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We use 2 space heaters in the house, in the living room to…

We use 2 space...

We use 2 space heaters in the house, in the living room to be specific --- most of the time it works fine, but today the breakers switched on and the power was cut they both use about 12.5 mA, so 15 Amps

Contractor's Assistant: I'll do all I can to help. How long have you been dealing with this?

Just started today, we had some canned lights installed but the electrician supposedly also installed an additional 15 amp lighting circuit to increase load

Contractor's Assistant: Do you plan on doing the work yourself?

Unlikely but what is a normal 'load' amperiage one can expect in a house? i.e. should there be 60 amps available? or 15? or 35?

Contractor's Assistant: Anything else we should know to help you best?

I think that's it

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Answered in 5 minutes by:
3/4/2018
Kevin
Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 4,419
Experience: 31 years Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, Adjunct College Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma: Digital Electronics, FCC Technician License
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Hello and welcome to Just Answer. My name is ***** ***** I will be happy to assist you with your electrical question. Please be patient as it takes time to type and provide links. Also note that the website may be sending you a telephone offer, the offer is not originating from me.

1) It has been a code requirement for many years that the minimal service amperage for a single family dwelling is 100 amps. More common for newer home construction is 200 amps.

2) Space heaters consume higher wattages than lighting and it is always recommended that space heaters reside on their own dedicated circuit or not shared with any other loads, preferably a 20 amp circuit to play it safe. Although some smaller wattage space heaters can reside on a 15 amp circuit. Space heaters shared with other connected loads can easily overload the circuit and trip the breaker.

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1) As far as the average full load amperage, there is no normal or average load amperage since this all depends upon the square footage and the connected loads within the home. Also depends if the home has electric appliances such as an electric dryer or electric oven or electric hot water heater or central A/C or electric heating, etc. As you can see, there are many variables that are taken into consideration when a load calculation is performed.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Your detailed response is very much appreciated Kevin.Give you more clarity, the house is about 1,000 square feet. There is a gas powered dryer in the garage. Microwave, stove (gas powered), fridge (electric powered), newish TV.This is what the electrician did/charged:From a cost perspective, this is what they charged for the electrical work:
* Run a new 15 amp lighting circuit to existing panel ($950)
* Repair drywall and blend to match existing texture in bathroom ($350)
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
We paid $5,740 (not including the change order to add the 15 amp circuit)Is that sound reasonable? What questions SHOULD I ask my electrician? Frankly the GC was very shify on a lot of things
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Are we 'in the wrong for trying to use 2 space heaters'? And btw the other room's power went down --- interestingly, the living room and the master bedroom, but the lights all still worked

Thanks for the replies.

1) $950 seems very expensive to run a new 15 amp circuit. However, this depends on access from the panel to the area. If having to fish walls and/or cut open drywall to gain access to install electrical cables or flexible conduit, the labor portion will definately increase the price.

2) A 15 amp circuit has a maximum wattage of 15 amps x 120 volts = 1,800 watts. Per code, the circuit should not be loaded more than 80% of it's rating. Therefore, 1800 watts x 80% = 1,440 watts maximum on a 15 amp circuit.

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1) What is the wattage on each space heater?

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
What would a more reasonable cost be? What should we ask the electrician to do to fix this/asses this? Unfortunately the GC has suggested things like $650 for cleaning a wall (so all the estimates seemed high). I appreciate your honesty and expertise. We are not experts whats over in this sort of thing and don't want to cause electrical issues but at the same time using something as simple as space heater feels like it should be possible in 2018.
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
1500 watts on one of them, trying to find the wattage on the other one (says 120V, AC 60 Hz, 12.5 amps but doesn't explicitly stated the wattage)

1) The issue is that the circuit is most likely shared with other loads. Space heaters should always reside preferably on a 20 amp dedicated circuit and the breaker won't overload or trip. Most space heaters are approximately 1500 watts. For example, if plugging in two space heaters onto the same circuit, most likely the circuit breaker will overload and trip.

2) There is no standard price for installing a new circuit. Labor rates can widely vary depending upon your location. Hourly electrical rates can vary anywhere from $60 to $150 per hour. Union contractors will have higher labor rates than a non-union contractor. The cost all depends upon labor rates, materials and access from the panel out to the area.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
What should we do? I will ask them what is the total amperage of the house (sounds like that's a start)? Does it vary by room?It took him ~3-4 hours, so not sure.
* Run a new 15 amp lighting circuit to existing panel ($950)
* Repair drywall and blend to match existing texture in bathroom ($350)I want us to be able to use space heaters, or what heater should we use to warm the house?

1) Have the electrician confirm if the space heater receptacles that you want to plug into are on a dedicated circuit.

2) 3 to 4 hours sounds reasonable, so they are either charging a high hourly rate and/or a high profit margin for one 15 amp circuit.

3) 1500 watt space heaters are a very common wattage rating. The heater itself is not the problem. The problem is that the heaters need their own dedicated circuit or if shared with other loads on the circuit, the other loads need to be shut-off in order to prevent the circuit from overloading. Recommended fix is to always have a dedicated circuit for each space heater.

4) Some rooms in the home require dedicated circuits. Other rooms in the home can be shared. Kitchens and bathrooms always require dedicated circuits for example. However, if you have 2 existing bedrooms both sharing the same circuit and you plug in one or two space heaters, a probability that the shared breaker will overload and trip.

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1) In addition, an electrician can also measure the full load amps on each circuit and determine how much available amperage is remaining before the circuit will overload and trip. A clamp-on amp meter probe is the testing instrument used to confirm this.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Should an electrician charge for that? I mean if they did the lights - they already know that right? It's not complicated for an electrician to answer those questions right?
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
to answer those questions is what I'm asking - they already made ~north of 6k for the work I mentioned above ONLY(and made more on other things)

1) They should have tested the circuits with an amp probe meter prior to construction of the project. The testing process literally only takes a few seconds to measure amperage. Any qualified and licensed electrician knows how to perform this test as it is very simple and quick. Personally, I would not have charged to measure the circuit amperage.

2) Sounds like you did not sign a firm bid contract? Sounds like they installed the project based on time and material? T&M pricing is always more expensive than a firm bid. You would need to confirm that.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Thanks Kevin,No we did sign a contract, it wasn't supposed to be T&M, I assumed they were goin to be honest, but they'd always increase cost with no transparency, we made a mistake working with them

Yes, I understand as there are many contractors who will try to take advantage. It is always recommended to obtain 3 firm bid prices. If the contract was a firm bid and there were extra's in the project, then the T&M labor rates will typically apply.

If getting 3 bids, it is recommended to usually pick the middle bid as this one is typically the most accurate. The low bidder either does not know how to bid a job or will lowball the price and possibly include some verbiage into the contract for prevailing hourly labor rates. The high bidder is just trying to make extra profit margin.

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If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

Otherwise, don’t forget to rate me before you log Off.

Thanks.................Kevin:)

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Kevin - really appreciate it, let me talk to the electrician and see what happens next. Just want some answers from them to see what the options are.

No problem, glad to assist.

Take care and have a great day.........Thanks..........Kevin:)

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Hey Kevin,So tried the 15 amp heater in one of the rooms on an extension cord and the power went out in that room? Is it because of the extension cord? or is it because of something else?What are good alternatives to space heaters?

1) Were there any other simultaneous connected loads on the same circuit when the heater was plugged in?

2) The only other alternatives would be to add additional HVAC vents to the room, but that can get somewhat expensive. Space heaters are probably the best solution.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Oh - I checked myself, the house only has 100 amps ---1). a laptop through the same power strip, and that's it --- it was the bedroom2). thanks, ***** ***** are not crazy for trying to use space heaters

Lets try this:

1) Your kitchen countertop receptacle circuits and the bathroom receptacle circuits should reside on a 20 amp breaker if a newer home. Can you plug the space heater into the kitchen and/or bathroom receptacle without any other loads. Does the circuit breaker for the kitchen or bathroom trip when plugging one space heater into either of these locations?

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Let me try that, thanks Kevin. I'll hook it directly to the receptacle.And in the bedroom, living room, when the space heaters are used it's always through the powerstrip (is that matter)?

1) OK, let me know how it goes on either the kitchen or bathroom circuit.

2) Power strips are not recommended for space heaters. Space heaters should plug in directly to the wall receptacle.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Worked fine, what does that mean?

1) That confirms that the heater needs to reside on a dedicated 20 amp circuit with no other shared loads on the circuit. A 15 amp circuit is too small to support the space heater.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Thanks Kevin - for responding all the times before. If I had to higher an electrician, what kinds of questions should I ask? What questions should I ask or things to think of when I higher a contractor? This project was a disaster, I thought I picked wisely - but getting even simple answers (i.e. what are the total amps available in the house) have lead to no avail after all the costs I mentioned earlier (7k+) and that's just putting in can lights in a 1000 square foot house, nothing else, its' a small house>If getting 3 bids, it is recommended to usually pick the middle bid as this one is typically the most accurate. The low bidder either does not know how to bid a job or will lowball the price and possibly include some verbiage into the contract for prevailing hourly labor rates. The high bidder is just trying to make extra profit margin.(will use this advice)
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Rated 5 stars of course btw, thanks for your time

1) Yes, on any project, it is advisable to obtain at least 3 firm bids. The middle bid is typically the most honest bid.

2) When choosing a contractor, always obtain and speak to 3 customer references for similar projects.

3) Contact the local building code inspector, they are also a great source as a reference for the contractor reputation in the community.

4) Only hire a licensed contractor. get a copy of their license along with copies of insurance and bonding. Un-licensed contractors may be cheaper and there is a reason for that since they are not able to pass the license exam.

5) Better Business Bureau and Angie's List are also a good reference resources.

Thanks..............Kevin:)

Kevin
Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 4,419
Experience: 31 years Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, Adjunct College Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma: Digital Electronics, FCC Technician License
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