When the temperatures drop and construction workers are stuck outside or in unfinished buildings, rubbing your hands together to stay warm quickly loses its effectiveness. Workers exposed to cold temperatures for prolonged periods — especially ones not wearing appropriate winter gear — run the risk of hypothermia, frostbite, exhaustion or related accidents.
One solution is to provide workers with job site heaters that can keep them warm and comfortable throughout the day’s work. The only question is which heaters would work best for your company’s typical job site. What follows is a guide to purchasing job site heaters based on your typical needs or on the needs of a specific job.
Calculating BTUs for the Perfect Job Site Heater
You would never buy a tool without researching, so make sure you know what specs you would need out of your heater before simply staring at the options in the store aisle and hoping something will come to you.
The best way to vet your heater candidates and find the right one is to check on BTU ratings. Higher BTUs mean that a job site heater is capable of pumping out more heat, even if that does not necessarily speak to how well that heat travels.
- Start your search off right by estimating your BTU needs. The basic formula is this:
- Typical Space in cubic feet X Desired Temperature Increase X .133 = Needed BTUs
- You can estimate the space in cubic feet by getting rough measurements for length and width of the floor space and height of the ceiling then multiplying all three together. Your desired temperature increase is the difference between the average temperature outside and the temperature you want inside, both measured in degrees Celsius. The .133 is a conversion rate constant
By obtaining your needed BTUs, you can review the options you have at your disposal based on their rating.
Common Types of Job Site Heaters Used
Here are some of the most common job site heaters along with their typical uses:
- Electric heaters — Electric space heaters are great for tiny spaces like a bathroom or home office, but their low BTUs and lousy energy efficiency make them impractical for larger areas. Additionally, they require extension cords and an accessible electricity source. Skip these unless you mostly work in small, confined spaces.
- Propane Heaters — Practically a go-to in the industrial world and in hospitality, propane heaters have a high level of heat output suitable for heating large volumes of air. Forced air models circulate heat indoors quite well. Radiant heaters are better suited for outdoor use — sending out electromagnetic heat waves similar to the sun’s rays. You can often see radiant propane heaters in outdoor decks at restaurants and resorts. However, be careful with propane heaters as they run the risk of going on fire.
- Kerosene Heaters — Using a wick and an open flame to generate heat, kerosene heaters’ antiquated design does present some risks. However, kerosene’s cheaper price compared to most fuels does make kerosene heaters a tempting option for some.
- Diesel Heaters — Big, heavy and loud but with the heat output to show for it, diesel heaters are the “workhorse” job site heater option for huge spaces or heavy duty needs. Do be sure to use only the indirect heating models indoors since direct heater versions generate moisture that is hard to vent.
Job Site Heaters and Contractors Insurance
Since many job site heaters can present added risks such as fires or electrical shorts, ensure that your contractor’s insurance policies can help you stay warm, safe and financially covered this chilly winter season.