What is a Wall Heater?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Wall heaters are heating units that are mounted in or attached to a wall. There are several fuel options available with various models of the wall heater today. While natural gas remains a popular option for many people, it is also possible to make use of a heating wall unit that utilizes propane or electricity to generate heat.

An underground gas line can connect a home to a source of propane for a wall heater.
An underground gas line can connect a home to a source of propane for a wall heater.

During the middle of the 20th century, the recessed wall heater became a common design element in many houses and apartment buildings. Replacing space heaters that were normally positioned in a fireplace or in front of a baseboard, the recessed heater eliminated the waste of floor space while still creating a heat source that people could approach and use to warm themselves when coming in from the cold. Many of these recessed models were oblong in structure and made use of long tubes to generate warmth in the space. Smaller models of the recessed wall heater were often installed in bathrooms, making it possible to quickly heat the small space just prior to taking a bath or a shower.

Some bathrooms feature wall heaters that can warm the space around a bathtub.
Some bathrooms feature wall heaters that can warm the space around a bathtub.

Along with the recessed wall heater, wall-mounted models also gained in popularity. Generally available as an electric or gas heater, the wall-mounted types have the advantage of not taking up floor space. Unlike recessed wall heaters, they are not necessarily permanent fixtures in the room. The design for the mounted heaters tends to be smaller than the larger recessed units, making it easy to detach the heating unit from the wall and store it in a garage or closet during seasons when it is not needed.

A wall heater today is normally constructed with a light but durable metal body. The heating elements may be traditional porcelain bricks or a series of tubes or coils that route the heat to best advantage. Many models come with blowers that make it possible to direct the flow of warm air in whatever direction is desired.

As with all heaters, a wall heater does require regular care and maintenance. Dust should be cleaned from the unit before storage. Gas line connections should be closed during seasons when the unit is not in use, even if the wall heater is not moved. Regular inspections also make it possible to identify potential problems with the unit and thus minimize the chances of fire due to a malfunction.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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