How to Heat a Home Under Construction

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For general contractors and the building trades, providing temporary heat to the job site can be a huge problem.


First, portable propane construction heaters, often called salamander heaters or torpedo heaters, can produce noxious fumes that, unless the space is well ventilated, can produce an unhealthy work environment.  If not operated correctly, they can even be deadly.   For this reason, some states have banned the use of propane vent-free heaters inside homes during construction.  Workers often complain of stinging eyes and headaches during heater operation.

Second, gas-fired construction heaters produce water vapor.  Water vapor (humidity) is not necessarily a bad thing unless it gets to the level where condensation forms on windows, walls and other cold surfaces.  That’s a huge problem for drywall contractors trying to get their mud to dry.  Moist surfaces are also a problem for painters and other finishing contractors.

What’s the solution?

An electric salamander heater.  Designed specifically for the construction trades, an electric salamander heater provides quiet, electric forced air heat to spaces as large as 2000 square feet.  Unlike fuel-fired heaters, electric salamanders provide clean, quiet climate control without the threat of poisoning and without the time wasted in refueling and fuel storage.

Unlike fuel-fired heaters, an electric salamander can be left unattended.  Safety features include a variable thermostat and a hi-temperature cut-out switch coupled to an auto-reset, which help to prevent accidents.

Operation of an electric salamander is simple.  An 800 CFM fan pushes ambient air over multiple heat coils, recirculating air within the room until it reaches the temperature level set with the unit’s thermostat.  The thermostat adjusts from 40 degrees to 100 degrees F. 

Typical electric salamander heaters are either 10 kW or 15 kW and operate on 240V, 1 phase power.  The unit is energized from a service panel.  Simply feed the cable from the heater into your service box and connect the three wires, following all local electrical codes.  A 10 kW heater normally comes with a 10’ long cable and range plug, which can be connected directly to a range or dryer plug.

How much space can an electric salamander heater heat up?

That depends on several factors, including climate, insulation R-value and ceiling height, but here is a general guideline:

To heat 1,000 square feet, you can achieve a 20 deg. Temperature rise in about 47 minutes and a 40 deg. Rise in about 94 minutes (based on a 15’ tall ceiling).

To heat 2,000 square feet, you can achieve a 20 deg. Temperature rise in about 94 minutes and a 40 deg. Rise in about 188 minutes.

The good news is that these heaters can be left safely unattended overnight, providing a warm work environment the following day and bringing surfaces (such as drywall mud) up to the perfect working temperature for sanding or painting.  No moisture, not fumes, no tank refills.

Electric salamander heaters are also excellent for pole barns, workshops, garages and large tents used for meetings, parties and receptions.

Scott Workman owns and operates Infra-Red Products Supply, Inc., a leading authority in temporary heat and energy saving heating solutions for residential, commercial and industrial customers.  For more information about Heat Wave electric salamander heaters, torpedo heaters, electric tent heaters, electric construction heaters and more, visit and http://


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