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4800w Contruction heaters found to be cause of fires

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  • 4800w Contruction heaters found to be cause of fires

    Well, as Glenn from Winnipeg mentioned in another electrical thread, there was a big flap about the low cost construction heaters many of us use to heat our garage/shop. The main focus of this was the incorrect usage of such heaters, specifically using them as a permanent heat source. They are only meant to be used as a temporary heat source such as on a construction site.

    The problem with these types of heaters are the elements themselves. Apparently, they can overheat even if the fan is working and once they reach 500 degrees C, the dielectric insulation around the Ni-chrome wire inside the element can break down, allowing an arc to form between the wire and the outer stainless tubing. The problem is that while the heater is plugged into a 30amp breaker, once the arc forms, there is enough resistance in the arc so it only draws approximately 25 amps which will not cause the breaker to trip. They have duplicated this in the lab and the arc continued for 13 minutes without tripping the breaker, yet all along the sparks were spewing out the front of the heater helped along by the fan!

    Needless to say, there is talk of new recommendations/regulations etc. that will be forthcoming as there have been way too many fires caused by this type of heater and rest assured the insurance companies are also looking at this issue.

    Now that I know the mode of failure in this type of heater, I won't be leaving mine on for a few hours while I wait in the house for the shop to "warm up"!

    Sound clips, and the headlines can be found at the CJOB website.

    Chris
    sigpic

    "I am a man, but I can change, if I have to..... I guess. "
    --Red Green, the mans prayer.
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  • #2

    Re: 4800w Contruction heaters found to be cause of fires

    Re: 4800w Contruction heaters found to be cause of fires

    i have one of those heaters and i do worry about it, i dont leave it unattended turned on. and the breaker for it is six feet from the heater with a fire extinguisher nearby as well!!
    i dont trust them anymore than the xmas lights
    my shop is a beaver lodge
    steve, sarnia, ont



    1940's Beaver Jointer

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    • #3

      Re: 4800w Contruction heaters found to be cause of fires

      Re: 4800w Contruction heaters found to be cause of fires

      I have one, set it to take the chill out while in the workshop in the winter. Course this is Victoria, and my shop is insulated above code, so it does not have to work very hard

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