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Heating Your Home
During winter, several cities in Australia have sub-zero temperatures. They're mostly covered with snow blankets. At this time, a space heater is one of the most essential appliances in your house.
So, what space heater should you get? How much does it cost? Are there any specific safety alerts regarding the heater? Or are there alternatives to keeping your home cosy and warm while also being safe?
There are several heating options available to consider. Combining efficient space heating systems and proper maintenance will save money without compromising your safety.
This article outlines the most common varieties of space heating offered, focusing on flued and unflued gas appliances to heat space. This article also discusses essential security tips to keep your home safe for your family and yourself when using indoor gas heaters.
Space Heating Options To Consider
Appliances for heating space are vital heating elements in homes that allow us to enjoy winter by warming our working and living areas. There are various options for these devices available on the market and different styles that can heat single rooms or provide outdoor and central heating.
These consume more energy and contribute to an essential portion of household bills for utilities. Combining energy-efficient systems for heating your space and regular maintenance can positively affect your utility bills, comfort, and security. Heating systems are broadly classified according to the energy source used to power them. They include:
Gas heaters burn natural gas (LPG), liquefied petroleum gases (LPG), propane, or butane to generate heat.
Electric space heaters
Fossil fuels, solar power, or hydroelectric power can power electric space heaters. Their effectiveness and environmental health effects depend on the source of energy. Electric home heating appliances using renewable energy sources are safer for the environment than electricity produced from fossil fuels.
Wood fireplaces are the most common in households. They add aesthetic value while also being effective at warming your house. However, they're costly to construct and maintain. Gas fireplaces are the best alternative to wooden ones as they're cheaper to maintain.
What Is A Gas heater?
More commonly, a gas heater is a space heater powered by natural gas. Its primary purpose is to provide heating to either indoor or outdoor areas. Gas appliances are classified according to the airflow they produce when in use. The design and location for which the gas heater will be placed determine the ventilation levels.
For instance, you can vent some propane gas heaters through the flue. A flue involves venting gases from combustion chambers and includes a duct, pipe, vent, or chimney. Others do not need a flue. There are two types of gas heaters, depending on whether they work with a flue.
- Unflued gas heaters
- Flued gas heaters
The degree of flueing and ventilation produced by different gas space heaters determines the effectiveness and safety level of using them indoors.
Unflued Gas Heaters
Unflued gas heaters lack an inbuilt mechanism such as a chimney to discharge combustion products outside. Examples of unflued gas heaters include patio heaters and alfresco heaters. If used indoors, these heaters work by drawing air from combustion out of the room and then discharging the products back into the room.
Therefore, you must maintain air circulation by ensuring adequate ventilation in the room to help make the gas burn and keep the indoor air clean. Flueless heaters aren't suitable for indoor heating.
Advantages of unflued gas heaters
- They can be relocated easily; you can warm any space with an unflued gas heater.
- There are no hot-air leaks because all the heat produced is used to heat the room.
- Unflued heaters are cheaper than flued heaters.
- They are fixed with safety alert sensors to inform you of the hazards of toxic exhaust fumes produced after combustion.
Disadvantages of unflued gas heaters
- Air pollution is an issue as it can release carbon monoxide and nitrogen during combustion, both of which pose a health risk.
- Direct impact with water vapour leads to mould growth and dust accumulation, posing a health risk.
- The lack of chimneys or exhaust pipes can lead to flame exposure.
Flued Gas Heaters
Flued gas heaters use vents, chimneys, and ducts or pipes to direct combustion products outside. A lot of indoor gas heaters are built to work using any of the two types of flued systems:
- Room-sealed flue
- Open flue
Room-sealed flue gas heaters have a combustion chamber and a flued system separated from the living area. The air used to burn the gas in the combustion chamber comes from outside, and the combustion products are released outwards through separate vents. The ducts usually go to the wall.
Advantages of flued gas heaters
- The flue releases potentially harmful CO through the chimney, where it evaporates quickly.
- Flued gas heaters are more cost-effective for heating an area.
- They are visually appealing to warm your house, creating a cosy atmosphere in your home.
- Mould growth is unlikely because little water vapour is left in the space.
Disadvantages of flued gas heaters
Flued gas heaters are less efficient than non-flued gas heaters, as heat can escape through the flue. Furthermore, it would help if you got a professional gas fitter for installation.
What Are Open Flue Gas Heaters?
During cold winters, keeping your living space warm is essential. One method of achieving this is by installing open flue gas heaters. An open flue gas heater is a heating appliance that works without a chimney sticking out of the roof.
It's ideal for firepits and campfires as they release smoke away from you and through an open window. However, inadequate ventilation or exhaust fans may draw carbon monoxide, and carbon monoxide accumulation could lead to serious health problems.
How Does An Open-Flued Gas Heater Function?
Open flue gas heaters use natural convection in the area. They require that their combustion mechanism be visible outdoors to operate efficiently. Hence, wind or the operation of washroom exhaust fans can lower the air pressure in the room, leading to unfavourable pressure situations. It will restrict airflow through the flue if the negative pressure is extreme enough.
If the source of fresh air shuts off, the gas fire will release a large amount of carbon monoxide. Most natural draught open flue gas heaters feature a draught deflector to prevent the heater from being affected by flue changes. The flue opening can allow combustion products to leak into your living space if it's blocked or in case of negative pressure inside.
The hot air is sucked through this point without issue because if everything works properly, the fumes cannot escape through an entirely sealed system. A draught diverter is made to divert combustion products without disrupting airflow or reducing carbon dioxide levels. It can be utilised in the living space and requires sufficient ventilation while it's operating.
This ensures that the replacement air won't create negative pressures or hinder the running of the heater because of the excessive noise of exhaust fans generated by the inefficient use of the energy of the heating units. In installing and maintaining gas heaters, gas fitters must inspect the heaters for any products that are used in combustion.
Important things to remember with open-flued heaters include:
- They utilise a thermostat and timer.
- They warm up large areas.
- They provide instantaneous warmth.
- They are powered by LPG or natural gas from the mains.
- Fossil fuels cause greenhouse gas emissions.
- There are fixed costs for the gas supply to the main tank.
- LPG bottles are more expensive to operate.
- In the event of power outages, they cease to function.
Options For Gas Heaters With Open-Flues
Here are some of the top brands manufacturing open flue gas heaters.
Some of the most popular open-flued gas heaters include:
- Regency i31
- Proxy heater
- Vulkan heritage
- Real flame Pyrotech
- Nectre 2000
Recalled Open Flued Gas Heater – What To Do?
If your heater leaks hazardous amounts of carbon monoxide or other gases from the exhaust, it may need to be shut down until it can be repaired or replaced. It is suggested not to use the heater until your supplier has reviewed the unit. If you require heating, look for alternative sources, but don't use outdoor gas heaters inside.
After conducting tests for carbon monoxide, the Australian authorities found that some open flue gas heaters release hazardous quantities of carbon monoxide. They also produce exhaust gases that could pose health risks to users. A security alert exists for the following open-flued gas heaters.
- Regency i31
- Regency F38 and FG38
- Nectre 2000
- Real Flame Pyrotech
Unflued Gas Heaters Vs. Flued Gas Heaters
Energy efficiency and operating costs
Portable unflued gas heaters are more efficient than flued gas heaters. Most of the heat intended for homes goes with the flue, reducing their efficiency. With unflued gas heaters, you can save up to 30% of the expenses as opposed to flued gas heaters.
Unflued LPG gas heaters can be moved from one area to another as long as the room has an outlet for the gas heater. Additionally, you can change the direction that unflued gas heaters operate to direct heat in the opposite direction from an area. Most flued gas heaters are usually fixed in one room, secured via a gas connection and the flue.
If moving houses, unflued gas heaters are more convenient to move than flued gas heaters. Moving flue gas heaters requires the help of a gas fitting technician to take down the unit and install it in the new place. There is a need for a hole for the flue inside the ceiling or wall when you decide to remove the gas-fixed flued heater.
Flued gas heaters are more costly to purchase than unflued gas heaters. A quick comparison of flued and unflued gas heaters from Rinnai shows that flued heaters cost over 44% more than portable gas heaters. Also, when installing a flued gas heater, you may have to buy an additional flue kit.
If you have gas heater bayonet connections at home, there's no cost for installing a portable unflued gas heater. While not prohibitively costly, it will cost you more to install flued gas heaters for your home than propane gas heaters that are unflued. Installing the flued heater within your home will require the services of a qualified gas fitter in all situations. You'll also have to install the flue gas heater fix kit into the ceiling or wall.
Safety Tips For Using Open Flued Gas Heaters
Here are some tips to increase your gas heater's performance when using gas appliances in your home.
- Regularly service your gas heater.
- Install carbon monoxide detection alarms.
- Buy safe gas appliances that comply with safety regulations.
- Check for safety alerts regularly.
- Never leave your heater running overnight.
- Never ignore signs of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Only employ certified gas heater fitters. They must be registered, approved to work on type A gas appliances, have proper carbon monoxide leakage detection training, and have a compliance certificate from the gas fitting company.
Open Flue Gas Heater Service Checklist
It is recommended that gas appliances or gas heating units that are open-flued be maintained regularly by certified gas fitters. The reason for conducting inspections and maintenance on an open-flued gas heater is to ensure it's in secure and safe operation. Engaging gas fitters to maintain your open-flued gas heater will help ensure that the gas appliance will function well and efficiently after the technicians have left your property.
Here's a checklist of some factors a gas fitting technician would focus on to make sure that your gas appliances and your heating equipment are appropriately maintained:
- Internal cleaning to remove the combustion product, such as soot.
- Replacement and repair of damaged or damaged parts.
- Checking the flue system.
- Carbon monoxide leakage and negative pressure tests were carried out at the vents for heating throughout the rooms.
- Running the system for a while to determine whether it's working correctly and safely.
Is A Flue Necessary For All Gas Heaters?
A flue is necessary for all indoor gas heaters. A chimney expels air pollutants from homes and offices. With no flue or duct, anyone at home can risk carbon monoxide poisoning. However, outdoor gas heaters don't require an outlet, though the gas vapours are dangerous.
Hire A Qualified Gas Fitter
Deciding whether you require home heating depends on the area you live in. However, on the tropical coast, you'll definitely need a heating system inside your house during winter. Electrical, gas, and fireplaces are some of the popular forms of space heating.
The use of gas heaters poses a significant health risk. You shouldn't try to fix any gas issues on your own. It is advised to employ qualified gas fitters to take care of all issues related to the gas fit. Certified gas fitters can also access the most efficient gas heating systems that can withstand the harshest winter weather. They are a good option when you're looking to set up a new gas heating system or check and repair your current gas heater.