Infra-Red Tube Heaters

Shop owners say gas-fired infrared overhead heaters work well, with good heat, quick recovery, and no worries about over-drying stored lumber. February 13, 2009

I am moving into a new shop that has Infra-Red tube heaters. From what I have read about them, they are very efficient. We are in upstate NY and we need to heat the place 5-6 months of the year. My question is - are they appropriate for use in a woodworking shop? Since they heat the objects and not the air, will they dry out our lumber faster that a forced air gas furnace? Does anyone have experience using them? Thanks in advance for any help.

Forum Responses
(Dust Collection and Safety Equipment Forum)
From contributor D:
I have radiant tube heat in my shop (nat. gas). I pull fresh air to combust and exhaust to outside. No problems spraying CV. It recovers quickly when spraying since all the heat isn't sucked out with the air. I haven't put a moisture meter on my lumber in the winter since we have very dry winters anyway. You do need to make sure to keep lumber racks, and other combustibles out from under the tube, or under the max combustibles height (varies from unit to unit). I'm moving into a new shop with forced air and will most likely switch to radiant tube for next winter.

From contributor J:
I'm just east of Rochester, NY and built my shop two years ago. Installed the radiant tube and love it. It is natural gas fired. There haven't been any problems with any of the wood (1500-3000BF) stored in the shop. Try it - you'll like it.

From contributor T:
I've had a radiant tube heater in my shop and in the mechanic shop next to mine in northern New Jersey for about the last twelve years. They are nat. gas and use outside combustion air and are vented to the outside. This creates a situation where you not only have quick recovery when opening doors or using exhaust fans but you don't have to worry about pulling flue gasses into your shop when not providing enough makeup air. Another big benefit is your machine tops will not rust from condensation. I doubt your shop would be any drier as with any other heating system. I feel the only system that may perform better is an in-floor radiant heat system.

From contributor A:
The shop I work in has some 25 plus foot long infrared heaters about 35 ft above the shop floor. We just have to make sure not to store solid wood glued up tops under them as the tops will cup bad.

From contributor L:
We've got Infrared tube heaters in 25,000 feet in Nebraska. They are much better than the forced air I had in my last shop. We just cover exposed lumber piles at night when they are near the heaters to prevent one side dry-out. We've got eight units from three different manufacturers (due to adding on to the shop over time.) Some are better than others.

The oldest ones have had the first section of tube replaced ('87). A couple of sensors have been replaced as well. I like the ones that exhaust out the sidewall better than out the roof. The roof exhaust ones have a tube that sticks up into the cold air and then condensate runs down and drips into the shop, marked by a yellow X on the floor, so don't park anything there!