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Old 10-14-2009, 10:34 AM   #1
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deck heater sparks!!


Hi,

I'm a newbie and I posted the below thread in my intro. Just thought I should also post it here as well:

"I bought an electric outdoor patio heater. It's rated at 13A with a max 1500 watts. However, every time I plug it in I see a spark in the outlet. It is not fitted with a switch (which is backwards IMO - made in China), so every time it's plugged in it draws the full 1500W (or more I assume).

My question is this: is there an interrupter I can get for it so as to create a gradual draw when I turn it on.

FYI: instructions on package say it can be plugged into a regular 120v outlet. I have been plugging it into a dedicated outlet (on its own breaker) without anything else on the same and stll I see that spark.

Once its on, its fine, but I hate seeing that spark when I plug it in; it once even tripped the breaker. Just to clarify, this is not a small spark; enough that even my wife won't plug it in!"

Thanking all in advance for any feedback.
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Old 10-14-2009, 11:05 AM   #2
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Wire a switch up to the outlet
Turn it off before plugging the heater in
You could even break the tabs off so that one side of the outlet is hot all the time & the other is switched

Is this outlet GFCI protected?



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Old 10-14-2009, 11:11 AM   #3
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Turn off the heater before you plug it in. If it has no switch or thermostat it is not UL rated and should be fixed or thrown away. The T-Stat may be the switch
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Old 10-14-2009, 11:20 AM   #4
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The outlet is outdoors, but it is not GFCI as this is a covered deck. However, I guess I should fio=rst start by changing it to a GFCI. But I tried even leaving it plugged in and turning the breaker on/off (it's not far from the outlet) but still there is a spark in the outlet.
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Old 10-14-2009, 01:52 PM   #5
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If you install a switch on the circuit be sure that the switch can handle the current draw of the heater. Although the 14 gauge wiring handles 15 amps, there are some el-cheapo switches that handle only 10 amps.

The faster you plug or unplug the heater (assuming no on-off switch) the smaller the spark and the less wear and tear caused by sparks. But you must not yank the cord or pull at an angle or push on the receptacle so as to crack the cover plate or the drywall or something else.

The same spark would occur inside a switch built into the heater, or in a wall switch controlling the receptacle the heater was plugged into, or in the breaker if you flipped that off first, only that the spark occurring in these places is hidden from view.

If you still see a spark when unplugging the heater with the breaker for that circuit turned off first, then you probably have a 120/240 volt circuit (multiwire branch circuit) without the proper linkage between the breaker handles for both halves, or you have a misconnected wire somewhere.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 10-14-2009 at 01:57 PM.
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Old 10-14-2009, 02:09 PM   #6
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Thanks Alan,

I wonder if a dimmer type swicth would work: drawing amperage slowly as I turn the knob? I saw this type of switch whilst searching the net, but it's over 150 bucks. That's half what I paid for the heater....Hmmm... wonder if a dimmer would work...

I think it's the initial draw of current that's causing the spark. I don't notice it when I unplug it.
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Old 10-14-2009, 02:46 PM   #7
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No switch or thermostat and it cost $300? What's the brand and model number?
I'm siding with J.V., throw it away.
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Old 10-14-2009, 04:50 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Franky123 View Post
But I tried even leaving it plugged in and turning the breaker on/off (it's not far from the outlet) but still there is a spark in the outlet.
Have you checked the wires at the outlet? One might not be tight, Might as well replace it as long as you are doing it.

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Old 10-14-2009, 05:05 PM   #9
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You would probably not want a dimmer switch because this has to handle the 13 plus amps the heater draws and we are talking about a theater lighting high capacity expensive model.

A regular switch, I suggest a 20 amp model (handling at least 25% more than the heater current draw of 13 amps), built in to the heater or in the wall and controlling a wall receptacle is probably the best. Installing the switch in the heater is a project, not just a connect-it-up-using-pigtails affair.
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Old 10-14-2009, 05:26 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Franky123 View Post
every time I plug it in I see a spark in the outlet.
If the outlet does not tightly grip the plug you need a new outlet.
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Old 10-14-2009, 05:36 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Franky123 View Post
The outlet is outdoors, but it is not GFCI as this is a covered deck. However, I guess I should first start by changing it to a GFCI. But I tried even leaving it plugged in and turning the breaker on/off (it's not far from the outlet) but still there is a spark in the outlet.
Yup, a GFCI is required outdoors - even with a covered deck

$300 for a 240v heater?
Is it some fancy package or what?
No On/Off switch & it doesn't have a thermostat to turn up & down?



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Old 10-14-2009, 08:18 PM   #12
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This is the link for the same model: http://www.amazon.com/Mojave-Electri.../dp/B000P8CCPI

Definately a design flaw. I did some more net surfing and found that similar devices usually are equipped with a switch that is a grdual draw type.

Gotta keep looking for a fix....
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Old 10-14-2009, 10:48 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoyizit View Post
If the outlet does not tightly grip the plug you need a new outlet.
If you see a spark continuously going in the outlet when the heater is plugged in and operating, then you have a severe fire hazard. Unplug the heater immediately and get the outlet replaced.

Also, if the plug gets hot then you have a fire hazard. Here the problem could be a loose wire inside the plug as well as be a loose connection in the receptacle.
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Old 10-15-2009, 12:47 PM   #14
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There's no other sparks or heating up of the outlet once it is running, nor is there any sparks when I unplug it. Once it's plugged in it works like a charm. It's just that spark I see when it's first plugged in.

Actually the suggestion to plug it in quickly works well as there's only a small spark there. Still, if I don't find an alternative, I'll consider sending it back...
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Old 10-15-2009, 01:44 PM   #15
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You could build a switched extension cord using a 4x4 junction box, light switch, and receptical.
Cover plate

Edit: just make sure you use a 20 amp switch.
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Last edited by Clutchcargo; 10-15-2009 at 01:46 PM.
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