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motivated43 asked Can I use a 24 volt or millivolt thermostat for my baseboard heaters?
I want to buy programmable thermostats for the baseboard heaters in my house (9 in total). Basboard (240 Volt) thermostats are way more expensive than milliwatt or 24 volt thermostats for some reason. My idea is to use a universal 240 Volt relay with a 24 Volt or Millivolt thermostat. I just don't know anything about the wiring. I'm an automechanic so I understand the idea of using a relay pretty well, I figured if I can identify what terminal on the back of the 24V or Millivolt thermostat gives current when the temperature drops that I just need to hook that up to the relay to switch 240V current to the heater. Any professionals out there that can help me develop this idea, any and all suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you!
And got the following answer:
Are you sure they are 240? You probably only have 120/208V in your house. Check again) You're talking about the T-stat, but what is the power connected to? L1 and L2 (with no neutral, I assume, and a ground). ==skip to the next part unless you like geek speak== Once you modify this, it wont be to NEC code unless you have all UL-listed parts, and the relay is in a NEMA enclosure (Any type is OK for this) and everything is run and terminated according to NEC, and your state/local code too.. So when your tstat is at 70 and its colder, you want whatever output the tstat has to be strong enough to power the coil on a relay. You also need a power source to activate the relay. You also need circuit protection and make sure EVERYTHING is grounded. Green wire terminated (not wrapped around a screw). This is serious & lethal if it faults and theres no ground and someone touches it.Theres nothing to trip the breaker if theres no ground. You also must have a disconnect rated at 125% of the total load. If you have 240v baseboard heaters, and they are say 1500 watts, and you're using 208 volts, you'll have MORE amperage than if you used 240v source to power it up. (Watts divided by volts = amps) at 208v powering a 1500W 240V heater, =7.21A but take 125% for your overcurrent protection NEC424.19(B)(1) says the circ breaker in your panel is OK for a disconnect. 424.20 says tstat can be the disconnect if it says OFF somewhere. You arent allowed to have it fed from a circuit breaker more than 60 amps. 422.22(B). Equipment rated at more than 48 Amps SHALL have the elements divided (one heater, 2 elements, one element on its own breaker. This is so it reduces fire risk in a short circ. Use wire rated for 75 degrees C. 424.9: ALL fixed baseboard heaters, permanently installed with factory-installed receptacle outlets is OK in lieu of 210.50(B); Outlet needed if it has a cord+connector, unless you wire it in an approved method to the branch circuit. if you're going to do it anyways and live far from an electrical inspector, I trust you as a mechanic (I was one too) to make proper and tight connections. This is how it can work: your 120v and neutral running to the primary of a transformer. This can be small, get a 120 to 24v or whatever the thermostat runs on (usually 24v). hook the L1 (hot 120v) up to the primary H1 and Neutral (NOT GROUND) to the H4 (check the transformer diagram to be sure on H terminals). You'll have about a 4:1 drop in voltage to 24v on the secondary, but also have 1:4 ratio on available amps. This is why the xfmr can be small. Its only powering the relay and the Tstat. The X1 and X4 will be your 24v AC. Note, when the Neutral is a return, it is NOT a neutral and is still 120v or 24v on either side of this transformer. Careful! http://wiki.xtronics.com/index.php/Image:Thermostat.gif It will look something like this, minus the cooling controls. The 24vAC will hook to your Tstat, and the W will run to one side of the relay coil. I dont know if the "C" on the tstat is used (you have a digital tstat?) but if it is, it may go to the other side of the coil =======LAYMANS TERMS============ Basically what you want is a tstat, powered by 24v (from a transformer, usually in a furnace, which you dont have so you add it, maybe 100VOLTAMP rated is all youll need, maybe much less) that has 24v coming out of it to turn on a relay, (24v relay with two 300v or 600v rated Normally Open contacts The relay has TWO normally open contacts rated HIGHER than the amperage (Watts divided by 208) of the heater You run the two wire/ 208v in from your breaker to its own Normally Open contact, and on the other side of the NormOp contact, running to the heater. Play with it on the workbench first. MAKE SURE you know how many amps this will use when on full blast, and multiply x 1.25, then use that to side another fuse (in each 208v wire before or after the relay) Now, 310.16 says 14GA = 20amps, 12ga=25A (assuming 60 degree connectors or if anything isnt marked 70, you calculate with 60 degree wire) 10ga=30 amp. Your relay MUST accept a connector for that size wire, you may have to use a "contactor" instead (almost same as a relay, heavy duty). NEC is not a design manual, its only for fire prevention and decreased risk of fire and increased safety. Going "better" is always better. Bigger wires=cooler wires Bench test: turn tstat to 40 degrees, output should latch and hold the relay. Turn to 100, should release the relay. If it works opposite of this, then simply use Normally CLOSED contacts instead of the Opens. EDIT: I never look at things from a 'cost' perspective when I want to tinker or make something myself...but after thinking about it, other people here are also right. It would cost FAR less to get a programmable tstat (the ones in my old apartment were nothing but a temperature switch that handled 30 amps. Replacement was $45 and the landlord refused to replace it. So I put in a regular switch and kept the window open all winter. Anyways, good luck, let us know what you decide to do!
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