The University of Idaho has two policies that restrict the use of personal electric heaters in University buildings. The first is a safety policy that is meant to prevent accidental fires, this policy states “space heaters must be equipped with functional safety tip-over switches and be located away from combustible materials and never left unattended when in use. Extension cords are intended for temporary...” In addition to this safety policy, the university has a second energy conservation policy based on the Governor’s executive order #2005-12, which prohibits all space heaters in any State building, regardless of tip-over switches. What is specifically allowed under this energy policy is a radiant panel, which is NOT a space heater since it is not designed to heat the space temperature.
There are two reasons for this statewide energy policy; the first is safety related and the second addresses energy conservation. Radiant panels are designed to heat to a little over 100°F, so they cannot burn the user, nor can they start a fire if they come into contact clothing, paper, or other combustible material. This is compared to an electric space heater that is designed to blow hot air into the room, using heating elements that can reach over 1000°F, and pose a real fire and burn danger. The second reason is that radiant heaters are more energy efficient because they are designed to heat the occupant directly and not heat the room air. The user feels comfortable due to the radiant heat beamed directly to them, despite the fact that the room air temperature is still cool. Whereas an electric space heater must raise the entire room air temperature to make the occupant comfortable.
The downside of radiant panel heaters is that they only provide comfort to the person right next to them. For an office application, the radiant panel would normally be located under the desk near the user’s feet, and if the occupant spends a lot of time away from their desk, the radiant heater will be less effective.
Facilities Services does not provide individual heaters, therefore, when necessary departments or individuals will have to purchase their own radiant panel heaters. We also ask that users of these radiant panels always turn off the heater when leaving in the evening, and only use it when truly necessary.
University of Idaho Shop Stores stocks a 170-Watt radiant panel heater, Part Number 2101700. They can be reached at 885-7355 or 885-7555. Radiant panels may also be purchased from external sources such as this company