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Old 05-03-2012, 05:25 PM   #11
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I'm by no means an authority but you said you used one to save propane but unless you were already low running the furnace won't depleat your tanks. We left our furnace on for a week and didn't run out of propane or did we even have to switch tanks. Herk-do you know how long a tank will last using a furnace. Space heaters scare me.
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Old 05-03-2012, 05:54 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by jmswms View Post
I'm by no means an authority... Herk-do you know how long a tank will last using a furnace. Space heaters scare me.
No expert here either.

I think there are too many variables to say with any certainty in any case.
Outside temperatures, insulation of camper, personal preference of how warm is warm...

You see where this is going. We use the 1500 watt fireplace and the 400 watt heater in the bedroom when we have shore power, backed up by the propane furnace (in case the power fails at night).

We use the furnace when we boondock.
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Old 05-03-2012, 06:46 PM   #13
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We..Have been using a Vornado brand space heater for 2 years now ..very happy with it ..it has the "safety tip over switch" ..usually at state and county park camping we will use all electric..or as much as possible..
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Old 05-03-2012, 10:13 PM   #14
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We also use the fireplace in the evening, and a space heater overnight.
We are already paying for electricity, may as well use it!
But we bought a high-quality space heater, and have had no worries.
I would not cheap out and buy the least expensive unit out there.
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Old 05-04-2012, 12:41 AM   #15
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The hot cord concerns me. I wouldn't use it anymore. Warm, I'm sort of okay with, but not if its too hot to touch.

We have a new air popper that makes the cord get pretty warm, and thats in the house, where the toaster and coffee maker get plugged in. I also used an electric roaster for some wild pig, its cord also got very hot. Appliances that do that scare me, and I would never leave one of them unattended.

The question as to whether your in wall wiring is getting that hot, too. Yes, probably. If not from electrical resistance, the heat in the cord and plug is getting transferred into the outlet and in wall wiring. Its 'probably' not enough to start a fire, but I wouldn't risk it.
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Old 05-04-2012, 12:43 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by realebill View Post
the heated cord was probably caused by the plug into the receptacle not being tight. the cord will heat up at the point of least resistance,which is generally where it is plugged into a receptacle. over time the contacts inside the receptacle become loose or worn and there is not a secure contact made. one solution would be to replace the receptacle ( at least the ones you want to plug a heater into) with a "commercial grade " receptacle. these have a heavier contacts inside and don't cost that much more than "household" grade.
most

Totally agree with this.

If any arcing or hot spots have occured in that outlet, it needs to be replaced. It'll only get worse.
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Old 05-04-2012, 12:45 AM   #17
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Some points come to mind:

1. Does the heater have a safety standard sticker on it like Warnock Hersey, UL or CSA? I'd want to know first that it was made to NA safety standards.

2. Is it a ceramic type heater? Don't those have a continuous coil in them? So either it works or if the coil fails, it doesn't. I don't think they're built so coils can physically touch and short together, thus increasing the current.

3. The breaker in the panel will be 15 amps so even if the heater is drawing too much current, the breaker will eventually trip.

4. The concealed branch circuit wiring in the camper will be rated for 15 amps, so it will not overheat as long as the breaker is functioning properly.

5. Many home portable appliances are rated 1500 watts. That's technically a wee bit higher current than the 15 amp wire and breaker is designed to handle (for fixed equip. at least), but that is basically just the way it is. At least with hair dryers, irons, etc. they aren't designed to run non-stop 24/7 so the cord (whatever it might be rated for) and 15 amp breaker are okay. I'm not really sure what gauge wire is typically used for cords on 1500 watt heaters but suspect it *could* be 16 gauge. I can't recall what 16 gauge is good for at 120 volts but it would be much less than 15 amps. This should normally be okay though since the wire is in "free air" and gets some cooling from the air. Wires in "free air" can run somewhat higher currents. If concealed in a wall, it would overheat and be a fire hazard. Hiding the such wire under carpets and the like is not a good idea. If the wire is 16 gauge, it definitely will feel warm or hot if run for long periods.

6. You might also want to check what the voltage is at the point of useage (the heater). The heater output will vary as the square of the voltage. For eg., if the voltage is down by 10% (based on 120 volt nominal) the heater will only be putting out about 1200 watts. But the current will drop and the cord should not heat up as much.

7. I'd be interested in knowing what the rated duty cycle is for your heater. Might not be available though.

8. If the heater is being run at 1500 watt setting for long periods the cord will feel warm to the touch. A lot of RVs aren't all that well insulated and you *may* find that you need a couple of 1500 watt heaters to feel comfortably warm enough in cold weather. You normally don't want a heater to run continuous (unless designed that way) and it should be sized large enough to cycle on and off via a t'stat.

If it were me, I would look at upgrading the supply cord to a 15 amp/14 ga. rated one. If you are still feeling uneasy, use an ammeter to measure the current draw to prove it's operating within it's rating first.

Don't forget to be careful where you place the heater. 1500 watts is a lot of heat and it can damage surfaces and things and even lead to a fire.

I added a permanent 1000 watt heater to our 20' trailer and had it going most of the winter. Even with the thermostat set to as low as I could get it, it ran continuous a lot of the time. I am going to replace the interior with a 1500 watt element and hope it will heat up better so the thermostat functions more like it should. It really surprised me to find how much heat loss there was. It seems like 2,000 - 3,000 watts is what would really be required to keep the interior space to normal residential room temp. when the outside is really cold, but in our case I only wanted to keep things a little above freezing inside in the winter.
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Old 05-04-2012, 07:00 AM   #18
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Any power cord that gets hot ..is.. NOT GOOD !
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Old 05-04-2012, 07:09 AM   #19
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You've already been pummeled with ideas but here's my thoughts anyway!

IF this had happened to me-- I'd replace the outlet with a normal 20amp
household outlet found at any hardware store or big box home supply.
20 amp outlets have heavier spring pressure on the prongs of any cord
you plug into them.

The outlets found in my RV and most likely yours are wired with cheap
push in wire connections on the back.
This is not nearly as good as stripping a wire and placing it under a screw
which you can securely tighten.

The heat could also have been caused by a defective power cord
on the heater.
The cord end is factory crimped onto the two prongs and then molded
in plastic. If the crimp was defective at the factory, it will get hot as you
say.
It could also have been a weak receptacle as others have already said.

Change the outlet and try again.

By the way, the heat will be generated at the point of MOST resistance
not least.
I'm splitting hairs but that's the way it is.

It's normal for the plug to get warm with a heater on high.
It should NOT get uncomfortably hot to the touch.

I also installed a dedicated outlet for my space heater.
My power panel had extra slots for circuit breakers.
They just plug in. They can be found at most any home supply store.
I put an "old work" box in the toe kick area near my power panel and
plugged in a 15 amp breaker and used about 3 feet of #14 romex wire.

It was a simple one beer job but I've been doing this a few years!

Good luck, be careful out there and Happy Camping!!

KyDan
37 years industrial electrical maintenance
now happily retired 3 and counting
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Old 05-06-2012, 05:59 PM   #20
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First the reason the cord got hot is that it was running for a long time on full load. If you look and voltage and current (in normal house voltage of approx 120V) that heater is pulling 12.5amp. Now with campsite voltage not being reliable, as the voltage goes down your amps go up. For instance if the incoming voltage is down to 109V then your amp draw is 13.7amps. So anything that runs for quite a while at high amps will get really hot. By reducing the setting you reduced the amp draw, so not hot now). DO NOT change the 15 amp outlet with 20amp outlet, unless you change all of the outlets and breaker feeding the outlets to 20amp. A space heater is not intended to be the only functioning heater. It should only be used in cooperation with the gas furnace to save on gas usage.
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