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The Truth about Portable Gas Heaters


Uncovering the truth about gas heating is tricky business. There are so many misconceptions it can be confusing. It  doesn't have to be. Continue reading as we address the truths and fallacies of gas heating.

Unsafe: One of the biggest misconceptions is that gas heaters are not safe. Many people fear carbon monoxide poisoning. And because gas is a combustible, the threat of an explosion is a concern too.

Safety: Gas heaters are safe to use. Most gas tanks are puncture resistant, so the chances of developing a leak are low. If you attach the tank to the unit properly, it is very safe to use. Also, propane has the lowest flammability rating of any other alternative fuel. Typically, propane leaks are easy to detect because of the smell.

With an oil-filled model you may see a little smoke and smell a detectable odor when you first turn it on, however, this should dissipate after a few minutes. Safety features to look for: overheat protection and tip-over cut-off switch.

Both heaters let off a little carbon monoxide into the air which is why ventilation is required. It's recommended that these are used outdoors.

Environmental impact: Another misconception is that they are not good for the environment, and since most people are going green, everyone's looking for a clean energy source.

Eco-friendly: Because heaters that use propane gas are lead and sulfur free, they deliver lower greenhouse emissions. Propane gas burns cleaner than any other form of fuel, emitting only vapor and carbon dioxide into the air. So if you are going green, then propane gas heating is an excellent option.


Oil-filled units are non-toxic, containing no carcinogens. They're biodegradable too. If properly used and installed, oil-filled gas heaters are a great source of warmth that are environmentally friendly.

Expensive: Most people believe heating with gas is expensive. They worry about the cost of propane and whether it's easy to maintain. And in today's economy, this is a real concern.

Save money over time: Although forms of gas heating can be expensive at the onset, maintenance is inexpensive. The price varies depending on the fuel type you use. Cost increases and decreases as the price of oil rises and falls, but traditionally propane is less expensive than standard heating oil.

Short run time/accessibility: Another misconception is the idea that gas heaters run out quickly and once they do they're not easy to access.

Easy to find: First of all, the fuel can burn for hours before needing a refill. Most tanks will burn for up to 10 hours. Second, if you plan on using your heater often, consider keeping refills handy. If you run out of propane, obtaining a refill is easy. Most gas stations, grocery stores, hardware supply stores, and discount stores sell fuel, so if you're in a pinch, chances are you'll be able to find what you need.

Types of Portable Gas Heaters

This type of gas is a by-product of natural gas processing and petroleum refining. Also known as liquid petroleum (LP)gas it contains small amounts of propylene and/or butylene. An odorant called ethanethiol or thiophene is added too, making it easy to detect leaks should they occur.

Propane contains about 91,500 BTU's per gallon, making it an effective source of heating. It burns cleaner than other fuel types, leaving a small carbon imprint on the environment.

Oil Fired:
Heating oil is a low viscosity flammable liquid petroleum product used as a fuel in portable oil-fired models. It's stored in tanks and heats large spaces. It condenses at a hotter temperature than other types of fuel. It's a clean energy source, environmentally sound, and economically smart.

Moreover, heating oil contains about 139,690 BTU's per gallon, a higher BTU than any other type of fuel. Unless you're using kerosene as a fuel source heating oil is not combustible. Heating oil won't burn at a liquid state.

Kerosene heaters burn at about 131,890 BTU's per gallon. Also known as paraffin oil in other parts of the world. This heating fuel is obtained as a fractional distillation of petroleum. Its heating value is relative to diesel. Early on kerosene was used in heat lamps and lanterns as a replacement for whale oil.

This type of fuel is combustible and tends to give off a smoky smell in the first few minutes of use. When the smell dissipates, kerosene fuel keeps spaces sufficiently warm. It too is an economical, energy efficient option to the clean burning propane.

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A Few Great Options

Patio Heaters:
These heaters are perfect for winter and summer. Enjoy a warmer environment on a cool summer night or create comfortable winter wonderland during colder months. Patio heaters are typically tall, freestanding, and portable. They heat a 20 ft. radius and take up very little space. There's no installation required, simply hookup a propane gas tank, and turn it on.

Tabletop Patio Heaters:
These heaters are smaller and fit perfectly on your patio table. They can warm a 20 ft. radius while others warm a mere 5 in. Choose a tabletop patio heater to meet your specific needs. These propane units are extremely attractive and flatter outdoor decor.

Portable Gas Fired Space Heaters:
Typically, portable gas fired space heaters burn kerosene oil; however, there may be some that use heating oil too. There are effective and warm up to 2,500 sq. ft. of space, depending on the size and BTU's. The higher the BTU's the more area the heater will warm.

Tank Top Propane and Infrared Heaters:
These infrared heaters are effective and a preference for many because it burns propane. BTU's vary and so does the coverage area, but typically, these units warm a large space. The infrared heater attached is an added bonus to provide immediate warmth to a personal space. Like a sun lamp, this option creates warmth instantly.

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