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Q&A About Electric Baseboard Heaters, Quad Receptacles and Installing New Circuits to Bedrooms and a Family Room

December 16, 2009

Question John S. asks:
Electrician ran wiring for 2 pole baseboard heaters in my basement remodel but no thermostat, and now electrician is in the wind. Looks like he ran wiring for 2 units each on it’s own breaker (I wanted them in tandem) don’t know if they are. Sheetrocks already up. What can I do?

Trace the wiring. The safest way to do this is to turn off the power and verify that it is off at the heater. Disconnect the heaters from the electrical wiring. Go to the second unit and wire nut the 2 hot wires together. Go back to the first unit and check for continuity. You should have continuity on the set of wires going from the first heater to the second heater. Go back to the second unit and separate the wires. Go to the first unit and check for continuity. You shouldn’t have continuity on the set of wires going from the first heater to the second heater.

Since there is no wall-mounted thermostat, I recommend installing a unit-mounted t-stat on each heater. There should be 2 sets of wires at the first heater. Connect both of the black wires together and to one of the line side wires on the t-stat. Connect both of the white wires together and to the other line side wire on the t-stat. Connect the heater to the load side of the t-stat. At the second heater, the wires coming from the first heater connect to the line side and the heater connects to the load side. Close everything up, turn on the power and test.


Doug asks:
I was wondering if the quad outlets could overload a circuit and if it would be better to run romex from two different circuits, one to each outlet.

It depends on what you are going to plug into the outlets. In a residential application this should be fine because you typically do not use everything plugged into a circuit at the same time. I recommend installing a dedicated circuit if the load on your quad receptacles will consume 60% of the circuit’s capacity or more.

Tip You are only permitted to fill a circuit breaker to 80% of it’s capacity. 15A breaker = 12A load maximum. 20A breaker = 16A load maximum.


Alvin Fitterer asks:
I have three bedrooms and family room on one breaker is there any way to split them up. All rooms are finished.

If there is attic space above or an unfinished basement or crawl space below, then you can fish some wires through these spaces. You may also surface mount conduit or wiremold. Another trick is to lift the carpet and cut the sub-floor to access the joist space and fish wires through here. However, I do not recommend this is there is a hardwood or other type of finished floor below the carpet.

I recommend installing 2 new circuits. Place the family room on a dedicated circuit, the largest bedroom on a dedicated circuit and the 2 smaller bedrooms on a circuit. This should give you plenty of capacity for anything you want to do in these spaces.


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