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nfpa-saftey-tips

NFPA Heater Safety Tips

The NFPA stands for the National Fire Protection Association which is the leading information and knowledge resource on fire, electrical, and related hazards.

Heating equipment, such as space heaters and furnaces, are leading cause of home fire deaths. According to the NFPA, 50% of heating equipment fires are reported during winter months such as December, January, and February. The NFPA has several recommendations and steps consumers can follow to prevent heating related fires from happening.

  1. Keep anything that could catch fire at a minimum of 3 feet away from areas where large amounts of heat occur. This includes furnaces, fireplaces, woodstoves, space heaters, and more.
  2. Keep a perimeter around open fire since peacekeepers were children and pets cannot enter.
  3. Always have a qualified professional install furnaces, fireplaces, water heaters, and other heating equipment.
  4. Have your furnace and chimney regularly cleaned and inspected annually by reputable and certified professional.
  5. Never leave a space heater unintended to, when left on while asleep.
  6. Always use the recommended fuel indicated by the manufacturer’s guidelines for space heaters that burn fuel.
  7. Be sure to place a thick and sturdy screen in front of your fireplace and sparks from leaving the fireplace. Allow ashes to cool the point where they can be handled with their hands, before removing them from the fireplace. Always place the container a safe distance away from your home or sleeping area.
  8. Regularly inspect smoke alarms and replace batteries as needed.

For more information on heating safety tips be sure to visit the national fire protection Association’s website at http://NFPA.org

 

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UsingtheRightPropane

Are you Using the Right Propane?

Probably something you don’t think about too often, but are you using the right propane in your grill, heater, or engine? Just like the gas you fill your car up with, propane has different grades according to the amount of propane in it and the amount of propylene in it. As you know, propane is the combustible gas that is used as fuel. What you may have not known is propylene is another gaseous hydrocarbon that is used in the manufacture of plastics. The purpose of propylene being mixed with propane is beyond the scope of this article since there’s a number of technical terms that have really no value to the average consumer. All you need to know is the quality, and the mixture percentages explained below.

Propane has three grades HD5, HD10, and commercial. Each with varying mixtures and ratios of propane to propylene. HD5 propane is considered ‘consumer grade’ and is what is most commonly used to fill your standard 20lb tank. What HD5 means is it is suitable and recommended for engine fuel use with a minimum of 90% propane and a maximum of 5% propylene. There are other smaller percentages of gases that make up the contents such as butane, methane, etc.

Furthermore this means HD5 propane can be anywhere from 90% propane, 5% propylene, and 5% other all the way up to 99% propane, and 1% propylene and other.

Figure 1 illustrates the minimum amount of propane required to be considered HD5

pie chart propane

Figure 2 illustrates the maximum amount of propane while still being considered HD5.

pie chart propane 2

There is not a minimum amount of propylene that has to be in a mix. So a mix of 100% pure propane is still considered HD5 propane. HD5 propane essentially has a window in which the propane mix can fall between and a maximum that propylene can fall under.

Avoid companies that advertise their propane has higher than competitors, as consumer grade propane is as high as it can be. There’s really going to be no difference between two different companies selling propane as long as they’re both HD5.

HD10 propane is below HD5 in terms of purity. HD10 allows up to 10% propylene in the mixture, which can cause problems is some engines and various appliances. Additionally since propylene is used in the creation of plastics, it’s advised against using this in a grill or other cooking applications. HD10 propane has uses that will most likely be unrelated to you so it is best to simply avoid using it. Commercial grade propane falls into the same boat as HD10 essentially as it contains higher amounts of propylene and is not suited for consumer use or use in engines.

Source: http://www.propane101.com/propanegradesandquality.htm

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MostAffordableCommercialPatioHeaters2016

Most Affordable Outdoor Heaters 2016

Outdoor heaters are an absolutely fantastic way to enjoy the cool weather, without having to get too cold and bring your nice blankets outside. These heaters will provide the warmth your family and guests will appreciate and extend the relaxed discussions in a comfortable atmosphere. With spring coming around the corner it’s not a bad idea to consider purchasing one now, in order to get the best deals!

Hopefully by now you have some sort of an idea of what you want. If not, head on over to the outdoor space heater page and have a look at the three different kinds of heaters available. Once you have figured out the type and size you want, it’s a good idea to begin looking at the technical aspects, such as the range, energy use, price, and other characteristics.

For the purpose of this article, we’re going to assume you have a medium size porch or patio that can accommodate a group of 4-6 comfortably. We’ll assume the time of the year is mid spring, or late summer just when the temperatures are beginning to drop. Most people will be comfortable without a heater until the mercury drops to the upper 50’s or lower 60’s. Also, we’ll be looking at floor standing heaters; wall mounted and table top versions are not included in this list.

 

screened porch

 

Most importantly, the quality to price ratio is a distinctive feature here. A better quality product will last longer and require fewer, if any, repairs than a cheaper made model. Thus I always see it better as paying a bit more for something to last longer.

Generally speaking you’re going to be looking at spending $150-$300 dollars on this kind of item, but it’ll be worth every penny you paid. This is not to say there are not good floor standing heaters under the $200 mark, there are plenty, but sometimes it requires a bunch of trial and error to figure that out.

So without any further ado, here are my top 3 picks for being the most affordable, floor standing outdoor heaters.

outdoor patio heater

  1. AmazonBasics Commercial Patio Heater

For the quality and price of this unit, it really can’t be beaten. The Havana bronze, and slate grey colors start at $125.99, and the stainless steel colorway comes in at $152.99. What’s even better? If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can have this shipped to you in two days for free, otherwise a fairly small shipping charge is added.

What makes this unit great is it delivers an impressive 46,000 BTU’s of heat, which should be more than enough to cover a 10 person circle or more. It’s heated by a standard 20lb LP gas cylinder, which is not included, but if you own a grill you probably have one. Assembly isn’t difficult and should take at most an hour or two. This unit also features a safety auto shut-off tilt valve.

Compared to similar models across different brands, this unit comes in far cheaper with an average savings of roughly $30-$60. Not to mention you’ll receive Amazon’s customer support, which tends to be much better than most other companies.

 

  1. AZ Stainless Steel Patio Heater with Table

Priced slightly higher than Amazon’s stainless version, the AZ Patio heater matches fairly well, but puts out slightly less heat than my number one choice. You may be asking why I put this one in the list, when the AmazonBasics model clearly beats it in most categories. With AZ’s model, there are few things that do make it a bit better.

First, the assembly is quicker and easier. It takes roughly 20 minutes to put together, which is significantly shorter then almost all other models. Many of the parts come pre-assembled and the most you may be doing is peeling the protective plastic sheets off of the stainless steel finish. Although it only emits a rated 41,000 BTU’s, this won’t be significantly different than the 46,000 BTU’s the AmazonBasics puts out.

Similarly, it uses a standard 20 gallon propane tank, and includes an anti-tilt safety switch, wheels for easy mobility and is CSA approved. What this heater has, that many other models don’t is a small table at the base of the heater. I like this small touch, and think it is a practical addition. It’s a great place to set a beer or glass of wine when relaxing outside.

 

  1. Fire Sense XL – Series Patio HeaterFiresense space heater

This outdoor space heater comes in a little over $200 at $214.88, but gives you the best of both worlds with the first and second models listed above in addition to some other nice features. Generally speaking it has all the ‘basic’ features you would expect, just like the 2 models above do. This includes the safety anti-tilt turn off valve, wheels for added mobility, use of a standard 20lb tank, etc.

In the summer of 2015 Fire Sense released a new updated model that includes a “pilotless burner system, rapid spark ignition system, bottom weight-ballast, and an added table.” These features are what set this heater apart from other similar models.

Similar to how you light a grill, all of these heaters have an electronic ignition switch that is basically a button that creates a spark in a stream of propane gas. This is what lights the fire that keeps you warm. The company has claimed it has, “replaced the traditional thumb-aching, single spark switch, with an easy press, easy start, and “rapid spark” ignition system.”

If you’re unsure what a pilot light is, it’s a small flame that burns at all hours to keep a flame going on the stream of gas. If you own a home, odds are there is a pilot light going in your furnace or stove. For space heaters, it serves the same purpose, but unfortunately can waste gas. Fire Sense has fixed this problem, by creating a system that requires no pilot light all.

Finally, they added a weight to the bottom for more stability and to prevent the unit from tipping over and as mentioned above, a table isn’t a bad option to have. Nobody wants to set a nice wine glass on the ground or risk losing a beer to a spill.

 

Lastly, with whatever space heater you choose be sure to purchase a cover for it when it’s not in use, or have some area you can take it where it’s not exposed to the elements. Mother Nature can take a hardy toll on these pieces, so it’s important to take care of one meticulously. Besides, the better care of you take of it, the longer it’s going to last. Be sure to save all receipts, manuals, and register your product with the company if that is available to you. It’ll make returns, repairs, etc. a whole lot easier down the road.

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BTU

Explaining BTU’s or British Thermal Units and their Application to you

You’re in the market for a new heater, but have little to no idea what the ratings on the box mean. Everything is ranging from a few hundred BTU’s to several thousand! So which one do you pick? With this handy guide, you’ll get a basic understanding of British Thermal Units and the amount you need to heat up your living room, bedroom, or garage.

 

What are BTU’s?British flag

BTU is the acronym for a British thermal unit. If you’re even remotely familiar with measurements of energy or remember anything from high school physics, a BTU is a unit of work equal to about 1055 joules of energy. It represents the amount of work needed to raise the temperature of a pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. Hence a pound of water at 40 degrees Fahrenheit will rise to 41 degrees Fahrenheit with 1055 joules of energy or a single BTU applied. In short, BTU’s measure the output of heat by the heater you are looking at. A heater rated at 10,000 BTU’s is going to put out more heat than one rated at 5,000 BTU’s.

 

Why are BTU’s important?

As stated above, BTU’s measure the output of energy or heat by a heater. You need to know the proper amount of BTU’s that is suitable for your use considering your goal is comfort and energy efficiency. If you choose a heater that doesn’t put out enough energy, you’ll find yourself putting a jacket on or turning on the furnace. If you choose a heater that has too large of an output, you’ll be wasting energy as you would be better offer simply turning on the furnace. This is why it is important to make sure you have a heater that has a high enough output, but not so high it becomes inefficient.

 

How do I know which heater to buy?

With a few simple calculations and little common sense you’ll be well on your way to figuring which heater best fits your situation. There are two methods to doing this, one involves a little math, and the other is based on some rough estimates. By using calculations you’ll be given a much more exact answer, but for most the chart below should be enough.

  1. First, find the square footage of the room you want to heat. Take the length times the width (a 10ft by 12ft room will equal 120 sq ft).
  2. You can roughly estimate you’ll need 10 to 12 watts of energy per square foot, so we’ll go down the middle road and do 11 watts. 120 square feet times 11 watts equals 1,320 watts.
  3. Now it’s time to convert it to BTU’s. 1 watt is equivalent to about 3.4 BTU’s, so simply take the 1,320 watts and multiple it by 3.4. This should give you a total of roughly 4,500 BTU’s.
  4. What do you do with this number? Write it down or take a mental note of it, and be sure that the space heater you decide on has at least 4,500 BTU’s. If it has more that’s not a problem, if it has a few hundred less, that most likely won’t be a problem either.

 

Room Area Recommended BTU’s (estimated)
100-150 square feet 5,000 BTU
150-250 square feet 6,000 BTU
250-300 square feet 7,000 BTU
300-350 square feet 8,000 BTU
350-400 square feet 9,000 BTU
400-450 square feet 10,000 BTU
450-550 square feet 12,000 BTU
550-650 square feet 14,000 BTU
650-1000 square feet 18,000 BTU
1000-1500 square feet 24,000 BTU

 

Also, it’s important you take into consideration other room factors such as furniture, people who will be in the room, windows, etc. These all will affect how well the room is heated. For example, if you know your windows aren’t exactly the most energy efficient and you have a couple of them in the room, it may not hurt to add a few thousand BTU’s to your estimate.

And there you have it, you now have a basic knowledge of British thermal units, and know how to calculate them according to your needs. Be sure to check out other features that are available on heaters such as timers, temperature displays, and more!

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