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Are catalytic heaters safe indoors?

Updated May 31, 2017

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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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.


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.


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.

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About the Author

Lindsey Bennett

Lindsey Bennett has been freelance writing since 2010. She has taught high school English, creative writing and Journalism since 2003. Bennett holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education and English from Ball State University, where she is also pursuing her Master of Arts in journalism.

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