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Transportation-Department Facilities Kept Warm With Infrared Heaters

July 1, 2008
Richard Marquez is responsible for managing all structures in the Colorado Department of Transportation's (CDOT's) Alamosa section, an area 182 miles

Richard Marquez is responsible for managing all structures in the Colorado Department of Transportation's (CDOT's) Alamosa section, an area 182 miles by 100 miles, where winter temperatures of 28 degrees below zero are not uncommon. Of the 50 buildings under his command, two are heavy-maintenance facilities providing year-round service for trucks, plows, road graders, and sweepers. The others are minor-maintenance shops and vehicle-storage buildings located throughout the region.

In many of the buildings, unit heaters were original equipment.

“It's almost a losing battle,” Marquez said of heating one of the heavy-maintenance facilities. “In the morning, when the three or four large doors open and the equipment rolls out, it doesn't take long to lose all the heat out of the shop. The heater is always running continuously, and it never really heats the building. It would be warm right under the heaters, but in such a large shop, it would be cold elsewhere, especially laying down and crawling around on a cold concrete floor when the plows come in and a blade needs changing.”

Today, 40 of the buildings in the Alamosa section are equipped with infrared heaters from Solaronics.

“Positioned near roof level and out of the way of CDOT's vehicles, they quietly beam infrared energy that is converted into warm, radiant heat as it reaches work surfaces, machinery, tools, concrete floors, and people below,” Anthony Garcia, project manager for Vendola Plumbing & Heating of Alamosa, a longtime CDOT vendor, said. “Just like how we are warmed by the sun, the heat is retained where it's directed, so people are comfortable, and tools, equipment, and floors are warm to the touch.”

Solaronics heaters are CSA (Canadian Standards Association) International-certified to American National Standards Institute/The Compressed Gas Association Inc. standards and fueled economically with natural gas or propane gas (LP). Customarily specified for new construction and retrofits of commercial and industrial buildings, they achieve fuel-cost savings of up to 75 percent, compared with conventional warm-air units.

Compact, silent fans are the only moving parts. The heaters utilize a patented reflector design for optimum infrared dispersion and have a reflectional efficiency exceeding 90 percent. Each reflector section is constructed of Brite finish aluminum and can be angled precisely to direct heat.

CDOT's maintenance and vehicle-storage facilities require especially long runs of heater tube.

“Lengths up to 70 ft can be utilized, with inputs up to 200,000 Btuh,” Brian McLane of Air Purification Co., Solaronics' Colorado and Wyoming representative, said.

According to Garcia, both the air and gas flows of Solaronics' new True Dual two-stage heaters provide precise air-to-gas ratios at both the high- and low-heat stages for optimum efficiency.

Information and photograph courtesy of Solaronics Inc.