A Must-have for outdoor work in sub freezing climes
Jan 28, 2003 (Updated Jan 25, 2004)
Review by wingerr
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Ability to heat outdoors, long running, efficient
Cons:For use in well ventilated areas only, sound level, requires AC power
The Bottom Line: Unexcelled for outdoor space heating; warms even in totally unenclosed conditions. Efficient and FAST. With this, laugh at the cold!
Florida and CA readers likely won't be reading this, but..
Recommend this product?
The Reddy Heaters are a truly essential item if there's a need to work outdoors when it's really cold out, or in large enclosed unheated areas- this model pumps out 55,000 BTU's, running on relatively inexpensive and readily available fuels such as kerosene, or in a pinch, #1 or #2 diesel, or home heating fuel oil.
How it works: These operate in a similar fashion as a home heating system does, by atomizing the fuel through a nozzle, and spraying it over an ignition source to ignite. Instead of a pressurized pump delivering fuel, it uses the venturi principle to draw the fuel up into the nozzle as air flows past the inlet. As with some home heating systems, it uses a photoelectric sensor to control a safety cutoff circuit, shutting down the unit if the flame goes out for any reason, to prevent continued fuel delivery.
Maintenance tasks for these heaters include adjustment of the pressure (about 3.4 PSI) of the air pump, which is a key factor setting the fuel/air mixture for clean and reliable operation. A fan is used to blow a large volume of air through the combustion chamber, distributing it out over a large area. The cone shaped cover on the outlet glows cherry red in operation, which is nifty to see, but keep the kids away- It will quite easily ignite a piece of paper (or your cigarette, if you're so inclined..) held near the outlet, so be aware of the clearance requirements during operation. The older style units used spark plugs and a high voltage spark for ignition, while the current models use "HSI" (Hot Surface Ignition), similar to glow plugs, with the resultant lower electromagnetic noise, and somewhat lower maintenance. They are reportedly less rugged than the spark plugs, so more care should be taken during any maintenance, as they can be easily damaged with improper handling.
Advantages over similar propane heaters is that the fuel is more readily available, with no dependence on propane refilling outlets, as the kerosene is available from selected gas stations on a DIY basis. At a usage rate of less than a half gallon (0.4) per hour, it can run for more than an hour on 75 cents, assuming $1.50 per gallon. The 1/15 HP electric motor used to drive the fan and pump draws approx. 2A in normal operation. When it's subfreezing and you have one of these aimed towards you, you'll consider it a real bargain- These heaters have a long reach by design, because the forced air pushes the 180 CFM of hot air out to a good distance, giving great coverage, even outdoors. Any other heater would be useless, with the warmth drifting straight up, up, and away..
The primary disadvantage is the restrictions on using these only in well ventilated areas; due to their voracious appetite for oxygen. It is NOT meant for general home heating. A rule of thumb to apply is 3 sq.ft of ventilation opening per 100,000 BTU, or 1.65 sq ft for this 55,000 BTU unit. (An 8 foot wide garage door opened about 3" would meet this requirement).
When running, there is no perceptible odor, however, during startup and shutdown, there will be a noticeable kerosene smell emitted. This is the case with any kerosene heater, however, forced air or convection. If possible, allow greater ventilation during startup and shutdown to minimize the effects.
Weight is approximately 29lbs unfueled, and it holds 5 gallons, so a full heater will be pretty weighty to move around. Care should be taken in positioning to give the output end of the heater sufficient clearance from any flammable materials.
To calculate the size of heater needed, Space in cu.ft x delta temperature rise x 0.133 = BTU requirement.
A 55,000 BTU heater would be suitable to heat a 24x48x12 space by 30 degrees.
The fan and blowing flame also make for less than silent operation, but generally isn't a problem for its intended use-
Maintenance involves draining the tank at the end of the season, and replacement of the inlet air filters (and adjustment of the air pressure). The only tricky part is the pressure adjustment, which requires a low pressure gauge to set correctly. Everything else is easily accomplished with a wrench and nutdriver.
Maintenance hint: I did find it necessary to apply a light coating of grease on the cork gasket of the new air filter, to properly seal the air pump housing. The back plate is made of plastic, so overtorquing the three screws in an attempt to seal it WILL crack it. Application of grease on the sealing surface will allow the pump to develop the required pressure without risking damage to the plastic plate. This is not mentioned in any of the instructions, so keep it in mind when it comes time to do this maintenance.
Use of fuels other than kerosene may require increased maintenance of the filter, and more noticeable odors, so it's best to feed it kerosene whenever possible-
I've had mine (I call it my afterburner, for its jet like appearance, which I happen to like :) for a long time with much less than regular maintenance, and it's been running very well. Some needed outdoor car repairs during the recent cold snap just would have been impossible without one of these heaters going. Nothing less would have been able to heat up the open air space I was working in, allowing me to work in conditions that would have sent Eskimos running indoors for cover.
If mine ever failed for some reason, I'll be scrambling my jets to find another, toute suite!
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