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The Truth about Radiant Tube Heaters

HendrikHendrik Member Posts: 2
Hello, folks:
I'm just doing a bit of research here and hope some of you can help me out.

I was recently speaking with a gentleman about a radiant tube heater system, powered by propane. He is considering it for his two-car garage workshop. We talked about some of the pros and cons, etc. But one of the most difficult questions to answer is how efficient it is and what the actual cost of running it will be. Speaking to the people who sell the units isn't exactly unbiased and you usually get answers like "it depends on how much you use it". Very true, but I would like to get some concrete stats on this from real users, not from the manufacturers.

I would love to hear from people who actually own these systems. If you could answer the following questions, it would be very helpful to me.

1) What is your shop size, including ceiling height?

2) What is the insulation situation in your shop (e.g. concrete slab on grade, 2 large windows, 2 garage doors with R10 insulation, R40 in the ceiling, R13 in the walls, etc.?

3) How many BTUs is your radiant tube heater?

4) What did it cost you for the heater, including installation?

5) How many hours do you tend to work in your workshop on average (per week, per month, etc.)?

6) How many heating months do you have where you live (average temperatures in the colder months, etc.?)

7) How large is your propane tank?

8) How many litres of propane do you typically go through in a heating season?

9) What seems to be the average price of propane in your area these days?

10) What would be your estimated annual cost to run your radiant tube heater?

11) How does the unit heat your shop compared to other systems you've tried (i.e. does it only heat certain areas and leave many cold spots in others?)?

12) Would you buy it again and why or why not?

People can email me at [email protected] if you prefer. Or you could post the results on the forum if you think others might benefit from it.

I should mention that I don't own one of these systems myself and I'm not planning on it anytime in the near future. But I would like to collect more information that I can pass on to my students or during any seminars that I do.

Thanks a million.



  • bigugh_4bigugh_4 Member Posts: 406
    You might write to They are the B&G reps here in the SLC area. They have a large warehouse fitted with Nat.Gas radiant tube heating. Perhaps they'd share with you their thoughts and operation costs. Personally I think it is great for large open work aeras. It heats things, not air. Warm floors and furniture is a nice result. For a shop it has the advantage of being above flamable fumes.
  • HendrikHendrik Member Posts: 2


    You say large open spaces. But I'm wondering what good it would be in a small home hobbyist woodworking shop. Let's say the size of a 2 or 3 car garage. Also, if the ceiling height is fairly low (say 8ft.), some of the manufacturers say that is ok. But it makes me wonder if the radiant energy will hit too small of an area, leaving the outside areas of the shop cold.

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks for the website referral too. I'll check it out.


  • pfitter_25pfitter_25 Member Posts: 3
    tube heaters

    You gota be careful. Check the minimum head room, that is the space from tube to objects. Several years ago a school put several of these in a bus grage in the summer. the first time they came on when the buses were in there it burnt the paint off the tops of them all. I also know a contractor who put one in his home garage and it burnt it down. Turned out to have come with a faulty gas valve.

    I have seen these used very sucessfuly in truck shops, school shops, wharehouses etc., places with plenty of ceiling hight, just keep stuff away from them.

  • Art PittawayArt Pittaway Member Posts: 230
    Residential garages

    are not where these heaters should be used. Even the smallest models produce to much heat when hung under an 8' ceiling. Get there installation guides and read the "Warnings" close. Several companies like Modine and ADP make small gas/propane fired unit heaters aimed at the residential market. Easy to install and they work. If you gotta have radiant, Granger sell several small electric radiant heaters that will work IF properly installed. Problem is you pay the power company later...!
  • Steve EbelsSteve Ebels Member Posts: 904
    I would never recommend

    I would never recommend a tube heater for a wood working shop at anytime. The surface of the tube gets very hot and we all know how easily sawdust ignites. We also know how it floats around and settles on anything and everything.

    Case and point: A few years ago I installed a heating system in a commercial cabinet building facility. I recommended hot water fan coils with explosion proof motors and the boiler was placed outside. This has worked very well. Two years ago they expanded their operation and asked for a bid on heating for their new 5,000 sq ft building addition. I suggested the same type of setup even though this area is just warehouse and final assembly. (Ideal system would be radiant floor) Another contractor proposed tube heaters and was less expensive by about $6,000. They asked me if I would install tube heaters and I said no, emphatically!!

    Long story short---- They had a fire in the new building a couple weeks ago and the cause was ignition of dust on top of the reflector over the tube heater.

    End of story.

    End of discussion!!!
  • jkebxjunkejkebxjunke Member Posts: 3
    A use that you may not have heard of...

    Radiant tube heaters are now all the rage in poultry houses. They stay out of the way and in my opinion seem better than the exposed flame radiant heaters many of us use now. Pretty much all new poultry houses have them in the brood chamber now. The last new house had a brood chamber 66' x 200' and they had (6) 150,000 btu units installed. and had no problem maintaing the 90* floor temp for the chicks.
  • Greg SwobGreg Swob Member Posts: 167
    Art hit it with clearance...

    You will see distances of 54" or similar min. clearance for some brands, sizes, etc. to combustible and/or other surfaces. Hard to obtain this in a residential garage. Again, not the recommended heat source to use in a residentail garage, especially with sawdust, even with a dust collector in use. Our local school bus barn had the same paint burning situation mentioned earlier.
  • Don WalshDon Walsh Member Posts: 131
    chicken coop

    So that's where are those chicken McNuggets come from! LOL

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  • Collin_2Collin_2 Member Posts: 2

    Schwank makes a great garage heater with low clearances.
    When they've forgotten to lay down tube before pouring the slab, of course.;)
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