Heater Buyer's Guide
When your feet are freezing, nothing feels better than some heat on those toes. Coming in from the cold, grabbing a blanket, turning on that little heater on the floor, and smelling that electric coil as it warms up; that's nostalgia. While heaters of old aren't made anymore, you can still get that feeling with something more modern (and definitely safer).
- Infratech electric ceiling-mount heater
There are a lot of heaters out there. You have to find out which type is best for your home. That's what this buyer's guide is for. We'll get into the types of heaters, the top brands, why you should consider a heater for your home, and more.
Why Consider a Heater?
Heaters are versatile appliances. If you can't set up a fireplace because of venting problems, there's a heater for you. If you need something portable, or if you need something permanent, there's a heater for you. If you want a little extra heat, or if you need a primary heating system, there's a heater for you. No matter your home situation, there's a heater out there that can warm you and your home.
Before You Buy
The versatility mentioned above breeds a lot of choices. All those options can lead to confusion. Before you even start looking at heaters, you need to know the set up of your home. In this section, we go over what you should know about your space before buying a heater. It's always important to educate yourself before a big purchase because you don't want to bring home a vent-free heater when you need a proper furnace.
- Direct vent gas wall heater
- Venting - No matter what venting set up your home has, there's a heater out there that you can work with. You can go vent-free or set up the exhaust system through the walls with a direct vent, or you can go straight up through the roof like a wood stove. Heaters are versatile, so explore your home. Are you looking for something to work with your existing vent system? Check out a furnace. Do you want something small for that drafty room? Look at a space heater.
- Location - With so many outdoor and vent-free heaters, the only location limit is your imagination. Also, the limit is whatever your local codes or city ordinances say. A furnace is stuck in one place. You can't move those, but a small electric vent free heater can go room to room with you. If you need a whole-home heating solution that needs to be unobtrusive and out of the way, you can find it. If you want something to warm up your feet while you read in the den, kitchen, or on the patio, you can find that too, and everything in between.
- Output - The heat output of your appliance is measured in BTUs. A heater's BTU output can run the gamut from a supplemental heat to a primary heat source. A supplemental heat source is something like the Avenger infrared heater that outputs 10,000 BTUs. A primary heat source is what you'll get with the Empire gas floor furnace that uses up to 65,000 BTUs of energy to heat your home.
- Efficiency - Efficiency is how well your heater can convert fuel into warmth for your home. The higher the efficiency, the better. Some electric heaters are 100 percent efficient. Heaters that use wood fuel can be anywhere from 40 - 80 percent efficient. Vent-free heaters tend to be more efficient because they convert most of the fuel into heat. Efficiency varies from appliance to appliance. And, 100 percent efficiency doesn't always mean a large heat output. You have to weigh efficiency with BTU output in some cases. But, there are many heaters out there that sport both a high-efficiency and high BTU output.
- Installation - Some heaters are easy to install, and others will take some work. A floor furnace, for example, will require a professional to come in and put it in place for you. A small electric space heater needs to be plugged in, and that's it. This goes without saying, but it's still important to note: the larger space you need your heater to cover, the more work your install will be. If you have a wood stove that needs to warm multiple rooms, you'll need to set up blowers to help the heat cover that distance. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you are outdoors and need to heat up one common area, a lone patio heater can do the trick. Know your space before picking out a heater.
There are so many heaters and so many brands out there. In this section, we will tell you about a few of the top brands on the market today. These companies are a good starting off point for your research, and you can't go wrong with any of them.
- Blue flame space heater
- Empire - This manufacturer crafts quality heaters and has done so for almost a century now. With 100 years of experience, you can bet that Empire Comfort knows what it's doing. You'll find reliable zone heating in an affordable package.
- Drolet - These heaters are simple and user friendly. Drolet heaters sport a minimalist design and use wood fuel to heat homes. If you want to go wood for the first time, a Drolet heater is a great starting point.
- Infratech Comfort - This company can heat indoors and outdoors. Infratech offers electric zone heating options for homes and businesses. You'll find a ton of color and style options too, so no matter your aesthetic, Infratech has something for you. Infratech is one of the top electric heater brands on the market today.
- Modine - When you need something industrial, durable, and reliable, look to Modine. These heaters are commonplace in warehouses and shops in the United States. These high-mounted heaters can keep large buildings in the coldest regions warm.
Types of Heaters
Not every heater works in every situation. You want to make sure you purchase the right heater for the job. This section will teach you about all the most common types of heaters in the market so you can make an informed decision.
- Wall heaters - Wall heaters come in many sizes and fuel types. Propane and natural gas variants can fit nearly anywhere. Wall heaters are efficient, easy to use, and durable.
- Infrared wall heater
- Space heaters - These heaters are most often used as supplemental heat, although some models can function as a primary heat source. Small and affordable, space heaters can also be portable. Heat an outdoor space, a garage, or the attic when searching for those old valuables. Space heaters are multifunctional.
- Infrared heaters - 100 percent efficient, an infrared heater uses every bit of energy put into it to make heat. These are also easy to install and affordable.
- Infratech ceiling-mounted heaters on a patio
- Gas heaters - Gas heaters, which include propane and natural gas heaters, give you affordable and efficient heat. These heaters are versatile. You'll find outdoor and indoor options with various venting options as well. No matter what gas fuel you use, you'll find a gas heater that works for your home setup.
- Outdoor heaters - Outdoor heaters, which include patio heaters, come in all shapes and sizes. You'll find electric powered wall hanging heaters, as well as the gas-fueled standing heaters. They all look great and give you that outdoor experience you've always wanted.
- Tabletop patio heater
- Portable heaters - Portable heaters take many shapes and sizes. You'll find outdoor portable propane heaters, indoor electric heaters, and more. Portable heaters are great for parties or when you need that extra heat on those extra cold nights indoors. There are a lot of options on sizes too, so you're sure to find something that fits your needs.
- Furnaces - Furnaces can connect to your existing duct system. So if you're not looking for a significant heating change, one of these systems might be right for you. A furnace can work in a small or large home, although a furnace is not approved for mobile homes. Some furnaces are even powered by coal.
- Electric heaters - Versatile, easy to install, and 100 percent efficient; electric heaters are a great way to provide your home with supplemental heat. Don't rely on electric heaters for primary heating, but if you need that little bit of extra warmth.
- Radiant heaters - With a radiant heater, you can go outdoors or indoors. Some radiant heaters are portable, and others attach to a wall. You'll find popular brands like Infratech make some of the best radiant heaters on the market today.
- Wood heaters - These have been around since the 17th century. These reliable home heaters will keep you warm as long as you can provide an ample supply of wood. Wood-burning heater efficiency will be anywhere from 40-80 percent. But, you will get a lot of heat out of a wood heater.
- Freestanding wood stove heater
Care and Maintenance
Maintaining your heater will be different depending on the type of heater we'll go over what you can expect right now.
Before Heating Season
- Gas - Check your vent termination for debris or unexpected guests (aka animals). Scan your pipes for any leaks and remove any dust that may have built up.
- Electric - Clean the heating elements. Do this by dusting, wiping with a soft cloth, or spraying with compressed air. Turn the heater on for 15 - 20 minutes to cycle any remaining dust out and odor.
- Wood - Inspect the chimney system. Check for blockages or debris. With wood stoves or furnaces, check the door gaskets, catalysts, baffles, door glass, and fire bricks. Cycle the draft induction and circulation to see if they still work. And for anything else, follow the instructions in your manual.
During Heating Season
- Gas - Check for dust and clean when you need to. Be vigilant for any strange noises or smells coming from your pipes or fuel lines.
- Electric - Keep your nose in the air for any odor coming from your electric heater. If it smells like chemicals, it means your heating element is about to fail.
- Wood - Check for creosote buildup and clean away when needed. Remove ash before every new fire and clean the firebox. Listen for odd noises from your draft fan or blower.
- Infratech ceiling-mounted heater for commercial or residential use
After Heating Season
- Gas - Turn the gas off, dust again, and follow the instructions in your manual (if any) about placing your heater on standby.
- Electric - Clean the heater and cycle all the controls one more time before putting the appliance up for the season.
- Wood - Once your last fire has burned, it's time to sweep the chimney. A good chimney clean will prepare your appliance for the next year. You should clean ash away and deep clean the firebox. Check any gaskets, catalysts, or baffles and replace them if you need to.
There are so many different heaters in this article, but here are some general guidelines when it comes to shipping these items. Nearly all wall-mounted, vent free gas heaters and electric heaters smaller than 2 feet long will ship via parcel. Electric heaters longer than 2 feet, wall furnaces, console heaters, wood heaters, and wood furnaces will ship freight.
Heaters are amazingly versatile appliances. There is one for you, no matter your home situation. Electric, gas, wood, vent-free, vented, outdoor, small, large, the options go on and on. With the help of this article, we hope you have a better understanding of what to look out for when shopping for a heater.