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Workshop Heating

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Donald Mitchell02/01/2010 17:45:43
90 forum posts
3 photos
Hi engineers,
The ongoing discussion under another topic about silver soldering inside workshops and the production of rust etc., as a by-product of burning propane has prompted me to ask this question:-
I am of course very well aware that for every pound of propane burned in a "conventional" superser type gas heater, you get rivers of water produced, making these types of heaters more or less useless in our workshops.
Does anyone out there know if the newer type of propane catalytic heaters produce the same or less water in their operation?
Any comment from the chemists among us, or anyone using a cat heater would be gratefully received.
Regards and a Happy New Year to all from a perishing Scottish workshop.
Donald Mitchell
Castle Douglas
Bonnie Scotland

Frank Dolman02/01/2010 18:36:55
106 forum posts

     Burning propane in air produces water in England and ice in Scotland. 
   The mass of ice produced in Scotland is the same as the mass of
   water produced in England and is, I am sorry to say, independant of
   the type of burner.  There is little benefit from changing fuel, for example
   paraffin oil is almost identical.  Charcoal is a lot better and has the
   disadvantage of producing carbon monoxide under some conditions.
     Wait till summer.
Circlip02/01/2010 19:29:14
1163 forum posts
Yer got the choice of two, (Three if you have a workshop joined to the house with a central heating connection).
   A cast iron pot bellied type stove fuelled by bits of wood etc. OR electrickery, NEVER gas fired vented into the workshop. Yes, OK., there's dehumidifiers but how far can you stretch greenhouse gases.
  Regards   Ian.
Les Jones 102/01/2010 20:37:04
2152 forum posts
147 photos
I have a balanced flue wall heater in my workshop. This is relatively cheap to run and the combustion products go outside so it does not cause any increase in humidity. I do not know if they are available to run on propane.
Ian S C02/01/2010 23:20:51
7468 forum posts
230 photos
Les,yep they are down here in NZ,in the South Island we don't have reticulated gas,but heaters for LPG with external exhaust are available.Ian S C

Edited By Ian S C on 02/01/2010 23:22:30

John Haine03/01/2010 10:31:58
3253 forum posts
175 photos
For example from caravan shops.
Donald Mitchell07/01/2010 09:40:11
90 forum posts
3 photos
Hi Engineers,
thank you to all who responded to my general enquiry, I didn't however receive any answers to the specific question asked.
I am well aware of the H2O produced when burning propane.
I am wondering about these "new" type of catalytic propane heaters which apparently do not burn (with a flame) the gas, but instead spray it onto a chunk of platinum which in turn makes the heat by a chemical reaction rather than burning a flame. Are they any better/worse or just the same at the H2O production.
Anybody out there with one of these cat heaters could comment please.
I don't want the bother of installing and using a pot belly stove and I can't connect to the house central heating system, my workshop is at the bottom of the garden. I have made a small study of caravan type balanced flue heaters, which would seem to be very suitable except that they are expensive to buy unless via the dreaded eBay and I think I should be a bit scared to buy a gas appliance second hand from an unknown seller.
Thanks again.
Donald Mitchell
Castle Douglas
Bonnie Scotland.

Edited By Donald Mitchell on 07/01/2010 09:47:09

Les Jones 107/01/2010 09:56:46
2152 forum posts
147 photos
Hi Donald,
                     A heater using catalytic burning will produce exactly the same amount  of water and carbon dioxide from a given quantity of propane as normal burning and the quantity of heat produced will be the same. (Assuming complete combustion in both cases. ie the carbon component all being turned into carbon dioxide not some carbon monoxide.) It is the same chemical reaction but taking place at a lower temperature. I think John Haine's suggestion of trying a caravan shop to buy a balanced flue wall heater to run on propane is the best idea.
Donald Mitchell07/01/2010 10:01:42
90 forum posts
3 photos
Hi Les,
that is exactly the type of specific answer I was after (not hoping for though) you are a gentleman and a genius.

Thank you.

Donald Mitchell
Les Jones 107/01/2010 10:35:31
2152 forum posts
147 photos
Hi Donald,
                     This is from what I remember of chemistry at school about 48 years ago. Before making any decisions wait and see if anyone  disagrees with my reply. Even with a heater in my workshop I am avoiding working down there at the moment.
Richard Marks07/01/2010 10:49:45
195 forum posts
8 photos
Gentlemen, I used a catalytic heater in my workshop once, never again, the moisture in the air combined with the change in air temperature caused me no end of problems with rust, I eventually ended up with an oil filled electric heater running continuosly at about 50F, I also have some homemade electric blinds on the windows to keep out the sun ( and to stop potential thieves from seeing inside ) the idea is to keep a constant temperature in the workshop, If its still too cold for you put on an extra sweater and wear a workshop coat.
Funnyturn07/01/2010 14:28:15
20 forum posts
I use a portable gas heater in my garage workshop - just have it on while i'm playing and have had no problem with condensation/rust. I assume the air volume is relevant, also a large metal garage door makes a good 'condenser' and I assume sweats first! Also this heater only provides local, mainly radiant, heat and probably has little effect on overall garage temperature.
John Haine07/01/2010 18:09:34
3253 forum posts
175 photos
Richard's problem was I think not because it was a catalytic heater as such but either because (a) it was venting into the w/s (in which case it generates just as much water and CO2 as a flame); or because the air was allowed to get warm and moist before the machinery; (or both).  When the air gets warmer it can hold more moisture, and if this is available from somewhere then it can condense on the cold machinery because the air in contact with it cools down and hence its relative humidity increases above saturation.  (If you warm the air without adding more moisture then its rel humidity decreases and condensation is less likely.)

The ideal approach, if you are not going to keep the shop warm all the time, may be to have a space heater for the air (such as an externally vented gas heater or fan heater or whatever) for when you're working, and something to keep the machine tools warm when you're not.  This could be for example by having them covered with a plastic sheet when not in use and putting one of those small low wattage electric heaters with the tool under the sack so all the cast iron keeps warm.  As long as the metalwork is hotter than the air it shouldn't form condensation.
martin leslie07/01/2010 18:23:21
8 forum posts
I have a 15ft by 10 wooden shed at the bottom of my garden, I use an electric tubular heater about 5ft long under the bench, set to come on when temp drops below 10 degrees C. This takes the initial chill out of air. When working I have a wall mounted electric patio heater I turn on, set high up at one end of workshop.
This does nothing as far as heating up workshop but sure does make you toasty when its light is on you.
I think it more important to have your shop well insulated, mine is lined with 2 inches of polystyrene sheet and thats covered with 6mm mdf board. Been out there all day today and there's still 4 inches of snow on roof.
David Clark 107/01/2010 21:44:50
3357 forum posts
112 photos
10 articles
Hi There
What sort of on of  control do you use?
I have about 6 or 7 security lights in the shed, changed the bulbs to 300 watt.
Switch a couple of them on over the machine you are using and you soon get warm.
I have a 2ft tubular heater but have not got around to fitting it yet.
regards David
Gordon W08/01/2010 09:52:08
2011 forum posts
My w/shop is 8' x 16' made from 1/2" ply with polystyrene 40mm in roof, there is 2ft of snow on roof. Only heating is small fan heater and its not too bad, dont have much trouble with rusting, tools are well oiled & used frequently. Davids lights reminds me, I used to use "pig lights" these are/ were used as creep heaters  for piglets. Had one in the bathroom, very effective for heat and light . Don't know if still available but will find out when I can get to civilisation. Have tried low wattage background heating, not effective unless on all the time and this costs a fortune.
James Burden08/01/2010 12:47:48
93 forum posts
4 photos
I have a workshop in a converted garage - the up an over door is still in place, but is sealed off with a stud wall behind & insulated. I've just been given a couple of old infared heaters for the workshop - these supposedly heat the person, rather than the space. These do seen quite effective, and you feel the wamth instantly when switched on. Only problem is they project a red ambient light, so you need to have plenty of good lighting to balance them.
I've always fancied the idea of a wood burner in the workshop, but i was advised (maybe incorrectly) that you shouldn't use solid fuel, because of the products of combustion, so I have never pursued this - have I been misled on this?
Circlip08/01/2010 12:50:39
1163 forum posts
Just bought a "Halogen" heater from Poundstretcher, 1200W - £9.99. Machine mart and Screwfix also sell them, don't know the price. Heats the object not the surrounding air.
  Another thing to remember whilst "Out there", You need to be insulated from the floor, so at least a "Duckboard" and the top end, wear a hat/bonnet/balaclava or whatever. Not only does hot air escape from ones gob, but also from your HEAD.
  Regards   Ian.
  Yes James a woodburner is ok providing you put the flue pipe OUTSIDE

Edited By Circlip on 08/01/2010 12:52:33

Steve Garnett08/01/2010 13:02:45
837 forum posts
27 photos
In a poorly insulated (I suppose I should do something about that) shed that's about 8'x15' I have one of those electric greenhouse fans with a frost-stat, and this is left able to turn on whenever the temperature drops below about 5 degrees C - it blows right across the area. I think that it's better than any sort of heating that relies on convection, simply because it spreads the warmed air about rather further. Machinery and air remain generally at a very similar temperature and most importantly, condensation doesn't form on anything in there. So no rust. The only time I got rust was when the roofing felt failed catastrophically last year, and that was from direct water ingress, and only where it landed. Fortunately that's fixed now, so the snow won't melt through at all. Fortunately there's only 2", not 2' though.
Donald Mitchell08/01/2010 13:11:09
90 forum posts
3 photos
Hi Engineers,
Thank you to all who are responding to this chilling question now. I'm sure many of us are very interested in how others heat their workshops, keep the info coming.
Regards to all.
Donald Mitchell
Castle Douglas
Bonnie Scotland

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