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Old 12-14-2014, 05:52 PM   #1
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RV Eats Space Heaters

Does anybody else experience problems with space heaters? Tonight I lost another space heater. It simply will not turn on. This a pretty normal occurrence for us. I haven't experienced a problem with any other devices, just space heaters. In a years time we have lost approximately 10 space heaters .

I have a surge guard. It's on and showing everything is fine. Another thing that might be noteworthy is that we've never lost a space heater while it was running. It's always when I go to turn them on that they end up not working. Also all of the space heaters have been the ceramic type,

Any ideas what might be causing this?

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Old 12-14-2014, 05:57 PM   #2
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Overheating during cyclingn due to low voltage or overhearing wires.

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Old 12-14-2014, 06:02 PM   #3
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Are you using the same receptacle for each failure? Are the heaters totally broken or do they work elsewhere?

So they run OK....you turn them off. Next time you hit ON.....nothing? Are any of them thermostatically controlled?

Do you have a "Watts Up" device that shows lots of info when connected to an appliance? Pretty cheap now, might get one.

Do you have another type (not ceramic) that you can use as a tester?
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Old 12-14-2014, 06:47 PM   #4
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What kind of heaters? Were they all the same brand or different mfgs. Are you running them off an inverter circuit?
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Old 12-14-2014, 07:26 PM   #5
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Some will not work on inverter circuit.
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Old 12-14-2014, 07:32 PM   #6
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Off hand I would not think low voltage would kill a space heater. Less voltage = less heat output so usually = longer life.

What will kill a heating coil is the temperature rise when the airflow is shut off and the coil is at max temperature. Heat in the surrounding ceramic can cause a heat rise that deteriorates the coil. Eventually they crack. The easy answer is to cycle the heater down to low for a minute then fan if possible then off. Something I learned reading the directions on industrial heat guns many years ago. Works so far.

The other thing that can kill a simple heater is high line voltage. The higher the voltage the more power the heater will produce because the heater coil is running hotter. The hotter the coil the sooner it dies. You might want to check your line voltage and run on less than full on if the voltage is high.
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Old 12-14-2014, 07:45 PM   #7
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RV Eats Space Heaters

I suspect high voltage and/or operating from a inverter.
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Old 12-15-2014, 05:03 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by becks View Post
Some will not work on inverter circuit.
Only if the inverter is too small.

Space heaters draw around 12 amps on high, Though the outlets in an RV are offically approved for 15 amps, often they start to fail right around 10 amps.. This is why I have some special outlets (15/20 type) that are fed with 12ga wire bent around a screw and tightened down, each from its very own circuit breaker (no other outlets, nothing daisy chained)

That is another problem with RV wireing

Breaker box=====Outlet1====outlet2=====outlet3

Outlet 1 has to carry all the load for all 3 outlets

That is the RV side of things.
Next post: the heater side.
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Old 12-15-2014, 05:05 AM   #9
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Space heaters contain a Thermostat, Optionally a tip over switch, and a THERMAL FUSE, this small device looks like a diode to my electronics tech eyes, usually it is a wire with a small silver colored (May be any color) bulge.... IF for any reason the heater overheats it can blow this fuse, the fuse can be replaced, this is the #1 cause of space heater failure.

The T-Stat can fail as well (usually when it is NOT plugged in) as can the tip over switch. These are dirty contact or insect climbed on board failure.. You can clean the contacts with a contact tool or emery board.

But the Thermal fuse .. Well, Radio Shack used to carry them but I do not know the heat range.
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Old 12-15-2014, 05:19 AM   #10
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When running a space heater I run a separate cord to the pole. I do not plug into the campers wiring.
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Old 12-15-2014, 05:26 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by jenandjon View Post
When running a space heater I run a separate cord to the pole. I do not plug into the campers wiring.

X 2.
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Old 12-15-2014, 05:27 AM   #12
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Try one of the oil filled radiator types. These usually work forever...I have some that are 10 years old still working fine.

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Old 12-15-2014, 06:01 AM   #13
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I used to use a small ceramic heater to heat my airplane. When it died I took it apart and found a thermal protection device had opened. I bought a replacement and it worked for a long time after that.
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Old 12-15-2014, 08:57 AM   #14
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Strange - those heaters usually work fine for years. Some of the newer models with digital controls die young, though. The heater is fine but the little switch/control circuit board goes.

One thing that makes space heaters overheat is dust collecting at the air intake. Few inexpensive heaters have easily removable/cleanable screens and they just clog up with the dust that's in the air near the floor. Then the internal safety will trip and it won't even turn on. Sometimes placing the heater a foot or two above floor level helps - less dust gets sucked in.

Moisture can be a problem in todays heaters that have little circuit boards. Older mechanical control heaters may be more reliable for RV use.

Since few people have enough battery capacity to run a heater via an inverter, I doubt he is actually using MSW for it. When on shore power, 120v may be switched through the inverter, but its not inverting when shore power is present. However, if the heater is plugged in but turned off while traveling with the inverter on, it's controls will still be exposed to inverter supplied power. If that is MSW, they might hiccup on it and die. Digital control boards are alive whenever they are plugged in, even though the device is turned off, so they can and do choke on MSW power. I've lost several small electronic devices because I forgot to unplug them while traveling with inverter active.

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