Types of Poultry House Heaters
There are three basic types of heaters that can be found in poultry houses: furnace heaters (A.K.A. forced air heaters), radiant heaters that use a pancake fixture and radiant heaters that use a tube fixture.
Furnace heaters have mostly been phased out and replaced by more efficient heating methods. Furnace heaters push heat into the air as opposed to focusing the heat on the floor or the birds, creating heat that does not make it to the birds and is therefore wasted. Unless you have an older house, you probably won't see this type of heater anymore.
Radiant heaters have established popularity for being more efficient than furnace heaters. They have heating units that come in pancake or tube shapes. Recently, tube heaters have gained popularity over pancake heaters and are being seen in more and more houses. Let's compare these two common heating options.
Pancake Heaters vs. Tube Heaters
From our research and what we've heard from farmers, it seems like tube heaters are beginning to overtake pancake heaters and become the favored option among poultry farmers. Why is this? Let's look at a few different factors.
Since tube heaters have fewer parts than pancake heaters, fewer things can go wrong, and they typically require less maintenance. Since they're simpler, you can often fix tube heaters on your own.
Tube heaters pull clean air from outside and keep their blower in a sealed box, reducing the hardware's exposure to contaminants and preventing chemical-based issues.
Furthermore, pancake heaters require more equipment per house. An average 40 foot by 500 foot poultry house could have about 20 pancakes in it, while the same house would only need six tube heaters. Fewer units leads to a decreased chance of needing maintenance!
Another maintenance consideration is that, should your house get struck by lightning, you have fewer control boards to deal with if you have tube heaters. It's just six control boards compared to the 20 or so you would have with pancake heaters!
Tube heaters have also been shown to heat birds better than pancake heaters. Tube heaters provide a larger, more even distribution of heat, preventing the heat pockets that occur with pancake heaters. This means birds don't have to huddle together in order to get enough heat. Overall, this creates an improved heat zone.
It has yet to be decided whether pancake heaters or tube heaters are more energy efficient. However, we've had farmers tell us that they think tube heaters are more energy efficient because they're heating clean air and are more enclosed.
Pancake heaters have a slightly lower cost when you consider price per BTU. Each pancake puts out 40,000 BTUs and costs around $300, meaning it costs $0.0075 per BTU. Meanwhile, each tube heater puts out 150,000 BTUs and costs around $1200, making it $0.008 per BTU. Not a huge difference, but it could add up and is worth noting!
Winter is coming, so we hope this sheds some light on heating options for your poultry house.
Have any questions or ideas for future Poultry Biosecurity videos? Contact Allen Reynolds at email@example.com or 800-608-3755.