If your warehouse is not set up for gas heat, your options are limited. Here's a look at three electric heating methods that are, fortunately, less expensive to install than gas and don't necessarily have to be expensive to operate.
Convection heating relies on natural circulation patterns to move heat around a warehouse space. If warehouses could rely solely on convection heating to stay warm, it could be a very economical heating method.
The problem is that most warehouse spaces have high ceilings, and since heat rises, it gets trapped up there. To make convection heating work, most businesses need to add ceiling fans, which increase the cost of this heating method considerably. Convection is best for smaller facilities with low ceilings.
Just like in residential heating, commercial forced air heating blows heat out of one or multiple vents. The vents can be installed horizontally or vertically, allowing for good flexibility in placement, and this method is popular in large warehouse spaces as both a primary and supplemental method of heating.
It can be costly, however to keep all those blowers going, and the ducts need to be clean and in good working order for maximum performance. Forced air is not appropriate for warehouses where small particulates in the air could be a problem, like with certain sensitive electronics. Too much dust, however microscopic, can get stirred up and damage equipment or inventory.
Radiant heat allows warmth to emanate from a heated stationary source, just like a radiator in a home, albeit a bit more sophisticated. With no parts or motors to break, radiant heat can be cheaper to maintain, and on its own, it's cleaner than forced air heat.
If particulate matter isn't an issue, ceiling fans can be added to radiant systems to push warm air at the ceiling level back down to where it is more needed. These fans can also improve cooling efficiency in warmer weather.
Radiant heat isn't a good choice if flammable materials are present, as the combination could pose an explosion risk.
While space heaters are available in industrial sizes, there are more economical ways of using radiant heat today. Where workers are sitting or standing in one place most of the time, beam heaters are a possible source. These provide a source of overhead heat.
Many warehouses are opting for radiant flooring elements that can be added underneath most types of flooring, including cement, tile, and carpet. This type of heat is more expensive to retrofit, which makes it a better choice for new construction.
Tips for Reducing Energy Use
Because electricity can be expensive, your warehouse should take measures to reduce energy consumption where possible and maximize the efficiency of whichever electric heating method you choose:
- Minimize heat loss through doors and loading docks with tight-sealing closures.
- Reduce heat loss through back-and-forth traffic into refrigerated areas by installing doors that open and close quickly or using strip curtains.
- Use high-efficiency motors.
- Install an enterprise energy mapping system (EEM) to measure how all your energy is used in your system.
Using electric commercial heating doesn't have to be a costly venture if you do your homework and choose a system that's right for your space. By looking at the pros and cons of each type of electric heat method and putting energy-saving measures in place, you may be able to make your electric heating affordable and efficient.