How to Use LP Heaters at a High Altitude
Using LP heaters at a high altitude is possible, but some adjustments will likely need to be made first.
Propane heat is an affordable, cleaner alternative to oil. It is cheaper than electricity and more efficient than natural gas – it is also incredibly versatile. But how do propane heaters fare in high altitudes? That depends on whether or not they are vented. LP heaters that are vented work well at high altitudes, while their vent-free counterparts may not function over 7,500 feet. This is because there is not enough oxygen in the air to run them continuously. Nevertheless, both vent-free and vented LP heaters need an adjustment to function at high altitude.
High-Altitude Appliances: The Basics
Gas water heaters are designed to work at sea level so they need modifications for high altitudes. The air-fuel mixture at high altitudes is out of sync because the amount of oxygen in the air is lower. Air provides water heaters with oxygen necessary for the pilot light and main burner flames to work creating a chemical reaction called combustion. Combustion cannot occur if the air is thinner and has less oxygen. Elevation changes affect all gas appliances, but it is possible to make some modifications to compensate for the lack of oxygen.
Different Types of LP Heaters
There are several different types of LP heaters. Vent-free heaters are designed for use within a single space, using the indoor room air for combustion. They are not recommended for use inside your home. Vented heaters function by drawing air from the outside for combustion and returning gases back to the outdoors. These types of heaters are designed to be permanently located next to an outside wall. Radiant space heaters heat objects, which then heats all the surrounding air in a room. This is akin to how the sun heats Earth. Wall mounted space heaters are any heaters that can be attached to a wall as long as the heater is installed correctly.
Portable heaters are space heaters that provide supplementary heat. They are used when the main heating system or built-in heaters are too costly to run or inadequately heat the space. Portable heaters are relatively inexpensive to purchase but are not as effective at heating whole rooms as a built-in heater.
Make sure to install a carbon monoxide detector in the room where you will be using your LP heater. This is crucial if you want to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
No matter which type of LP heater you choose, it will need modifications to function properly at a high altitude.
Justine Harrington is a writer and editor based in Austin, Texas by way of Oklahoma. Find out more at www.justineharrington.com