Tube Heaters or Unit Heaters? Information from an HVAC Service in Central Kansas

October 1, 2016 5:06 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

One of the most common questions we get from business owners during the fall and winter months is what type of heating equipment they should be using in warehouses or other commercial buildings. Of course, there is no simple answer to this question—one must examine the pros and cons of each system to determine what is right for their company. In general, the choice comes down to tube heaters or unit heaters.

Here is some information from our HVAC service in Central Kansas about each of these types of systems to help make your decision a little easier.

Tube heaters

Typically tube heaters are better for partially outdoor spaces or buildings with lots of air infiltration from dock doors, while unit heaters are better for fully interior spaces. However, there are some challenges that come with tube heaters, specifically the type of layout you will create.

First, you must perform a load calculation. Tube heaters allow you to maintain a lower space temperature, which means a smaller necessary heat load. Once you have determined your heat load, you are going to need to determine how the heaters will be placed. This depends on the efficiency of your chosen heater, the amount of space you have and various other factors. Keep in mind that most of the heat comes out near the burner box, so you are likely going to want to place this in a strategic area to help heat more of the space.

Mounting height is also critical, because tube heat is radiative heat. When you double the height, you get only a quarter of the heat. So you need to be able to maintain minimum clearances while still being cognizant of the amount of heat you will potentially lose.

Forced air heaters

Forced air heaters are typically used in situations where a space will not have a lot of air infiltration. This means you’re going to be looking for a more comfortable and even air temperature. Because hot air rises, you might need to add some ceiling fans to keep the hot air close to the floor if you’re in a building with very tall ceilings.

Forced air is a good option for spaces that are larger, with much greater capacity. Standard unit heaters can double the capacity of even the biggest tube heaters. This means you are able to cut down on installation costs, as there’s less electrical wiring to be done, less gas piping, fewer roof penetrations, etc.

These lower upfront costs are a big reason alone as to why people might opt for forced air heaters over tube heaters. Unit heaters often provide double the heat per dollar spent on equipment versus tube heaters, which amounts to some very significant savings over the course of time.

While you might not immediately have a good idea as to whether unit or tube heating is right for you, consider this information, and reach out to us at K V K Inc. if you have further questions.

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