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Old 10-22-2012, 10:20 PM   #1
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Bathroom heater on gfci>


I am installing a wall mount 120V 1000W heater in a small bathroom. I know it has to be on a dedicated 20 amp circuit with 12-2 nm-b. Does it need to be on a GFCI breaker as well?

It is close to the toilet but about 4 feet from the sink, and farther from the shower.

I live in Portland, Oregon.
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Old 10-22-2012, 10:23 PM   #2
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No GFI protection needed, unless there is something in the instructions about it.
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Old 10-22-2012, 10:43 PM   #3
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Thanks for the quick response. I don't have the unit yet, but I'll check the instructions.

One other thing, will it matter if I put it on a timer - 20A also. It's near the heater so the distances still apply. The timer can be reached from the toilet though.
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Old 10-22-2012, 10:50 PM   #4
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GFCI's are for receptacles...not switches or timers or heaters. You are good to go. (unless the mfg. specifies a GFCI...God only know why they would)
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Old 10-22-2012, 11:06 PM   #5
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Right, that's why I specified the GFCI as a breaker. Sounds like I can wire into a standard breaker without a problem.

I am calling for an inspection next week. I'll post the results and any unique local requirements for Portland (none, I hope) beyond the National 2011 code.

Thanks again for all the good (and timely) advice.
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Old 10-23-2012, 05:20 AM   #6
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GFCI's are for receptacles...not switches or timers or heaters. You are good to go. (unless the mfg. specifies a GFCI...God only know why they would)
Many exhaust fans require GFI protection if install over a tub or shower per their instructions....just sayin'.
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Old 10-23-2012, 06:00 AM   #7
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You DO NOT need a dedicated 20A circuit or a 20A timer.

If the distance is not too far 15A dedicated is FINE for this. It's only 8A.
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Old 10-23-2012, 11:52 AM   #8
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Yep. I understand - 120 vac @ 1000 watts is less than 10 amps. The distance to the breaker is about 65 feet.

However, I bought 250 feet of 12-2 cheap enough, so I am using it for everything in our new bathroom. 20 amps is required for the GFCI receptacle anyway - with water-safe lights, a second receptacle, and a fan on a second timer, all downstream and nothing external to the bathroom (not allowed). The 20 amp timers are $15 each so it's the same story - just using what I have. When it comes to electrical equipment, I believe overkill is better than underkill.

However, I might consider using a 15 amp breaker on the heater circuit if they allow it. I believe that would be legal and maybe a little bit safer, just in case the heater wants to somehow pull more than 15 amps in failure mode. But again, I willl need to read the instructions that come with the heater.

This is mostly educated guesswork on my part. Over the last 30 years I have done a fair amount of wiring - including a 1500 sq ft three-story addition; a new 200 amp service with a required meter main due to the distance, to replace an antiquated Wadsworth 125 amp main; and an underground routed 70 amp subpanel to my workshop (unattached garage) for which two grounding rods were required; all done with permits. Codes change. The inspection will clear it all up.
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Old 10-23-2012, 04:00 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by k_buz View Post
Many exhaust fans require GFI protection if install over a tub or shower per their instructions....just sayin'.
Right, and it's a ridiculous requirement. just sayin'
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Old 10-23-2012, 04:34 PM   #10
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However, I might consider using a 15 amp breaker on the heater circuit if they allow it. I believe that would be legal and maybe a little bit safer, just in case the heater wants to somehow pull more than 15 amps in failure mode.
This is a common misconception. It is NOT any safer.
The breaker protects the conductors, NOT the load.
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Old 10-23-2012, 07:43 PM   #11
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Thanks, that's good to know. Anyway, the instructions for installing the heater says to use 12-2 wire on a 20 amp breaker as expected, and that's what I'll do.

But, it alternately allows using 14-2 wire on a 15 amp breaker as well. I actually have gone to a 120 vac 750 watt heater, more than enough for our little bathroom, which is less than 50 sq ft.

Fortunately there is no mention of any need for a GFCI, only 3 feet of clearance to any combustibles,and I'm guessing that a toilet is considered non-combustible, although my brother-in-law definitely releases major combustibles from time to time.

I've started pulling wire now and hope to be done in a day or two so I can call for an inspection.

As for the double grounding rods, I was advised many years ago by a good friend who is a also a contractor, when dealing with local inspectors,
since they've got the authority to give or withhold their signature, the best strategy for the average homeowner doing his or her own work is to be submissive.
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