Introduction: Convert Bathroom Gas Heater to Electric (UPDATED W/ Performance Data)

About: Technical Editor for two magazines. Software tester for the computer controlled electronic brakes of Locomotives.

During our re-do of our 1960's Bathroom to 1950's, I found a Peerless Bathroom Gas Heater on Ebay. What caught my eye was the color, American Standard "Regency Blue". This exactly matched the color of the vintage 1950's tub, sink and toilet we were installing. It was gas powered @ 8000 Btu's. I watched Youtube videos of this unit being fired and it was kinda neat!

However in our small bathroom, 8000 Btu is too much and we didn't have gas. So I decided to convert it to electric and use our existing Bathroom electric heater as the heat source.

Step 1: The "Donor" Heat Source

For years we had used a small "My Heat" personal heater, setting on a shelf in our old bathroom, at 200W and 682 Btu's, it would gradually warm our small bathroom. This would be our heat source for the conversion because of the size and its ability to operate at any angle because the unit has no tip over protection switch.

To complete this conversion we will need:

  • Peerless 7602 wall heater
  • "My Heat" heater
  • wall switch of your choice. (We used a 3 rocker Decora style)
  • Blue Sea Systems #8066 Micro Red LED Indicator light, 120V AC
  • 11/64" twist drill bit
  • 2 part epoxy
  • small scrap piece of 2x4
  • 4- Ceramic Magnets, 1 7/8" x 7/8" x 3/8" Rectangle, Ceramic 8 Hard Ferrite
  • Necessary 14 ga Romex
  • Ideal Mechanical Connector set screw wire nut
  • Necessary carpentry tools to install the Peerless heater into a wall and run the power wire.

Step 2: Cut the Hole in the Wall and Test Fit

Since we were doing a complete gut and replace, it was much simpler to frame the opening, drill a hole and use a router with a bearing bit to rout a perfect hole in the wall. Then a test fit and we are ready to do the heat source conversion.

Step 3: Remove the Gas Burner

The original Peerless cast iron burner assembly removes with 2 screws. Then the entire bottom of the heater is opened up. In the above image you can see how we got power to the new electric heater and the placement of the magnets to support the heater.

Step 4: Install the Electric Heater

The heater is placed on its back with the heat output facing upward into the Ceramic Radiants. Note how the heater is now suspended off the bottom of the gas heater. The magnets allow infinite adjustability to get the electric heater to lie horizontal and to provide air flow to the heater to prevent overheating.
The cord was cut and connected to the 14 ga. Romex with wire nuts.

Now you might wonder why we didn't just place the heater on its feet and facing outward. Tried that but the design of the heater's lower grates reflected a large part of the heat produced back inside the heater housing, so we decided to channel the heat upward, the way the Peerless factory designed it.

Step 5: Re-Install the "Gas" Valve

To make the "Gas" heater look original we need to re-install the original gas valve. Remove the "Gas" valve from the Peerless cast iron burner by straightening the cotter pin and removing. The valve handle now will slide off the valve.

We used a piece of scrap 2x4 and a drill to create a mount for the valve handle as shown. The wood is glued to the lower Peerless grill with the 2 part epoxy.

Install the lower front grill. (Note that if new screws are needed, use 10-24 stainless pan head w/10-24 washers, 1/2" for the lower grill and 1" for the main grill plate)

Step 6: Wall Power Switch W/ LED Indicator

As you can see we used a Leviton 3 rocker switch with the lower switch being utilized as the Heater on/off. A micro 120V LED from Blue Sea Systems (from Amazon) was spec'd because it is so tiny, it can fit between two switches with a 9/64" drill bit for the hole in the faceplate. One leg goes to the white and the other goes to the switch's contact screw. LED polarity is a non-issue with these indicator lights
(Note that is easier to attach thin stranded wires to solid Romex with an Ideal Mechanical connection set screw wire nut instead of a conventional twist wire nut)

If anybody is curious about the switch panel construction, we have from Left to Right: Mechanical timer for ventilation fan (the mechanical timers don't fail like the Chinese electronic timers do), Leviton 1755 15 amp switch for the shower light, exhaust fan master switch, and heater switch, next is a Leviton DHC 16400 w/16450-2 face plate for X-10, and finally a "Ground Fault" 15 amp receptacle that is "down stream" of the "Master" Ground Fault receptacle for that circuit, located at the Breaker Box.

Step 7: Finished and Operational

As you can see the finished unit looks just like a gas fired unit. In the 2nd image you can see the red switch of the heater when it is on if you look at just the right angle.
The heat from the electric heater is blown upwards thru the Ceramic Radiants and the heat exits the face plate thru the top vents just like Peerless intended.

And yes, the little 200W heater will warm our small Bathroom, just not immediately. It takes about 5 minutes for the Ceramic Radiants to get up to temp. And as you can see in the 3rd image, the heat exiting the top vents is at 110F.