How Does a Torpedo Heater Work

Dyna-Glo 80,000 BTU Forced Air Kerosene Heater
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How does a torpedo heater work: A comprehensive guide

As the temperatures drop and the days get shorter, finding a reliable and efficient way to heat your workspace or garage becomes increasingly important.

Torpedo heaters, also known as forced air heaters, offer a powerful and effective solution to keep your space warm and comfortable.

In this article, we will explore how does a torpedo heater work, their various types, fuel options, safety features, and more.

1. Introduction to Torpedo Heaters

Torpedo heaters are powerful, portable heating devices that are designed to provide warmth in large spaces such as workshops, garages, and warehouses.

These heaters get their name from their distinctive shape, which resembles a torpedo or missile.

They are known for their ability to quickly and efficiently heat large areas, making them a popular choice for many people seeking an effective heating solution.

2. How a Torpedo Heater Works

Understanding how does a torpedo heater work is essential for making an informed decision about whether it is the right heating solution for your needs.

A torpedo heater operates by drawing in cold air from the environment, passing it over a heating element or through a combustion chamber, and then expelling the heated air through a directional nozzle.

The heating element or combustion chamber is typically fueled by propane, natural gas, kerosene, diesel, or electricity.

The type of fuel used will depend on the specific model and the user’s preference.

The forced air created by the heater’s fan circulates the warm air throughout the space, providing efficient and fast heating.

3. Types of Torpedo Heaters

There are several types of torpedo heaters available in the market, each with its unique set of features and benefits.

Let’s take a closer look at the four main types of torpedo heaters:

Forced Air

Forced air torpedo heaters, sometimes called salamander heaters, utilize a fan to circulate heated air throughout the space.

They are known for their high BTU output and fast heating capabilities, making them ideal for large areas.


Infrared or radiant torpedo heaters use infrared light to provide direct warmth to objects and surfaces in the area.

These heaters are quieter than forced air heaters and are well-suited for spot heating or smaller spaces.


Mounted or overhead torpedo heaters are installed on walls or ceilings to provide consistent heating without occupying valuable floor space.

This type of heater is an excellent option for space-efficient workshops or garages.


Convection torpedo heaters use natural air currents to circulate warm air throughout the room.

They are typically propane-powered and are ideal for heating large areas without the need for electricity.

4. Fuel Options for Torpedo Heaters

Torpedo heaters can be powered by various fuels, each with its advantages and disadvantages.

The fuel type you choose will depend on your specific needs, preferences, and available resources. Here’s a breakdown of the most common fuel options for torpedo heaters:

Liquid Propane

Liquid propane (LP) is a popular fuel choice for torpedo heaters due to its clean-burning properties and wide availability.

Propane-powered heaters are portable and can be used with various tank sizes, from small disposable cylinders to large in-ground tanks.

However, proper ventilation is essential to prevent carbon monoxide buildup.

Natural Gas

Natural gas (NG) heaters connect to your existing utility gas lines, providing a reliable and constant fuel source.

Like propane, natural gas burns clean and is safe for indoor use. These heaters are generally more cost-effective in the long run, as they do not require purchasing additional fuel.


Kerosene is a stable and safe fuel option for torpedo heaters, often used in lanterns and lamps.

While it has a distinct odor, kerosene heaters are highly effective at heating large areas. Some kerosene heaters can also burn jet or diesel fuel.


Electric torpedo heaters offer a flameless and exhaust-free heating option, making them ideal for indoor use.

They are compact and portable, but may require 240-volt outlets for higher wattage models.

Electric heaters do not affect moisture levels, making them suitable for use in environments with sensitive projects.


Diesel torpedo heaters are powerful and typically designed for commercial applications, such as construction sites.

They produce high volumes of heat but can be more expensive than other heater types. Some diesel heaters are trailer-mounted for easy transportation.

5. Choosing the Right BTU for Your Torpedo Heater

The heating capacity of your torpedo heater is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs). To determine the appropriate BTU for your needs, you can use the following formula:

Cubic Feet of Space x Temperature Difference (Fahrenheit) x 0.133 = BTU Needed

It’s essential to choose a heater with the correct BTU output to ensure efficient and effective heating of your space. A heater that is too large or too small will not perform optimally.

6. Safety Features and Tips

Modern torpedo heaters are equipped with various safety features to protect users and their property. Some of these features include:

  • Tip-over protection: Automatically shuts off the heater if it is knocked over.
  • Overheat protection: Prevents the heater from becoming too hot during use.
  • Insulation: Insulated heaters reduce the risk of burns from touching hot surfaces.

In addition to these safety features, it’s essential to follow proper safety guidelines when using a torpedo heater.

This includes keeping flammable materials away from the heater, ensuring proper ventilation, and following the manufacturer’s instructions for operation and maintenance.

7. Advantages and Disadvantages of Torpedo Heaters

Torpedo heaters offer several benefits, including:

  • Fast and efficient heating of large spaces
  • Portability and ease of use
  • Variety of fuel options to suit different needs
  • Safety features to protect users and property

However, there are also some drawbacks to consider:

  • Noise levels can be high, especially for forced air heaters
  • Fuel costs and availability may vary depending on your location
  • Proper ventilation is crucial to prevent carbon monoxide buildup

8. Maintenance and Care

Regular maintenance and care are essential for extending the life of your torpedo heater and ensuring its safe operation. This includes:

  • Cleaning the heater’s components regularly to remove dust and debris
  • Inspecting fuel lines, hoses, and connections for leaks or damage
  • Checking electrical components for wear and proper function
  • Following the manufacturer’s guidelines for maintenance and service intervals

Several reputable brands manufacture high-quality torpedo heaters. Some of the most popular brands include:

  • DeWALT
  • Mr. Heater
  • Dyna-Glo
  • Mi-T-M
  • Master

These brands offer various models and sizes of torpedo heaters to suit different needs and preferences.

10. Conclusion

Understanding how a torpedo heater works and the various types, fuel options, and safety features available is crucial in choosing the right heater for your needs.

With a wide range of models and brands on the market, there is a torpedo heater to suit every requirement.

By considering your specific needs, budget, and available resources, you can find the ideal torpedo heater to keep your workspace warm and comfortable during the colder months.

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