In the age of e-commerce, warehouses and other large industrial facilities are essential to the global economy. It is therefore not surprising that they are multiplying in the United States. Consider, for example, that warehouse starts were expected to rise 36% in 2021, with another 13% increase in 2022, according to a perspectives in Engineering News-Record.
And with the proliferation of these large facilities—million-square-foot warehouses are no longer anomaly—comes the challenge of heating plenty of space to ensure employee comfort and proper temperatures for inventory and the equipment. This is where infrared heaters shine.
How Infrared Heaters Work
Infrared heaters work by burning fuel such as propane to heat a heating element which creates infrared radiant energy. This energy is then directed to the area below, where people, objects and floors absorb it as heat. “These surfaces absorb heat and then release it back into the surrounding air to maintain a blanket of warmth in the heated space. It’s called bottom-up work, which saves energy and lowers fuel bills,” says Paul Horne, vice president of Gas productsa heating equipment manufacturer based in Charlotte, North Carolina
Unlike some other types of heaters, infrared heaters do not heat the air directly, so the heat is transmitted faster and more efficiently to the people and things that need it. It is more like the heat of the sun. For people working in a warehouse or other large industrial space, this means comfort. “Your whole body is hot, not just a specific area like your head or shoulders,” says Kevin Morgan, energy sales manager for the Peachtree City, Georgia-based manufacturer. Rinnai America.
“More and more engineers and installers are learning the benefits of radiation [infrared] heat, especially energy savings,” says Horne. “As technology develops and the desire for energy conservation increases, radiant heat has begun to attract more attention due to the natural efficiency and effectiveness it has compared to the traditional convection heat.”
How to specify infrared heaters
Like many other types of industrial equipment, infrared heaters can be designed to work with several different power sources, including electricity, natural gas, and propane, but propane has several advantages.
“Propane generally costs less than electricity and will cost the customer less in energy compared to electric radiant heating,” says Horne. “In addition, propane is an easier fuel source to supply to radiant heaters than electricity.”
In areas where the natural gas infrastructure has not yet been developed, or may never be fully developed, the ability of propane to be delivered by truck and its abundance across the country are major advantages. As warehouses and other large industrial spaces are increasingly built in undeveloped rural areas, propane is emerging as an excellent fuel choice for infrared heating, not to mention many other industrial applications such as forklifts. .
Visit propane.com to learn more about factors to consider when specifying propane infrared heaters for warehouses, distribution centers and other industrial facilities.