The Fuel Behind the Furnace

With the arrival of fall here already and winter just on its heels, the decisions to be made about heating are imminent.  Are you sticking with your central heating?  Hoping to find cheaper, more efficient options this year?  Looking for something cozier and quieter?

More and more homeowners are turning to smaller, portable space heaters that allow them to heat more precisely and appropriately.  Rather than keeping the entire house warm all night long, families are turning off central heating, placing space heaters in the bedrooms and saving countless dollars.  Energy efficient garage heaters are also becoming the newest trend for transforming the “car garage” to a “livable garage” where families are making the most of every inch of space without having to move or add on.

But, as you look into the various types of heaters, it can be overwhelming to say the least.  In this article we’re going to break down heaters by the most common options.  What is the fuel behind the furnace?  Why pick one type over another?  These are the answers we’re going to go over.

Oil Heaters

Oil heaters are a type of convection heater (see below) and are considered to be one of the safest types of heaters and are typically chosen for this reason.  They are slightly more expensive to run than a fan gas heater and generally heat a smaller area, but when it comes to indoor areas, particularly bedrooms, oil heaters are the preferred option.  Gas fan heaters are not recommended for small spaces because there’s usually a definite lack of oxygen coupled with more emissions produced and both of these cons in a small, confined space.  Gas heaters also maintain a lower surface temperature than the rest of electric heaters and don’t need the same amount of air flow required by a fan gas heater, both of which aspects create higher levels of safety.  In fact, oil heaters tend to maintain surface temps low enough that even clothing could be laid on top to dry (although this is not recommended).

If you are seeking to heat a small, personal indoor space, an oil heater is likely your best and safest choice.

Convection Heating

The basis of a convection heater revolves around the process of convection: because cool air is denser than hot air and hot air rises, as air is heated, cool air continuously flows in to replace the hot air.  This makes a current of hot air created by a heating element that continuously cycles hot air out through vents and allows cool air to keep pouring in.  Convection heaters are also very safe options and are the best option if you need to leave a heater running for lengthy periods of time.  They are also beneficial for homes with children and pets, as there is little chance for burning from contact.  Because there’s no forced air, they are very quiet.

If you need to heat a room for long, extended periods of time a convection heater is the recommended option.

Ceramic Heaters

In addition to oil heaters, another popular form of convection heating is the ceramic heater.  It works much like an oil heater, except instead of oil, ceramic plates are heated, aluminum absorbs the heat and fans blow hot air out.

If you are seeking to warm a small, personal indoor space, a ceramic heater may be your top choice.

Fan Heaters

Electric fan heaters are one of the most popular options available for quick portable heating because of their intensity and efficiency.  Because all energy input goes into the room as heat, an electric fan heater can be deemed 100% efficient.  They perform by using strong fans to force air over a heating element.  As the air passes over the element, it is heated and then pushed directly out into the room.  This provides one of the most instant methods of heating.  They also typically boast a low upfront cost.  However, because the air is forced with a fan, they are also one of the noisier options.  Most families opt for electric fan heaters when it comes to garage heating.

For instant, efficient heating in large spaces, look into electric fan heaters.  The fall 2011 popular garage heater option:  New Air G70 garage heater.

Gas Heaters

Gas heaters run off of natural gas or propane, making them free from electricity dependence and the best option in cases of power outages.  Propane heaters have been quickly growing in popularity because of their efficiency.  One gallon of propane can generally power a propane gas heater for nearly six hours.  And, because natural gas abounds in so many areas, it can be a very smart option as well.  However, gas heaters are best used in outdoor heating.  If a gas heater is un-vented (many styles are), there is opportunity for carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide to form.  If a room itself is not properly ventilated in such instances, carbon monoxide poisoning can occur.

Gas heaters also propel heat that is absorbed by people and objects near it, as opposed to the air around it, as a convection heater would heat.  This makes it a poor choice for heating a room, but a great choice for heating guests at a patio table outside.

For heating outdoor areas or ensuring backup heating in case of power shortages or emergencies, consider a gas heater.  Gas heaters area also ideal in locations with ample natural gas sources where it becomes a very inexpensive option.

For more information or to purchase any types of the above heaters, please visit Air & Water.  Helpful staff are at your immediate assistance to answer any and all heating questions.

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