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Propane Space Heaters - Indoor Heaters

Propane space heaters are often referred to as room heaters because they are designed to heat a portion of a building such as a room or living area. Although these heaters are portable and can easily be moved, they are subject to limitations and installation requirements for the protection and safety of users and property.

LP Gas Indoor Space Heater Operation

Propane space heaters vary in size, function, BTU rating and they emit heat in different ways. The differences in heating are the way that the heat is transferred from the heater to the surrounding air and objects. Types of space heaters include:

  • Radiant Space Heaters - Sometimes referred to as infrared space heaters, these models heat rooms and spaces in the same way the sun heats the earth. They function to heat objects which in turn heats the surrounding air.
  • Circulating Type Space Heaters - Mostly marketed and sold as "blue flame" space heaters, these space heater models have a visible blue flame and work similar to that of a central air heater. Air is warmed by the flame and circulated to surrounding objects and people.
  • Wall Mounted Space Heaters - Either of the above listed space heaters can be attached to a wall provided the space heater is installed as outlined below.
  • Vented/Unvented Space Heaters - Unvented space heaters are designed to operate within a single space using the indoor room air for combustion. Vented space heaters draw air from the outside for combustion and return flue gases back to the outdoors.

For safety and protection of property, indoor space heaters should be turned off when left unattended and should be periodically inspected by a licensed propane professional or appliance technician for continuous safe operation. As with all propane appliances, space heaters with a visible blue flame is properly adjusted. If yellow or orange flames are observed in space heaters, an appliance technician or licensed propane company should be contacted.

Indoor Propane Space Heater Installation

The installation of an indoor propane space heater must be performed so that the heater functions efficiently, effectively and safely. Differing types of space heaters are subject to individual installation requirements and the reasoning behind these regulations are not only for safety, but also for warmth and comfort on cold days when needed and used. As a general rule, unvented space heaters are not to be installed in bedrooms or bathrooms. The reasoning behind this requirement involves combustion requirements and available space in the room (exceptions are listed in the next section).

All indoor propane gas space heaters are to be installed on a non combustible surface and away from any combustible material such as curtains, towels, doors, walls and furniture. Wall mounted room heaters shall be attached to a non-combustible wall surface. They should also be installed so that they aren't a hazard to people walking around. NFPA 54 states that air circulating (blue flame) type space heaters have at least 12 inches clearance from the heater sides and rear. Radiant (infrared) type space heaters should have at least 18 inches clearance from the sides and rear of the heater as well as 36 inches clearance in the front. These are general propane space heater installation requirements but all gas space and room heaters should be installed according to the manufacturers specifications.

LP Gas Space Heater Location Exceptions

Although it is recommended that direct vent LP Gas space heaters be installed in rooms normally kept closed, unvented indoor propane space heaters are permitted to be installed in bedrooms and bathrooms provided the following requirements are met:

  1. Bathrooms may have one listed wall-mounted propane space heater as long as the heater's input rating does not exceed 6,000 BTU/hr and is equipped with an oxygen depletion sensor (ODS).
  2. Bedrooms may also have one listed wall-mounted propane room heater as long as the heater's input rating does not exceed 10,000 BTU/hr and the heater is equipped with an oxygen depletion sensor.

These exceptions are basically saying that wall mounted propane space heaters are allowed in bedrooms and bathrooms as long as the heaters are relatively small and incorporate an oxygen depletion sensor (ODS). Safely shutting down the heater if oxygen levels become too low is the purpose of an ODS. The oxygen depletion sensor detects the absence of needed oxygen and will automatically shut off an unvented space heater. This safety mechanism works to keep the heater from using available oxygen that is needed for people in enclosed areas, such as rooms. A propane indoor space heater without an ODS installed in a room can cause asphyxiation and Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Also keep in mind that wall mounted room heaters are subject to installation requirements as previously discussed.