Mountable vs portable
Different propane heaters come with different options of either being mounted or being portable. Both these installation options have their merit, which all depends on you – the user – and the environment in which you would like a particular garage heater to perform for you in.
Mounting garage heaters usually are designed strictly for indoor spaces. In our review list, we have the Mr. Heater #MH40LP which is designed to be mounted on ceilings. This shows a specific installation area (a ceilinged room) thus this kind of garage heater cannot be used outside or even in a basement.
Portable garage heaters, on the other hand, widen your options because they enable you to change their location as conveniently as you please. Consider the BTU of the portable heater you choose, and you can utilize it in different locations more efficiently. For instance, the Mr. Heater F271390 with a 125,000 BTU can work in different external environments including construction sites and agricultural buildings whereas the Mr. Heater F232000 with a 9,000 BTU works quite well to heat the different rooms in your home, camping tents, or even portable garages.
The bottom line is, consider the use you want whether it is singular (mountable heater) or variable (portable heater) then make a pick.
Radiant Vs Forced-Air Propane Heaters
A radiant heater is designed to heat objects directly, and so its effectiveness depends on its positioning with the garage or room it is set in. Unlike the radiant heater, the forced-air heater is meant to heat the air within the environment to generate the required warmth.
These distinct specs in the characteristics mentioned make it imperative that you first consider the size and nature of the area that needs to be heated before determining what type of heater will be utile for it in terms of heat type.
Radiant heaters given their design are therefore meant to warm up a small room. Thus they have relatively low BTUs as you can see in the case of the Mr. Heater F274830 heater, for instance. On the other hand, the forced-air propane heaters with high BTUs, such as the Dyna-Glo Fan-Forced Propane Heater, are designed to heat large areas including the outdoors.
You should also consider the fact that by virtue of the different BTUs, the different kinds of garage heaters consume distinct amounts of energy and thus have relative runtimes. The radiant heaters, for instance, consume less and therefore have longer runtimes compared to forced-air heaters whose case is opposite.
British thermal unit (BTU)
The British thermal unit, better known as BTU, is the standard measure of heat energy in the system of Imperial Units. The BTU standard measurement system is based on a relevant object’s ability to generate the amount of heat which is necessary to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. This is the concept applied to the measurement of the heat intensity of propane heaters.
It is important that you know what BTU range is suitable for your garage or any indoor space that you need to be heated based on the size in square feet.
This helps to ensure that the propane heater you buy works in the most efficient and effective way possible to achieve its purpose. Of course, you do not want to overheat that little room you so need to be warm or get inadequate heating for that garage or cabin because you bought the wrong propane heater.
The following calculation procedure can guide your buying process. Here is how to calculate the BTU per square foot in order to determine the propane heater that you need relevant to your available space, courtesy of WikiHow.
Step 1. Establish the Square Footage
For the room in which you intend to set-up the propane heater, you need to evaluate and establish its size by calculating its square feet. To do this, the primary starting point is determining the shape of the floor space that makes the room. Then the shape can be used to make the square feet calculation. Here are some simple formulas you can use:
- Rectangle and square – length multiplied by width
- Triangle – length multiplied by width then divided by two
- Circle – 3.14 multiplied by the square of the radius (distance from the center of the room to the edge of it)
We acknowledge, however, that some rooms are not built in conventional shape structures. If you find yourself in such a scenario, you can divide the area into more relatable shapes from which you can make your calculation and later on add together.
Step 2. Determine the heat capacity as per square foot
Using the BTU figure labeled on the propane heater that you intend to buy you should multiply that figure to the square feet figure acquired in step 1 above.
Note that the BTU labeled on heating equipment usually account on the units per hour. And so whatever figure you arrive at after these two simple steps becomes the amount of heat energy covering each square foot of the intended room per hour.
In the case of the above-reviewed propane heaters, there are BTUs ranging from as low as 4,000 BTU to as high as 125,000 BTU. This clearly shows the distinctive range of heat energy emitted by the different heaters. And therefore, helps in determining the room size each would be most effective in. To give you more of a perspective in this article we see that Mr. Heater F232000 (4,000-9,000 BTU) is equipped to handle a maximum floor space of up to 225 square feet whereas the Dyna-Glo Fan-Forced Propane Heater (300,000 BTU) is legible to heat up to 7,000 square feet.
Also, pay attention to the fact that warm air can seep out through leaky doors. A good way to prevent it is garage door insulation. By insulating all the leaks and cracks, you can be sure that your heater doesn’t heat the outdoor space.
While conducting our research on propane heaters, we realized an inverse correlation in the runtime factor to the BTU of any particular propane heater. To put into perspective, compare these two garage heaters as reviewed above; Mr. Heater F271390 with a 125,000 BTU and 11 hours runtime and Mr. Heater F274830 with 18,000 BTU and a week plus runtime. In their comparison, we realize that the higher the BTU the lower the runtime and vice versa. This is because of the energy output in relation to the amount being preserved.
And so, when looking at the runtime as a factor in your buying guide, the question you then need to ask yourself is, what aspect of warmth do you want more, longevity or intensity?
The size of the warranty expresses the manufacturers’ confidence in the ability of the product they have made to perform and last a good long while as it delivers. In cases where you are tied down by indecision, where the qualities cancel each other out between two products the warranty figure suffices quite well as a tiebreaker. Take for instance the best propane heaters mentioned above, most of which have a one-year warranty. But one, Mr. Heater #MH40LP stands out with a total three-year warranty which definitely gives it an upper hand in proving its reliability as a garage heater.
When all the qualities you want on a propane garage heater check out, yet you have not yet narrowed down that choice list to one, the extra features come into play. The extra features are the manufacturers’ way of improving the convenience in the service that their product provides. This convenience may come in many forms including safety and ease to use or even easy to install just to mention a few. It can add to the cost, however, so make sure these features are necessary. Also, consider getting a good garage alarm to keep your heater and other appliances safe. Here are some of the extra features that make propane garage heaters more convenient.
- Thermostat, which eases thermal control to allow you to regulate the room temperature
- Oxygen Depletion System mechanism, which is a system that makes the heater automatically shut-off to enhance your indoor safety – this is a great feature if you have a ventless propane garage heater, as it’ll ensure the safest experience
- Tip-over automatic shut-off, which switches the machine off automatically if it is accidentally tipped over. This safety mechanism helps to reduce the possibility of fire