Many people are unsure of which specific type of heater to use from the following list: blue flame, red flame, and infrared heaters. It is essential to point out that there is no relationship between the color of the flame and the hotness of the flame.
The color of the flame results from the type of fuel that the heater is burning. Blue flame heaters produce this flame because they clean a mixture of air and fossil fuel. The fossil fuel may be propane or natural gas.
A fireplace that uses gas or wood will produce a red flame. If a propane gas heater, which is supposed to produce a blue flame, gives off a red one, it means that the combustion process is not complete.
In this short blog post, we shall focus on the pros and cons of blue flame heaters. We shall discuss their strengths and weaknesses by referring to other heaters, including red flame and infrared heaters.
What is a Blue Flame Heater?
A blue flame heater is a portable space heating device that burns air and fuel to produce heat energy. There are four types of space heaters: convection, radiant, infrared, and ceramic.
These types of space heaters differ based on their mode of operation. The blue flame heater, also called convection heater, is a type of heater that is ideal for use in places that are well insulated. This is because the heater does directly warm the air in the room.
In addition, the heat that is generated from the heater passes to the air. Thus, the air nearest the heater becomes warmer faster than the masses of air that may be far away from the heater.
As is the case with many other space heaters, your blue flame heater comes with control and safety features. Most of them come with manual controls, including a push-button ignition feature. However, all blue flame heaters come with an Oxygen Depletion Sensor or ODS.
The ODS is a critical safety feature in blue flame heaters. It detects when oxygen levels fall well below the required levels for the complete combustion process inside the heater to be maintained.
Is a Blue Flame Heater Safe?
According to the manufacturer’s guidelines, a blue flame heater is generally safe if you use it and take basic safety precautions. One significant risk associated with blue flame heaters is that they can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
Blue flame heaters do not have venting to the outside, as with vented heaters. Thus, they draw all their air from the room and dissipate all the combustion products back into the air in your home.
Although blue flame heaters are designed to produce minimal amounts of combustion gasses and particulates, they still risk causing carbon monoxide poisoning. This is because if something goes wrong, they can produce vast amounts of carbon monoxide and other poisonous gases, including nitrogen dioxide.
So if a technical fault happens and the heater produces excessive amounts of carbon monoxide, the people and pets who may be indoors may experience severe symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
The good news is that you can rely on your carbon monoxide alarm to alert you if the percentage of carbon monoxide in your house rises. However, remember that carbon monoxide poisoning can occur even when one inhales small amounts of the highly toxic gas.
Because of this significant risk, you should always use your blue flame heater in a room that is adequately ventilated. Given that you will not be using through-the-wall vents or flues, having a well-insulated and properly ventilated room will go a long way in ensuring your safety as you use your blue flame heater.
In addition, blue flame heaters pose the danger of causing fires or burns if one touches them. This is because the surface of blue flame heaters becomes very hot after the heaters run for a while. Although these heaters have grilles on the front panel, they still pose the danger of causing burns if one touches their surfaces.
Furthermore, they are usually installed at least 3 inches from the floor. This minimum clearing distance from the floor implies that children and even pets can easily touch the surface of your blue flame furnace heater. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure that children and even pets do not get anywhere near your blue flame heater.
How does a Blue Flame Heater Work?
A blue flame heater works by burning an optimal mixture of either natural gas or propane with oxygen. It then produces heat through its front panel. The heat from your blue flame heater direct heats the air in the room.
It begins by raising the wall’s temperature upon which you would have installed the blue flame heater. The heat from the wall then heats the air, and the warm air rises. This creates a convective current because cool air from the far ends of the room takes the place of the rising warm air. This process continues as the ambient temperature in the room rises.
You can speed up the healing process of a blue flame heater by using a ceiling fan. When you set the ceiling fan in reverse mode and adjust its speed accordingly, the fan’s blades will suck the warm air faster. This process will speed up the circular movement of air mass within the room, thus spreading the warm air faster and circulating the cool air near the warm heater and wall.
Blue flame heaters have blowers. The blowers utilize electric power to speed up circulating warm and cool air. If you install a blower to your blue flame heater, the blower will speed up the process by which the warm air leaves the heater and rises towards the ceiling of your house. This process will, in turn, speed up the movement of cold air to the space near your blue flame heater.
Pros and Cons of a Blue Flame Heater
It may be challenging to choose the right kind of space heaters to supplement the work of your HVAC. The best approach would be to consider the pros and cons of all your options.
Here are some of the most significant pros and cons of using a blue flame heater as a source of supplemental heat indoors.
Pros of Blue Flame Heaters
- It is suited for well-insulated indoor spaces: Unfortunately, blue flame heaters are designed to function perfectly inadequately in insulated rooms. Proper insulation will ensure that your blue flame heater adequately warms the air in your house. If your room is not insulated correctly, this device will take a very long time to heat the air in the room sufficiently.
- Safer than an infrared heater: Infrared heaters are prone to causing fires if they are placed near combustible materials. Infrared heaters directly heat the objects that are found within their heating range. If you place highly combustible materials within the heating range of infrared heaters, the material may absorb the heat and catch fire.
- Blue flame heaters produce fewer contaminants than other alternative healing methods, including wood-burning stoves. Therefore, using a blue flame heater will produce much less air pollution than other alternatives that burn wood to generate heat. Please note that wood-burning stoves are also designed to produce clean wood combustion.
Cons of Blue Flame Heaters
- Blue flame heaters heat slower than infrared heaters: If you want to heat a room quickly, it would be wise to use an infrared heater. An infrared heater rapidly heats a room because it directly warms the objects found inside the room. The heat that comes off the objects then warms the air to increase the ambient temperature. A blue flame heater uses a much slower convective currents process of warming the air. The air then rises and spreads to allow cool air to flow near the heater and be warmed.
- Blue flame heaters do not perform well in spaces that are not adequately insulated: If your room is not insulated correctly, using a blue flame heater may not be a good idea. The heater will end up running for a very long time for people inside the room to start feeling cozy. In addition, you’d lose most of the warm air that the blue flame heater would produce outside. However, a radiant heater functions perfectly even in poorly insulated indoor environments.
- A blue flame heater requires a fan to function well: If you want to experience the best blue flame heater, set up a ceiling fan and adjust it to the reverse mode. The fan will speed up air movement in the convective currents that the heater creates. However, this is extra because your ceiling fan utilizes electricity to run.
Blue Flame vs. Infrared Heaters
Whereas blue flame heaters and infrared heaters use different methods to heat the air and keep you comfortable, they have similarities. Here is a brief description of the differences and similarities between blue flame heaters and infrared heaters.
Similarities between blue flame heaters and infrared heaters
- They are both examples of space heaters: Space heaters are small heating devices that provide supplemental heat in homes, offices, and other premises. Blue flame heaters are also called convective heaters. Other types of space heaters include radiant and ceramic.
- They are both used for supplemental heating: You can install either a blue flame heater or an infrared heater in any of the rooms in your home as a source of supplemental heating. They help to complement the heat that comes from the HVAC system.
- Both heaters can function well even when there is a power outage: This is so because these heaters do not depend on electricity to burn fuel and produce energy. However, if they have a blower, the blower will not function in the event of a power outage because it relies on electric power to maximize the circulation of heat.
- They are ventless: Ventless heaters do not have tubes that connect them to the outside either through the wall of the house’s chimney. Such heaters are effective because they do not lose heat to the vents. Nevertheless, they dump all the byproducts of the combustion process inside the room where they are installed. Therefore, you need to keep the room ventilated if you use either a blue flame or an infrared heater.
- The two types of heaters have various safety features, including the ODS. The ODS prevents the heaters from being damaged when there is little oxygen in their immediate environment. The sensor triggers both heaters to shut off to avoid accidents under such circumstances.
Differences between the blue flame and infrared heaters
- Heating mode: The main difference between blue flame heaters and infrared heaters is in the mode of heating. Blue flame heaters use the convective heating method, while infrared heaters use the infrared heating method.
- Ideal usage: Blue flame heaters are ideal for adequately insulated houses. They tend to warm the air slowly; therefore, using them in a properly insulated house will help you get the best from them. On the other hand, infrared heaters are perfect even in a not adequately insulated room because they warm the air instantly.
Blue flame heaters are a good source of supplemental heat for indoor spaces. They work by burning a mixture of air and propane, for example, to produce heat energy, gases, and particulates. The heat that comes off them directly heats the air surrounding the heater in the room.
This is in sharp contrast with the heating method of infrared heaters. Infrared heaters create electromagnetic radiation that directly warms all the physical objects within range. The heat from the objects then radiates to the air.
One main drawback of using blue flame heaters is they take a long time to increase the temperature in the room. In addition, you may have to use a fan in reverse mode to maximize the heating effectiveness of your blue flame heater.