As the name implies, heaters are those thermostatically controlled devices that are employed for heating matter i.e. solid, liquid and gas.
In the past, humans could not think of the ease to cook, wash, manufacture, melt, wash, which is present these days. The availability of clean water is possible due to the arrival of heaters. The modernization in industrial sector became possible due to the complex heating units functioning day and night. From domestic usage of washing, bathing, cooking, drinking, space-heating, to offices, from commercial utilization to car-heating, and of course, the processing and manufacturing in industrial setting, the heating has brought convenience never imagined. Also with the inception of HVAC technology (Heating Ventilating and Air-Conditioning), heaters have been extensively used.
The use of liquid and gaseous fuels has increased the demand of heating elements so much so that advancement in the field of heaters has been categorized into low, medium and high temperature processes. Therefore, numerous types of heaters have been invented to satisfy the ever growing needs of space-heating, liquid heating, or industrial heating.
Depending upon the nature of the fuel or energy being employed, the heaters are mainly classified as:
Natural Gas Heaters: Also known as LPG Heaters are highly desirable for space-heating of larger volumes. These efficient heaters have the operating principle of Bunsen burner.
Electric Heaters: These heaters utilize a resistor for conversion of electrical energy into heat by Joule’s principle. The 100% efficient heaters are perfectly safe for live beings, since they do not affect the quality of air. These popular heaters are available in either Convection form or Radiator one.
Oil filled/Diesel heaters: Expensive running heaters are still used because of the high thermal capacity. Hence for boiling systems and for other numerous industrial purposes, Oil filled heaters have proven to be the ideal choice (Lamb, Eddie, 2010).
Solar heaters: Solar thermal collectors and photo voltaic cells combine to form solar heaters. These heaters store sunlight and then produce electricity from it for heating purposes.
Infra red heaters: The transference of energy takes place when electromagnetic waves are emitted from a hotter body to a less hot one. The amount of heat transference is a function of temperature of hotter body.
The history of the electric heater dates back to around the late 1800s, during which Thomas Edison created the light bulb. In fact, Thomas Edison is credited with inventing the first electric heater in around 1882-1883. He discovered that passing current through a large resistance would evolve heat, as the material would get hotter. The heater was part of his three-way distribution system to provide light, heat and power to homes (Beals, Gerard, 1996).
The gas heater was invented round about Edison invented the electric heater. An year after the invention of the Bunsen burner, the company Petit and Smith first commercialized the gas heater in 1856. However, this heater was crude and very inefficient, as air was directly heated and the volume of air heated was very small which meant that only the immediate surroundings were heated.
The first real, efficient gas heater was invented in 1881 by Sigismund Leoni, a British engineer. Instead of heating air, he heated asbestos, which could be heated to a higher temperature and then heat the surroundings.
The electric heater relies on the basic principle of electricity that passing a current through a large resistance increases the temperature of the conductor, which thereby heats the surroundings. This is known as the “Joules Principle”. Electric heaters work on the same principle, using a large coil of wire to heat the surrounding air, and a fan in the heater propels the hot air out into the surroundings.
Gas heaters on the other hand, use the heat from the burning of natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas to heat a mass of solid, usually fire clay or other refractory material to heat the surrounding air, and then fanned out. Indoors however, the direct method of heating the air via the heat produced from burning the gas is used. Convection currents are then set up which help to transfer the heat to the surroundings.
The development of the heater can be seen as significant progress in the history of mankind. The invention of the heater means that people can now live in a cold environment without causing much discomfort or harm. Industries are now able to provide the specific temperatures needed for industrial processes which can increase the efficiency of the process, minimize the costs incurred, and decrease the power consumption, thereby saving energy. As heaters become more and more popular, individuals and companies are constantly finding new ways to provide better, economical, and eco-friendly ways to provide heating. This means that new technologies are being invented, which helps better the society and living conditions of man.
Heaters are one of the inventions which have a myriad of uses. Heaters allow humans to live in cold conditions where it was dangerous to live in i.e. researchers in Antarctica can live there the whole year round due to heaters. They allow for industrial processes which require a high temperature, which would not have been possible previously as advances in technology increase, it maybe possible for heaters to become smaller, more compact, and so more efficient in the near future.