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Infrared vs Blue Propane Heater: What’s The Difference?

Winter is here. And with the current season’s extremely cold weather, it is crucial to keep your home warm at all times. But the thing is heating systems do not come free, nor cheap. And in order for you to sufficiently supply heat in your home, you would need to spend a high amount of energy. 


In other words, it is expensive. 

On a positive note, there are alternative heat sources that you can use aside from the modern heating systems we have today. And these alternatives do not solely rely on electricity but utilizes gas instead—they are called vent-free heaters.

That being said, there are two types of vent-free heaters that run on gas: the infrared (radiant) heat and the blue propane heater. And while both devices are efficient and give sufficient heat, each of them works best on a different set of conditions. 

So, which one should you choose?

But before we answer that, let’s talk about what a vent-free heater is.

What Is a Vent-free Heater?

A ventless gas heater, unlike an electronic heating system, is a type of furnace that warms a room by emitting air outside the area it is installed. It rather uses the air inside the room where the heater is placed, which will be vented out back to the room again. And because there is no exchange of air from outside to inside and vice versa, vent-free furnaces are much more efficient as well as energy-saving.

Why Choose It? 

When it comes to choosing which heating system to install, the decision must be largely dependent on what you and your house need, as well as the overall condition of the area. Still, there are a number of good reasons why you should opt for a ventless furnace as an alternative.

But if there is one reason to purchase a vent-free furnace over modern ones, it would be an energy-efficient heater. As said, unvented heaters do not exchange air from outside to use the same air circulating inside and vice versa but rather inside the room it is installed. 

Is It Safe?

Are ventless heaters, despite it using gas to function, safe in terms of air quality? Here’s a brief explanation. 

  • Indoor air quality. You may think heaters that run on gas emit polluted air. However, with perfect combustion of fuel—both natural and propane—produces water and carbon dioxide. And if the unvented heater is properly installed and maintained, then it could yield a near to perfect combustion. It is particularly true if there is enough ventilation. 

    To put it plainly, the indoor air quality with vent-free furnaces is considered non-toxic and natural. 
  • Carbon dioxide and oxygen levels. The level of carbon monoxide made by the combustion process of an unvented heater may come high sometimes. And that could be toxic for most.

    The good thing is that an oxygen depletion sensor exists. And are, in fact, installed in all vent-free heaters. As such, if the furnace is inappropriately installed or maintained, it is unlikely to produce high amounts of CO2 that could be lethal to someone’s health.

Which Is Which?

Whether it is an electric or a gas-run heater, all of them work for the same function: to keep our houses warm. However, not all heaters have the same way in terms of delivering heat. The same goes with a blue propane heater and infrared heater.

Here’s how the two differ:

Infrared Heater

Also called a radiant heater, an infrared heater is a type of device that provides radiant heat to near objects “directly”. I emphasize the word directly because that is where the main difference between infrared and its counterpart blue propane heater.

Essentially, a radiant heater uses electromagnetic radiation—which the sun also yields—to warm the objects in the room straight away. In plain words, it means it provides heat instantly, just like when you are standing under the sun.

For that very reason, infrared heaters are best to use in areas that are uninsulated. You could place it in the living room, for example. It is also ideal to install in the garage. And if you have a barn as well—especially if you are raising livestock—it is an excellent device to keep the structure and the animals warm during winter. The key here is it is ideal to place in areas that require direct heat to get its maximum function.

But an infrared heater could be a disadvantage too, particularly if you place it in an area with flammable materials.

As said, radiant heaters yield directly to near objects which in return gives warmth instantly. But because of this, it may also run the risk of igniting nearby items. As such, make sure to strategically install the heater, and keep away combustible materials such as a pile of old newspapers or cartons, clothes, and even furniture away from the heater.

Blue Propane Heater

A blue propane heater, on the other hand, is a type of warming device that heats the air in the area first rather than nearby objects.

In essence, a blue propane heater first warms the wall where it is installed. After that, the heat moves upward to the ceiling which, after some time, warms the whole room and the objects inside it.

For that very reason, such a type of heater is ideal for areas that are insulated. It is especially suitable in bedrooms, kitchen, living room, and other parts of the house that do not need immediate heat. 

When it comes to its disadvantages, there’s nothing much to worry about the blue propane heater. As mentioned, it does not directly heat nearby objects rather it warms the room’s air. Hence, no need to worry about it igniting flammable materials. 

Although it also means you may need to wait for a few minutes before you can enjoy its warmth. 

The Verdict

An excellent heating system is extremely crucial especially these days. But with today’s cost of living, keeping your home warm will indeed put a hole in your wallet. On a positive note, ventless heaters that run on gas rather than electricity exists. It is inherently efficient as well compared to modern heating system.

That said, if you are thinking of an affordable and safe alternative, a vent-free heater is a great option.

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