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Old 02-24-2017, 06:09 PM   #1
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Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: Challenger 37LX
State: Texas
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THOR #1403
Electric Heaters blowing circuit

I am curious if anyone else is having any trouble using electric heaters in their MH.

We at times do use an electric heater, 120v 60 Hz max 1500W ceramic heater, as the propane heater does not equally heat the bedroom area and sometimes we need an extra heat boost up front as well. Yes we also do have the electric fireplace as well in our Thor Challenger.

The problem and question is if we use the two small ceramic heaters at the same time front and back, they trip the circuit breaker. If one is on and the hair dryer is used that will also trip the circuit breaker.

Is anyone also having this problem or using plug in electric heaters without blowing the circuit breaker?
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Old 02-24-2017, 06:26 PM   #2
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Two 1500-watt heaters on maximum setting require more power than a single 20-Amp breaker can supply. The same would apply if you try to run a 1500-watt heater and a 1500-watt hair dryer, for example.

Any 1500-watt device requires at least 13 Amps, so when you combine two of them on same breaker it's normal for breaker to trip.
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Old 02-24-2017, 06:33 PM   #3
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THOR #5196
Switch your heaters to a different plug so they aren't on the same circuit. I occasionally ran 3 heaters in our Tuscany, just had to make sure they were different circuits.
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Old 02-24-2017, 07:55 PM   #4
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Thank you for your insight on this, I appreciate it.
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Old 02-24-2017, 08:00 PM   #5
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Its always going to be a juggling act. We too run an electric heater, but if my wife wants to use the toaster, the heater has to be shut off.
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Old 02-24-2017, 08:21 PM   #6
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One thing I did was use a plug in circuit tester, turned all breakers off, then turned on one at a time and made a small simple map of which outlets were on what breaker. I taped the map inside a cabinet door so I could refer to it when plugging in high amp items, solved the tripped breaker problem.
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Old 02-24-2017, 08:27 PM   #7
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As for the circuits it seems all the outlet plugs inside and outside the Thor Challenger, and ours is a 2015, are on the same circuit. I once had a heater on using the outdoor plug and when the other heater inside was turned on it tripped the circuit. So it seems in our MH we can only run one thing on the plugs at a time. Yes we are on 50amp Shore power.

I thought the small ceramic heaters we bought would be fine for a little extra heat but no so in this MH.

I am not sure if it is a design flaw for Thor or what but the propane heater just does not distribute the heat evenly in the MH. Also we got the W&D option and the thermostat is on that wall where the W&D are, so it seems to be affected by the heat of the two and by the sun as well. It will often register much higher than the thermostat in the bedroom.

On our MH only the front thermostat controls the heat and since it is the propane heat that comes out through the floor vents the rear vent in the bedroom and in the rear bathroom have less flow than what comes out through the floor vent at the kitchen sink and the vent in the mid bathroom.

So we just have to use one plug in heater at a time then. The fireplace heater is nice if one is sitting on the couch right in front of it but does not really give much heat for the rest of the MH and again is why we are using additional plug in heaters at times.

So for the Thor people who monitor this site and read the posts, just saying there is an area you can look into for possible improvements in the future. First of all relocate that front thermostat so if one does get the W&D option there will not be a problem with the thermostat and also place it where it wont be effected by the sun on the outside wall. Unless someone removed something or insulation when installing the W&D that makes that thermostat heat up with heat of the sun. There is no direct sunlight on the thermostat. It can be 60 outside but if it is sunny that sun on the MH wall makes that thermostat go up to 80. So I am thinking of trying a new thermostat to see if it registers any differently. The bedroom thermostat works more normal with temperature readings as I have used a digital laser heat gun to check the temperatures around all the walls inside the MH.
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Old 02-24-2017, 08:36 PM   #8
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Pops,

Have you thought about replacing the floor registers with ones that have a damper so you can control the airflow? Doing so you might be able to reduce the airflow to the front of the coach and thereby increase the airflow to the rear.

Also, I pulled the wooden air vent off my 37ND one day and found a 2 inch hole in the furnace duct running to the rear of the coach. I used some aluminum furnace tape and taped that duct and it increased my airflow to the bedroom by about 100 percent. Apparently when they installed my fireplace they put a hole in that duct and it never got repaired until I came across the issue one day while snooping around.
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Old 02-24-2017, 08:45 PM   #9
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Does your AC have the heat pump option? If so you can run your heat pump for heat down to 38 degrees or so. With outside air temps below that, heat pumps don't work very well. For us on the West Coast, in our moderate climate, our main source of heat, is the heat pump and an electric heater. If temps really drop, we always have the propane furnace for backup.
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Old 02-24-2017, 09:25 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pops R View Post
As for the circuits it seems all the outlet plugs inside and outside the Thor Challenger, and ours is a 2015, are on the same circuit. I once had a heater on using the outdoor plug and when the other heater inside was turned on it tripped the circuit. So it seems in our MH we can only run one thing on the plugs at a time. Yes we are on 50amp Shore power.

....cut.....
It doesn't seem right to me that all of your outlets would have been wired into one circuit protected by one breaker, particularly since you have a 50-Amp-service motorhome.

As SuperD suggested, I'd check every outlet on coach and identify which breakers they are on. A wiring diagram would help, but I'd physically check anyway to confirm what was actually built.
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Old 02-24-2017, 10:41 PM   #11
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Dave thanks for the suggestion on the floor registers, had not thought of that but might. It would keep the bedroom warmer possibly at night and the front more frigid but it is a thought.
I cant discount a possible hole in the duct as you found, but buying a new Thor MH one should expect Thor's 100% perfection and competence. However I will say we did have issues with the full wall slide out at first due to a lot of left over construction debris left on the floor the rollers got hung up on. Stuff like bits of plywood and cut pieces of wire. When we turned on the AC the first time we found pieces of Styrofoam blown to the ceiling vents we needed to remove so anything is possible.

LACO our AC units are AC only no heat.

CHANCE I am attempting to post a picture of our factory labeled circuit breakers and the one that always trips is labeled General Recepts. There is another for the GFCI which is for the two bathroom wall plugs so I suppose I could just plug one of the heaters in the bathroom but that is not really very practical but yes a solution.

Anyway have enjoyed all the feed back and it is great to be able to type with other owners and hear all each has to say.
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Old 02-24-2017, 11:57 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pops R View Post
...
CHANCE I am attempting to post a picture of our factory labeled circuit breakers and the one that always trips is labeled General Recepts. There is another for the GFCI which is for the two bathroom wall plugs so I suppose I could just plug one of the heaters in the bathroom but that is not really very practical but yes a solution.
My 50A has 2 circuits for general receptacles...
Looking at yours - I see the one... two possible solutions:
  • Add an additional outlet to the 'fireplace' circuit - assuming you wouldn't be using that and the additional aux heater at same time...
  • Add a new circuit (your photo appears to show 2 'blanks' to right of converter) - with an outlet where you want it (and can access...)
I'm prepared to (when I am back in the same state as my RV) add another outlet more for convenience (location) rather than capacity... In my case will add on to the GFCI circuit - as the outlet will be in a place within normal cord reach of the kitchen sink...
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Old 02-25-2017, 12:01 AM   #13
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Pops, check for other outlets on the GFCI circuit. At least the ones near your kitchen sink should be on that circuit. Use the test button to trip out the GFCI and check to see what other outlets are dead. Then reset and check to make sure the ones that were dead are hot again.
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Old 02-25-2017, 12:26 PM   #14
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"Add a new circuit (your photo appears to show 2 'blanks' to right of converter) - with an outlet where you want it (and can access...)"

I would consider what gmc said. This will be one of the mods on my list. I also have 2 separate circuits in my washer/dryer closet that will never be used for that purpose and I could also just run additional outlets from there.
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Old 02-25-2017, 01:54 PM   #15
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I would also add that just because your breaker panel has 'labels' does not mean that the item listed is the ONLY item on that breaker, just that it's the MAIN item on that breaker - it's very likely that you have many outlets that are on these other breakers shown on the list, but you have to do some testing to find which...

I have several outlets on our GFCI circuit, not just the bathroom and kitchen, but also under the booth(under the seat), etc.
Also, our Microwave is on a circuit with other outlets, and our Bunk outlets are also on the WaterHeater circuit, etc...

it actually looks like you have PLENTY of circuits and outlets, you just have to find the two DIFFERENT circuits if you want to use TWO heaters at the same time.... and...

if it really bothers you, you can run an extension cord for one of the heaters to the ShorePower pole 120v GFCI circuit, and bypass your 50a coach breakers all together.
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Old 02-25-2017, 02:58 PM   #16
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Another possible option that may work, depending on A/C models and controls, is adding heat strips to the two air conditioners. From one manufacturer:

•Optional Heater Assembly can be added to provide a source of warm air.


One advantage to heat strips, if a viable option, is that they would use the existing 20-Amp circuits to the two A/Cs.

A quick search on different forums shows that some owners love heat strips and others prefer portable heaters for various reasons. I'm not even sure if they can be added to ducted A/Cs, but would consider it.
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Old 02-25-2017, 11:21 PM   #17
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All good suggestions here. I am all about simple. Instead of running a heater, you might try just a small fan. Since heat rises, you would want the fan to take air away from the cold area so that the warmer air will circulate back.

This may or may not be enough to solve the problem. We have run a ceramic heater with no problems in our Vegas, so I haven't tried this.
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Old 02-26-2017, 12:54 AM   #18
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anything that generates HEAT is one of the biggest culprits of Tripped Breakers, whether in your RV, or in your Home... AirConditioners are obviously also a big user of energy, but they generally are already on their own circuits, with their own individual breakers.

A 750w/1500w electric space heater, a 1500w hair blow dryer, and a Microwave on high watts setting are all subject to tripping your breaker(s), depending on WHAT ELSE IS BEING USED AT THE SAME TIME ON THE SAME CIRCUIT(electric wiring connected to a breaker)
(and, all of the items being used at the same time on the MAIN CIRCUIT, as well, which is why you see individual breakers, sub breakers, main breakers, breakers on your generator, and even main FUSE breakers in your battery compartment - all with the intent to prevent OVER USAGE of a circuit)

Electricity is not unlimited, though a 50amp Shore Power RV, which is capable of pulling up to 100amps of total power, is certainly capable of providing you all the heat and air conditioning you need, IF power management is attended to.
Even the highest end Motor Coaches can trip breakers if electricity is not managed properly... it's all about how MANY items are on the SAME circuit at the SAME time.

If you are using two heaters, a blow dryer, the microwave, and two TVs all at the same time, you MAY be fine, if they are all on different circuits...

but,
If you are using all of these same items, and they are ALL on the SAME circuit - then NO!!!

when you own an RV, you have to learn to become an electrician, a plumber, a truck driver, a mechanic, and a DIYer to figure out and maintain many of the wonderful workings of your new home!

enjoy : )
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Old 02-28-2017, 11:56 PM   #19
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Thanks again to all. As an update to my situation, what I have done is run one heater in the back bathroom which is on the GFI circuit beaker with the mid bathroom, and then one in the front of the MH in a wall plug that is on the General receptacle circuit breaker so no tripping. Using the fireplace as well we have stayed warm over night in Colorado Springs while we worked out the problem with the propane heater.

The problem with our furnace was replaced under warranty with Atwood so now all is fine and we are back to normal furnace heat in the Colorado cold.
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