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Electric baseboard heat wiring & location specifications:
Here we explain wiring sizes, ratings, fusing, and overcurrent protection for electric heaters and electric baseboards, followed by notes on the proper location for electric heating baseboards to avoid overheating or fires. Sketch at page top courtesy of Carson Dunlop.
Wiring and Overcurrent Protection for Electric Heating Systems
The wiring sizes and overcurrent protection for electric heat must be correct for fire safety, as Carson Dunlop's sketch demonstrates.
[Click to enlarge any image]
Special electrical wire used for electric heating circuits is coded with red or orange plastic exterior sheathing and contains internal conductors colored black (hot) and red (hot) as well as a ground wire.
The sketch at above right handles a common electric heat wiring detail where this special electric heating wire has not been used. Since usually our electric heaters are 240V and require two hot wires, it's common for an electrician to run conventional 12-2 NM plastic electrical cable or BX armored cable to the heater.
In order to avoid confusion during future electrical work, the white wire of the black-and-white wire pair is wrapped with black electrical tape wherever its ends are exposed for wiring connections. This tells future electricians that this is a "hot" wire, not a neutral wire.
Overcurrent protection for electric heat: Electric 240V heaters also should be powered from circuit breakers using a common trip tie or fuses that are linked together - (we don't want just one leg of the circuit to be turned off or to trip off in an emergency).
Electric Baseboard Heat Installation Safety Details
Here are some suggested safety details to avoid a fire from electric baseboard heat. Sketches courtesy of Carson Dunlop.
Fire Safety & Electric Baseboards or Other Fixed-in-Place Electric Heaters
Curtains, Drapes, Other combustibles: Don't locate curtains or drapes over or in front of electric heaters. Keep drapes and curtains at least 10" (some sources including CDA say 8") above electric baseboards, and at least 3" in front of them. The reason for the 1" floor clearance is also to allow air to circulate. Circulating air both helps the heat to enter the occupied space and it also helps prevent the curtain from becoming too hot.
Electrical receptacles: As we discussed at Electrical Outlet, how to install, we don't place electrical outlets over or too close to the ends of electric baseboard heaters. (Sketch above at right).
Thermal protection cutouts: For details about lectric baseboard heater overheating, UL Standards, & Safety Inspection using temperature monitoring equipment such as thermal scanners or thermography on electric heaters
see ELECTRIC BASEBOARD HEAT INSPECTION
Question: clearance between electric baseboard heater & electrical receptacle
2016/09/18 Dennis said:
I am installing electric hydrostatic baseboard heaters, which they do not get hot enough to damage or burn anything. how far offset must the outlets be from the side of the heater? im on a limited budget, and the last thing I need is to fail inspection.
Clarifying for other readers, I think you mean electric hydronic baseboard heat - that's a more common name for electric baseboard heaters - basically an electric baseboard heat using a sealed unit containing a liquid (silicon oil) that improves thermal mass and heat transfer.
A typical manufactuer's description of the product, using the Qmark HBB 1000 as an example, states:
GO-ANYWHERE DESIGN. The entire unit mounts flush to any wall and flat on any floor - wood, carpet or tile. The trim, three-inch thick functional design and low operating temperatures allow carpeting to be installed up to and around the baseboard.
Watch out, however about carpeting that blocks air flow through the unit, reducing its heat output and possibly causing overheating.
Watch out: be sure to find and follow the clearances and other instructions for the brand and model of baseboard heater you are installing as those may differ.
Here are some excerpts from the Qmark installation manual:
Do not install heater below an electrical convenience receptacle (outlet).
CAUTION – Heater Operates at High Temperatures. Keep Electrical Cords (including telephone and computer cables), Drapes, and Other Furnishings Away From Heater. For efficient and safe operation, we recommend maintaining a minimum of 6 inches (152 mm) clearance above and in front of the heater at all times. See Figure 2 for minimum clearance requirements for drapery.
Do not install the heater against combustible low-density cellulose fiberboard surfaces, against or below vinyl wall coverings, or below any materials that may be damaged by heat such as vinyl or plastic blinds, curtains, etc.
Important Note: Certain fabrics and materials discolor or may ecome damaged by heat. Therefore, avoid installing heater against vinyl wall coverings or below plastic or vinyl items such as blinds or vinyl drapes since these items may become damaged by the heated air flowing from heater.
Do not recess heater in wall or install heater inside any type enclosure as this will cause heater to overheat and could create a hazard.
Other warnings and instructions apply - the above are not a complete guide, but they do address your question about electrical outlet proximity to the heater.
If you consider the "do not install below an outlet" advice for this type of heater and that its intent is to avoid overheating an electrical cord that might be plugged in nearb, while we do not have an explicit "side clearance" in the company's advice, it makes sense to me to keep the heater far enough away from a wall receptacle that electrical cords plugged in nearby will not fall in front of or over or touch the heater.
Looking at other Marley heater clearances (2" to drapes in front, 6" to drapes 6" to the side might be enough; it makes sense to ask your local code inspector ahead of time what they will inspect- go armed with the installation manual
Example Electric Heat Baseboard Installation & Wiring Manuals
Qmark Electric Baseboard Heater Installation Manual [PDF] Qmark is a Marley Engineered Products Company brand; their heater instructions appear under the Marley name. Retrieved 2016/09/18, original source www.marleymep.com/sites/default/files/field-file/5200-2194-010.pdf Website: http://www.marleymep.com/
Reader comment: (May 10, 2011) Max says: said:
Safety is always the #1 concern and you have effectively addressed the issue. Informative and well-focused.
Regards from Max Stout
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Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
Domestic and Commercial Oil Burners, Charles H. Burkhardt, McGraw Hill Book Company, New York 3rd Ed 1969.
National Fuel Gas Code (Z223.1) $16.00 and National Fuel Gas Code Handbook (Z223.2) $47.00 American Gas Association (A.G.A.), 1515 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22209 also available from National Fire Protection Association, Batterymarch Park, Quincy, MA 02269. Fundamentals of Gas Appliance Venting and Ventilation, 1985, American Gas Association Laboratories, Engineering Services Department. American Gas Association, 1515 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22209. Catalog #XHO585. Reprinted 1989.
The Steam Book, 1984, Training and Education Department, Fluid Handling Division, ITT [probably out of print, possibly available from several home inspection supply companies] Fuel Oil and Oil Heat Magazine, October 1990, offers an update,
Principles of Steam Heating, $13.25 includes postage. Fuel oil & Oil Heat Magazine, 389 Passaic Ave., Fairfield, NJ 07004.
The Lost Art of Steam Heating, Dan Holohan, 516-579-3046 FAX
Principles of Steam Heating, Dan Holohan, technical editor of Fuel Oil and Oil Heat magazine, 389 Passaic Ave., Fairfield, NJ 07004 ($12.+1.25 postage/handling).
"Residential Hydronic (circulating hot water) Heating Systems", Instructional Technologies Institute, Inc., 145 "D" Grassy Plain St., Bethel, CT 06801 800/227-1663 [home inspection training material] 1987
"Warm Air Heating Systems". Instructional Technologies Institute, Inc., 145 "D" Grassy Plain St., Bethel, CT 06801 800/227-1663 [home inspection training material] 1987
Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning Volume I, Heating Fundamentals,
Boilers, Boiler Conversions, James E. Brumbaugh, ISBN 0-672-23389-4 (v. 1) Volume II, Oil, Gas, and Coal Burners, Controls, Ducts, Piping, Valves, James E. Brumbaugh, ISBN 0-672-23390-7 (v. 2) Volume III, Radiant Heating, Water Heaters, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, Heat Pumps, Air Cleaners, James E. Brumbaugh, ISBN 0-672-23383-5 (v. 3) or ISBN 0-672-23380-0 (set) Special Sales Director, Macmillan Publishing Co., 866 Third Ave., New York, NY 10022. Macmillan Publishing Co., NY
Installation Guide for Residential Hydronic Heating Systems
Installation Guide #200, The Hydronics Institute, 35 Russo Place, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922
The ABC's of Retention Head Oil Burners, National Association of Oil Heat Service Managers, TM 115, National Old Timers' Association of the Energy Industry, PO Box 168, Mineola, NY 11501. (Excellent tips on spotting problems on oil-fired heating equipment. Booklet.)
Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. Tel: (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 Email: email@example.com. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material.
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TECHNICAL REFERENCE GUIDE to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment, useful for determining the age of heating boilers, furnaces, water heaters is provided by Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto - Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
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