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Safety of Infrared Gas Heaters

Infrared radiant gas heaters have been used for many years to provide clean, comfortable and safe heat inside commercial and industrial structures, and in residential outdoor spaces. Like other gas burning appliances, infrared gas heaters are safe if installed and used correctly but can be dangerous if used inappropriately.
  1. How They Work

    • Infrared gas heaters burn natural gas or propane to heat a metallic or ceramic emitter red hot. The red-hot emitter sends out infrared rays that directly warm any person or object exposed to them. Other heater types heat people and objects by warming the air around them. Different infrared gas heater types include the mushroom-like patio heater for heating small outdoor areas. High-intensity ceramic box heaters use an element heated to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit to heat large open interior spaces. Tube heaters pass hot combustion gases through a quartz or ceramic tube, heating it to around 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. These are used with venting for heating interior spaces. Portable infrared construction heaters are used for spot heat applications at outdoor or indoor construction sites.

    Safe Clearance

    • Infrared gas heaters can ignite combustible surfaces or materials that are too close to the heater. Obey the clearance requirements listed for your infrared heater and keep portable flammable items away from the heater. Connect to gas lines with flexible tubing behind a shut-off valve. Obey the installation manual’s instructions regarding hookups, gas pressure and other installation safety requirements.


    • To ensure complete combustion, most infrared gas heaters require at least 4 cubic feet per minute of fresh air, and must exhaust a similar volume of used air. Depending on the size of the heated space, a gas infrared heater can be operated unvented or with separate air intake and venting chimney. Ensure any intake and chimney pipes are clear of dirt, debris, obstructions such as bird nests, and carbon deposits.

    Safety Maintenance

    • Infrared gas heaters need to be kept clean and in good repair. Keep reflectors clean and dust free. Reflectors shouldn’t touch the heating element. Clean the outside of the heater with a damp cloth as needed. Ensure igniters and ceramic heating elements are not cracked or broken. Use the type of gas called for on the manufacturer’s nameplate. If you must convert to an alternative gas fuel, have the conversion done by a licensed gas technician.