Planning a tent event in winter? Cool!
Too cool, actually. Unless you set up a temporary heating system, your guests are going to get cold.
You need to be careful here–failure to fine-tune your heater set-up may result in wasted energy and inadequate heat.
When determining what type of heater to use for your event, there are several factors you should consider. We recently found a helpful article in Rental Management that profiles proper tent heating methods. Below, we’ve provided an outline on how to get the most bang for your buck in terms of event-heating.
What Size Propane Tank Should You Use With Your Heater?
Propane heaters are considered the best choice for maintaining temperatures in tents in cool weather. Before getting started, you should check the code for their use in your community. These regulations can vary depending on your city and state.
To maintain fuel for a heater with 250,000 or less btu/hour in temperatures below 30 degrees Fahrenheit, you will need three 100-pound propane cylinders. Heaters in the larger btu/h range will require 500-gallon propane tanks.
How Can You Maximize Propane Tank’s Efficiency?
Since there is a limit to how quickly propane can vaporize, high btu/h heaters can burn through one 100-pound canister quickly. You need to be sure your heater is installed properly and with the correct amount and distribution of fuel.
In order to efficiently use the propane, you will need to ensure that the canisters are piped together with a manifold so that vapor can withdraw from all of the cylinders at the same time.
Where Should You Place Your Propane Heater?
Make sure you put your propane cylinders or a solid, flat service so they won’t tip over. The canisters should be within 5 feet from the nearest tent wall. To limit unauthorized access, make sure to surround the containers with fencing or another barrier.
Once you’ve decided on placement, it’s time to connect the regulator and gas hose. Make sure all your connections are snuggly fastened and that the regulator vents are facing downward.
Whats the Best Method for Distributing Heat Throughout Your Venue?
There are four methods you can use to get the heat to your guests. You will need to consider the type of heater you are using. The four methods are:
- Directly attaching the diffuser to the heater only. Place the heater outside the tent and tuck the diffuser into the tent wall.
- Attaching the diffuser to the end of a single length of flexible ducting and, similar to the method above, tuck the diffuser into the tent wall.
- If the heater you’re using allows for it, hooking up a distribution system using perforated ducts inside the tent with the heater outside. You can place these ducts where the tent walls hit the ground or hang them along the corner of the wall and ceiling inside the tent.
- Setting up your heater inside the tent. This method does not require any duct work or air diffusion.
No matter the method you choose, be sure to contact the fire department or other local authority to ensure proper and safe installation.
Should You Put Your Heater Inside or Outside the Tent?
There are benefits to keeping your heater outside the tent. It cuts down on noise, saves space, and preheats air before it flows into the tent. Preheating fresh air as it flows in creates good airflow and a more pleasant environment.
Remember, tent heaters are specifically designed and tested to heat tents. Make sure the heater you selected is certified to meet U.S. or Canadian ANSI standards and that those standards come from a certifying authority like CSA. In their owner’s manual, tent heaters will reference “tent use.”
How Will You Control the Heat During the Event?
Once you have your heater set up, there are several methods that may be available for adjusting the temperature. If you have opted for a portable heater, you will be able to incorporate a basic on/off switch, mount heat controls on the heater, or mount a thermostat on a remote.
Using a remote-mounted thermostat will allow you to use the controls similarly to the way you would at home. This thermostat hooks up directly to the heater, allowing you to control its operation. It hooks up to the unit using a long cord.
You can choose to install the thermostat inside the tent in a convenient location. Make sure to place it far enough away from any ducts that could skew the reading. When you’re ready to go, simply turn the heater on and switch it off when the room is heated to your desired temperature.
What Should You Check for Before Using Your Heater?
Before using your heater, make the following checks to ensure optimum safety and functionality:
- Check hoses for nicks and connections for corrosion and replace them if you find any damage.
- Ensure that your heater is shim and level and that all gas connections are well secured.
- Make certain that any electrical connections are secure and that the power supply is rated to the appropriate amperage for you heater. You can find the amperage level in your heater’s manual.
- Only use extension cords that are rated at or below the American Wire Gauge (AWG) that the manual lists. The lower the AWG rating, the more power carried in the extension cord.
- Ensure all air passages in the blower and duct system, and heater burner aren’t obstructed in any way.
- Make sure there is a barrier present around the heater
- Many heaters are equipped with high-limit temperature switches that can become adjusted while you move the heater, so you will want to make sure they are in working order.
What Periodic Checks Are Necessary During the Event?
While your event is in full swing, you will want to keep tabs on your fuel supply. Water droplets outside your fuel tank, known as the dew line, let you know where the surface of the propane is inside the tank. When your tank is 20 percent full, it’s time to replace.
Frost on the tank isn’t a good sign. It indicates reduced gas vaporization and heat levels. As a final step, open your gas supply and check all the gas connections again. If approved leak detectors are not available, soapy water can stand in.
For more information, check out our portable heaters page.