What Wire and Breaker Size for a 5,000-watt Heater?

You may need to keep your shop, garage, and cabin warm and cozy during the cold, chilly winters.

Depending on the insulation used, a 5000-watt 240 V heater with its estimated 17,060 btu/hr heat output may be just what you need to quickly heat the space and keep it warm.

Now, several of these heaters need to be hardwired with their circuit breaker and dedicated circuit. So, what size of wire and breaker should you use?

Read on to find what wire gauge and circuit breaker size to use with your electric heater.

Note: The information provided here is only a guide. Always consult a licensed electrician. Make sure to refer to the electric heater owner manual for wiring instructions.

What Size Wire for a 5000-watt Heater?

At a minimum, use 10 AWG wire to safely handle the estimated current draw of about 22 amps at 208-240V. That said, always consult your electric heater’s owner manual.

Circuit breaker Size for 5000-watt Heater

As a rough guide, wire the 5000-watt heater to a dedicated electric circuit and 30 amp breaker rated 220V/240V.

Note, in some cases, even with the recommended 30 amp breaker, you may have the breaker tripping at full power (5000 watts).

As a temporary fix, you may have to lower the heat output to get the heater working continuously. A permanent solution though is to get a qualified electrician to upgrade your wiring and circuit breakers safely so that you can use your heater safely!

Related questions

1. How Much Space Is a 5000-Watt Heater Suited to Heating?

This depends on how well the room you’re heating is insulated but as a rough guide, you can expect it to heat up to 500 sq. ft. Double-check your heater’s user manual to confirm the heater’s performance data.

2. How Much Electricity (kWh) the Heater Uses?

A 5,000-watt heater uses an estimated 120 units of electricity (120 kWh) a day (from 5,000 watts x 24 hours/ 1000). This assumes that the heater is working continuously at maximum heat output.

In practice, it may cycle on or off and the actual electricity consumption may be lower.

3. Daily Running Cost for a 5000-watt Heater

Over 24 hours, a 5,000-watt heater costs about USD 14 to run. This assumes an electricity tariff of 0.12 USD per kWh.

The Calculation

Daily electricity consumption of 120 kWh x electricity tariff of USD 0.12 = USD 14.4.

4. How Much it Costs to Run for a Month (30 days)?

The monthly electricity consumption of the heater (assuming it works continuously at full power) is 3,600 kWh.

The estimated associated energy bill assumes a tariff of USD 0.12 = 3,600 x 0.12 = USD 432.

5. Is it Expensive to Run?

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average American household consumes about 886 kWh over 30 days.

The cost of running this heater alone at full power amount is four times (400%) the monthly electric utility bill of an average home in the US according to the 2021 EIA data.

Closing Thoughts

Consider a 10 AWG wire and 30 amp circuit breaker for your 5,000-watt heater installation. Always contact a licensed electrician or refer to the heater’s wiring instructions.

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