What is the best forced air heater? The most important things to consider include amperage, maximum temperature, BTU, and the volume of space it can heat per time unit. However, you should better opt for a model powered by electricity because it is safer than propane forced air heaters. Adjustability and safety features, such as proper shielding, housing, and tip-over protection, are also essential. And finally, you should choose devices manufactured by a trusted and brand-name company to make sure that the product is really quality and reliable. We believe that DeWalt DXH1000TS Forced Air Electric Heater
Even in southern parts of the country like where I am in Florida, it can still get a bit chilly in the winter, and you need decent heat.
In your home, you probably have solid central heat already in place, but what about your garage/shed/workshop? How long has it been since you bought a space heater for these locations? Because if it’s been a long time, you might be surprised by the innovations made in the past few decades. You probably think your old space heater was built when they built things to last, and that it’ll outlast you.
Before we get into important points and some personal experience, let’s talk about how these work.
Forced air heaters can work in a few ways. Most of them made in modern times are electric, though there have been forced air heaters that burn propane or kerosene (these are very rare these days). Most forced air heaters use a strong fan to pull air in and blow the heated air out forcefully and rapidly, with a distance. These are sometimes also called “blowers”, though that term actually refers to just high-powered air movers, not heaters.
With propane or gas heaters, the projection of the hot air is done by the force of the gas burning, pushing the air out almost like a very low-powered rocket booster. These are sometimes (especially modernly) classified as a different type of heater, but at one point, they weren’t, and some still don’t classify them differently.
Generally speaking, the electric solution is now your best bet unless you’re somewhere without power, which is relatively unlikely. If you’re in an isolated cabin in the woods, chances are you’d be hard-pressed to haul the fuel for an incendiary heater, or the heater itself out there.
More likely in this case, you’re using wood-burning for heat, or you have a generator with significant reserves with which to power either small central heat or an electric forced air heater. Why are you in the middle of frozen-over nowhere, by the way? Who does that in this century, and why?
Electric is a lot safer (though it’s not completely hazard-proof), a lot more efficient these days, and much faster. Since it’s using electric, it usually has an easy method to power a high-volume blower component as well, and electric is much easier to control on a more precise level of setting.
How does an electric forced air heater work? It’s actually pretty simple. When electricity is sent through materials like tungsten or graphite (heating elements in most electric heaters are a polymer blend of these), it excites the material in a resistive manner, the excess energy shed as powerful heat.
Variations use ceramics (though these aren’t as common for forced air heat like this), which are a more resistive material by nature, but which don’t get as tactilely hot and are thus safer. Ceramics are powerful, but not as immediate or intense, thus making them less common (for now) with forced air.
Infrared forced air heat also does exist, but again, isn’t as common due to how fragile and how inefficient IR is compared to just plain heating element approaches. Now, while this old fashioned heating element approach is … old fashioned … it’s gotten much more efficient with materials and controller circuitry, getting more heat out of a joule of energy than they once did, and with the elements lasting longer, and better technologies for overall safety.
Most heaters of this type will list specifications such as amperage, maximum temperature, BTU (British Thermal Unit, the base unit of heat output needed to raise 1 pound of water by 1 degree F at sea level), the volume of space it can heat per time unit, and so on.
Obviously, you want the best amount of heat per amp/joule/watt of power used, which will be listed in specifications. You also want as much adjustability as possible, and important safety features like proper shielding/housing, tip-over protection among other things.
Okay, I’m not really going to get into this in detail because it’s complicated, and for all my research, thermodynamics and fluid dynamics (which play factors in this) aren’t my fields and I don’t understand them and I promise without a lot of research, few people would.
All I can really say is, know the volume of space in your shop, and the rate of air loss through open windows, opening and closing doors, insulation and so on, for adjustments.
Then take the amount of heat/volume the specifications say the heater outputs per time, multiply that by your volume, and subtract those losses you might have, and you have a rough estimate.
It is possible to be more precise, but you need someone who’s an expert in this field to properly calculate this. It’s very complicated, and the rough basic estimate I gave you will be good enough for most people.
Best Forced Air Heaters
Below, you will find two best forced air heaters at a price ranging from $180 to $450. One of them is an electric device while the other is powered by propane. The latter is almost 10 times smaller in weight but is less safe because gas is associated with fire risks.
DeWalt DXH1000TS Forced Air Electric Heater
This is the quintessential forced air electric heater in pretty much every way. This isn’t the absolute top of the line in price or engineering, but it’s good enough. More than good enough, really. DeWalt isn’t a “cheap tool” company, but they’re an “affordable tool” company, for sure. They’re at the higher end of everyday product price ranges.
DeWalt has a pretty good reputation, to be honest. They’re not my go-to for a saw or a drill, but they’re my go-to for a space heater like this. My grandpa had a heater a lot like this when I was a kid, though it wasn’t the same brand, and it was a bigger, older, clunkier take on the idea. I have fond memories of visiting him for a couple of days on Christmas at his farm near Aspen. Playing in the snow as he worked in his shop on restoring some old car, that crazy forced air heater running full-blast in there.
This is the same tech, compacted and refined, and I can tell you, it’ll heat a space quickly.
- Power Source: Electricity
- Thermal Shielding: Yes.
- Loudness: Average.
- Temperature Range: 25F-95F (maintained by elemental cycling).
- Weight: 35lbs.
I can very safely say this is a reliable heater, as I have one much like this myself, too. It doesn’t have to work as hard in a Florida winter, but it still has to fill a space to a temperature. It does this very well.
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Honestly, this heater is worth the money, and I highly recommend it.
DeWalt: Check the current price
Mr. Heater 125,000 BTU Forced Air Propane Heater F271390
This a propane heater, as like we said, there do exist non-electrical ones, they’re just not quite as common anymore.
However, this Mr. Heater is a powerful, very efficient and mostly very safe propane heater which uses combustive force to move the air. It’s quieter than an electric blower, sounding like loud air conditioning or just a strong sharp wind.
My grandpa had something like this for his main garage, so I have memories of his propane heater while playing in the snow too. I remember the propane heater fascinating me because I was a terrifying child that adored fire.
- Power Source: Propane.
- Thermal Shielding: Yes.
- Loudness: Average.
- Temperature Range: 75-125,000 BTU
- Weight: 3lbs.
Gas can be dangerous, let’s just remember that. And, this is an incendiary device, which means there are sparks and flames, which can be very, very dangerous if you’re doing things that make a lot of questionable fumes.
However, you’re independent of power, which can be handy, and your actual power supply is a fairly cheap fuel source as well.
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If you don’t have power where you’re located, or you don’t want to put a strain on the power supply there, this is definitely worth considering.
Mr. Heater: Check the current price
10 Best-Selling Forced Air Heaters Comparative Table
You know what? Fair enough, to an extent. They did use to build things like that to last a long, long time. But the problem is, you’re stuck with decades-old technology if you stick to your guns with that. Now, to be fair, there hasn’t been some physics-changing breakthrough that changes how heat is generated, but new methods and more efficient engineering have been discovered since the old days.
If you’re still using an old heater, you’re missing out on better fuel efficiency, safer design, more effective, faster heating. Now, we’re going to talk a little bit about forced air heaters today, which are primarily used in shops, on factory floors, and on construction sites, rarely as a regular indoor heating system for houses or commercial spaces.
Pros & Cons of Forced Air Heaters: When and Why to Use Them
Given there are hundreds of ways to artificially heat a space, you may be wondering exactly when these heaters are more ideal than other options. And, what are the positives and drawbacks of these?
Well, the pros are they’re mostly portable, albeit they tend to be a bit big and heavy, comparatively speaking. They can be set up readily anywhere with power, which makes them very ideal for things like when you need to warm up a barn, a workshop, a shed, a construction site or the like.
These are not ideal for homes. They can be used in emergencies if the central heating fails, or for brief heating of attic spaces or the like, but you don’t want to rely on these for home heating. There are dangers, they’re loud, and they’re not efficient for home use long-term.
Pros of Forced Air Heaters
- They’re powerful and pretty fast at heating a space.
- They’re moveable, meaning anywhere with power or their fuel source can be heated.
- They’re fairly efficient and safe as these things go, these days.
- They’re surprisingly affordable for what you get out of them.
- They’re rugged, designed with construction sites and workshop environments in mind.
- They offer a lot of control on airpower, heat, and some even have automated thermostats and the like for pretty precise usage and control.
Cons of Forced Air Heaters
- These have gotten efficient as these things can, but that doesn’t mean they’re the most efficient thing for many spaces. Commercial and business spaces, residential spaces and the like aren’t well-served by these.
- They’re loud. It’s a blower with heating components. How loud are blowers? That’s how loud these are too. The technology’s gotten quieter, but only quieter by blower standards.
- There are dangers involved with these. They can’t be close to flammable things or have their intakes blocked, lest fires or overheating occur. If it tips over, it can ignite if left in such a state and there is no kick-off when it’s tipped.
- They’re pretty heavy, so don’t expect them to be breezy to carry around.
- They’re affordable by the standards of this kind of thing, but still, expect to pay a price for a good one.
- Cord dependency produces some trip hazards and nuisance wrangling said cords.
Now, these things are mostly safe, they really are. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t cases where they could be quite dangerous.
- Always make sure the air intake is unobstructed, and keep it clean of dust and debris. This prevents wearing the fan down, overheating the core, and possibly starting a fire.
- Never gave this backed up against furniture or walls, either end. It could still cause damage to the machine, the things it’s next to, etc.
- Be very aware of cords. These will run cords, so tape them down or make sure they’re easy to spot and easy to step over.
- Never leave one of these running for long periods of time without someone keeping an eye on them. Just like with your oven or stove, this is just a bad idea.
Table of Contents
- The nature of forced air heaters
- How forced air heaters work
- Important characteristics of forced air heaters
- Calculating heating rates
- Pros & Cons of forced air heaters
- Safety precautions
- Best forced air heaters