Does this sound like a wiring problem?

alisandeJune 9, 2011

I use a double window fan in my bedroom on warm nights. Last night when I went to turn it on, I noticed a hot spot on an area of the controls. It hadnâÂÂt been turned on for 16 hours or so, so it didnâÂÂt seem right to me that it would be hot. Plus I'd never noticed that before. I decided to unplug it and use the A/C instead. I contacted the manufacturer this morning, but havenâÂÂt heard back from them yet.

Meanwhile, I moved another fan (same model) into my room and plugged it in. I checked an hour later and found the same hot spot. Does this sound normal to you, or could I have a problem with my wiring?

I'm using a power strip for the fan and the small window air conditioner. Nothing else is plugged into the strip, and the two appliances are never turned on at the same time.

Thanks for your help.

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The spot on the fan was hot before you turned it on? Could the sun be shining on it? When you say "hot", do you mean warm to the touch, or so hot it will burn your finger? Could you provide the make and model of the fan? Maybe there's something in the controls like a light bulb that is always turned on, even if the fan isn't running.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 6:07PM
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Yes, the spot on the fan was hot (warm to the touch) before I turned it on. This was at midnight--no sun. No sun on the other fan I plugged in experimentally either.

Here's the fan

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 6:29PM
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Well, I see a "mode" button with some LEDs. Are they "on", even when the fan is "off"? If so, that's where the heat is being generated, from the power supply that provides that feature. It sounds like it's just a poor design that is wasting energy, particularly since both of the fans do that.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 7:05PM
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The reason you see these button-and-LED electronic controls on heaters and fans these days is that, believe it or not, they are actually cheaper to manufacture than the positive-off hard-contact switches most of us grew up with.

If you think about it, you'll realize that any electronic circuit cheaper than a very simple mechanical device is probably not designed to be efficient, or even very long-lived.

I suggest that you throw your fan away, or better yet, give it to someone who needs a fan. Go buy an older, better-made fan at a garage sale. Look for one with a real on-off switch. If you're lucky you might even find one made in the USA, unlike the imported junk that's almost universally sold today.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 7:36PM
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Have you heard the term "vampire" before? It is basically any equipment that continues to suck power even when it is "off". Common examples are laptop charges, phone charges,etc Your fan is a vampire. It is using electricity constantly even though it is just sitting there.

Is it wasteful? Yes. Is it dangerous? No.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 9:22AM
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Thanks, guys! I think I'll make a practice of turning off the power strip during the day, since it's needed only at night. I appreciate the info.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 9:24AM
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Hi. I am not an electrician, but I do know the basics about the art. My post isn't related to the fan, but I would not run an air conditioner off a power strip unless the strip was heavy duty (and even then I'd give it a second thought). For your own safety, please at minimum make sure the power strip you're using can handle the current draw of your air conditioner. Plug the appliance into an outlet if you can.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 10:09AM
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Thanks for the tip, Sofaspud. I can eliminate the power strip and use the outlet for the fan and A/C, plugging and unplugging to switch back and forth. It's a minor nuisance.

Is a TV (8-year-old heavy 24" set) okay to plug into a power strip? If so, that would free up another outlet.


    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 10:31AM
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A TV in a power strip should be OK. The fan in the power strip is probably also OK. Air conditioners draw a lot of power comparatively. As a rule of thumb, if the cord providing power to your appliance is a lot thicker and bulkier than usual, it's a sign that it draws a lot of current and you should plug it directly into an outlet. If you really want to be sure, you can read the documentation on the appliance to see how many amps it draws and compare that to the max rating of your strip. HTH.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 1:38PM
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The AC unit will be more efficient in the use of electricity if plugged directly into a wall receptacle.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 5:28PM
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