What Is a Salamander Heater?

Paul Scott

A salamander heater is a high-output forced-air or convection heater. Salamander heaters are most commonly used to heat air in large, open areas such as patios, construction sites, or workshops.

A salamander heater is a high-energy, fan-forced heater that runs on kerosene, diesel, or electricity.
A salamander heater is a high-energy, fan-forced heater that runs on kerosene, diesel, or electricity.

Salamander heaters feature a high-energy heat source such as a gas or kerosene flame, or a high-wattage electric element, contained within an open-ended tube. A fan located at one end of the tube forces cold air past the heat source. This heats the air instantaneously, providing convection heating in the outside area.

Salamander heaters are often used to heat large, open areas such as construction sites, factories, or workshops.
Salamander heaters are often used to heat large, open areas such as construction sites, factories, or workshops.
Did You Know?

Salamander heaters are also known as "salamander furnaces," "torpedo heaters," or "torpedo furnaces," depending on their design.

The Development of the Salamander Heater

The modern salamander heater was developed in the early 1940s by the Scheu Manufacturing Company as a high-performance space heater. The heater was designed to be highly effective in large areas that were traditionally difficult to heat, such as such as warehouses, factories, and construction sites, while also being simple and portable.

The salamander heater was named after the salamander, an amphibian which, according to medieval and Renaissance folklore, was reputedly able to live in fire.

The original salamander heater of the 1940s featured a kerosene burner, and many salamander heaters continue to use kerosene. Gas burners and high-output electric elements have also been incorporated into salamander heaters, offering a variety of power sources to suit a range of different applications. In fact, some salamander heater variants are fitted with peripheral components that allow combustible fuels such as diesel to be used. In the case of liquid fuel models, the fuel tank is generally mounted on the heater tube.

How Does a Salamander Heater Work?

  1. First, the burner is ignited, providing a powerful internal heat source.

  2. The fan is then turned on, which draws cold outside air through and forces it down the tube, past the heat source.

  3. This instantaneously heats the air, which is then blown out of the other end of the tube, into the area requiring heating.

  4. To control the output of the heater, the heat source or fan speed can be adjusted manually. In some cases, the output is regulated by an automated thermostat system.

A Selection of Salamander Heaters

Salamander Construction 10000-Watt, Single Phase, 240-Volt Portable Fan Forced Electric Heater

FES-1524-1A 15KW 240V 1Ph Portable Electric Salamander Heater

45,000 BTU Kerosene/Diesel Forced Air Torpedo Heater

Salamander Heater Portable Electric Fan Forced 8' Cord 240V 10KW 1PH 41.7A

Safety Considerations for Using a Salamander Heater

As simple and effective as the salamander heater is, there are several safety considerations to keep in mind.

  • The most obvious safety issue is the risk of fire when the heater is used in close proximity to combustible materials.

  • When gas burners are used, salamander heaters can pose an oxygen depletion hazard in small spaces. For this reason, they should always be used in well-ventilated areas.

  • The instantaneous, high output of the heaters can create a large amount of condensation in the heated area.
The salamander heater is named after the salamander, an amphibian which, according to legend, could survive in fire.
The salamander heater is named after the salamander, an amphibian which, according to legend, could survive in fire.

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