frequently. Check what your breakers are rated for before using space heaters with high wattage consumption.

5. Replace the Circuit Breaker

Replacing your circuit breaker only fixes the problem if it’s old or broken. You can’t add a new circuit breaker to the same space and hope it manages the electrical overload. Before replacing your circuit breaker, check if it should be 110v or 220. These specifications are crucial since using the wrong breaker can cause electrical issues for the whole house.

Here’s how you can replace the circuit breaker:

  1. Turn off the main electrical supply to the breaker box.
  2. Flip the breaker into the off position and wait for a few minutes to let the electricity discharge.
  3. Pull the circuit breaker out of the breaker box.
  4. Place the new like-for-like breaker where the old one was, ensuring each electrical node is covered and secured.
  5. While the breaker is switched off, turn on the main power supply.
  6. Turn on the breaker, then plug the space heater into the corresponding outlet.
  7. If it trips, there’s another issue going on; If it doesn’t, you’ve solved the problem.

Note: When choosing a circuit breaker, it’s essential to know the amps and volts. Check your old circuit breaker’s amps and volts to know what the new one should be. Multiply the volts by the amps to know how many watts the breaker can handle. This formula will let you know if the space heater is too demanding for the circuit breaker.

6. Use the Right Type of Fuse or Circuit

Lasko claims that choosing the wrong fuse or circuit breaker will make it almost impossible to use a space heater. These heaters are designed to pull a ton of watts, which means they need to be dedicated to a strong, reliable source of electricity. If you use the wrong type, you won’t be able to run the portable heater without tripping the breaker or blowing a fuse.

Here are the two types of circuit breakers:

General-Purpose Circuit Breakers

General-purpose circuit breakers are typically assigned to whole rooms, such as living rooms or bedrooms. They can handle a lot of low-wattage appliances from several sources. However, they’re not too useful when it comes to running a high-wattage appliance from one outlet. Using a heavy-duty space heater would trip most general-purpose circuit breakers.

Dedicated Circuit Breakers

Dedicated circuit breakers are used in places that usually have high-wattage appliances. You might find them in kitchens, laundry rooms, and some garages. These breakers and fuses can handle thousands of watts and 220 volts without tripping. They’re great for space heaters, but they’re often inconvenient in terms of placement.

Knowing which type of circuit breaker you have in each room will help you determine where the space heater should go. If you only have general-purpose circuit breakers, it’s important to dedicate the whole outlet to one appliance rather than several extra devices.

7. Don’t Use Extension Cords

Extension cords offer several advantages for most electrical devices, but they pose a few threats to space heaters. Using an extension cord could be the sole reason your breaker trips every time the space heater comes on. Furthermore, it can damage the space heater if it includes a few unwanted components discussed below.

So, why shouldn’t you use an extension cord with a space heater?

  • Extension cords often come with fuses and surge protectors that trip on accident. Space heaters use a lot of electricity immediately, which could trip the fuse since it assumes there’s a power surge. Extension cord fuses often trip when the fans, oscillation, and heat settings increase.
  • Many space heater manufacturers advise against using extension cords. Going against their recommendation could void the warranty. Look through the user’s manual before using extension cords, outlet splitters, and other connections that go between the space heater and the outlet.
  • Some extension cords reduce the electrical resistance, which lowers the power supply going to the space heater. The heater won’t perform as well as it should, causing it to trip the circuit breaker if it overheats.

8. Ensure the Space Heater Doesn’t Overheat

Circuit breakers trip or blow when there’s an electrical issue. There’s never a case of an accidental trip for no reason. If your space heater gets too warm, it’ll overheat and trip the breaker. Thankfully, this action prevents the space heater from causing electrical fires and other unwanted issues.

Consider these suggestions to prevent the space heater from overheating:

  • Keep your space heater at least 24 to 36 inches away from other furniture and walls. Many companies will provide distance recommendations to prevent the radiating heat from building up.
  • Consult the user’s manual to know how long you can run the space heater. Most heaters can’t operate 24/7. The ambient heat is too much for the motor, so it needs time to cool off. Consider turning off the heater every four to eight hours.
  • Don’t cover the space heater with anything. Blankets, sheets, and other items can overheat the space heater and cause the circuit breaker to trip. These items can also create unwanted fire hazards.

9. Check for Signs of Electrical Damage

If your circuit breaker trips every time you turn on the space heater, it’s a good idea to disconnect the heater and take it apart. Make sure you don’t disassemble the unit if the manufacturer states that it’ll void the warranty.

You can remove the outer screws and inspect the wires, motor, and plug. Look for burn marks, melted parts, severed wires, and anything else that might indicate electrical damage. If your space heater is internally damaged, there’s no doubt that it’ll trip the breaker or blow a fuse.

Finally, inspect the outlet and the circuit breaker. Do either of them look or smell burnt? Are the wires frayed or loose? These issues can signal the breaker to trip every time the outlet is used. The outlet might be the culprit instead of the space heater.

10. Keep the Space Heater on a Stable Surface

Unstable space heaters can trigger circuit breakers for many reasons. For example, a toppled space heater will overheat. The excess heat flows back into the unit, causing it to get too warm to function safely.

Another possibility is that the space heater could fall over and tug the outlet, creating an electrical arc. Electrical arcing is when there’s too much space between the plug’s prongs and the electricity from the outlet. An arc of electricity sparks the outlet and trips the breaker.

Many space heaters come with tip-over protection. If the heater is slightly tilted, the internal protection will turn off the heater and potentially trip the breaker. Bumping an unstable space heater can make it wobble enough to trigger this safety feature. When the protection activates, it can trip the breaker and reset the space heater until you flip the breaker off and on.

Author

  • Steve Rajeckas

    Steve Rajeckas is an HVAC hobbyist with an avid interest in learning innovative ways to keep rooms, buildings, and everything else at the optimal temperature. When he's not working on new posts for Temperature Master, he can be found reading books or exploring the outdoors.

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