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How to Keep a Space Heater from the Tripping Breaker? (10-Item Checklist)

If you want to stop a space heater from tripping the circuit breaker, this article will help.

Most often, space heaters use a lot of electricity. Because of that, the circuit breaker might trip regularly. But with the right method, you can stop the breaker from tripping. I’ve dealt with these issues while working as an electrician and hope to give you some tips.

In general, to stop a space heater tripping circuit breaker, stick to this checklist.

  • Check the space heater’s power requirements.
  • Change the heater’s settings.
  • Test the heater on another outlet or a room.
  • Disconnect the other nearby devices.
  • Replace the heater’s circuit breaker.
  • Use a suitable breaker or fuse.
  • Get rid of any extension cords.
  • Check the heater for overheating.
  • Check the heater for electrical damage.
  • Position the heater on a flat surface.

Continue below for a detailed explanation.

How to Avoid Space Heater Tripping Circuit Breaker?

hand checking breaker
Video | Electrician U

Space heaters are an excellent heating solution for a single room or a small area. Even though these heaters are small, they absorb a considerable amount of electricity. Most space heater users complain about the breaker tripping.

You should fix the space heater breaker tripping as soon as possible to avoid more grave issues. So, here are ten steps that you can follow to fix space heater breaker tripping.

Step 1 – Check the Heater Power Requirements

heater power requirements
Video | Jason Roush

Checking the heater’s power requirement is the first thing you should do. If your space heater is rated 220V, you should use it on a 220V outlet. However, if you use it on a 110V outlet, the circuit breaker might trip.

Then, check the space heater’s watt value. The heater might be consuming a large number of watts. For instance, some heaters might need 1000 watts per hour, and this high demand might overload the breaker.

Another thing you should check is the BTU value. BTU, aka British Thermal Unit, is an important indicator for measuring heat in AC units and heaters. A heater that comes with a higher BTU demands higher energy. Therefore, choosing a heater with a low BTU is wise to prevent the heater from tripping the circuit breaker.

Step 2 – Check the Heater Settings

checking heater settings
Video | Jason Roush

After checking the heater’s power, you can also check the heater’s settings. Most often, modern space heaters might have a few different settings. For instance, you can spot them as low, medium, and high.

Make sure to check whether the heater runs on high settings. As you can imagine, high settings require more power, which will put pressure on the circuit breaker. Eventually, the circuit breaker might trip due to these high settings. Adjust the settings for a lower position and run the heater. It will stop the breaker from tripping.

Step 3 – Test the Space Heater on Another Outlet or Room

Checking the space heater on another outlet or in another room is a good idea if the heater keeps tripping the breaker. The current outlet might be the reason for regular breaker tripping. You may be dealing with a faulty outlet.

First, plug the heater into another outlet in the same room. If the breaker still trips, plug the heater into the outlet in another room. It might fix the issue.

Quick Tip: If you detect a faulty outlet, remember to replace it with a new one.

Step 4 – Disconnect Other Nearby Devices

Connecting too many appliances to the same outlet or circuit breaker can put an unwanted load on the circuit breaker. When that happens, the circuit breaker might trip. So, if the space heater is connected to such an outlet, disconnect other appliances.

Or sometimes, multiple outlets might be running on one circuit breaker. If so, identify such breakers and turn off the other outlets (except for the heater’s circuit breaker). This is a simple yet effective method to stop the heater from tripping the circuit breaker.

Step 5 – Replace the Circuit Breaker

replacing a circuit breaker in zoom
Video | Sam

Sometimes, replacing the circuit breaker is the only logical thing to do. For instance, you might be dealing with an old or broken circuit breaker. Or the circuit breaker rated value might not be up to the heater’s standard. Either way, circuit breaker replacement is the obvious solution.

Here are a few simple steps to replace a circuit breaker.

  1. Turn off the main breaker in the electrical panel.
  2. Locate the old/broken circuit breaker that you want to replace.
  3. Flip the breaker to the off position and wait a few minutes (this will discharge any electricity left inside the breaker).
  4. Pull out the old breaker.
  5. Grab the new breaker and place it inside the electrical panel.
  6. Keep the new breaker switch in the off position.
  7. Turn on the main power supply.
  8. Turn on the new breaker and supply power to the space heater.

Step 6 – Use a Suitable Circuit Breaker for the Heater

woman's hand with long nails holding a breaker
Video | Sparky Direct

The rated value of the circuit breaker is one of the most important things you should look out for when choosing a breaker for a space heater. Heaters draw a large amount of power from the main panel. Hence, the main panel should have a suitable circuit breaker to supply the power to the heater. Otherwise, the heater might cause an overload and trip.

Also, if you use a general-purpose circuit breaker for the heater, the breaker will most likely trip. Instead, use a dedicated circuit breaker for such operations.

Quick Tip: General-purpose circuit breakers handle power requirements for a whole room. On the other hand, a dedicated breaker only handles the heater’s power requirement.

Step 7 – No Extension Cords

extension cords with orange wire
Video | Stud Pack

Using an extension cord is often not good for such high-power demanding circuits. In truth, extension cords won’t be able to handle such power. So, remove any extension cord to stop the breaker from tripping.

Step 8 – Check the Heater for Overheating

checking the heater by hand
Video | Sweet Home

The breaker will trip when there is an electrical issue in the electric space heater circuit. Overheating is one of the main issues most space heaters have, which might cause tripping. So, check the heater for overheating. If the heater shows any signs of overheating, try to figure out the issue.

Always remember extreme overheating can lead to an electrical fire.Step 9 – Check the Heater for Electrical Damage

If none of the above steps don’t solve the breaker tripping issue, the issue might lie with the electric space heater. Disconnect the heater from the power supply and examine it for electrical damage. If you don’t have the skills to do so, get help from a professional electrician.

Step 10 – Position the Heater on a Plat Surface

Placing the electric space heater on an unstable surface can cause balance issues for space heaters. Sometimes, it might affect the current flow and trip the breaker. In this case, place the heater on a flat surface.

Video References

Sweet Home

Electrician U

Jason Roush

Erik Stueckrad

Fix This House


Sparky Direct

Stud Pack

Matthias random stuff

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About Sam Orlovsky

AvatarCertifications: B.E.E.
Education: University Of Denver - Electric Engineering
Lives In: Denver Colorado

Electrical engineering is my passion, and I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. This gives me a unique ability to give you expert home improvement and DIY recommendations. I’m not only an electrician, but I also like machinery and anything to do with carpentry. One of my career paths started as a general handyman, so I also have a lot of experience with home improvement I love to share.

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