The Use of Radiant Tube Heating in the Poultry Industry

January 17 2018

James Patten


Radiant tube heating is a method of heating widely used across several industries, with benefits to sectors such as retail and industrial environments.

However, over the last few years, the use of radiant heat to heat poultry house’s brooder areas has gained a wide acceptance within the industry. Radiant heat has several advantages over the more traditional forced-air heat methods as it delivers the heat directly to the floor, and thus to the birds. It’s shown to be between 15% and 25% more efficient than forced-air heating and causes drier litter, as well as providing a thermal reservoir for the birds.

The radiant tube heating method also uses a varying temperature gradient across the area in which it is installed. This not only allows the birds to seek comfort areas but also eliminates the issues of central hotspots arising, as the emitter below the canopy seeks to reduce them while increasing the heat pattern’s overall diameter.



Brooders usually tend to have a low initial set-up cost and can present a good range of options when it comes to equipment, including ignition systems run by pilot light, which are able to be controlled either in zones or individually. The installation of these brooders is fast, easy and flexible. They allow for layouts that include multiple floors, where the brooder can be pulled up to varying heights within the flock to adjust the heat pattern and dispersal. Brooders are offered in stainless steel to present added protection in poultry houses which use litter treatment, but require constant maintenance and operation as well as having an uneven heat distribution pattern.

Straight Radiant Tube Heating

An alternative to brooders is the straight radiant tube heating system. This system is comprised of a series of straight tubes from 30-60ft with heating capabilities of 100,000-150,000 Btu/hr. Directly under the first tube is where the highest floor temperatures are found, with the far end of the tubes giving lower temperatures; this gives a heat profile resembling a large pear.

Mounted near the ceiling, these types of radiant heat systems aren’t moved like brooders are. Instead of being raised or lowered, each individual model of straight tube heater comes with its own recommended distance in which it should be mounted from the ceiling. This distance is based on the model’s clearance of combustible material. Another benefit of straight tube heaters is that, unlike other systems, they draw their air from outside of the brood chamber, meaning less maintenance than those which draw air from inside the brood housing facilities.

Radiant U-Tube Heaters

An alternative to the brooder or straight tube systems is the U-tube. The U-tube’s main advantage over the other systems is its heat pattern. The lower heat inputs of around 60,000-90,000 Btu/hr and the reflectors, angled toward the sides of the building, give a more even heat distribution pattern resembling a rectangular shape. The evenly-distributed heat patterns decrease hot spots in the brooding area, increase the efficiency of the system and allow chicks to freely move around the area to seek their comfort zones.

Like the straight tube heater, the U-tube offers a higher initial installation fee, but over time the increased efficiency of heat distribution and reduced need for maintenance gives it an edge over the brooders.

For more information on radiant heating and how it can benefit you, contact us at Heritage Heating and Cooling today.

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