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Preparing for icy weather conditions – Which heater is right for the job?

When the weather turns colder, it’s best to prepare yourself in advance. Having adequate heating, whether it’s on a building site, a warehouse, an office or at home, is vital. But not all heaters are born equal, and selecting the right one for the job can make a real difference. Before you jump into buying or hiring a heater, it might be worth asking yourself a few questions.

oil filled radiator

What exactly do you want to heat? Why do you need the heater? What sort of space are you going to be using it in? Are you going to run it in short or long bursts? These might sound like inane questions, but the answers matter when deciding which heater you should choose. You might simply want to heat a workspace to make it a warm, pleasant environment to be in, in which case you’re looking at generally heating up the air in a room, like a convection heater. But, then again, you might need to heat a specific area - to dry out a section of wall, for instance - and then you’ll want a heater that can apply its heat directly, like a radiative heater.

Also, the space itself can make a difference. Is it big or small? Is it ventilated? If so, how? Finding the right heater for the job can be quite involved. You need something powerful enough to heat the space, but you also have to consider safety aspects and you don’t want to be wasteful with the heat produced. With all this in mind, let’s look at some different types of mobile heaters.


Oil-filled radiators

If you’re inside and you’ve got available power, an electric heater is probably a good option. Oil-filled radiators can be found in many homes nowadays as an ideal source of additional mobile heat. Radiators heat up the air in a room, warming up a space fairly evenly. Radiators, however, work best in areas where the heat can’t escape, be it through open spaces or thin, poorly-insulated walls.


Fan heaters

Fan heaters can heat up a room quickly and can deal a little better with poorly-insulated environments, but are, of course, more expensive to run than oil-filled radiators, particularly when used for an extended period of time. Used together with a dehumidifier, they can be an effective way of drying out damp rooms.


oil filled radiator

Radiative heaters

Radiative heaters give a very powerful direct source of heat, particularly useful for drying out areas of damp on walls. Again, requiring more power than an oil-filled radiator, safe use is also something to consider with both fan and radiative heaters. They should be placed carefully and, ideally, not be left unattended.


Direct gas heaters

Access to an electrical supply is not always going to be possible, and there may be other safety issues that prevent the use of an electrical heater. This is where direct gas heaters come in useful. These powerful, fan assisted heaters can heat up a space extremely quickly. However, they do need to be run in ventilated areas. Direct gas heaters use a naked flame, potentially introducing carbon-monoxide into the work area. Fine if it is well-ventilated, but potentially dangerous, if not.


Indirect gas and oil fired heaters

Indirect gas and oil fired heaters take the issue of a naked flame issue away, but are correspondingly quite a bit more expensive. They provide clean, dry air, but do still require some method of exhaust ventilation where used indoors. We are also back to the issue of electrical power, as they do need an electrical supply. Provided you can overcome these issues, these indirect gas and oil filled heaters can provide enormous amounts of heat and are perfect for heating big indoor spaces such as warehouses.

Direct and indirect gas and oil-filled heaters always come with an inbuilt thermostat, meaning that – provided you have followed safe procedure in placing and setting them up in the first place – they can be left to run without supervision.


Image credits: Andrew Kearton -

Contact Plantool for expert advice on freephone 0800 334 5365

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