Propane Garage Heaters

What You Should Know About Propane Garage Heaters

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Propane garage heaters are an excellent choice for heating up your workshop. They are cheap, easy to use and require no electrical wiring. However, to make the most out of these heaters you need to think about two important factors: 1) which model you plan on getting and 2) the issue of safety. If you fail to address these issues, you will encounter serious problems with your heater.

In terms of models, to ensure the safest and most efficient unit, you must assess not only the nature of your workspace but also your handyman ability. If you are not good with installing fixtures, you might want to get a ventless propane heater. While you would still have to affix the unit against the wall, you would not have to worry about installing a venting hose. However, in exchange for this convenience you must be extra cautious with your heater. Any time it is on, you would have to provide ventilation, whether it is through a slightly open garage door and/or a series of extractor fans. In addition, you must make sure the oxygen levels within the area do not get too low. If they do, you will experience suffocation and/or mold growth. To avoid such problems, you can get units with built-in oxygen sensors or you could purchase a separate CO2 alarm. Either way, if these devices indicate a low oxygen level, you should immediately turn off the heater. If your unit has an oxygen sensor, it should turn off automatically.

Considering the possible health effects that can come from low levels of oxygen, including death, we can not recommend a ventless heater for an enclosed shop. If you have an open air work space then they work great and can really heat up the space, but the dangers are just too great for an area that is not open at least partially to the outside environment.

Vented propane garage heaters do not carry these dangers, though their installation is a little more difficult.

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This is why they work best for those with advanced handyman skills. True, beginners might not have any problems affixing the unit (as that just requires drilling it into the wall or ceiling). The challenge comes in piping the hose… especially if you do it through a sidewall. Roof-based piping is a little easier, but you do have to weatherproof the connection. As such, you will end up spending more money.

In any case, whether you get a vented or ventless model, you need to make sure the heater is big enough for your area. To make such a determination, you must look at the unit’s BTUs. Also known as British Thermal Units, BTUs reveal just how much surface area a heater can cover. To determine how many BTUs your space needs, multiply your room’s overall square footage by its height. Now multiply this figure by 3. The end result represents the minimum BTUs your heater must have for maximum efficiency.

As far as safety, all propane garage heaters have the same concerns. You must avoid overheating and carbon monoxide poisoning. To prevent overheating, use the heater at its most basic setting. Also, make sure it is not around any flammable materials, as contact with such items would result in an immediate fire. For carbon monoxide concerns, use a CO2 alarm for BOTH vented and ventless heaters. Many are under the impression that if they have a vented heater, they are completely safe. But any time you burn a natural fuel, there is the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning. Do not take such a chance. After your heater is installed, complete the process by putting up a CO2 and CO alarm.

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