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Old 05-13-2016, 04:31 PM   #1
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Portable 120v Heater?

Can I use a portable 120v electric heater when hooked up to city power instead of using my trailer heater and using up propane? The portable has 2 settings, 800 watts and 1100 watts. I'm not an electrician but I know these little puppies pull some serious juice. Is it safe? Will I blow a fuse?
Thank you,
Ted
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Old 05-13-2016, 04:37 PM   #2
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We do it all of the time. You should be fine. Just be aware of what else is on the circuit and how much power you use in total for the camper.
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Old 05-13-2016, 04:39 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by tgduffy View Post
Can I use a portable 120v electric heater when hooked up to city power instead of using my trailer heater and using up propane? The portable has 2 settings, 800 watts and 1100 watts. I'm not an electrician but I know these little puppies pull some serious juice. Is it safe? Will I blow a fuse?
Thank you,
Ted
yes you can, I've removed our propane altogether and we use two 120v heaters when needed
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Old 05-13-2016, 04:40 PM   #4
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I assume you have a stock TT so you have 30A service. You can run the small heater at the 1500W (Hi) level and you have about 12A left as your converter will use several amps charging the Battery and powering the fridge control board. If you run the WH on electric that is about your limit. You will not be able to run the microwave, a coffee maker, hair dryer or other high current item without turning it off.
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Old 05-13-2016, 05:07 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tgduffy View Post
Can I use a portable 120v electric heater when hooked up to city power instead of using my trailer heater and using up propane? The portable has 2 settings, 800 watts and 1100 watts. I'm not an electrician but I know these little puppies pull some serious juice. Is it safe? Will I blow a fuse?
Thank you,
Ted
If you are going to RV much, then it's easy to learn this basic formula quickly to understand what you can have on, and what must be turned off to not over load circuits/power supplies.

It's real simple math:

Watts = volts X amps or you also figure it as amps = watts/volts

Since you are almost always going to be using 120 volts, that is simple enough.

Take your 800 watt heater/120 volts = 6.67 amps

1100 watts/120 volts = 9.17 amps

Since most RV circuits that your outlets are on are wired for a 15 amp breaker, then that lets you know how many amps your heater is pulling and you are below the 15 amps. However you need to add up everythng that is on that circuit (possibly television, other things plugged in, etc)

Also you need to kinda know what all the appliances in your RV pull (air conditioner, microwave, water heater on electric, fridge on electric, etc) so you don't overload your main breaker or individual circuit breakers by having too much on.

It's a learning process, that we all go thru....and thus learn what can be on...and what also must be off at the same time to not trip circuit breakers.

Now that you know how to do the math, you can look at the tags on electrical things if you don't know the wattage and see how many amps it needs.

These links may help out too:

Basic RV Electricity - RV Information (RV Maintenance)

RV Converters and Amp Draw - RV Information (RV Maintenance)
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Old 05-13-2016, 05:10 PM   #6
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Response to Flybob

Flybob,
Yes, it is a standard issue travel trailer, 20 amp. This is our first TT so many questions and this forum has been awesome. We'll be fair weather campers so will only use the heater at night, with no other significant power use except the refrigerator at the same time.
Ted

P.S. Thank you for your service during Vietnam.
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Old 05-13-2016, 05:13 PM   #7
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Thank you for the informative reply. I'll keep the equation handy. Can I assume I'll find the "watt/amp" information for my frig somewhere inside? At night I only see us using the heater while the frig is running, no TV, no other heavy appliances.
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Old 05-13-2016, 05:28 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by tgduffy View Post
Thank you for the informative reply. I'll keep the equation handy. Can I assume I'll find the "watt/amp" information for my frig somewhere inside? At night I only see us using the heater while the frig is running, no TV, no other heavy appliances.
You should be good to go at night. I use a electric heater myself with no problem.

Things that make heat, usually require a lot of amps. This is microwaves, electric heater, electric skillets, coffee pots, and hair dryers...... You want to keep a hair dryer wattage around the 1500 watt type at most usually.

Don't forget your electric water heater element (if your RV is equipped with such, and you turn it on). These bad boys operate at around the 1440 watt mark, which is 12 amps themselves when the heating element clicks on.

This link may help also if you have a Suburban water heater, and not knowing your RV expertise. It's why we have these tutorials saved somewhat.

Suburban's electric switch and much more
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Old 05-16-2016, 03:25 PM   #9
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Its nice to have to progressive surge protection with the display. always know how much current your using.
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Old 05-16-2016, 08:05 PM   #10
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We use them also. I only use them on low when plugging in to outlet as when on high setting I have seen the power cords and or outlets melt due to high resistance.

Another nice option is to use a HQ 14 gauge extension cord and run the cord to your power pedistal and connect to the 20 amp. We use this option the most as I have only 2 outlets to use. So we just run in another cord from outside.


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