For commercial properties with a large space to heat, there are a number of different heating options to choose from. But for those unfamiliar with air heating systems and the different options available, it can be difficult to determine the best solution for your space.
Warm air heating systems are a popular choice for commercial spaces - and for good reason. In this guide, we look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of commercial warm air heating systems, the cost of upgrading your unit and warm air heating servicing, plus some of our top picks for commercial & industrial warm air heaters.
This post will cover the below key points:
What is warm air heating?
Warm air heating is a type of heating system, commonly used to heat large commercial properties instead of water-heating systems. In industrial or commercial spaces, like factories, warehouses, schools and offices, warm air heating systems can improve energy efficiency, be more cost effective, and provide generally cleaner air.
How does warm air heating work?
A warm air heating system works by using a fan within the system to draw in air from the surrounding area through a warm air heating vent, the air is then passed around a heat exchanger to heat it up before circulating out through either the unit itself or via ducts, vents or grills around the building.
The temperature of the air drawn into a warm air heating system can only be increased by a set amount. So whilst it is possible to draw air from outside, it is more energy efficient and cost effective to draw air from within the building that the heater is situated. Each time the surrounding inside air is recirculated through the heater it will gradually increase in temperature.
The system also incorporates a thermostat for controlling the temperature, normally located on the warm air boiler itself (you can now also purchase a smart thermostat for warm air heating, such as a Nest Learning Thermostat). There are different types of warm air heating systems available:
The different types of industrial and commercial warm air heaters
What are gas fired warm air heaters?
The most popular type of commercial warm air heaters in the UK are gas fired warm air heating systems, which warm the cold air over a gas flame, before forcing the air around the building. A gas warm air heating system can be floor standing, suspended from the ceiling or mounted onto a wall, and sometimes mobile.
What are oil-fired warm air heaters?
These work in a very similar way to gas-fired warm air heaters, but use an oil fired burner to heat the air in the space instead of a gas fired burner. Like gas fired warm air heating, oil fired warm air heating systems can also be floor standing, suspended or mobile.
What is the difference between direct and indirect warm air heating?
Warm air heaters contain a gas fired or oil fired burner that is used to heat a space either directly, or indirectly using a heat exchanger. When you’re making a decision about your industrial heating, it’s also worth deciding which will work best for your space, as every building is different.
Direct fired heaters are usually used for large empty spaces like construction sites and factories, and are not recommended for spaces where people are around. They are not the most practical, as they always need ventilation to the outside environment.
Indirect fired heaters are widely recognised as the more practical and versatile choice. They are ideal for places without ventilation and where people are present, because they provide lots of clean air safely and efficiently, and are better around combustible materials.
It’s also worth noting that direct fired heaters are not eligible for ETL (Energy Technology List), a government list of energy efficient plant and machinery, whereas indirect warm air heaters are.
For the majority of operational spaces, an indirect gas warm air heating system will be the better choice.
What is the difference between warm air cabinet heaters and suspended units?
Whether gas fired or oil fired, there are also different types of heating units that make them very versatile and suitable for different purposes and spaces – known as suspended heating units, and warm air cabinet heaters (sometimes known as cabinet space heaters, gas fired cabinet heaters, or industrial cabinet heaters).
Suspended units are attached to the roof or brackets on the wall, meaning they take up little space. They are equipped with louvres to help push the warm air down to ground level and distribute it around the building. For buildings such as schools or offices, they are a good option as they do not take up precious floor space.
Warm air cabinet heaters are larger, floor standing units that are installed on the ground. They usually come with nozzles or ducts to direct the warm air around the building. Therefore they can heat more than one area or room, because the nozzles or warm air ducts can move the air around wherever it’s needed. These are more useful for factories or large warehouses, where space isn’t an issue but different areas need to be heated. Because they are on the ground, cabinet heating units are also easier and cheaper to service, plus easier to fix if there are any issues.
Commercial & industrial warm air heating: pros and cons
There are a number of benefits of using warm air space heating systems in commercial buildings, including:
Advantages to commercial warm air heating systems?
Warm air heating systems are more cost-effective, especially for larger spaces Once they have been installed, running costs of warm air heating systems are generally lower than other heating options. They are very energy efficient, meaning they’re a cost-effective option for commercial spaces with vast areas to heat.
They are quick and efficient Because they heat the air directly, warm air heating systems work quickly in heating up a space, hence why they are often used in large commercial buildings. When you use a traditional heating system, it may take a long time to heat up a big space – whereas the benefit of warm air heating is that it has a very quick response time, which is especially useful in the colder months. Warm air heating systems can also help prevent damp and condensation build up.
Warm air heating is known for being the quietest type of heating system As they are much quieter than other commercial heating solutions, schools, factories, workspaces and other operational buildings can benefit from almost no noise disturbance.
Warm air heating units can be versatile With different options including suspended warm air units and free standing cabinet heaters, they can be versatile to suit different needs and types of buildings.
They provide cleaner air As air is drawn through a warm air heating system it goes through a filter, which removes pollutants before it is then blown out through the vents. This can help provide cleaner air and be especially beneficial for those with allergies.
They can save space Warm air heating systems will often take up less space than other popular commercial heating solutions, so if the space is on the smaller side it’s a viable option.
They have a longer lifespan Because warm air heating systems don’t use pipes or valves, there is less chance of the heating system breaking down. This means on average, they have a longer lifespan than other commercial heating solutions like water heating systems.
Even distribution of warm air Warm air heating systems distribute the warm air evenly throughout a space, this means that there are no shading issues that can occur with other heating technologies. In contrast, radiant heating only warms areas that are in direct line of sight, this uneven distribution can create areas around the space that are warmer or cooler than others.
Disadvantages to commercial warm air heating systems?
There are some disadvantages to using warm air heating systems. These include:
Most warm air systems don’t heat water In order to heat water in a space, you will usually also need a gas boiler or immersion heater. However, it is now possible to purchase a warm air heating combi boiler, which allows you to use warm air heating, paired with a normal gas-fired water-filled boiler, which will deliver hot water.
Warm air heating systems can cause breathing issues for some people Although they provide clean air and can be beneficial for some allergy sufferers, warm air heating systems have been known to cause issues for individuals with asthma, as well as some allergies, because they move air (and therefore dust) throughout the space. Before investing in or upgrading to warm air heating, this is worth considering whether anyone in the space has allergies or respiratory problems. It’s also worth noting that indirect warm air heating systems are less likely to cause these issues than direct warm air heating.
Purchase and installation costs Although the running costs of warm air heating should work out cheaper, the up-front cost of a warm air heating system is higher, mainly because warm air heating boilers cost more than other types of commercial heating. There are a few different costs to consider, which are listed below:
What’s the cost of upgrading warm air heating systems in commercial buildings?
The cost of upgrading warm air heating systems in commercial buildings depends largely on the size of the space, so it’s worth getting a quote from a professional before making a decision.
It’s worth noting that can be a lot more expensive to install a new, different type of heating system rather than update an existing warm air system. If you’re considering replacing an existing warm air heating system with a more updated one or putting in a brand new system from scratch, there are some different warm air heater costs to be aware of.
Retrofitting your space
If you’re choosing the warm air heating route for the first time, you’ll need to assess your space and the costs that might be involved pre-installation. Will you need to re-route warm air ducts, or retrofit vents in your building? Do you have good insulation in the space (which you’ll need to prevent condensation issues)? These will need to be considered before going ahead with the upgrade – it’s worth speaking to a professional who will be able to assist you.
Warm air heating boiler prices
If you decide to go with warm air heating, or want to upgrade your existing system, you’ll need to factor in the warm air boiler cost. The main thing that determines cost is the power of the boiler, which comes down to the number of rooms needed to heat. Often, it will be easier to work with a professional to purchase the boiler, then have them invoice you along with the cost of installation. The cost of warm air boilers starts at around £500 and can reach around £15,000 – with suspended units cheaper than large floor standing cabinet heaters.
Warm air heating installation costs
A warm air heating system is much quicker to install than many other options. However, the cost of installing warm air central heating will be a big bulk of the cost, on average £5,000.
Warm air heating service costs
Like with any commercial heating solution, your warm air heating unit will need to be regularly serviced, once a year minimum.
Warm air heating replacement cost
Warm air heating has a longer lifespan so the likelihood is that you won’t need a replacement boiler for a while after purchasing your first warm air heater. However, it’s worth factoring in the cost of warm air heating systems replacement when you work out the total investment.
Is warm air heating expensive to run?
Warm air heating is actually cheaper to run than many other options. Because heating air directly with a gas flame is so efficient, it can be a lot more cost-effective to run than a gas boiler, heating a whole space at a time.
Although the initial purchase and installation costs may be higher, the system is generally more efficient, and has a longer lifespan, so it’s worth weighing up the best option for your business.
Our top 4 brands: commercial & industrial warm air heaters
There are a lot of industrial warm air gas boilers out there, all with their own advantages and disadvantages. A few brands of commercial & industrial warm air heaters we’d recommend are:
(Best design) Powrmatic provides a range of ErP compliant CPx heaters, that include floor standing and suspended units. They are discrete and compact (available in grey), ideal for smaller spaces who don’t want large bulky units taking up floor space. Powrmatic warm air heater price range: £1,000 - £6,000
(Most energy efficient) The AmbiRad range is designed to be versatile and energy efficient. It offers both oil fired and gas fired warm air heaters, including suspended units and cabinet heaters. The product range is huge to suit all different space sizes and requirements. Owned by the same parent company and recently merged with Reznor, the product range is huge to suit all different space sizes and requirements. AmbiRad warm air heater price range: £2,500 - £14,000
(Best on a budget) Benson warm air heaters are on the cheaper end of the scale, with both oil fired and gas fired products. Benson has a range of options when it comes to units; suspended, and floor standing cabinet heaters. Owned by Nortek Global HVAC, the same parent company as Reznor and AmbiRad UK, it is also a very trusted brand when it comes to warm air heating. Benson warm air heater price range: £1,000 - £5,000
(Trusted brand) Combat has been in the commercial heating industry for 50 years and is a trusted provider of warm air heating solutions. It offers suspended warm air heating units and cabinet heaters. Designed for maximum energy efficiency, the Combat warm air heater range is easy-to-use with a modern design. Combat warm air heater price range: £1,500 - £6,000
How to find commercial & industrial warm air heating engineers near you
Once you have your unit, you’ll need to book in your warm air heating installers, and it’s important to find an engineer with specific experience installing commercial warm air heating systems. If you’re looking to keep your costs down it’s also a good idea to stay local for both your installation and warm air heating servicing. A quick online search for ‘warm air heating service near me’ or ‘best local warm air heating’ in your area will bring up a set of results.
When you’re deciding, it’s worth shopping around, and comparing quotes from a few different warm air heating installers. Make sure to check out their reviews, and read a few case studies to give you a better picture, and help you make your final decision.
G.C. Industrial Heating Services’ trusted team of engineers work across London and the South East, with a range of long-standing customers in commercial industries. We work closely with the client to decide on the best solution, then provide a fair and honest price to install and service their warm air heating. Contact us today for more information or to get your free quote.
Summary of commercial & industrial warm air heating systems
Warm air heating systems are one of the most effective and energy efficient methods of heating industrial buildings. For commercial properties such as factories, offices, and warehouses, it makes sense to use oil fired warm air or gas fired warm air systems to heat the space quickly and cost-effectively.
Warm air systems can have a range of units to suit different needs, such as suspended units (ideal for smaller spaces who don’t have much floor space), and cabinet heaters, where different areas need to be heated by one unit.
If you’re interested in utilising warm air heating systems to heat your industrial space, we can provide a free quote to meet your needs. Get a quote for warm air heating installation or warm air heating servicing here.