How to Choose Between Blue Flame or Plaque Heaters
How to Choose the Right Wall-Mount Heater
If you are looking for information about wall-mount heaters, I will assume that it is either winter and you want to warm up, or you are preparing for winter and want to stay warm. If one of these situations are true, then you are in the right place.
Below, I cover the difference between plaque heaters and blue flame heaters, and I show you how to figure out how many British thermal units (BTUs) you will need to heat your space.
Propane or Natural Gas?
In all actuality, this question is not as important as it once was. Many modern units can be used with either propane or natural gas.
And to clarify a little more, when I say propane I am talking about liquid propane or LP. This would mean hooking the heater up to a propane tank—great for portable situations. And natural gas would have a hard hook up and would be a more permanent situation.
It's important to look at the cost of fuel for both ways as well as cost of connecting to the heater. Some people do not want a tank sitting in one of their rooms and this makes the natural gas a better choice for them. Some people will only want the heater out during winter and may take it other places with them, so the propane option may be better for them.
What Is "Blue Flame"?
People call convection heat "blue flame" simply because there is generally a blue-colored flame at the bottom of the wall-mount heater.
Convection heaters are a more traditional form of heating. Convection heat actually warms the air first. And you might ask, "What does that matter?" Well, if the air is heated first, it rises. If you have an old house with high ceilings, then this may not be the best heat source for you since the warm air will collect up at the ceiling. And if the old house has drafts, the air will be cooled even faster. Convection heat will not be the most efficient choice for a grand old house.
Infrared Radiant Plaque Heaters
New technology seems to bring in longer names, at least it seems that way to me half the time. The plaque heater is newer technology. It has a screening that emits heat. Infrared radiant plaque heaters warm the humidity and solids in a room first. You feel the floors and furniture warming up and by heating the moisture in the room it has less movement.
If we go back to the old house, this is the heater that is going to be more efficient. By heating the moisture, it moves upwards slower and the objects faster. So the heat is staying more at the level of the heater rather than a draft pushing it around. And for the home that is new and airtight, this heater would not be as good as a convection heater.
Easy BTU Calculation
If you have eight foot ceilings an easy way to figure out how many BTUs you need is 30 BTUs per square foot. Or if you have higher ceilings then 3.75 BTUs per cubic foot. Most newer homes have eight foot ceilings though and this is an easier way to figure out BTUs.
As stated earlier, BTU means British thermal unit. The BTU is somewhat interesting, it is actually a unit of energy that equals 1,055 joules. A little more meaning is that a BTU is the approximate amount of energy it takes to warm one pound of water from 39 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. When you are looking around at heating and cooling appliances and see a simply "BTU: 25,000" or whatever number, it is actually meaning BTU per hour. Now remember what I just told you—because it is pretty much useless and you will never need to know it.
What you will need to know to figure out how many BTUs you will need it the cubic feet you will be trying to heat. One BTU is sufficient to heat about 55 cubic feet by one degree Fahrenheit. So take the length and multiply it by the width. Then multiply this number by the height of the room. And you have your cubic feet. Now take that total cubic feet and divide it by 55. Keep the answer for later—we will call this number X.
Now take the lowest temperature you are expecting outside, and be realistic about this, and then figure out what temperature you would like to have it inside your house. Take the difference between the two by subtracting the low temperature from the desired temperature. Keep this number—we will call it Y.
Now take X and multiply it by Y. And the equation you have should bring back some memories: X * Y = X. And X in this case is the BTU's you will need to provide you with the temperature you desire.
Wall Mount Heaters
The overall message here is that there are different situations for different wall heaters. The technologies actually do heat things differently and this is an important thing to understand to get the best use out of the appliance that you use.
And understanding how to figure out the needed BTU per hour rating that will work for you. Once you understand the simply equations to figuring this out it will not be hard to buy what you need. And after reading this article I hope that I have armed you with the information you need to find what will be best for you. Good luck and stay warm!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
We have an old house that is blocked and has 7-foot ceilings. Which type of heater would be best?
I would recommend a convection heater a.k.a. plaque heater. Since it heats the moisture in the air and object, the heat doesn't settle as high and with drafts it doesn't move as much.Helpful 23
Between blue flame or plaque heaters, which would you recommend for a basement 2 car garage 30’x40’?
For a basement that size, If I was going to be using a wall mount, I don't think I would use one.Helpful 22
Which puts off less moisture; blue flame or red flame?
I am assuming you mean blue flame as in convection heat and red flame as in radiant heat. Blue flame is a common name for convection and plaque heater is common for radiant heat. It isn't that either of them give off moisture, but convection heat warms the actual air and radiant heats the moisture in the air.Helpful 22
I want to heat two rooms with a wall-mounted propane heater. We have a wood stove in the kitchen and have an electric space heater in the adjoining bedroom. Both rooms measure about 2.303 cubic feet. Could I put my wall heater on the wall behind the wood stove or by the door of the bedroom?
I would look for better placement, and recalculate your space.Helpful 9
I have a vent free 20,000 BTU heater and want to know if I can use a regulator and hose off a gas grille to run my heater?
You would need to look at the psi for the vent free heater, but it should be okay to do this since both call for a low-pressure regulator.Helpful 8