Dumb Electrical Question

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Nette, Jan 13, 2005.

  1. Nette

    Nette Well-Known Member Supporter

    Aug 17, 2003
    I need some additional electrical outlets in the upstairs bedrooms in my week-end farmhouse. Can I get the electrician to put additional outlets adjacent to my electric baseboard heating units, using the existing wiring that runs to them? If that's possible, it just seems like that would be easier than pulling new wiring.
  2. Explorer

    Explorer Well-Known Member Supporter

    Dec 1, 2003
    Far West in the White Mountains, Arizona
    It all depends upon the size and condition of the wiring. A qualified electrician can tell you.

    Do you have another room next door with outlets that are close? If so, tap off them.

  3. WanderingOak

    WanderingOak Well-Known Member

    Jul 12, 2004
    New York
    The baseboard heaters might run off of 240v. If that is the case, you can NOT run an outlet off of the same wiring. Also, if the baseboard units have an external thermostat, the thermostat would wind up controling power to the outlets as well. This sounds like a very bad idea.
  4. BobBoyce

    BobBoyce Well-Known Member

    Aug 21, 2004
    Most baseboard heating is 240 VAC. Either leg of 240 VAC to neutral is 120 VAC, so it is possible. Depending on how it's done would determine if it's to code or not. Unless you know what you're doing, you really need to get an electrician, or at the least someone that knows what they are doing with electrical work, to help you with this.

    The quick and dirty, but not to code, would be to tie into the baseboard heater circuit near the heater. If there is a thermostat in the circuit, you may have to alter the switching to only switch one leg of the 240 VAC. You would have to limit the current used on those outlets, especially when the heater is running, so as to not overload the wiring. This is where electrical work experience comes in handy, so you know the limitations of the wiring.

    In most areas, code would be met if a subpanel were added upstairs, and the original baseboard heater wiring were used to supply the subpanel. Then the baseboard heater and additional outlets would have their own breakers in the subpanel. The determining factor would be the condition and guage of the existing wiring to the baseboard heater. At the worst, you can have a new heavier guage feed run from the main panel to the subpanel and use the appropriate sized breaker to feed the subpanel.

    I run a similar setup to run a 120 VAC 500 watt pumphouse heater from the power to my 240 VAC pump. I run 240 VAC from a 30 amp breaker in the main panel to a subpanel in my pumphouse. The pressure tank and switch are remoted up in the house, so I run the subpanel feed through that pressure switch. I only switch one leg of the 240 VAC at the pressure switch. At the pumphouse, I have a small 4 slot subpanel with a 10 amp breaker for the heater, and a 20 amp double breaker for the pump.

  5. ChuckinVA

    ChuckinVA Well-Known Member

    Mar 16, 2003
    I want to point out that with a 240 volt baseboard unit, you do not have a neutral. Only two current carrying conductors and a ground. The ground wire is not supposed to carry current except to protect the circuit and although there are ways to make it work, no electrician worth his or her salt should ever consider doing this. An electrician should be able to fish a wire between floors to get power into the bedrooms. Not the easiest solution but the better of the two choices.
  6. jacobs

    jacobs Well-Known Member

    Jan 11, 2005
    The baseboard heater idea is a bad one no matter how you look at it and too much bother and cost to modify even if it was a good idea. I don't know what your weekend farmhouse looks like, how old or the condition of the existing wiring, but the easiest way to put outlets upstairs in an old house is through the attic. Most old farmhouses have knob and tube wiring in the attic, unless it has been rewired with romex in which case there will be junction boxes. If you have pull strings on the ceiling lights, chances are you have knob and tube wiring (2 wires, one hot/one neutral, run about 1ft apart using glass insulators and tubes). All you would have to do is tap off these wires in the attic, drill a hole down in the wall from the attic, cut out a hole for the recpt. Before you put the recpt box in you would have to push a "fishtape" down the hole, hook the wire to the fishtape through the hole you cut for the recpt, and pull the wire up. Hook up the recpt first, then turn off the main power and splice to the wiring in the attic. If it has junction boxes in the attic with romex wiring instead of knob and tube, that's even easier! Just hook into a junction box.