Monthly Archives: August 2017

Infrared Garage Heater

It may seem far off now, but winter is coming—and your garage best be prepared when it arrives. Lucky for you, we’ve provided this handy guide to ensure your garage heating is taken care of. Our recommendation is the Auto-ray infrared garage heater, because it has easy installation, doesn’t use electricity and runs on natural gas. These handy devices can heat a 2-3 car garage (500-600 square feet) with hardly any cost to you. We’ll go over the science behind infrared, the perks to using natural gas, the effects of cold weather on your vehicle, and a couple other garage heating options besides infrared.

infrared garage heater

Benefits

Since the garage is the area of the house that gets the least home heater attention, it’s important to implement a separate heat source that will de-ice your vehicle and stored items in the wintertime. We know how annoying it is when you have to heat up your car every morning just so you can feel your fingers. If you’ve earned the coveted garage spot, you deserve a warm, ice-free car. Garage heating is the solution. They work great for an out-building or detached work shed. Plus, an infrared garage heater helps the rooms above your garage stay warm too. An infrared garage heater directly heats people and objects, thereby heating the surrounding air to the set temperature. The adjustable thermostat puts the control in your hands, so you never have to finagle with the system. An infrared garage heater is maintenance-free and odor-free. Plus, they’re not noisy like other HVAC units. We offer a one-year warranty on gas control and a five-year warranty on the burner, so you can rest assured that these systems will last you a while.

CSA Certified

The infrared garage heater is also CSA certified, meaning an accredited third party has reviewed this product for safety and performance. This reassures retailers, regulators and consumers alike that this product does what it’s supposed to.

How Infrared Heating Works

Before you invest in an infrared garage heater, it’s important to know how it works. Similar to how the sun heats our planet, electromagnetic waves make the molecules oscillate and release energy as warmth. These systems produce sun-like heat tuned between 9-14 micron meters, ensuring safe heating. Where traditional heating systems pump expensive heat into the air only to have it rise to the ceiling of the garage, infrared garage heaters are up to 50% more energy efficient. This type of heating doesn’t suck the moisture out of the air, and it prevents heat loss through ventilation (ie: heat escaping through open doors and windows). In other words, you don’t have to worry about your garage losing its heat just because the garage door is open.

how heating works

Infrared light isn’t visible because our eyes can’t access the spectrum it’s on. The same works for an infrared heater; the heat is a product of the light that we can’t see. Since our skin and clothes absorb the heat, these heaters aren’t wasting energy on the spaces that don’t need heat. Infrared heaters can use propane, natural gas or electricity. Our preferred infrared garage heater uses natural gas, because it’s the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly option.

Natural Gas

Natural gas is the least damaging fossil fuel. It comes from deep beneath the Earth’s surface and is made up mostly of methane. It formed from the remains of decayed plants and animals mixed with sand and silt. The buried layers or organic material were turned into coal, oil and natural gas via pressure and heat. In some spots, the natural gas moved into large cracks and spaces between layers of overlying rock, while some natural gases remained trapped in the tiny spores of shale, sandstone and sedimentary rock. Natural gas has fewer impurities than other fuels, is less chemically complex, and has a generally less harmful pollution output from combustion. Natural gas produces less carbon dioxide (greenhouse gas), sulfur dioxide (acid rain), nitrogen oxides (smog) and particulate matter. On top of being environmentally friendly, natural gas is also efficient. In fact, 90% of the natural gas produced is delivered to customers as useful energy. On the other hand, 30% of the energy converted to electricity in conventional generating facilities reaches customers.

natural gas graph

How the Cold Affects Your Vehicle

Low temperatures and dryness can create trouble for your vehicle. That’s why an infrared garage heater is so important. Leaving your car in a cold environment for long periods of time can have these effects on your car:

  • Most cars have several rubber components (ie: windshield wipers, belts around engine, etc.) which are susceptible to altercations from cold weather. Low temperatures can make rubber less pliable, thereby increasing chances of a rip, tear or break. Your windshield wipers can even be less effective during the colder months, because the cold rubber can’t conform to the shape of the windshield.
  • Another issue that can arise if your car isn’t kept in a warm location is that your battery can die. If your car is going to be in cold conditions, you should have the battery checked to avoid a surprise dud. Extreme cold (below 30 degrees Fahrenheit) pulls voltage from a battery, which makes it more difficult for your car to start.
  • Sometimes when the temperate drops, fluids (oil, antifreeze, power steering, brake, transmission) can thicken, making it harder for your car to function the way it should. In fact, if transmission fluid isn’t flowing quickly, your car won’t function at all.
  • Cold air can also affect tire pressure; Tires typically lose 1 pound per square inch for every 10 degree Fahrenheit drop. Tires that aren’t fully inflated won’t perform as well and are especially susceptible to damage in snowy and icy climates.
  • Other parts that can be damaged by the cold are wipers and washer solvents. If you clean your windshield before turning on your wipers, you’ll avoid creating more damage. Blades can get torn and wiper transmissions can break when the weather overpowers the freezing point of the washer fluid.
  • Spark plugs are another feature that cold weather targets, weakening their reliability. As it gets colder, you’ll have a hard start. If your plugs and wires aren’t in pristine condition, you may have issues getting your car going.

Other Types of Garage Heaters

If you’re not sold on infrared, there are other great options you can look at, such as zoning and geothermal heating. While neither option has the cost-effectivity of infrared garage heaters, they may be the better choice if you’re looking to change up the heating of your entire home.

Zoning lets you customize the temperature for different parts of your home. This means you can funnel extra cooling/heating into the rooms that need it the most without wasting energy changing the temperature of the entire home. The system uses automatic dampers and an electronic monitor to send individual temperature instructions to each of the rooms that are set up in the system. It’s a great option for homes that have multiple levels, have a bonus room off the back or over the garage, have finished areas in the basement or attic, or have a portion of the home built over a concrete slab floor. If you want to heat your garage from the same system as your home heater without using up the same amount of heat, this is a great option.

zoning

Geothermal heating works by tapping into the renewable energy in the Earth’s surface to heat or cool your home. This option negates the need for burning fossil fuels at all; Instead, we set up a system to collect the Earth’s temperature via underground water pipes and a ground source heat pump. This saves you up to 70% on your utility bills compared to a conventional system. This is the most environmentally friendly option for heating or cooling your home, and has been approved by the U.S. Department of Energy. They even save owners money by lowering utility bills, cutting out about $129/mo. They end up paying for themselves within 5-10 years, and the government offers a 30% tax credit incentive for purchases on energy efficient products. You can easily access indoor components, and the geothermal heating system lasts 24 years. Not only do they have a longer lifespan, but they also have fewer moving parts to worry about (no maintenance!). Outdoor components, like the ground loop, can last upwards of 50 years. This lowers the amount of energy needed to heat up your garage and the rest of your home.

geothermal heating

Contact Us

If you’re looking for a garage heater that will make the most of your budget and harness the warming capabilities of the sun, an infrared heater is the way to go. For those interested in zoning or geothermal heating, we’ve got you covered there too. Contact us, so we can get you set up with your very own system. Keeping your vehicle warm will be worth it in the long run—trust us.

What is HVAC?

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. It encompasses the technology of indoor and vehicular environmental comfort. HVAC is meant to provide thermal comfort and acceptable indoor air quality using the principles of thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat transfer. HVAC systems provide ventilation, reduce air filtration, and maintain pressure relationships between spaces. This guide will provide a breakdown of how the different systems operate, as well as causes for your AC blowing hot air. We’ll even go into HVAC in Kansas City and the best systems for our climate.

HVAC in Kansas City

Ventilation

Ventilation is the process of exchanging or replacing air in any space to provide high indoor air quality. Essentially, this process replaces stale air with clean air via natural or mechanical means. Proper ventilation is made possible by temperature control, oxygen replenishment, and removal of moisture, odors, smoke, heat, dust, airborne bacteria, carbon dioxide and other various gases. This transfer of air sucks out the unpleasant smells and excessive moisture and keeps the interior air moving. Ventilation is the most important factor for ensuring indoor air quality is up to standard.

Mechanical/Forced Ventilation

This type of ventilation is provided by an air handler (AHU), which is used to regulate indoor air quality. Excess humidity, contaminants and odors can be controlled by dilution or replacement with outside air. In more humid climates, more energy is obviously required to extract excessive moisture in the air. Oftentimes, kitchens and bathrooms already have mechanical exhausts that regulate odors and humidity. Your system can vary depending on flow rate (vent size) and noise level. Ceiling fans work by circulating air in a room to make it seem as though the temperature has lowered. This is done by increasing the evaporation of perspiration on the skin. Fans can even be used in the winter to circulate the warm stratified air from the ceiling to the floor.

ceiling fan

Natural Ventilation

This type of ventilation utilizes outside air to circulate the indoor air—no fans or mechanisms necessary. Sometimes this ventilation is made possible via trickle vents or operable windows. Another tactic is to allow warm air to rise and flow out of high building openings to the outside. This causes the cooler outside air to be sucked into the low building openings. Though this method may be cost-effective, it doesn’t work as well in climates that are warm and humid. An air-side economizer combines fans, ducts, dampers and control systems to funnel outside air into a building. Natural ventilation is dependent on air change rate or air changes per hour, which is the hourly rate of ventilation divided by the volume of the space. Most buildings and homes require a minimum of four air changes per hour. Natural ventilation also reduces the spread of airborne illness like tuberculosis, mold, influenza and meningitis. Natural ventilation may not be ideal for HVAC in Kansas City unless it’s being utilized during the more mild-weather times of the year, like Spring and Fall.

Heaters

The heat pump picked up popularity in the 1950’s. They extract heat from various sources (environmental air, exhaust air, ground) and are popular in both warm and cool climates. With heated water and steam, the piping is utilized to move heat into rooms. The modern hot water boiler heating system has a circulator (pump) which moves hot water throughout the distribution system. Radiators, hot water coils, and other heat exchangers transfer the heat to surrounding air. You can even install radiators in the floor to produce floor heat. When water is used for heat transfer, it’s called hydronics. Heated water can also be supplied to the auxiliary heat exchanger for bathing and washing. Warm air is moved throughout a building via duct work systems of supply and return air through metal or fiberglass ducts. These same ducts are tasked with distributing air cooled by an evaporator coil for air conditioning. This air supply is cleaned before it reaches you via air cleaners that take out the dust and pollen particles.

hydronics

Refrigeration Cycle

First, the system refrigerant begins as a gas. Then, the compressor pumps the refrigerant gas up to a high pressure and temperature. Once it enters a heat exchanger (aka condenser coil), it loses energy (heat) to the outside, cools and condenses into a liquid. The expansion valve ensures the refrigerant liquid flows at the proper rate. The liquid refrigerant can evaporate once it’s returned to another heat exchanger (evaporator coil). During the evaporation process, the liquid refrigerant absorbs energy as heat from the inside air. From there, it returns to the compressor and repeats the cycle. During this process, heat is absorbed from indoors and transferred outside. This creates cooling. This can also be reversed in climates with dramatic seasonal changes. Using a reversing valve, you can switch from heating to cooling via a reverse flow of refrigerant. This means you can heat and cool a system using only one piece of equipment.

Free Cooling Systems

These systems are incredibly efficient, especially when paired with seasonal thermal energy storage. When these two systems work together, the cold of winter can be released in summer air conditioning. This cold air is stored in either deep aquifers or natural rock masses that are buried beneath the ground and accessed through small-diameter, heat-exchanger-equipped boreholes. Oftentimes, systems with small storages tap into free cooling early in the season and then later utilize a heat pump to chill the circulation coming from the storage. This storage functions as a heat sink when in cooling mode, meaning the temperature increases during the cooling season. With ‘free-cooling mode’, the control system opens the outside air damper and closes the return air damper. As a result, fresh air from the outside is supplied to the system. In the case that the outside air is cooler than the temperature required, the demand is met without using the mechanical supply of cooling. Energy saved! Free cooling systems are a great option for HVAC in Kansas City because of the regions diverse temperature ranges throughout the year.

free cooling system

Dehumidification

Where a humidifier might help with your asthma, dehumidification can prevent mold growth in your home. Dehumidification is powered by the evaporator, which operates at a temperature below dew point. When the moisture within the air condenses on the evaporator coil tubes, the moisture collects at the bottom of the evaporator in a pan and is removed by piping to a designated drain or the ground outside. Essentially, a dehumidifier operates like an air conditioner. Instead of controlling the temperature though, it controls the humidity. They’re used most often in basements with a higher relative humidity due to lower temperatures.

Maintenance

By maintaining your HVAC in Kansas City, you ensure that your systems live a long life. All AC systems come with internal air filters (made of lightweight gauzy material) that have to be changed out or cleaned. Environments with high dust levels or furry pets may need their filters cleaned out more often. If you don’t clean out your filter, there will be a lower heat exchange rate—this means you’re wasting energy! Plus, your equipment won’t last as long and your energy bills will increase. If the problem continues and there isn’t enough airflow to de-ice the evaporator coils, the air flow can stop completely. Plug filters that are extremely dirty or plugged filters result in overheating, creating damage and possible fire hazards. You also need to regularly clean the coils (see below), since an air conditioner transfers hear between the indoor and outdoor coils. Condenser coils also need cleaning, otherwise the compressor will suffer damage. The condenser coil discharges the indoor heat and the heat created by the electric motor driving the compressor.

cleaning coils

AC Blowing Hot Air

If your AC is blowing hot air, there are a few steps you can take to troubleshoot the problem. Start with the thermostat setting—make sure you’re set to ‘cool’, your fan is on ‘auto’ and your temperature setting is below what the temperature reads on the thermostat by at least five degrees. A dirty condenser unit (outside) may also be the culprit. Check for debris like dirt, tall grass, or leaves that may be blocking the system. The final issue that you can solve by yourself is a dirty air filter. Warmer weather climates should check their filter more often. A professional will need to be called in if a low refrigerant leak or leaky air ducts are the cause of your AC blowing hot air. A low refrigerant leak means you need to get the problem fixed before you add in more refrigerant—otherwise you’re just putting a band aid on the problem. Leaky air ducts alter your system’s cooling process as well. There are ducts are in your walls, attic and basement, so you’ll need to check all of them to pinpoint the leak.

Contact Us

For any HVAC assistance, including cooling and heating, contact us for service you can trust. Our 24/7 availability ensures you never have to be uncomfortable in your own home. HVAC in Kansas City is our specialty, and our highly trained technicians go through over 100 hours of training each year to ensure we deliver the highest quality of service.