Eight steps to specifying construction heat solutions

Follow these steps to recommend the right heat solution.
Gal Power
August 17, 2017
By Gal Power
With winter around the corner, thoughts are turning to preparations for the upcoming winter season. For many people, this also means looking at sourcing temporary heat for a variety of situations.


Whether it be a construction site, warehouse, hotel, health care facility, office building, film set or special event, if you need to provide temporary heat this winter planning ahead is critical to make sure you have the heat you need when you need it. Getting the right equipment for the job is key, no matter where you are located.

In order to help determine the size and type of heater your customer needs, there are some basic steps that are key.                                                               

1. Know the zone
Get an understanding of the area where your customer wants to control the temperature through heating. You will need to determine the surface area of the exterior walls and roof as well as total volume of the space. Take into consideration other equipment or machinery that may have an impact on the heat load. For example, machinery or ovens will give off an additional heat load when running.

2. Ventilate or recirculate?
Ventilating a space will bring fresh air into the space while recirculating the air will reuse the existing air in the space. There are advantages to both, however, it is also important to consider whether the space is occupied by people as this will determine what type of heater you are able to use. [For a full discussion of using make-up air versus recirculating, see page 30.]

3. Calculate the heating or cooling load
There is a formula to calculate heat loads with many variables to input. For example, you need to consider the type of building being heated and what type of insulation is in place, if any. Heating calculations do take into consideration insulation R-values, and having an idea of how tight the building envelope is also helps. Buildings retain more heat, for example, than tents, so this makes a difference when determining what equipment you need.  

Other considerations are the lighting load and the equipment load in the building or space and any additional heat loads.  Another important factor is the number of people in the zone, as people are also a heat source that can affect heat load. (Interesting fact: did you know that 200 people sitting give off less heat than 200 people dancing?)  Over and above these considerations, the outside temperature and the desired inside temperature must also be factored in. What is important to note is that the heat calculations be done with as much information as possible to ensure an accurate translation into BTUs and CFMs needed for the purpose of selecting a heater.

4. Heating Smaller Areas
In smaller areas and open areas with good air circulation you can reduce the volume of air pushed and increase the heat. The crucial factor in heating this way is to start early and ensure that heat is not escaping through open doors or windows.

5. Safety first
It is always important to ensure that the setup of the equipment does not interfere with the normal operation of the building and that its placement should always follow safety guidelines. It is important to ensure regular maintenance and testing of all equipment and functions and that installation is completed by a licensed and qualified person. Heaters are usually self-contained, however, they can get hot, depending on the type of unit, so it is important that steps are taken to ensure that the unit is placed in a safe location and distanced from any combustible materials.  As air is often ducted in (sometimes ceiling-mounted or wall-mounted), it is important to ensure that all duct work is properly installed and secured.

6. You got the power?
Determine the available power at the location. If additional power is required, arrange for a generator or look at using a self-contained unit. Depending on the size of the heater, heaters can use from one to 400 kilowatts.  Also, voltage needs to be considered depending on what type of equipment is supplied.  Many units also incorporate fuel tanks for ease of use with longer-term jobs. If using natural gas or propane, ensure that you understand the minimum pressures required to run the equipment and ensure that you are able to meet them. For example, if gas pressures are too low, heating equipment will become finicky and not run properly.  Common issues with propane and natural gas pressures stem from improper installation by unlicensed people or lack of consistent supply. This can be addressed by the service provider, however, it is important to note that it is critical that the piping system design must be done properly to ensure not only proper pressures, but also the flow of gas. In other words, the correct volume of gas is just as important as the correct pressure of delivery. If either of these are not at the level the heater requires, there will be issues with performance of the heater.

7. Plan ahead
You might want to consider offering discounts to customers who book heating equipment for a full season. Being able to plan ahead will allow you an opportunity to budget better. It’s also a good idea to make fuel consumption estimates for any type of heater (propane, diesel or oil) with your supplier. All heaters are tested for fuel consumption at different percentages of usage by manufacturers and this information can be accessed by your supplier to help determine fuel consumption estimates based on the usage of the heater. Your customers will appreciate the assistance in determining their costs.

8. Get help
Select equipment with the assistance of your specialist and consider the typical space layout and restrictions your customers face. When trying to maintain a building or area temperature, it’s all about having the right BTUs and also the right CFMs to ensure that the building is under adequate pressure and receiving adequate air changes.  These are important factors when selecting the right equipment.

Designing and installing temporary heat for very large or complex projects obviously requires much more expertise than can be communicated here. But these eight simple steps may get you on the right track for your everyday heater rentals.


GAL Power offers specialized power and temperature control solutions from nine locations across Ontario and Quebec.



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