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Old 02-12-2010, 08:43 AM   #1
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Baseboard Heaters


I am installing two small 500 watt electric baseboard heaters in series. What size wire should I run to the panel and what size breaker shoulud I use?

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Old 02-12-2010, 11:12 AM   #2
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Baseboard Heaters


14 gauge (14-2 Romex) will work fine. For a true series connection with two identical 120 volt heaters, this would be a 240 volt circuit requiring a double wide 15 amp breaker with the two handles tied together. Note that with a series circuit, both heaters must be on (their built in thermostatic switches calling for heat) in order to get any operation and they will come on together.

The 14 gauge wire will also work fine with the heaters connected in parallel with individual thermostatic switches. Here just a single 15 amp breaker is used.

Using 12 gauge wire (12-2 Romex) in a 20 amp 120 volt circuit you would be able to add a third 500 watt heater (all three in parallel) at a later date.

In all of the above cases a separate line voltage thermostat can be installed as a master. This would be 1000 watts for the two heaters or 1500 watts if you planned on adding a third heater of the same kind.

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Last edited by AllanJ; 02-12-2010 at 11:16 AM.
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Old 02-12-2010, 11:31 AM   #3
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Baseboard Heaters


i would go with #12 wire. those heaters usually run about an amp per foot
so we usually go with 16 foot of heat on a 20 amp breaker.
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Old 02-12-2010, 12:31 PM   #4
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The heaters are each 30" long, 204 v, 500 watt. I have them both feed off a thermostat using 12/2 wire. I was wondering if a double pole 20 amp breaker is required or a double 15. Is there a difference between a double pole 20 amp, 120 volt breaker and a double pole, 20 amp, 240 volt breaker?
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Old 02-12-2010, 12:35 PM   #5
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or does the fact they they are 2 pole make them 240v? 120v each pole?
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Old 02-12-2010, 03:28 PM   #6
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yes 240V is 2 pole (2 hots) 2 wires at 120v each with a ground, the voltage between them will be 240V use the 20 amp breaker, a double pole 20
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Old 02-12-2010, 06:58 PM   #7
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Baseboard Heaters


Breakers have voltage ratings as well as current (amperage) ratings. Get a breaker pair (2 pole) breaker unit with at least 240 volts rating since the two fins in the panel that the breaker clips onto have 240 volts between them.

Did you say that each heater is 204-215 volts or 220-240 volts or 208-240 volts?

A 204 volt heater is meant to go on 208 volt circuits (found in some commercial buildings) and will run hotter than is normal when run on 240 volts, consuming somewhere around 600 watts each. If you connect two in series to run on 240 volts, they will run cooler than normal, each getting 120 volts and consuming somewhere around 300 watts.

I would be tempted to run the heaters on 240 volts (not in series) if that is the line voltage. The drawback is that using improper and excessively high voltage could result in voiding your fire insurance coverage.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 02-12-2010 at 07:11 PM.
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Old 02-12-2010, 11:01 PM   #8
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Baseboard Heaters


2-500 watt heaters wired in series is 250 watts. Have to add the resistance of both heaters.
2-500 watts heaters wired in parallel is 1000 watts.
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Old 02-14-2010, 06:09 AM   #9
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I miss spoke before, the heaters are wired in parallel. wires from both heaters are connected to the same feed. So to recap: 2-500 watt heaters, in parallel, using 12/2 wire on a 2 pole 20 amp, 240 volt breaker. Is this correct?
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Old 02-14-2010, 08:57 AM   #10
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You can use either a 15 amp if you want to for that wattage.
Its just over 4 amps total.

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