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Infrared Heaters and Forced Air Unit Heaters

Efficiently heat open-door service areas

Most auto service garages and vehicle maintenance facilities have a high percentage of open-door area in relation to overall square footage. Cold vehicles entering the space make infrared heaters ideal for economically heating this space.

When placing heaters, always take into account overhead doors and vehicle lifts as doors or vehicles raised on the lifts may be damaged by infrared heaters placed in close proximity. The presence of vehicle lifts sometimes forces the placement of heaters down center aisles with reflectors angled toward the bay area. Also, care must be taken to maintain clearances from hose reels, exhaust collection systems, etc.

In smaller areas where tube heaters may not be practical, a forced air unit heater can be the perfect solution, and can even compliment tube heaters installed elsewhere in the space.

Here are some tips:

  • > Place infrared heaters far enough away from overhead doors, vehicle lifts and/or lifting vehicles to avoid damage. Vehicle lifts sometimes require heaters be placed in center aisles with reflectors angled toward bay areas.
  • > Maintain clearances from hose reels, exhaust collection systems, etc.
  • > Use low intensity infrared tube heaters with outside air supplied to each heater to avoid issues with chemicals, such as degreasers, parts washers, rust-proofing, etc.
  • > Mechanically ventilate chemical contaminants from the space, even if the heating system uses tube heaters with outside air.
  • > Since most chemical fumes are heavier than air, ventilate the lower level of the building.


Equipment Selection

Depending on mounting-height requirements, a full range of infrared heater models is available for auto service centers. Most centers use 75,000-150,000 BTU/h tubes, but high intensity DR series heaters (30,000-90,000 BTU/h) are available as well.

A vacuum system is usually prohibitive due to size and cost constraints. However, two stage models, such as the HL3 series, provide faster heat recoveries as doors are opened and closed.

Heaters are thermostatically controlled and very often interlocked with ventilation when unvented, high intensity DR series heaters are installed.


Typically, you’ll want to install heaters in a perimeter-mounted design. Stack the door areas with extra units, or locate tube-burner boxes there to provide extra heat. Avoid violating the published clearances to combustibles with open doors and/or lifts with vehicles lifted.

It’s also common to locate tube heaters between lift rows (or center of the building) or along walls, with reflectors positioned inward. Again, we highly recommend outside combustion air. Finally, never place any heater inside a paint booth.