Hot Topics: Propane vs. Electric Heat for Sunroom

A space heater.

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Original Post: Advice needed! Propane vs electric heat for sunroom / pet area

twentythreemx Member

Hello—hoping someone can give me some advice. After remodeling the whole house we decided we don't want the dogs in the house destroying it. We've got a 20x20 sunroom (separated by doors) on the back. We're located in northeast Ohio, so we will see some pretty low temps—this is our first winter in the house. In the summer it got pretty warm. We used a portable AC unit with the ceiling fan running to keep temps down those few days we needed it. There is currently a ventless propane heater installed by the previous owners and it heats the room just fine.

I have two concerns:

1. There's no thermostat to monitor/control temp. When gone for the day, it might get too hot, use too much gas, etc.

2. I'd have to think that's too much of a risk to leave it running 24/7? What if somehow the flame goes out? Not positive how those work, but I'd assume it's going to keep dumping in propane. I do have CO2 monitor, but that won't do me any good if I'm not home.

Am I worrying too much about the propane heater and its safety? Or should I look for an electric alternative? My last house was oil, so I have two small radiator-type oil heaters, along with a small electric fireplace-looking one that I often used there. They would heat it fine as well, but I don't know how safe those are to run 24/7 either for a few months.

What's my best option, with my dogs' safety in mind and cost being the second most important factor?

PJmax Group Moderator

Replace the non-vented heater with a vented heater. A non-vented heater should never be used in a sleeping area.

Norm201 Member

I wouldn't worry too much about heat during the winter months. Most homes are too warm for a dog's natural system. If you get a supplemental heater, it will maintain a 65 °F degree temp and then you and the dogs will be fine.

XSleeper Forum Topic Moderator

Propane combustion puts a lot of water into the air, which can be a real problem if the walls are cold (like an aluminum sunroof would tend to be in the winter) and anything cold will want to get condensation on it. For that reason alone, I would recommend electric heat and fans to move the air around—maybe a ceiling fan set on low with the blades pushing air upward to circulate the warm air that rises.

Tolyn Ironhand Group Moderator

I also would not recommend using the ventless heater for the reasons others have posted. While electric will be more expensive, you have more options.

You could get some pet heating pads for them to lay on as they need. You could use an infrared heater, a parabolic heater that will warm them directly, or just a space heater. If possible, a space heater with a thermostat would be best. With the infrared heaters, place them at a location where the dogs can move in and out of the heat so that they can regulate their own comfort level. Another option would be a hanging light like what is used in a chicken coop.

Norm201 Member

Tolyn, good call on the infrared heaters. They are a line-of-site heater and the dogs can easily get warm or cool off as desired. (Ever notice that many dogs will lay next to a door during cold months? Any cooling they can get.)

twentythreemx Member

OK, bringing this back up for some more opinions / advice. The propane company just picked up my propane tank after I read stuff that scared me about the ventless heaters.

I started researching again, wondering if I messed up by deciding not to use it, and I don't know what I read before that scared me so much. Most of the stuff I read today makes it sound like it IS safe. I was concerned about the pilot shutting off, but it looks like my heater has ODS and that makes it pretty safe? The room isn't the most weathertight, so it probably has enough ventilation just from the doors not being fully sealed up and cheap windows, etc.

This is the heater I have: Comfort Glow CSBT cast iron stove and gas logs @ FMConline

Is something like this safe for electric to leave on all the time? I'm not sure what better options I have. I don't know why this is so difficult. I can't be the only one in this situation.

What do I do? Should I use what I have, or get a little wall-mounted electric heater? I'm just looking for safety. I don't want to worry all day!

Waterdog60 Member

Ventless heaters are illegal in Canada, so you have to wonder why. I'm not sure what your electric costs are, but here they are astronomical, so propane for the win. I would buy a cheaper (but not the cheapest) direct vent wall heater that will keep the room warm enough for the dogs and, if you sit out there, perhaps a nicer fireplace. My dog loves the heat and sits by the pellet stove all day. If electric costs are reasonable, then electric is a viable option. Don't be fooled by the "ultra efficient" heaters. They are all 100% efficient so you can't get any more than that.

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