How to Pick the Right Portable Heater for Your Workspace

Grainger Editorial Staff

Portable heaters can take the guesswork out of heating any space, but not all heaters are designed for every job. Heating an outdoor workspace takes different equipment than heating a warehouse, a waiting room, or even a cubicle. Consider the site, task, and goals when picking your heater to make the right decision. 

Outdoor Jobsites

  • Portable gas heaters are cheaper to operate than electric, but they should only be used in well-ventilated spaces. Up close, they're often noisy and dangerously hot to the touch. Unlike electric heaters, they also produce moisture that can build up lead to metal corrosion. They can be as simple as a tank-top portable heater, which screws onto a propane tank for truly portable heat. Torpedo heaters are a more powerful style.
  • Some outdoor sites can use portable electric heaters, including salamander heaters, which can be powerful enough to cover a small area in enough heat to be comfortable. These heaters don't produce exhaust or moisture, so they're well-suited to partially enclosed areas.

Warehouses, Workshops and Industrial Spaces

  • As their name implies, fan-forced heaters use a powerful fan to pump out larger volumes of heat needed to fill open spaces. While these types of heaters are great for large or poorly insulated spaces, filling spaces quickly with heat, their fans can be loud. Consider other options if quiet is a necessity.
  • If your work area is wired for higher voltage (208V or 240V) you can use a high-voltage heater. Heaters above 120V have more heating power at their disposal when compared to consumer-grade heaters. These devices are often louder and consume more power than smaller heaters, but trade that energy for faster, more powerful heating.
  • For areas with dust and debris in the air, particularly manufacturing spaces, consider heaters with heavy duty metal housings, air filters, and sealed motors. These features protect the machine from damage and clogging that a harsher environment can cause.

Offices, Waiting Rooms and Conference Rooms

  • Smaller office spaces demand quiet heaters that do not disturb visitors and workers. While still providing enough heat for smaller spaces, fanless heaters trade power for quiet, using convection alone to push hot air out or down.
  • Some radiant heaters use a heat transfer liquid that is ideal for persistent, longer term heating. The method takes longer to get hot, making it a bad fit for areas where the heater will be repeatedly turned off and on, or expected to come to temperature quickly. While radiant heaters are good for open offices and break rooms, individuals may want faster electric heaters to rapidly heat up their desk or station.

Personal Work Areas

  • Personal pedestal heaters can provide local heat coverage and are ideal for offices or personal workstations. With quiet fans that rotate, relatively strong heating and extreme portability, these fans make for great options in smaller spaces. If you need to heat more than one person's space, pedestal heaters can do the job.
  • For heating up a single workspace, the consumer-ready desk heater is your best option. Often with a silent, single-direction fan, these devices put out relatively little heat and are designed just to warm one person. But because of their lower output, they're cheaper to operate, and they allow the coldest people in the area to warm up without raising the temperature of the entire room. 

Going Beyond Portable Heaters

To help keep your heating bills under control, consider these heating tips and tricks.

And, if you're trying to heat a large, open area—or if you want to install a more permanent "zone" heating system, think about installed electric heaters

The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.

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