I am looking for a standard on the recommended safe distance between the bottom of window curtains or drapes and an electric baseboard heaters. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
Underwriters Laboratory has UL 1042 Standard for Electric Baseboard Heating Equipment:
UL - 1042 Standard for Electric Baseboard Heating Equipment | Standards Catalog
Section 41 of the Standard has a curtain drape test.
Evaluation of the UL Standard 1042 is summarized in this Consumer Safety Commission document and includes the drape test:
Excerpt for the above document:
The baseboard heaters under test were draped, partially covered, or had the space between the heating element fins and the exhaust vent stuffed with cotton cloth. During some tests, the temperature limiting control (TLC) was bypassed to simulate a component failure. The heater was mounted to a wall and instrumented with thermocouples at various air inlet and exhaust areas, heating element and fin locations, and wiring routes. In all of the tests, including those tests with the TLC bypassed, the temperature of the cotton cloth never reached temperatures near its ignition point (about 360 °C). However, some tests resulted in temperatures above the maximum rated temperature of the wiring insulation. The temperature rise was not more than 10 °C over the rated temperature for the wire. This would not manifest itself into a failure during the 7 to 8 hours of a UL test duration but could have long-term effects on the insulation integrity of the internal wiring of a baseboard heater and lead to a shock or fire hazard.
Testing SummaryIn summary, the laboratory testing showed that baseboard heaters, even when the TLC was bypassed, did not generate temperatures capable of ignition of combustibles, but did result in temperatures capable of damaging the internal wiring of the heater. Forced-air heater testing showed that abnormal operating conditions, even for a short time, were capable of heating the internal wiring insulation above its maximum rated value. In some cases, the branch wiring insulation was overheated. Testing on radiant heaters did not support the hypothesis that the thermal response of terrycloth is different from curtain material when draped over a heater. The dust testing showed that a short exposure time to a dusty ambient environment could result in easily observable operational changes in a heater, and testing can be used as a means of evaluating whether the heater design might lead to hazardous conditions when in use.
After you have read the report, I will let you make your own conclusions on the information.
Most of the consumer safety tips suggest the bottom of drapes be installed 12" above the baseboard heater to allow for air convection required for the heater efficiency and possible fire safety. I would say this was a good recommendation.
Thank you for taking the time to submit this. Much appreciated.
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