If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to heat your garage or shop this coming heating season, a vent free infrared garage heater can be just the ticket. Why? Compared to other types of garage heaters, a vent free infrared heater is easy to install, economical to operate and extremely quiet.
What is a vent free heater and how does it work?
“Vent free” simply means “unvented”. Unlike a vented gas heater or furnace, which requires a flue to rid the atmosphere of combustion by-products, a vent free heater emits those elements (primarily water vapor and carbon dioxide) directly into the space. Therefore, a vent free heater is virtually 99.9% efficient.
Are vent free heaters safe?
Yes. Vent free heaters have been used for over 30 years to heat the dwelling spaces of homes in addition to residential garages and shops. Like all heating appliances, vent free heaters must be properly sized for the space. A typical 2 car garage requires somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 BTU’s, depending on insulation, ceiling height and other factors.
It's important to buy a vent free heater designated and approved as such. Most vent free heaters have refractory (often called catalytic) heating elements, which are able to burn fuel so efficiently that only traces of combustion by-products (mainly humidity) are left behind. For most people, a little extra humidity is beneficial, especially during the winter months when relative indoor humidity is low.
A word of caution: Heaters that are NOT approved for vent free use should never be left unvented. Forced air gas unit heaters, furnaces and radiant tube heaters fall into this category. All must be properly vented as per manufacturer’s requirements to prevent bodily injury or death. One exception is that radiant (infrared) tube heaters are approved by most manufacturers for unvented use in outdoor patio areas. Always check the manufacturer’s approvals and local codes.
Do vent free infrared heaters require blower fans?
No. Hence they are whisper quiet. By contrast, forced air furnaces move air via large motors and prop fans, which can reverberate through the walls and ceiling of the garage and home.
Are vent free heaters expensive to operate?
No. Vent free heaters cost less to run than virtually any other type of gas heater. That’s because all the heat energy goes into the space. Nothing is wasted through an outside flue. In a well-insulated garage, the cost to operate a vent free infrared heater is typically just “pennies” compared to a forced air heater.
How easy is it to install a vent free heater?
Vent free heaters are an excellent choice for the DIY homeowner. Most vent free garage heaters (such as the one pictured above, don’t even require electrical power. Instead, a millivolt control mechanism turns on the heater when the thermostat calls for heat. Just hang the heater, run the gas line and you’ve turned your garage into a year-round space for recreation, mechanics, exercise, animal comfort or to simply keep your vehicles warm.
Scott Workman is the owner and President of Infra-Red Products Supply, Inc. located in Draper, Utah in the Salt Lake City area.