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Berkeley Lab

Electric Space Heater Safety

PUB-3000 requirements about space heaters can be found in the Fire Protection chapter of PUB-3000 (Chapter 12, Work Process I). Contact the Fire Marshal, Todd LaBerge (x 6071, TALaBerge@lbl.gov) if you have any questions or concerns.

Cold weather is here. You might feel the need to use a portable electric space heater in your work area. We should try to avoid the use of space heaters due to power consumption and fire safety concerns. However, if you must use a space heater, consider the following safety requirements.

1.     Minimum Safety Features:

a.    Use only GROUNDED type (cord with three-prong plug) or double insulated, and listed and marked by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) such as Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL).

b.    The maximum electrical rating should be 500 watts.

In addition to increasing safety by reducing potential overload conditions, especially in cubicle environments, this requirement is part of the LBNL Management goal to comply with DOE Order 430.2B, and Executive Order 13423.  For additional information, see Sustainable Berkeley Lab, or email the Sustainability Program.

c.    Heaters must AUTOMATICALLY SHUT OFF when tipped forward or backward, or have an overheat protection switch. (Tip-over switches should be tested annually by tilting the space heater while it is turned on. If the switch functions properly, the unit will shut off automatically).  Zero-Clearance [from combustible material] heaters listed as such by an NRTL are also acceptable.

SUGGESTED HEATERS THAT MEET THIS CRITERIA
MANUFACTURER DESCRIPTION WATTS NRTL SAFETY DEVICE TYPE
 NewAir AH-400 400 YES Tip-Over Switch Radiant convection; no fan
 iHeater Micro 250 450 YES Overheat Protection Infrared; with fan
 Lasko MyHeat 100 200 YES Overheat Protection Infrared; with fan
 Cozy Products Cozy Legs 150 YES Zero-Clearance Radiant; no fan
 Cozy Products Toasty Toes 90 YES Zero-Clearance Radiant; no fan
 Cozy Products Foot Warmer 90 YES Zero-Clearance Radiant; no fan
 Cozy Products Super Foot Warmer 135 YES Zero-Clearance Radiant; no fan
 Optimus H-4110 300 YES Tip-Over Switch Radiant; no fan
 Optimus H-7800 300 YES Tip-Over Switch Infrared; with fan

PUB-3000 requirements about space heaters can be found in the Fire Protection chapter of PUB-3000 (Chapter 12, Work Process I). Contact the Fire Marshal, Todd LaBerge (x 6071, TALaBerge@lbl.gov) if you have any questions or concerns.

d.    Keep heaters clean, NOT covered with dust.

e.    Maintain cords in good condition (e.g., intact insulation, grounding pin in place, not frayed).

2.     Usage

a.    Always read and follow manufacturers’ operating instructions before operating the heater.

b.    Always TURN OFF the heater or UNPLUG it when you leave the office for an extended period (i.e., meeting, lunch, and at the end of the day).

c.    Do not try to use a portable space heater to heat the entire suite or floor. Portable electric heaters are designed for use as supplemental heat for a single room or small area. They should provide temporary heat only.

d.    Contact the Building Manager to have the building heating system inspected and adjusted if the heating requirement is permanent, or if multiple persons within the office suite or space are using electric portable space heaters to supplement the heat in the same area.

e.    Contact the Building Manager in the event a space heater causes the circuit breaker to trip. This indicates that the circuit is being overloaded.

3.     Placement

a.    Do not plug a heater into extension cords or plug strips. It should be plugged into a permanent wall outlet. If a new wall outlet is needed, contact the Building Manager to have a wall outlet installed.

b.    Place the heater on a level and sturdy surface.

c.    Do not use where flammable or explosive vapors, dusts, or toxic materials may be present.

d.    Do not place heater near combustible materials such as papers, magazines, drapes, or office furniture. Follow manufacturer guidelines for placement of the heater. If no manufacturer guidelines are present, provide at least 36 inches clearance in front of the heater and 18 inches from the sides and back.

e.    Do not use heaters in or near wet areas such as locker/shower rooms.

f.    Do not place a heater in an exit way where the cord can become a tripping hazard.

g.    Never run a power cord under the carpet or floor mat.

 

Download a space heater safety handout here.

 

Watch this video for additional safety with space heaters, including your home!

 

PUB-3000 requirements about space heaters can be found in the Fire Protection chapter of PUB-3000 (Chapter 12, Work Process I). Contact the Fire Marshal, Todd LaBerge (x 6071, TALaBerge@lbl.gov) if you have any questions or concerns.