Forced air space heaters work well as secondary heat sources for spot heating. They are somewhat inefficient for general diffuse heating of large areas, but can work as temporary heating for basement or garage work areas. Safety is a real concern with these units, as sadly, every winter you read about someone dying from carbon monoxide poisoning due to improper ventilation. Read the manufacturers instructions, please.
Kerosene Forced Air Space Heaters
Kerosene forced air space heaters run from $175 to $2000 and range from 40,000 to 600,000 BTU. There are not too many differences between kerosene and propane when it comes to space heaters. Kerosene space heaters will do just fine for most situations where you would use such a heater.
There are some extreme cases where you might need excessive heating capabilities, like for a very large warehouse, where you might want to consider using one of the larger propane space heaters instead.
Propane Forced Air Space Heaters
Propane forced air space heaters can cost from $120 to $600 and typically range from 30,000 BTU to 400,000 BTU with the exception of tent propane space heaters which cost around $1100 and put out 125,000 BTU. If you are looking for even more serious heating power propane forced air space heaters are made that put out well over a million BTUs. Flagro brand makes a forced air space heater that puts out 1.5 million BTUs and costs about $4,000. These monster heaters can run on either propane or natural gas and a 120 volt outlet.
Where and When to use a Space Heater
As you can see, kerosene and propane forced air space heaters come in all sizes and costs. We want to be sure that you know where and when it is appropriate and safe to use such a heater. Typically these types of heaters are used in large areas such as warehouses or barns. Some people use then when they have regular heating for a large area, but are only using a small portion of that area.
You can often save on heating costs by bringing in a space heater to heat only the area that is being used in a large warehouse or barn. They are also very convenient for specific tasks that may not last long enough to justify turning on the central heating system to warm an entire facility. These space heaters are also very commonly used for new construction to keep workers warm when they are working on large structures that do not yet have heating of their own.
Using your Space Heater Safely
There are several safety concerns that you need to be aware of when using a kerosene or propane forced air space heater. Some of the most important concerns are:
• Fire hazards: You need to be especially careful where you aim the heater and be sure to give it a minimum of six feet clearance in the front where the heat is directed. Also you should maintain at least a three foot clearance in the rear of the heaters. Check you heater’s documentation for specific safe distances for your heater.
• Explosions: Explosions are always a concern when using such highly flammable fuel sources as propane, kerosene or natural gas. Also check for faulty wiring as that is a common cause of explosions for space heaters.
• Indoor air pollution: When the fuel is not completely consumed and/or there is poor ventilation in the area you are using the heater, indoor air pollution becomes a very real concern. Be sure you use your heater in a well ventilated area and that the heater is in top operating condition to avoid severe air pollution problems.
• Carbon monoxide poisoning: Improper ventilation in the area you are using your heater can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
It is strongly recommended that you keep these safety concerns in mind whenever you operate you propane or kerosene forced air space heater. If you are using your heater in a poorly ventilated area such as a garage, be sure to allow for proper ventilation.
For example, if you are in the garage, open the garage door at least 1/3 of the way to allow the dangerous fumes to escape. If you point the heater in the opposite direction of the opening, you will still be able to stay warm even with the garage door open. That is what they are designed to do.
Photo by Collin Anderson- Creative Commons Attribution License