Electric heat wire and fuse sizes (C) Carson Dunlop AssociatesElectric Heating Baseboard Installation & Wiring Guide

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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.

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Wiring and Overcurrent Protection for Electric Heating Systems

Wiring tips for electric heat (C) Carson Dunlop Associates Electric heat wire and fuse sizes (C) Carson Dunlop Associates

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

Electric heat baseboard safety - fire clearances (C) Carson Dunlop Associates Electric baseboard heat safety - outlet clearance (C) Carson Dunlop Associates

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

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.

This question was posted originally at ELECTRICAL RECEPTACLE HEIGHT & CLEARANCES



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


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