When Should You Use an Electric Construction Site Heater Instead of a Direct-Fire One?

Posted on: 2 December 2020

Keeping your workers warm and comfortable on the job site lets them concentrate on their tasks rather than on the freezing weather. Direct-fire portable construction heaters, which burn propane to generate an open flame, have often been the heater of choice for construction jobs. They're very inexpensive to operate due to the low cost of propane, and they generate a considerable amount of heat.

However, direct-fire heaters are not appropriate for every job site. Electric construction heaters are sometimes the better choice. They're more expensive to operate, but they eliminate the need for an open flame—they function similarly to space heaters with an added fan that directs warm air. To learn when an electric portable construction heater is the best choice for your job site, read on.

1. You Need to Keep the Job Site Dry

One of the downsides of using a direct-fire portable construction heater is that it will increase the humidity within the area. Combustion creates water vapor as a byproduct, which means that the air coming from the heater will have increased humidity. Paint and wood finish, for example, can develop unsightly stains and steaks if it's exposed to high humidity while it's drying. Using a direct-fire heater around wet paint or finish can negatively affect its final appearance. In situations where you need to keep humidity to a minimum, using an electric heater is the preferable option.

2. Your Heater Can't Be Properly Ventilated

Along with water vapor, the process of combustion also releases several harmful gases like carbon monoxide. That's why it's important to always use a carbon monoxide detector in any areas that contain a direct-fire heater. This keeps you and your crew safe on the job site.

In some cases, however, you won't be able to use a direct-fire heater at all due to poor ventilation. For example, basements may not receive enough airflow to move all of the harmful byproducts of combustion out of the room. Carbon monoxide levels in poorly ventilated spaces will quickly become dangerous. When ventilation is inadequate, you should always use an electric heater instead. They rely on heating elements instead of combustion to keep a space warm, so no harmful gases are released while they're operating.

3. You're Working Around Flammable Objects

Finally, you should always choose an electric portable construction heater whenever you need to work around anything flammable, such as insulation. Stray sparks from a direct-fire heater can ignite flammable objects, quickly causing an out-of-control fire. Workers may also accidentally knock the direct-fire heater over, directing its flame towards a flammable object nearby. With no open flame, electric heaters are always preferable when working around flammable material.

Direct-fire heaters may be inexpensive to operate, but they're not the best choice in every situation. When the risk of an open flame is too high or you need to keep your job site dry, an electric portable construction heater is a better choice. As a bonus, choosing an electric heater eliminates the need to store and keep track of propane tanks—all you need to do to stay warm and comfortable is to plug it into an electric outlet.