Are catalytic heaters safe indoors?

Written by lindsey bennett
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Are catalytic heaters safe indoors?
A catalytic heater doesn't have an open flame, but does deplete available oxygen. (propane heater image by FXTW from Fotolia.com)

Catalytic heaters provide heat through a flameless conversion that does not create large amounts of carbon monoxide, but does reduce the oxygen in an enclosed area which can be dangerous.

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Effects

A catalytic heater uses propane under pressure and a heat source to create the burning needed to heat the platinum face of the heater. The platinum super heats and forces the area around it to increase in temperature.

Dangers

Fires and melting can occur if objects that are flammable are set to close. The heaters also require proper venting of gases. Oxygen is used during the heating process and some production of carbon dioxide gas which can lead to a deadly gas build-up if the air is not refreshed. Some catalytic heaters are manufactured with cut-off switches that monitor the oxygen level. In June 2003, the Consumer Product Safety Commission noted concern about the use of these heaters in indoor spaces because of "the possible health effects associated with reduced oxygen concentrations," since these heaters can operate at oxygen levels below 8.8 per cent.

Requirements

Each heater should have an open air source of a minimum of 3 square inches or larger. A 2-foot space between the heater and any material is recommended to decrease fire risks.

Are catalytic heaters safe indoors?
Fire and oxygen depletion are the two greatest risks of any heater. (Flammable image by Jauhari Subhi from Fotolia.com)

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