Hanging Heaters Explained

You step out onto your veranda. Outside, the birds are chirping, children are playing, and the afternoon breeze ruffles the trees. You take a moment to enjoy the view.

However, after a few minutes the nippy air starts getting into your exposed hands and face. Instead of sitting pleasantly on your patio chair, you retreat back to the warmth  of the house.

“An outdoor heater sure would’ve been useful right now,” you sigh as you go back to the couch and immerse yourself in old reruns of Friends.

This is what hanging heaters are for.

 

What are hanging heaters?

As their name suggests, hanging heaters are miniaturized heaters that can be hung from the ceiling. They are typically used in outdoor spaces such as gazebos, patios, and balconies to provide a measure of warmth against the chill. They can also be used in less insulated parts of the property, such as a shed or garage.

 

How do they differ from other heater types?

Compact size

Hanging heaters provide a better alternative when traditional standing heaters are too bulky, or where space heaters aren’t a good option.

Outdoor rated

Since they are meant to be used outdoors, most hanging heaters are rated for the elements, with robust housing and waterproofing not usually found in indoor heaters.

Aesthetically pleasing

Some hanging heaters have stylish designs that mimic the appearance of chandeliers or ceiling lights, in order to blend well with the patio or gazebo.

 

Types of Hanging Heaters

There are three types of hanging heaters, based on power source:

The different kinds of hanging heaters

1. Natural gas

These use either natural gas using the existing gas line to produce heat. Gas units tend to heat up an outdoor space faster than electric ones. However, they require professional installation.

2. Propane

Like gas heaters, propane provides quicker warmth than electric heaters. They are more flexible, since they can be installed in areas with no existing gas lines, but they do require a propane tank.

3. Electric

Electric models form the vast majority of hanging heaters, for three reasons: they only require a electrical main, they can be set up easily, and they can be used safely in confined spaces since they don’t need venting. The tradeoff is that they are slower to heat up the surrounding space.

 

How to Choose a Hanging Heater

Determine where you’ll use it

Look up the requirements of the space where you intend to install it —  this will determine which type of heater you need. Is it a large area or a smaller space? Is there a gas line or power outlet? Does it have enough space for venting, or is it enclosed? 

To help you narrow down the factors, here’s a handy table we created:

Criteria

Natural Gas Propane Electric
Requirement

Gas line

Propane line or tank Power mains

Installation

Professional Professional Homeowner or Professional

Warmup time

Fast Fast Slow

Ventilation

Required Required Not required

Cost

Equal Equal

Lowest

Ideal use case

Large open areas with plenty of people

Areas without a gas or power line

Smaller spaces 

 

Sizing

After pinpointing the heater type, it’s time to choose the size. In general, electric heaters are good for about 65-108 sq. ft, while gas models can service between 160-215 sq. ft.

However, sizing also depends on other factors like geography. A gas heater that is ideal for an outdoor patio in warm states like Nevada may be inadequate for colder climates like Maine. For cost efficiency and long-term effectiveness, location, seasonality and application have to be taken into account. For help sizing an outdoor heater for your specific needs, please contact us.

 

Altitude

As surprising as it may seem, altitude plays a role in determining the size of your hanging heater. If you live higher than 8,000 feet above sea level, the air is less dense, which makes heaters less efficient. This means you need a more powerful hanging heater to compensate for the lower air density.

If you live in a high elevation, choose a heater that is specifically rated for high altitude use.

 

Budget

Out of the three, electric heaters are usually the least expensive, but are also the least efficient in terms of heating vs. cost. Natural gas and liquid propane-powered heaters are roughly equal in price, but require professional installation.

Other factors that affect the price include the BTU rating, brand name and warranty, and features like wireless capabilities.

 

The Best Hanging Heaters for 2021

 

Natural Gas

Bromic Heating BH0110001-1 Platinum Smart-Heat 300 Series Gas Heater

Bromic Heating BH0110001-1 Platinum Smart-Heat 300 Series Gas Heater

This ceiling or wall mounted outdoor gas heater has a heat output of up to 23,600 BTU. It uses Bromic’s patented ceramic technology that focuses the heat for vastly improved energy conversion, making it up to 300% more efficient than traditional heaters. It can also handle winds up to 11mph.

 

Rinnai RSE2S50BN 50,000 BTU Overhead 2-Stage Gas Heater

For larger spaces that need heating, Rinnai/s 50,000 BTU gas heater has you covered. This infrared heater is made with 316 marine-grade stainless steel to prevent rusting and prolonged resistance to the elements. It can also be paired with an optional matched assembly to help it blend into your outdoor space more stylishly.

It is available in single stage or two-stage options, and four units can be hooked up to a single switch.

 

 

Propane

Bromic Heating BH0110002-1 Platinum Smart-Heat 300 Series Gas Heater - 

Bromic Heating BH0110002-1 Platinum Smart-Heat 300 Series Gas Heater – 

Liquid Propane

Like its natural gas counterpart, this heater is rated for 23,600 BTU and can cover about 160 sq. ft. of outdoor space. It can operate in wind speeds of up to 11mph, and even comes with wireless connection capabilities that allows seamless integration with your home.

 

Rinnai RSE1S50SP 50,000 BTU Overhead Single Stage Gas Heater – Liquid Propane

This infrared heater offers one of the most flexible installation options among liquid propane heaters. It can be installed suspended from the ceiling, mounted on a post or support column, or extended from the wall. Like its gas-powered cousin, it is constructed out of long-lasting 316 marine grade stainless steel that’s highly resistant to rust. It comes in 35,000 or 50,000 BTU capacities, and one or two-stage heating options.

 

 

 

Electric (Entry-level)

Bromic Heating BH0420030 Tungsten Smart-Heat 2000 Watt Electric Heater - 220-240V

Bromic Heating BH0420030 Tungsten Smart-Heat 2000 Watt Electric Heater – 220-240V

 

This tungsten infrared heater uses a spectral reflector for efficient directional heating, with minimal light emission. It is designed for both indoor and outdoor use, and can be mounted on the wall or ceiling. It also includes wireless capabilities for seamless integration with your home.

 

Electric (Entry level):

Bromic Heating BH0420030 Tungsten Smart-Heat 2000 Watt Electric Heater - 220-240V

Bromic Heating BH0420030 Tungsten Smart-Heat 2000 Watt Electric Heater – 220-240V

This tungsten infrared heater uses a spectral reflector for efficient directional heating, with minimal light emission. It is designed for both indoor and outdoor use, and can be mounted on the wall or ceiling. It also includes wireless capabilities for seamless integration with your home.

 

 

Electric (Premium):

Bromic Heating BH0320003 Platinum Smart-Heat 2300 Watt Electric Heater

Bromic Heating BH0320003 Platinum Smart-Heat 2300 Watt Electric Heater

This 2300-watt heater can cover 65 sq. ft., or a space that’s about 10 ft x 6.5’. 

It has a sleek and stylish look, boasting a blacked out glass ceramic face. The glass front is not just for form: the tint helps minimize any excess light, while spreading the heat evenly across the front. 

The housing itself is made of corrosion-resistant stainless steel, in a slim frame that’s only 8 inches wide. This makes it suitable for recessed or flush mounting on the ceiling. It even comes with Wi-Fi capability so you can integrate it seamlessly with your smart home.

 

For other types of outdoor heaters, you can refer to our comprehensive guide to outdoor heating.

 

5 Ways to Reduce Cooling Costs This Summer

Each summer sees an uptick in three things: soft drink sales, ice cream consumption, and utility bills.

To stay cool, millions of families lower the thermostat and raise the AC setting. This results in higher bills at the end of the season. In fact, one estimate says 1 in 3 people see their bills rise by 10% in summer.

To make matters worse, this effect can only go up with the coronavirus pandemic, as more people stay cooped up at home rather than going out freely to enjoy the summer. 

So to keep those dreaded bills down, here are five practical things you can do to reduce cooling costs without breaking into a sweat.

Top heat sources at home in summer

1. Seal those windows

The law of thermodynamics says that heat rushes in to fill the cold. Therefore the biggest loss of cooling are areas where heat can seep in. The biggest culprit? The window.

  • Keep windows tightly closed to keep hot air from moving inside.
  • Check for air leaks.
  • During the day, block off sunlight with curtains to keep the ambient room temperature cool.
  • Add caulk and check your weatherstripping for any cracks, breaks or deformations.
  • Shield your windows from direct sunlight with awnings, overhangs or exterior blinds.
  • If exterior modifications are too costly or unappealing, you can opt for solar film tint for an obstructed view of the outdoors.
  • If necessary, update or replace your windows to improve heat or cold retention. The Department of Energy has a helpful guide on efficient windows.

 

2. Maintain your AC properly

Like other home appliances, an AC is only as good as its level of care. To keep it in optimum condition for the summer season, it pays to do a little TLC beforehand.

  • Clean the AC coil, vents, and filters…. both outside and inside. External coilscan get clogged by dirt and garden debris, while the filters inside can get encrusted by dust, pet dander, and daily household pollutants. 
  • Make sure the drain pan and drain line are free of clogging.
  • Inspect the fan and fan blades for dirt buildup. Make sure it can rotate freely.
  • Shield the fan from direct sunlight so it doesn’t struggle in the heat, but allow enough space for airflow.
  • In some cases, poor cooling can be caused by obstructions. Make sure the inside vents are clear of toys, furniture, packaging, misplaced items, and other household objects. 
  • Have the unit serviced at least once a year, ideally before the summer when it gets its biggest workout.
  • Watch for warning signs such as lack of cold air, squealing or banging, or water dripping. If the unit seems to be struggling, turn it off to avoid further potential damage, and call an AC specialist.

For other cooling systems, refer to our maintenance tips for evaporative coolers and heat pumps.

 

3. Cook outside

Did you know that cooking is one of the biggest sources of heat in the home in summer? Next to poor heat insulation from the outside, cooking in the kitchen is the second largest sapper of cold. 

  • If you can’t take the heat in the kitchen, bring the kitchen outside! Grilling is one of the season musts, and nothing beats a good cookout on a warm summer evening.
  • For food preparation inside, try to minimize using the gas stove when the microwave will do. An induction cooker works wonders too, and is much more efficient at cooking than traditional stoves.

 

4. Use alternative cooling sources

An AC or swamp cooler is a godsend on a hot day… until the bill comes due. 

  • Electric fans do not actually decrease the temperature of a room, but they can make the air seem cooler through wind generation.
  • Use wall fans or ceiling fans at night instead of running the AC all night long. Reserve it for the day when the ambient air temperature is hotter.
  • A block of ice or chilled bottle hanging on the back of a fan can produce the same cooling effect as a mini AC unit.
  • Use timers or smart home routines to switch off the AC when the air gets cooler, and automatically switch on the fan.
  • Use a dehumidifier to stop the air from feeling heavy. It also does wonders for your respiratory health.
  • Consider using evaporative coolers in place of central AC. Not only is it cheaper by almost half to install, it uses a quarter of the energy, which translates to lower utility bills in the long run.

 

5. Prevent heat buildup inside

One last thing you can do to help keep cool is eliminate heat sources inside.

  • Try to avoid using the dishwasher or clothes dryer, as these generate massive amounts of heat that can sap the cold. When possible, opt for washing dishes by hand or drying clothes outside to take advantage of the warm air.
  • Don’t place appliances that emit heat near the thermostat, such as TVs and lamps. The heat they generate can affect the thermostat sensor and cause the AC to run longer or more frequently.
  • Don’t all congregate in small rooms for long periods of time. The more people there are in a room, the harder the AC has to work in that area. Keep it to the open space of the living room, or spread out a little inside the house.

 

Lowering the bills doesn’t have to be a sweaty proposition. All it takes is a little forethought and an eye for detail to stamp out heat sources and preserve the chill. Your wallet will thank you for it.

Keep It Cool: How to Maintain your AC in Summer

This year saw catastrophic heat domes in the Northwest, while other parts of the country experienced record-setting heat waves

As millions of Americans swelter under high temperatures, so too will millions of AC units be put to the test once again. Some units will break, others might groan and screech, and some will flat out refuse to work.

To make sure your AC does its job, here are seven tips to maintain your air conditioner throughout the summer season.

 

AC summer maintenance

 

1. Clean or replace filters

 

Like any air-breathing appliance such as vacuum cleaners and pumps, AC units can get clogged with dust or debris over time.

A clogged filter can severely restrict airflow, which reduces efficiency and accelerates wear. A full dust filter can also recirculate dust instead of trapping it, which can lead to health issues.

  • Clean the filters at least twice a year.
  • Replace according to the maintenance schedule to ensure optimum airflow and dust protection.

For a detailed guide to AC filter cleaning, check out How to Clean & Change Your Air Conditioner Filter.

 

2. Clean those coils

 

The condenser unit can be buried under snow during the winter. It can also accumulate yard debris such as fallen leaves, dirt and environmental pollutants.

  • Ensure the fan box is clear of obstructions.
  • Wipe off built-up dust in the grills.
  • Check inside the box and examine if the coils are clean.
  • To service the coils, use a refrigerator coil brush to gently scour the coils. Alternatively, you can use dedicated coil cleaning tools like the SpeedClean SC-CS-100 CoilShot Condenser Cleaner to quickly clean coils and get into hard-to-reach areas without having to remove the housing.
  • For larger AC units up to 5 tons, the SpeedClean CoilJet can clean condenser coils more efficiently and conveniently than a cumbersome power washer.
  • Take care not to damage the coils or bend the fins out of alignment.

SpeedClean CJ-125 CoilJet Coil Cleaner

A dedicated coil cleaning tool like the SpeedClean CJ-125 CoilJet Coil Cleaner can make the task much easier and faster, especially for larger AC units.

 

3. Vacuum those vents

 

It’s unavoidable for vents to get dirty throughout the year, whether it’s due to dust, pets, or household debris. Blocked vents force the AC to work harder and consume more energy to provide the same temperature. This is also one of the primary reasons why air conditioners stop blowing cold air.

  • Vacuum vents according to the manufacturer’s schedule.
  • Make sure that household items do not cover the vent. Most vent obstructions are appliances, furnishings or wires that move microscopically throughout the year.

 

4. Dry out the internals

 

Water can accumulate in the condenser through long periods of operation. Left unattended, stagnant water can cause mold, health issues, and damage over time.

  • Mop up any excess water inside the unit.
  • Make sure the drain is clear and free of obstructions.
  • For window AC units, check that the frame is slightly tilted outside upon reinstallation. This ensures the water flows down and out through the drain, instead of accumulating in the condenser box.
  • Humidity can also affect AC performance. A system that’s overwhelmed by water vapor tends to work harder to cool the home, so frequent checks are a must for areas with high humidity.
  • Also check that the aircon is not leaking water after prolonged use.

 

5. Check the coolant pipes

 

The AC evaporator is connected to the condenser via refrigerant lines. These pipes are covered by a layer of foam or rubber insulation to protect the coolant line.

  • Inspect the insulation for frayed or missing segments
  • Partial damage can be repaired with foam insulation tape, wrapped around the frayed area.
  • In case of advanced wear, replace the whole segment with a new insulation sleeve.

 

6. Keep the condenser cool

 

The condenser is the external part of the AC that sits out in the elements. The hotter it gets, the harder it has to work.

  • Try to shade the condenser from direct sunlight to reduce temperature.
  • Keep in mind that it needs unobstructed airflow, so avoid placing the shade too close to the condenser that it blocks air.

 

 

7. Get it serviced early

 

Most people take their AC for granted until it starts developing problems. Just like your car and HVAC maintenance, be proactive and head off issues before they occur.

  • Make sure that your AC unit is serviced at least once a year.
  • The ideal time is in the spring before temperatures start to rise and the AC gets a full workout.
  • Waiting until the summer can lead to delays, as more people crowd to have their AC units serviced or repaired.

 

Safety Considerations

  • Before opening up your air conditioner, make sure the power is off.
  • Switch off the circuit breaker, and check that the power to the condenser is also off at the service panel.
  • Some models have a 240-volt disconnect box near the condenser unit, which contains a circuit breaker or lever to shut off the condenser. Make sure this is switched off as well.
  • Clean only the user-serviceable parts of the unit as recommended by the manufacturer. Leave the rest to professionals.

 

AC Statistics

 

  • According to the Department of Energy, air conditioners account for 6% of the electricity produced in the US.
  • Residential AC accounts for $11 billion out of the $29 billion utility cost racked up annually by air conditioners. 
  • Homeowners can dramatically reduce their AC energy consumption by up to 20-50% by switching to high-efficiency aircon or mini split systems, and making sure their existing units are properly maintained and serviced.
  • The Energy Information Administration’s annual Residential Energy Consumption Survey shows that 90% of US households have air conditioning of some sort. Majority (62%) are central AC, while wall and window types account for 26%.
  • The same survey found that the most used thermostat setting fell in the 74-76 degree Fahrenheit range, accounting for 26%., followed by 71-73 degree Fahrenheit at 20%.

 

For more tips on proper AC care, check out our article on Air Conditioner Cleaning & Maintenance

5 Common AC Issues in Summer, and How to Solve Them

As temperatures soar and the country experiences record-setting heat waves, millions of Americans turn to that one appliance that’s indispensable for summer: the air conditioner.

Whether it’s central cooling or a window unit, the humble AC makes it possible to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature despite the searing outside heat. However, what happens when your trusted AC unit breaks down?

Fret not. Here are the common problems that air conditioners experience during summer, and how you can fix them.

 

Common AC Issues in Summer

Common Issue #1: Lack of Cold Air

 

The problem:

The AC is on, yet it doesn’t seem to be doing its job. Either the output is not cold enough, or the air conditioner is not blowing cold air at all but merely acting in fan mode.

Possible causes:

  • Dirty filters – Clogged vents and filters can block the airflow, making the AC work harder
  • Overworked fan – The outside fan may be struggling to work
  • Refrigerant leak – Low refrigerant levels can lead to warm instead of cool air

The fix:

Clean the vents and filters, and make sure they are not obstructed

Check if the fan is working properly, and make sure it’s shaded from direct 

sunlight

Listen for a hissing sound that could indicate a refrigerant leak. If this is the 

case, don’t just opt for a refill. Have a professional AC specialist pinpoint the 

source of the leak.

 

Common Issue #2: AC Won’t Turn On

 

The problem:

An AC that blows hot air is one thing, but what if the unit won’t turn on entirely?

Possible causes:

  • Electrical issue – these could be a loose plug, tripped breaker, or blown fuse
  • Capacitor problem – the capacitor is responsible for starting the fan motor and keeping it running, the AC version of the spark plug. A worn capacitor means the fan won’t start.

The fix:

Check the electricals. Ensure the unit is plugged in tight, and there are no breaks in the power cord or tripped breakers and fuses in the panel.

Look at the fan. Insert a stick or screwdriver into the vent, and push one of the blades. If the fan starts and maintains its spin after your push, a faulty capacitor could be the culprit.

Listen for a humming noise. If you hear one but the AC doesn’t run, it could again be the capacitor. Thankfully, AC capacitors are universal, so if you plan to replace the capacitor on your own, all you need to note is the voltage rating and microfarad (denoted by the symbol μF).

 

Common Issue #3: AC Leaking Water

 

The problem:

You hear a constant dripping sound when the AC is on, or observe a trickle of water either inside or outside the house. In some cases, there’s also a pool of water that collects in the AC’s external casing, visible through the vents.

Possible causes:

  • Clogged drain – Water generated by the evaporator coils is unable to escape, so it collects in the frame.
  • Faulty condensate pump – For basement AC units, this part pumps the water outside. If it breaks, water pools in or around the unit.
  • Dirty filters – Blocked filters reduce the airflow over the evaporator coil, causing it to freeze and form ice. When the ice melts, the excessive water is too much for the pan to drain.

The fix:

Make sure the drain pan and drain line are free of obstructions like accumulated dirt, sludge or mold.

For basement AC units, check if the condensate pump is functioning properly.

Inspect the evaporator coils for signs of ice buildup. If this is the case, clean the vents and filters to restore proper airflow over the coils.

 

Common Issue #4: No Airflow

 

The problem:

The AC is on, the filters are clean, but there is no air at all coming out of the vents.

Possible causes:

This is most likely a fan issue. The fan can cease functioning due to:

  • Dirt buildup over the moving parts
  • Worn belts
  • Broken motor

The fix:

Fans are not user-serviceable parts. To make sure the problem lies with the fan, eliminate other possible causes. Make sure the unit is actually on, all electricals are good, the filters are clean, and the thermostat setting is lower than the ambient temperature outside.

Once you’ve done all these, call an AC specialist to repair or replace the fan or its components.

 

Common Issue #5: Weird Noise

 

The problem:

The AC is emitting a high-pitched noise, banging, buzzing or rattling sounds, either upon turning on or after prolonged operation.

Possible causes:

  • Screeching or squealing – Caused by issues with fan or compressor
  • Banging – Could be due to a loose compressor
  • Buzzing – Commonly caused by electrical problems 
  • Rattling – Obstructed airflow or loosened components

The fix:

For high-pitched noises – Inspect the fan, make sure the blades are clean and spinning properly

For banging and rattling sounds – Clean the filters and check for loose components that can be vibrating. If everything is secure, it could be a faulty compressor rattling inside its hermetically sealed casing, which will need to be serviced by a professional.

If you hear a buzzing sound – It could be an electrical issue. Turn off and unplug the unit, then check for loose wiring. A failing motor or capacitor can also emit buzzing and clicking noises and will need to be replaced.

Suffering an AC malfunction in the middle of summer can be a hellish ordeal. As with most things, prevention is better than fixing. So make sure you stay on top of your AC maintenance for a sweat-free season.

A Guide to Point of Use Water Heaters

Whenever you turn on the tap and set it to red, two things happen. First, your hot water tank springs into action. It either warms up the needed water, or delivers pre-heated water from a holding tank. Next, the water travels through the home’s plumbing and into the open tap.

As you can imagine, the farther away the hot water source is, the longer it takes for the water to turn hot at the end destination.

A point-of-use water heater seeks to shorten the waiting time.