It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on restaurants, bars, and wineries. With indoor seating restricted in so many places around the country, business owners have had to look for practical and cost-effective solutions to comfortably – and safely – serve their customers in an outdoor setting. As the weather turned colder, this became more of a challenge. Two Twisted Posts (TTP) Winery in Purcellville, VA successfully met this challenge by selecting infrared radiant heaters from Marley Engineered Products to warm their outdoor areas.
TTP owner Brad Robertson — working with O.T. Hall & Son, Inc., a family-owned electrical manufacturer’s representative firm — approved the installation of QMark infrared heaters from Marley Engineered Products to heat the outdoor spaces. Ideal for indoor/outdoor, total or spot heating use, the infrared heaters feature heavy gauge bright anodized aluminum reflectors and a steel enclosure.
“Heating the outdoor air with an open flame or forced-air heaters would be less efficient as that heat would just rise up and leave the space through the roof vents,” said Robertson. “Also, we have an all wood barn structure where open flames are not a good option. We sought a low-maintenance, efficient and easy to control method to keep people seated outdoors comfortable enough to stay and drink our wine.”
“Radiant technology puts warmth right where you need it, without having to heat – or pay for heating – the surrounding air,” said Mike Jennings, inside sales representative with O.T. Hall. “With no need for a fan or exhaust, radiant heaters provide a safe, quiet heating alternative for many indoor and outdoor spaces. We offer a variety of radiant heater configurations, sizes, reflector angles and elements so that we can customize the right heater for the project and for a customer’s specific performance and design needs.”
The radiant heaters from Marley were installed in covered areas including a crush pad with three open sides and on a covered porch along the length of the building. These areas feature 14-foot ceilings with no insulation and are open to the elements.
From the original engineering diagram and with the size, spacing, and location of the heaters, the installation was projected to increase the temperature of the large space to within 20 degrees of the outside temperature. In the outside space next to the building, it was projected to increase by 10 degrees.
To help deter wind and precipitation, Robertson also installed removable vinyl tent sidewalls around the outdoor spaces.
Winery Patrons Toast Warm Conditions
With the heaters fully operational, Robertson placed a thermometer in the area to monitor the temperatures of the spaces.
“On one check date, we had a temperature outside of around 32 degrees and a reading in the heated covered area of around 58 degrees,” he said. “Similarly, on a date when the outside temperature was 40 degrees, we had covered area readings of 60 degrees. These readings validate the engineer’s predictive performance and are making our outdoor areas much more comfortable for visitors.”
Robertson expects the added operational cost from the installation of the heaters to be minimal and much lower when compared to using propane to heat the same areas. He also believes his revenues should increase slightly because of the additional seating areas.
“We were able to turn our patio into an ideal seating area because of these efficient heaters and this kept us open during the COVID pandemic,” said Robertson. “Without these heaters we would have likely been forced to close for the winter season and not only would have lost revenue but may also have lost long-time employees and customers if we were closed for an extended period.”
Now, wine connoisseurs can spend more time comfortably enjoying the high-quality bottles that TTP Winery produces.
“We look forward to extending our outdoor season and using our outdoor space for special event groups that we previously had to turn away,” added Robertson.