For industrial applications, there are many options for portable heating.
Begin by defining your goals for portable heating. While the primary goal should be to keep workers warm for their comfort, health, and productivity, there are other factors too. Is it necessary to provide heating for a process that needs a minimum temperature? Do you want to prevent pipes from freezing or bursting? Do you want to provide night-time heating or weekend heating in a particular area after the main plant shuts down? These factors could impact the type and location of heating that you need.
Is there a problem with combustible powder in your facility? Portable heaters can use open flames which can ignite explosive dust particles. In these cases, you will need a safe and flame-free heat source that is 100 percent clean. Which type is best? What is the best type If it utilizes gas?
How much heating will you need? Even if you have an idea of the cfm required, local climate and temperature will affect your heating requirements. Other heating sources, such as heat loss from windows or insulation, will need to be considered. What power supply is available? Are fans needed to circulate heat or push hot air to the ground?
Don’t adopt a standard approach to equipment selection. Every situation is different. You can call a portable heating supplier that offers a wide range of technologies to conduct a site survey and then recommend the most effective and safest solution for your situation.
Types of portable heaters
Direct-fired heaters – Air is forced into the heated area by blowing across propane or natural gas flame. Direct fired heaters are cost-effective and efficient, but they have an open flame that can produce water vapor and toxic gases if it is not properly vented. They should not be used indoors. They can be used for temporary heating in outdoor spaces (e.g. tents, construction sites, or areas with adequate ventilation such as a warehouse or manufacturing space). These units usually have capacities between 400,000 and 7,000,000 BTU/hr.
Electric heaters use resistance heat. This is a form of heat that is efficient in cold environments, but it is also the most expensive. The large electric heaters can produce between 5000 and 512,000 BTU/hr. The heaters use a forced fan to blow warm air into the desired area. This creates clean, dry, and emission-free air. For larger spaces, these heaters require 3-phase wiring of 220 V or 405 V. Sometimes, a generator or electrician is required due to high current consumption.
Indirect-fired heaters are gaining popularity because of their combined benefits: enhanced fire safety, zero harmful emissions, and the ability to heat indoor or outdoor industrial spaces.
These powerful machines produce a lot of heat and are very user-friendly. They can generate between 100,000-1,000,000 BTU/hr.
Heat exchangers for indirect fired heaters are made from natural gas, propane, kerosene, or diesel. The heat exchanger contains the flame, and the fumes are expelled outside via a flue pipe at the top. This is similar to a residential furnace. The heat exchanger heats ambient air, heating it to produce clean, 100 percent fresh air. The space can be used to place the indirect-fired heater unit either inside or outside, depending on your preference. However, if the heater is placed inside a building, the flue pipe must be ducted outside. Indirect heaters can be placed anywhere you like. They require no electricity to run the fan motors.
Portable heat pumps look identical to the portable A/C units so widely accepted for a host of emergency cooling applications, but with the addition of an electrical/mechanical heating function that is more efficient than resistive electric heating. The uniqueness of portable heat pumps is their ability to offer both cooling and heating functions. These units are versatile because they can be used in many areas of the country that have different heating and cooling needs.
The typical portable heat pump weighs between 1 and 5 tons, or up to approximately 60,000 BTU. They are therefore not suitable for heating large manufacturing areas. They can be used in plants without central heating to heat offices, conference rooms, and lobbies, as well as for cooling industrial processes. They can be used to heat “cold spots”, such as corners or areas that lack balance in the central heating system, even if there is a permanent source of heat.
The operating temperature ranges of portable heat pumps are another limitation. Air-cooled heat pumps require an ambient temperature between 45 and 55°F. This means that the climate must be cool or another source of heating must be available in cooler areas.
Water-cooled portable heat pump are also available. These heat pumps use water to absorb heat from refrigerant and absorb it.
Water-cooled portables can work at any temperature, provided the water temperature is above 40°F. This gives them a greater operating range and more capacity than their air-cooled counterparts. They can be a great choice for the right conditions but are not recommended in areas with a plentiful municipal water supply or buildings that have closed-loop cooling towers.
Preferred Climate Solutions is owned and operated by HVAC veterans. We have over 17 years experience with portable heating and cooling systems, plus a lifetime of experience with Texas’ challenging climate. We provide an array of portable cooling and heating rental solutions 24/7. We have locations in Houston, Dallas/Ft Worth & Austin Texas.