Propane heaters are one of the most popular choices for heating a room, house or building. Due to their excellent efficiency, portability and ease of use, propane heaters are a great option for anyone looking for a primary heating source, or even to use as a backup.
There are several different types of propane heaters available, and sorting through all of the options can be a little tricky. Let’s take a glance at some of the main differences between the various types of propane heaters.
Types of Propane Heaters
The most common type of indoor propane heater is what is called a convection heater. Convection heaters use the natural properties of air to transmit heat into space or room. As the heating element gives off heat, that heat is absorbed by the air surrounding the heater, As the air gets hotter, it begins to rise, and cooler air flows down to the heater. That cooler air is then heated, and rises and the cycle repeat itself.
Convection heaters are very efficient at heating spaces, work almost silently, and are excellent at heating rooms evenly and thoroughly. The disadvantage to using convection heaters is that they take a comparatively long time to heat a room since they rely solely on the natural air currents to transmit their heat. Using a fan heater (or forced air heaters, as they’re also called) can help speed up the lengthy heating process, as they use a fan to force the air through the radiator and into the room.
Another type of propane heater is called a radiant heater, or infrared heater. These heaters transmit heat via electromagnetic waves (also called infrared waves) which travel through the air until they are absorbed by a solid object, such as a person or piece of furniture. The waves are not converted into heat until they reach that object, which means that the heat travels through the air, instead of being absorbed by the air as with a convection heater.
Since radiant heaters do not heat the air, this means that they are capable of heating a room much more quickly than a convection heater. In fact, you can usually feel the heat given off by a radiant heater almost instantly when you turn it on. The downside to this is that, since the air in the room has not been heated, the heat given off by a radiant heater evaporates very quickly once the heater is turned off.
Using a Propane Heater
Safety is crucial when using propane heaters. These sorts of heaters operate by burning gas directly onto a metal grid which then heats up, generally to the point of glowing red hot, and gives off significant amounts of heat. Because they have an open flame and extremely hot surfaces, caution needs to be taken when using a gas heater. Children and pets who don’t know better can easily burn themselves on the heater, and the heater could also set fabric or paper on fire if it were left too close to the heater when it’s operating.
The single biggest advantage to using a propane space heater over an electric heater is that propane heaters do not need electricity to run. This means that if electricity is not available, or more importantly, the power goes out, your propane heaters will continue to work. This is particularly important if you live in an area that gets a lot of storms in the winter. The last thing you want to happen throughout a blizzard is for you to lose your power and your only source of heat at the same time.
If this is a concern for you, it’s wise to invest in a propane or gas heater as your primary heating source, or at least consider getting a generator to power your electrical heater. A propane water heater would also be something to think about.
A lot of older propane heaters tended to be rather big and bulky, and most even required some ductwork ventilation – to allow excess propane to escape outside – to be attached to the heater to allow it to be used safely indoors. These problems have largely been solved. Nearly all modern propane heaters are vent-free, meaning they can be used indoors and out without the need for ventilation or duct-work, and there are also many models that are small enough to be installed in just about any area.
All in all, propane heaters are an excellent choice for heating your house, garage or workroom, particularly if this is going to be your primary source of heat. If there’s reasonable chance that the power could go out in a storm and leave you with no other sources of heat, then electric heaters aren’t an option. However, if the safety issues are a concern, then you can always check into getting a backup generator to power your electric heaters.