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Space heater and power outages.

DasUberEdwardDasUberEdward Registered User regular
edited November 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
So as of last night I've begun to have power failures whenever my space heater is plugged in and my PC is on. This would be entirely understandable if it wasn't a new development. I've used the same set up for about two weeks without experiencing any sort of power outage. I have at times had lights on, the heater, my pc, and the television without any problems.

So I left my apartment for a few days and when I return a few nights later i'm making a post on PA. I press "submit reply" and bam. Everything goes dark. I try to use just the PC and the space heater. . it's successful for a while but then I go to hulu and bam. Everything's out.

Now I have turned off just about everything I can think of that's elsewhere in the apartment but the problem persist. It's important to note that only the electricity in my room decides to vanish and my roommates are unaffected.

Why would my heater suddenly cause this problem? I've tried plugging it into the surge protector and a few other locations but to no avail. It's fucking cold.

DasUberEdward on
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Posts

  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Are you sure your roommates are completely unaffected? A lot of dorms/apartments have crazy wiring, where multiple rooms share the same circuit.

    Also, are you aware how much using a space heater very often is going to run up your electric bill? They're fantastically inefficient.

  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo Crushing pussy; Marry a man Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    I don't understand why you are blaming the space heater. This sounds like you've developed a fun hardware fault on the PC.

    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • RuckusRuckus Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Mojo_Jojo wrote: »
    I don't understand why you are blaming the space heater. This sounds like you've developed a fun hardware fault on the PC.

    That must be one hell of a fault to kill the TV and Lights too.

    OP could try running an extension cord from another unused circuit to power either his comp or the TV.

    Space heaters should really be plugged directly to a socket though.

    Raneados wrote: »
    so what SPECIFICALLY is the problem with my hole?
  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Mojo_Jojo wrote: »
    I don't understand why you are blaming the space heater. This sounds like you've developed a fun hardware fault on the PC.
    He's blaming the space heater because it draws approximately a bazillion times as much power as the PC.

  • DasUberEdwardDasUberEdward Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Thanatos wrote: »
    Are you sure your roommates are completely unaffected? A lot of dorms/apartments have crazy wiring, where multiple rooms share the same circuit.

    Also, are you aware how much using a space heater very often is going to run up your electric bill? They're fantastically inefficient.

    Yeah they all have power. Nothing goes out in their rooms and I only have to flip the circuit thing for my room.

    The big debate we're having is if we can save money by heating the entire lower floor of our apartment with the fireplace since not using heat in the winter will save a lot of cash and our ventilation system seems to be relatively inefficient.

    So. . .I picked up a space heater because it's cold as the dickens in my room. I'm sure that having a sliding glass balcony door taking up an entire wall of my living space doesn't help matters.

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  • DasUberEdwardDasUberEdward Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Mojo_Jojo wrote: »
    I don't understand why you are blaming the space heater. This sounds like you've developed a fun hardware fault on the PC.

    Do go on. How would I test such a thing? I suppose that could explain why it seems that the problem on arises when I do something on the PC. Once it happened when I pressed save. Another time it happened when I pressed submit. . etc.

    It's just strange that the setup has worked without any complications just until recently.

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  • RuckusRuckus Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    It could be the breaker in the panel. I have seen individual 15Amp breakers get "twitchy" before.

    [edit] Replacing a breaker is a job for a licensed electrician.

    Raneados wrote: »
    so what SPECIFICALLY is the problem with my hole?
  • TopweaselTopweasel Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    I had the same thing start to happen but it was only when my video card went into 3d mode. The colder it gets outside the more devices people leave on (specially TV's and Lights) The more stress it puts on the breaker. Chances are the times it popped it would have anyways but using you system pretty much promised it.

  • DasUberEdwardDasUberEdward Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Ruckus wrote: »
    It could be the breaker in the panel. I have seen individual 15Amp breakers get "twitchy" before.

    [edit] Replacing a breaker is a job for a licensed electrician.

    Well we do have some sort of maintenance staff for our apartment complex. So that's good I guess. . .how would I know if it was the breaker?
    Topweasel wrote: »
    I had the same thing start to happen but it was only when my video card went into 3d mode. The colder it gets outside the more devices people leave on (specially TV's and Lights) The more stress it puts on the breaker. Chances are the times it popped it would have anyways but using you system pretty much promised it.

    Well I can't say that it would have went out anyway because I used it while watching TV for quite some time without anything happening. I recall one time it decided to go I only had Google Chrome up and nothing else. I clicked some link and everything powered down.

    This is depressing I don't want to wear a jacket when I compute.

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  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    I think Ruckus is onto it.

    You're drawing too much current and causing the breaker to trip. Run an extension cord to another circuit to serve the heater.

    Edit: If it's a 1500-2000 watt heater, as many space heaters are, it alone draws more power then everything else in your room combined.

  • RuckusRuckus Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    The way to know for sure if it's the breaker is to calculate how much power everything in your room consumes, peak.

    Everything powered in your room should have a sticker indicating peak Amperage, or at the very least you should be able to calculate it's consumption based on wattage.

    eg a 1000W heater:
    1000W / 120V = 8.3Amps

    Wattage / Voltage = Amperage.

    Since each standard househould circuit is usually 15Amps, you know that single 1000W heater would be using more than half of the circuit. Additionally, that generation of PC probably consumes 300-400W for the tower, and depending on the Monitor, possibly a 150W more there. Add in a Laser Printer or a few Lamps and you're creeping up on the max.

    But I'd say if you total it out to less than 12Amps, the breaker may be bad. Or you could have an electrical short in something.

    Raneados wrote: »
    so what SPECIFICALLY is the problem with my hole?
  • DasUberEdwardDasUberEdward Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    I can set it to 1250 or 1500. Then there's a knob with a gradient system to determine the heat output. Right now I have it on the very lowest setting (before it was somewhere around medium). I've never used it on 1500.

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  • DasUberEdwardDasUberEdward Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Ruckus wrote: »
    The way to know for sure if it's the breaker is to calculate how much power everything in your room consumes, peak.

    Everything powered in your room should have a sticker indicating peak Amperage, or at the very least you should be able to calculate it's consumption based on wattage.

    eg a 1000W heater:
    1000W / 120V = 8.3Amps

    Wattage / Voltage = Amperage.

    Since each standard househould circuit is usually 15Amps, you know that single 1000W heater would be using more than half of the circuit. Additionally, that generation of PC probably consumes 300-400W for the tower, and depending on the Monitor, possibly a 150W more there. Add in a Laser Printer or a few Lamps and you're creeping up on the max.

    But I'd say if you total it out to less than 12Amps, the breaker may be bad. Or you could have an electrical short in something.

    I've got my tower (500W?). Monitor. Modem. TV. Mini Fridge. The heater.

    That's it. Oh and one light. I think if the problem persist i'll just unplug the fridge as i'm sure it's a hog.

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  • RuckusRuckus Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Djeet wrote: »
    I think Ruckus is onto it.

    You're drawing too much current and causing the breaker to trip. Run an extension cord to another circuit to serve the heater.

    Edit: If it's a 1500-2000 watt heater, as many space heaters are, it alone draws more power then everything else in your room combined.

    Actually, you should avoid extension cords for space heaters most of the time.

    If you want to use an extension cord for a heater, I'd recommend the good 12 or 10 guage 3-wire onces, single end only (as opposed to triple ended cords).

    Raneados wrote: »
    so what SPECIFICALLY is the problem with my hole?
  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Yeah, heater plus mini-fridge on the same circuit is almost certainly going to blow the breaker; the computer just causes spikes which make it switch.

    Honestly, I'd recommend getting long johns, flannel pajamas, and moccasin-style slippers. In the long run, doing that instead of running a space heater will save you a shitload of money.

  • DasUberEdwardDasUberEdward Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Ruckus wrote: »
    Djeet wrote: »
    I think Ruckus is onto it.

    You're drawing too much current and causing the breaker to trip. Run an extension cord to another circuit to serve the heater.

    Edit: If it's a 1500-2000 watt heater, as many space heaters are, it alone draws more power then everything else in your room combined.

    Actually, you should avoid extension cords for space heaters most of the time.

    If you want to use an extension cord for a heater, I'd recommend the good 12 or 10 guage 3-wire onces, single end only (as opposed to triple ended cords).

    I originally had it plugged into a search protector and all was going well. Right now it's plugged directly into an outlet.
    Thanatos wrote: »
    Yeah, heater plus mini-fridge on the same circuit is almost certainly going to blow the breaker; the computer just causes spikes which make it switch.

    Honestly, I'd recommend getting long johns, flannel pajamas, and moccasin-style slippers. In the long run, doing that instead of running a space heater will save you a shitload of money.

    Yeah I intend on stocking up on some of that stuff when I go to visit my parents.

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  • DasUberEdwardDasUberEdward Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    My big question now is, why did this problem take so long to manifest?

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  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    My big question now is, why did this problem take so long to manifest?
    Electricity can be a fickle bitch.

  • RuckusRuckus Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    My big question now is, why did this problem take so long to manifest?

    Probably just because it's colder outside now.

    Raneados wrote: »
    so what SPECIFICALLY is the problem with my hole?
  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Thanatos wrote: »
    Yeah, heater plus mini-fridge on the same circuit is almost certainly going to blow the breaker; the computer just causes spikes which make it switch.

    Honestly, I'd recommend getting long johns, flannel pajamas, and moccasin-style slippers. In the long run, doing that instead of running a space heater will save you a shitload of money.

    You have no idea how unbelievably warm those can be with a down comforter. Like, having to take clothes off you're sweating so bad in a ~50 degree room.

  • DasUberEdwardDasUberEdward Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Hurumph. I guess i'll campaign to actually turn our heat on then. Thanks everyone. You can lock this one.

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  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    It's easy to unknowingly creep up on the capacity of the circuit. Also current draws are not flat, well your heater might be flat, but your electronics will spike to max current as the power supply powers up and then drop to a lower level once booted. If you're able to sync the powerloss with some operation on your computer (e.g. openning hulu), then likely you're running very close to capacity before the operation, but the operation caused the computer power supply to draw more current than for which the circuit was rated and it tripped.

    Your fridges power consumption, as another example, would be considerably higher when its compressor is running.

    There is also the possibility your PC power supply is going flakey, in addition to possibly running in overload when a PC power supply starts to fail its power draw can become erratic. Though moving a large power consuming device like a heater to another circuit would probably resolve your issue.

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