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Types of heaters

Date posted: 29 January 2015

If you are planning to hire a heater, or buy a new heater – whether it's for an office, a warehouse, an event, or any other space – you will need to have an idea of the types of heater available and their suitability for your particular application.

Obviously a desk fan heater would not be capable of achieving or maintaining a comfortable temperature in a large space such as a marquee, and similarly a powerful indirect heater would be overkill in many scenarios. So our basic heater guide aims to provide you with a starting point for your research – outlining the main types of heaters available on the market, and what they are designed for. 

Generally, heaters fall into one of the following broad categories:

Direct heaters

Direct heaters deliver large volumes of heated air in settings such as factories, farm buildings, halls, warehouses, construction sites and industrial facilities. The heating process generates moisture in the air due to the combustion process, so this type of heater is best suited to well-ventilated areas. This also makes them unsuitable for drying applications, or spaces where an increase in humidity could potentially cause damage to furniture or other items stored in that area.

To summarise, direct heaters:

  • need permanent ventilation to the outside environment;
  • are well-suited to large spaces such as warehouses, factories or industrial / building sites;
  • are unsuitable for use in marquees or other settings where people are close by; and
  • are unsuitable for use in environments where flammable materials are present.

Indirect heaters

When you need large volumes of warm, dry air – particularly where there is limited ventilation – indirect heaters can offer an ideal heating solution. They are well-suited to larger spaces such as marquees and halls where people are gathering for a function, and because they increase the temperature without increasing the relative humidity they are also ideal for use after floods or during construction projects when you need to accelerate the drying process.

If you want the heater out of sight, or wish to limit the impact of the heater's noise, the unit can be placed up to 10 metres from the area you need to heat – simply using ducting pipes to transport the warm air to its destination.

To summarise, indirect heaters:

  • are safe, highly reliable, economical and efficient;
  • produce large volumes of clean, fume-free, dry heat without creating much noise;
  • can be used where people are in close proximity such as at events in marquees, or in other temporary structures;
  • can be used in spaces with limited ventilation;
  • can be used in environments where delicate or combustible materials are being stored;
  • can be used for accelerating the drying process and helping with frost protection on building sites or in recently plastered / painted areas; and
  • can be positioned outside of the area being heated, with hot air simply ducted via flexible ducting - OR they can be placed within the area being heated, with the exhaust ducted outside via a flue.

Radiant / infra red heaters

Radiant and convection heaters are used indoors, usually in offices or on-site cabins, and are both cost-effective and efficient. They generally feature lightweight, portable designs that make them very easy to re-position as needed anywhere in a room.

Fume-free and completely odourless, radiant heaters are particularly well-suited to sensitive environments frequented by members of the public or other people – including hospitals, garages or shops. Rather than warming the air itself these heaters warm up people, objects and even a room's floor, projecting intense heat up to six metres using advanced infra-red heat.

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