Gas Heaters: A Comprehensive Guide

Gas heaters are heating devices for heating a room or an outdoor area. To produce heat, a gas heater burns natural or liquefied petroleum gas.

Gas heaters have become a popular choice for heating Perth homes and businesses for years. It’s all thanks to their cost-efficiency and energy-saving qualities. If you’re considering installing a gas heater, this blog is for you.

This guide discusses everything you need to know about gas heaters, including the different types, maintenance requirements, and safety considerations.

Types of Gas Heaters in Australia

Preparing for the cooler months of the year includes installing a heater in your home. There are various gas heaters, and your decision primarily depends on your home’s needs. You may also have a preference when it comes to fuel sources. Gas heaters are not one-size-fits-all, as these types are designed with different features to suit specific living spaces and requirements.

Let us break down the gas heater types in Australia and how they work:

Gas Radiant Heaters

This type of gas heater generates heat through a process known as radiant heating. A radiant gas heater uses either natural gas or LPG to provide warmth through infrared or electromagnetic radiation emission. That’s why this type is also known as an infrared heater.

A radiant or infrared heater transfers heat, which is absorbed directly by the people and objects in the room. It does not heat the surrounding air, which makes it effective in heating the space much quicker.

Gas radiant heaters are excellent for patios and outdoor settings. They also work great in large indoor spaces like workshops and warehouses. That’s why they are often the preferred heating appliance in cafes and restaurants with outdoor seating.

Flued Gas Heaters

Like a radiant heater, flued gas heaters use LPG or natural gas. It is named so because this heater is designed with a chimney or flue that emits combustion gases and moisture outside the house. You don’t have to worry about indoor air quality with this heater.

Flued gas heaters can be:

  • Wall-mounted flued heaters are installed on an external wall. They use a flue system to expel combustion gases, leading them outdoors. A wall-mounted flued heater is best for a small open-floor layout or a single room.
  • Inbuilt flued heaters are connected to your existing fireplace opening. A cavity will be created for this specific purpose if you don’t have one.

This gas heater is prized for energy efficiency and offers consistent heat output.

Unflued Gas Heaters

Unflued, also known as portable or ventless, is a type of gas heater popularly used in many Perth homes. Unlike the flued version, this one does not require a flue. It is also not fixed in a certain spot, which allows homeowners to move the device between rooms as required.

Although convenient and easy to use, unflued gas heaters release combustion gases inside the house. Therefore, it is crucial to have adequate ventilation to avoid any unfortunate circumstances. Many unflued heaters have an oxygen depletion sensor (ODS), which controls the heater by shutting it off if oxygen levels are too low.

Unflued heaters are less expensive than installing flued gas heaters. However, you may require additional devices, including a gas leak detector and a carbon monoxide alarm, to ensure the household’s safety.

Gas Convection Heaters

Gas convection (or convector) heaters are gas heating appliances that work by drawing cool air from the room. They heat the air with a gas-powered heat exchanger before releasing the warmed-up air into the space. This simple cycle generates a continuous flow of warm air, providing the room with even and consistent heating.

A gas convector heater is energy efficient and heats the space quickly. It can be mounted on the wall to save floor space and offer targeted heating to a specific area in the house. The heater can also be freestanding in the form of a portable unit, which you can move from one room to another. Gas convectors can also be connected to a flue, which is useful in spaces with inadequate ventilation.

Difference between Natural and LPG Gas

When choosing the gas heater to install in your home, you must make several decisions, including using natural or LPG gas as your fuel source. Both have their benefits and drawbacks, so knowing which fits your needs is important.

Let’s compare the two:

  • Availability: WA is abundant when it comes to natural gas. Preserves are predominantly in the state’s northwest, so homes can easily be connected to a natural gas pipeline. LPG, on the other hand, is available in most areas and is typically stored in cylinders or tanks.
  • Price: Natural gas is generally cheaper for every unit of energy (megajoules) than LPG. That means you can expect lower running costs using natural gas for your heater. However, the initial setup cost is often higher than LPG.
  • Eco-Friendliness: Natural gas produces lower greenhouse gas emissions and is a cleaner-burning fossil fuel option than LPG. The latter has higher carbon content, which generates more greenhouse gases when burnt. However, it is essential to remember that LPG is still a greener option than coal, oil, and other fossil fuels.
  • Supply: You don’t have to worry about running out of natural gas since it is supplied through pipelines continuously. You also do not need storage tanks, unlike LPGs, which also require refilling or replacement.

Both natural gas and LPG heaters can be energy efficient depending on the heater and its features. When selecting between the two, make sure that you consider the factors above. Consult a gas specialist for guidance.

Benefits of Using Gas Heaters

Regardless of the gas heater type and fuel source you choose, you are guaranteed the following benefits when you use this appliance to heat your home:

  • Energy Efficiency: Gas heaters are more energy-efficient than their electric counterparts. They produce higher outputs without requiring as much energy as electric heaters. As a result, gas heating appliances help you reduce your utility bills.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Gas heaters are indeed more expensive to install than electric heaters. However, the operating costs are generally lower. That’s because gas is cheaper than electricity, saving you money in the long run.
  • Fast and Even Heating: Gas heaters effectively warm up a room quickly. Additionally, these heaters provide even heat distribution, especially gas convection and flued gas heaters. Enjoy consistent temperature, ensuring you are more comfortable when you need it the most.
  • Reliability: Because gas heaters do not rely on electricity to operate, they are not susceptible to power outages. Rooms remain warm and comfy during winter storms.
  • Environmental Benefits: It’s vital to understand that nearly 20% of greenhouse gases in Australia come from natural gas. Nevertheless, unlike other types, such as coal and oil, it is still a cleaner-burning fossil fuel. That’s why it produces fewer emissions and air pollutants when burned.

Gas heaters give a cosy and warm ambience and are also incredibly appealing. They increase your space’s overall appearance as they mimic the look of traditional wood fireplaces without requiring wood, storage, and intense maintenance.

Installation and Maintenance of Gas Heaters

Proper installation and regular maintenance are necessary to ensure the safety and performance of your gas heater. Part of the installation process is to select the correct type of heater for your space. We have given you options regarding this arena, but what about the size? The suitable gas heater size helps ensure it works optimally, providing comfort and even utility bill savings.

What size gas heater do I need?

To determine the heater size, you will need to take the following steps:

  1. Measure the length, width, and height of the room where you wish to install the heater. Multiply the values to get the room volume.
  2. You will then find the required heating output (expressed in kilowatts). Consider the room’s insulation, ceiling height, number and size of doors and windows, and your location’s climate.
  3. Calculations vary at this point, but one common rule of thumb is multiplying the value you have in step 1 above by a heating factor. If you have a well-insulated room, multiply it by 90 watts for every cubic metre; otherwise, use 180 watts per cubic metre.
  4. You can now choose a gas heater with a heating output that’s a bit higher than the product you obtained in step 3. The additional amount ensures that the heater can efficiently warm the room with as little energy waste as possible.

The calculations above are not entirely accurate, primarily if many people reside in your house. Other factors, such as ceiling-to-floor windows and temperature preferences, can also affect the heater size. Hiring a reputable gas specialist can make the installation process much more manageable.

Whatever your gas heater’s size and type, you must leave the installation to a licenced professional. This way, you can be assured that the process meets local regulations and safety standards whilst preserving the warranty.

Regarding maintenance, one of the most significant tasks that should be accomplished regularly is testing for gas leaks. Hire a technician to check for gas leaks during and after installation. Periodic tests are also required to prevent any untoward events. You can schedule regular maintenance with a professional to keep your gas heater’s performance optimal and safe.

Other things to do to maintain the appliance include:

  • Cleaning the heater’s exterior
  • Replacing damaged components quickly
  • Monitoring for unusual odours and sounds
  • Calling a technician immediately upon noticing performance changes

Particular gas heaters have unique requirements for installation and maintenance. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines, especially when cleaning and repairing the appliance. To stay on the safe side, contact a gas heater specialist.

Safety Considerations

Safety should be your priority when using gas heaters, like any home appliance and device. Although they are relatively safe, improper use and lack of care can increase potential risks. Hire a licenced professional with several years of experience installing gas heaters to avoid any issues.

It is also crucial to have sufficient ventilation, especially if you have a ventless or unflued gas heater. Ensure all air inlets or vents remain free from any blockage. Otherwise, it can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, among others. A CO detector can alert you in case of a potential gas leak.

Meanwhile, if you have an LPG gas heater, you should install a propane gas detector to protect your home from fire and explosions. Regardless of your fuel source, installing an oxygen depletion/electrochemical sensor would be best. That way, you can be confident you’re breathing healthy air, which should be 20.9% by volume.

Gas heaters should avoid flammable items, including curtains and furniture. Keep them at least a metre away. Also, using the heater to dry your clothes is a huge no-no.

To keep your home and everyone safe, it is best to turn off the heater when no one is in the room. Don’t leave it on when going to sleep, either.

Gas heaters are a popular home heating solution with many benefits, including energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness with even heating compared to oil and electric heaters.

When choosing a gas heater for your Perth home, consider room size, safety features, and your personal requirements. To keep everything simple, from installation to maintenance, talk to Provista Plumbing & Gas professionals. We can guide you on the best type of gas heater for your heating needs, along with regular maintenance checks and repairs.