- 1 What is a torpedo heater?
- 2 How does a Torpedo heater work?
- 3 Kerosene Torpedo Heaters/ Kerosene Salamander Heaters
- 4 Propane Torpedo Heaters / Propane Salamander Heaters
- 5 Diesel Torpedo Heater
- 6 Multi Fuel Salamander / Torpedo Heaters
- 7 What to look for when purchasing a Torpedo Heater
- 8 Torpedo Heater Safety
- 9 Which is the best propane torpedo heater?
- 10 Best kerosene torpedo heater / diesel torpedo heater
- 11 Which is the best multi-fuel torpedo heater?
- 12 FAQ
What is a torpedo heater?
A torpedo heater, also known as a Salamander heater, Salamander, Salamander Furnace, or Torpedo furnace is a forced-air or convection heater that generates heat from the combustion of fuel and then uses a fan to push the heated air out of the unit.1
The beauty with these fans is that they are portable.
There are a number of ways they are fueled including propane, kerosene, diesel, natural gas, multi-fuel or electric.
The torpedo heater is generally used in areas with good ventilation, often at construction sites, warehouses, workshops, and sporting events amongst others.
Though they have been around since the 1915’s they became more popular in the 1950s when Scheu Manufacturing Company developed the modern Salamander heater to provide warmth on construction sites, enabling workers to work in the cooler weather. Lucky workers!
How does a Torpedo heater work?
A Torpedo heater works much the same way as a forced air heater for your home in that warm air is created and pushed out via a fan.
Inside the torpedo heater, there is a burner which, when the fan is turned on is ignited.
There are a few different types of fuel used to ignite the burner, which each have their pros and cons.
The fuel is gravity fed into the burner which creates the heat inside the unit.
From there the heat is pushed out via an electric fan into the area the fan is facing.2
The following video gives some good insight into how a torpedo heater works.
Kerosene Torpedo Heaters/ Kerosene Salamander Heaters
One of the most common types of torpedo heater is one that is fueled by Kerosene.
It is important to note that Kerosene comes in different grades and using the incorrect grade can void the warranty of some machines.3
So if you plan to purchase a kerosene heater, pay particular attention to that.
The benefits of using Kerosene as a fuel is that Kerosene releases more energy than propane and therefore creates more heat.
So, in essence, you are getting more bang for your buck with kerosene than propane.
It does, however, have a strong smell.
Along with that when burned it produces carbon monoxide so you have to be sure to use a kerosene heater where there is adequate ventilation (outside).
Obviously, it is not an environmentally friendly option.
Kerosene is a little bit more difficult to purchase than propane gas given propane is commonly used for gas and BBQ cookers, so is stored by many service, grocery, and convenience stores.
If you plan to stockpile your fuel Kerosene can be a good option.
With proper storage, Kerosene can keep for up to 2-5 years so it has a very good shelf life in the right storage conditions.4
Propane Torpedo Heaters / Propane Salamander Heaters
Another form of fueling for torpedo, or salamander heaters is propane.
Propane (also know as LP Gas or LPG) is a by-product of natural gas and is used most commonly for fueling gas bbq’s.
The good thing about propane is that it is much more environmentally friendly than kerosene producing minimal emissions.
Funnily enough, propane is odorless and colorless and a chemical compound is added to it to help people recognize any leaks which may become a hazard.
Obviously, propane is highly combustible and is not safe for inhalation.
As far as energy goes propone is a bit more expensive with kerosene costing approx $2.25 per gallon and propane $3.00 per gallon.5 (This figure will likely vary but you get the idea)
Propane also has less energy than kerosene with roughly 91,333 BTU’s of energy potential per gallon while Kerosene has roughly 135,000 BTU’s of energy potential per gallon.6
Diesel Torpedo Heater
Depending on where you live, there is often a few very good reason why you might want to use Diesel over kerosene as a fuel source.
It’s cheaper and often more accessible.
There are dedicated diesel torpedo heaters available however these days new models of torpedo heaters actually have multi-fuel capability.
Many people ask whether you can use diesel in their kerosene heater and while this works on a technical level it is highly recommended you don’t for safety reasons.
Diesel burns a lot dirtier than Kerosene so there are a lot more fumes and odor. ALWAYS have proper ventilation.
Multi Fuel Salamander / Torpedo Heaters
As mentioned above there are many new salamander heaters now that are able to run on multiple fuel sources.
For example, this heater can run on Kerosene, 1 and 2 diesel fuel, 1 and 2 fuel oil and jp8/jet a fuel.
This certainly makes things more convenient in regards to the aforementioned prices and availability of fuel.
What to look for when purchasing a Torpedo Heater
Torpedo Heater Thermostat
Some salamander heaters have a thermostat equipped so you are able to regulate the temperature of the area you are heating.
If you are using the heater outside it will obviously not be much use, but for interior location such as well vented warehouse a thermostat could be a feature worth considering.
Above we ran through the different types of fuel sources which can be used with torpedo heaters.
The pros and cons of each with help you determine which kind of fuel is best for your situation.
Safety consideration is hugely important with torpedo heaters as there are a lot of variables that ripe for danger.
Manufacturers are required to meet certain levels of safety and below are some features manufacturers have built into their heaters.
• Agency approved safe for use on combustible flooring
• Tip-over shutoff and back pressure switch for safety
• CSA Certified for Safe Use Both Indoor and Outdoor
• UL Listed
• Overheat Auto-Shut-off Protection
• High limit switch and thermoelectric safety valve
• Fuse protected electrical system
At minimum, you want to make sure the heater you are purchasing is CSA approved for the area you are using it (indoor or outdoor).
A neat feature some heaters have is a runtime fuel gauge.
This will enable to see how much time you have before your fuel runs out.
This is great for planning ahead and ensuring you are always ready to refuel and avoid any cold stretches!
Adjustable Heat Angle
Some torpedo heaters have a built-in mechanism which will allow you to adjust the unit up and down which will give you slightly more control over where your heat is going.
Think about the size of the tank that you might want.
Will you need to lift/move it by yourself?
Do you need the biggest tank you can get?
These are a couple of questions you might want to ask yourself when you are looking at the various models.
Variable Heat Settings
This feature gives you more control over the temperate coming out of the heater.
This is useful if you are wanting more than just one ‘speed’.
What are BTU’s?
BTU stands for ‘British Thermal Unit’ and is a measurement of energy.
Obviously, the higher the BTU’s of the heating unit, the more heat will be output.
Some torpedo heaters can be quite noisy.
This has been a common gripe and some brands have recognized this and market some of their units as being much quieter than regular units.
If the noise level is important to you, this is something to bear in mind.
Torpedo Heater Safety
When purchasing a torpedo heater it is very important to understand the safety requirements – if neglected then there is a possibility of fatalities.
Here is a good guide about using a torpedo heater safely.
Which is the best propane torpedo heater?
If you are looking for the best propane torpedo heater then the Dyna-Glo RMC-FA60DGD is a good place to start depending on your needs. Check out our review below.
The Dyna-Glo RMC-FA60DGD is conveniently certified to be used indoors as well as outdoors.
This particular model heats up to 1,350 sq. ft. but it also comes in a number of various options heating from 1000 to a whopping 7000 sq ft. The larger models also contain a thermostat.
Along with a handle for easy lifting this model comes with an adjustable height, giving you more control of where your heats is going.
Whether you use the heater for a short period of time or longer, you have options with this model working with a 20, 40, or 100 LB cylinder (which is not included). The 20 LB tank provides 14 hours of run time on the low setting.
You are able to control the output with a control knob on the unit which gives you the optional output of between 30,000 and 60,000 BTU’s (on this particular unit.)
With safety in mind the fan as mentioned is CSA Certified for indoor and outdoor use, along with that the Dyna-Glo has an integrated safety sensor which shuts off the heater in the unlikely event of a flame-out or overheating. The shut off temperature is said to be 131 Deg F.
A couple of things to bear in mind with this fan and any others is the noise level and the length of the cord. Depending on your usage, you may need an extension cord for this unit as the cord is quite short.
In particular with this fan, it has a continuous igniter, so if you turn the unit off, you need to turn the control knob and also unplug it otherwise the fan will continue to run along with the igniter.
The Dyna-Glo RMC-FA60DGD is one of the highest consumers rated fans on Amazon.com and is a great place to start if you are looking for a high-quality propane salamander heater.
Best kerosene torpedo heater / diesel torpedo heater
If you are looking for the best kerosene-fueled torpedo heater then the Dyna-Glo KFA50DGD 50,000 is a good place to start looking.
This 50,000 BTU salamander heater can heat up to 1200 sq ft and will run up to 14 hours on the lowest setting.
Like its propane brother, the Dynal-Glo Kerosene heater is also available with various BTU ranging from 50,000 up to 210,000 BTUs which can heat up to 5000 sq ft.
This particular unit is able to run on 1-K Kerosene or #1 Diesel / Fuel Oil which gives you slightly more options than some kerosene-based only units.
Along with the above features, this unit has a fuel gauge so you can see how many hours of run time you have left, enabling you to better plan your heating needs.
One thing to keep in mind with this model (and potentially others) is in regards to the thermostat on the larger models only allows 10-degree increments. So when the heater reaches its allocated heat, often the room temperature will drop 10 degrees before it restarts again.
Which is the best multi-fuel torpedo heater?
If you are looking for a lot more versatility in terms of your fuel source, you might want to check out a multi-fule torpedo heater.
The Dura Heat Portable Forced Air Heater, 50,000 BTU – DFA50 is a good place to start.
This particular unit is tested with K-1 kerosene, #1 and #2 fuel oil and diesel, JP-8 and Jet-A fuels.
Depending on where you live, this is a great feature given the availability of each of the fuels in your location.
Included with this unit is a fuel gauge which will help you better plan your heating needs.
Again, like with other models, be aware of the cord length, you will likely need an extension cord.
Can torpedo heaters be used indoors?
It is recommended you don’t use a torpedo heater indoors.
There are a number of things to take into consideration before you think about using a torpedo heater indoors. Firstly you want to check if the heater is indoor rated or outdoor rated.
Using an outdoor heater indoors can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. It is important to read the packaging and operating instructions.
Wherever ever you use a torpedo heater, indoors or out, it must be used in an area with very good ventilation.
Generally, torpedo heaters are far more than you need in a household but are commonly used in garages. If you are looking for a household heater perhaps look at an infrared heater or ceramic or radiant heater
What size torpedo heater do I need?
Heaters generally have an estimate square footage that they heat
I can still smell propane, is something wrong?
Yes, you shouldn’t be able to smell propane after the first few uses if the heater is working correctly. Check your connections and make sure everything is tight.
Can I use this torpedo heater to treat bed bugs?
You should NOT use a torpedo heater to eliminate bed bugs. Torpedo heaters require proper ventilation or as a safety mechanism it will shut down. Along with that, heating a room to the temperature necessary to kill bed bugs poses a serious fire hazard and should only be attempted by professionals.
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