Aviation Enterprises increased productivity and lowered energy costs by installing Schwank infrared heaters in the hangar pictured here.
Melvin Humphreys, the president of Aviation Enterprises in Springfield, Mo., had the opportunity to help design the new 23,500-square-foot hangar his company would lease at the Springfield-Branson Regional Airport. Besides building construction materials and door sizes, his top priority was the indoor air comfort of the new metal building.

The building consortium, which included Humphreys, investor group General Aviation LLC, Springfield, and general contractor, Atlas Building, Springfield, initially considered an in-floor radiant system. The price tag of more than $100,000 for this equipment and installation, however, deterred the consortium, and sent its members looking for a more economical system.

Humphreys said many hangars use space heaters, but he excluded this technology from being a serious option based on his past experience.

Atlas Building owner Joseph Robinson suggested infrared radiant heat for the structure, which was manufactured by Inland Building Systems, a metal building firm from Cullman, Ala.

He indicated infrared heaters worked well in a previous hangar project, especially when he installed energy-saving, 3-inch, vinyl-backed fiberglass insulation on the ceilings and walls.

He said infrared is well-suited for hangars because it heats objects, such as floors, planes, and people, instead of the air. The heated objects then radiate heat to warm the air where it is most needed.

Infrared Solution

Working with Skaggs Heating, a mechanical contractor from Springfield, Robinson suggested a heating system of luminous infrared heaters by Schwank Heaters, Waynesboro, Ga.

He said this would cost 60 percent less in equipment and installation labor versus in-floor radiant, plus it would offer a quicker heat recovery.

To initiate this project, Skaggs installed a perimeter system of 14 primoSchwank Primo Model 20 high-efficiency infrared heaters, each supplying a 75,000-Btu input. They total just over 1 million Btu.

According to Skaggs, while installation costs are similar between unit space heaters and infrared heaters, there is a significant annual operating cost difference. Based on the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) calculation method for heat loss of 1.5 million Btuh and a 60 degree F temperature requirement, the high-efficiency style utilizing preheated combustion air for infrared heaters would require 30 percent less Btuh input than unit space heaters.

Over a five-year period of Missouri cool days, the calculation method estimates Humphreys should save approximately $31,400 over the operating cost of unit space heaters, said Skaggs.

That cost savings amounts to an equipment cost payback of less than two years.

Luminous infrared technology is rated by the building standards agency, CSA International, Toronto, and the primoSchwank model radiant output efficiency rating has been certified at 67 percent.

Luminous infrared is well-suited for high ceilings because the technology heats ceramic tiles to 1,650 degrees F. The ceramic tiles, in turn, radiate heat to the targeted objects longer and more evenly than other methods, according to Schwank.

Another factor in the energy savings is Schwank's proprietary TruTemp thermostat, installed by Skaggs. Instead of monitoring only the air temperature, it provides energy savings by monitoring both the ambient temperature and the radiant temperature of surface areas to arrive at an optimum building temperature, according to the company.

Publication date: 01/24/2005