Garages tend to get cold, whether at night or during winter, it can be hard to get work done if you don’t have a garage heater to keep things warm. Maybe you’ve never considered getting a heater for your garage before, or maybe you have tried but failed to find one that actually works to heat your space sufficiently, or maybe you have one that you love but it’s getting time to buy a new one.
Whatever your garage heating needs may be, this handy buyers guide will provide you with everything you need to know about heating your garage and will help you narrow down the best heater for your individual space. Stay warm and read on to learn how to transform your garage from oh-so-cold to oh-so-cozy!
Use Your Garage Year-Round With These Fantastic Heating Solutions
How to Choose a Heater for Your Garage:
When thinking of options to heat a garage, many people fall under the assumption that a simple household space heater will do the trick, but this is far from the truth. Space heaters for garages often times have industrial qualities that residential heaters can’t compare to. These qualities are necessary when trying to heat places like garages that tend to lack insulation, central heating, and often have fluctuating temperatures. All in all, heaters that are specifically designed for places like garages just have more power, and this power is necessary if you actually want to keep the space warm.
The first thing you’ll want to consider before purchasing a heater for your space is how much power it provides, and how much power is required to heat your space. Most heaters measure power in BTUs or watts. The higher the BTU or wattage, the more powerful the heater is. Smaller spaces can get away with heaters that have around 1500 watts, while larger spaces often require wattage as high as 4,000-5,000. Additionally, when thinking about power, the heating source is also important to consider. While electric units work just swell for smaller spaces, larger spaces tend to require gas-fueled heaters.
Some other factors to consider before buying a heater for your garage is what the overall environment of your garage is like. The insulation of the garage, the size of the garage, ceiling height, and temperature fluctuations should all be taken into account. Let’s take a moment to explore each of these areas in a bit more detail:
Garage Insulation – Garages that have insulated walls and ceilings along with high-quality windows and a properly sealed garage door doesn’t require as much heat as an insulated or less-insulated garage. Therefore, if your garage lacks insulation, you’ll want to be in the market for a space heater with more power.
Garage Size – Think about this for a moment… which part of your garage are you trying to heat? Do you want to heat the entire space or just a specific corner where you work? How many cars can your garage hold? The bigger your garage the more powerful of a heater you will need if you are trying to heat the whole place. However, if you are looking to heat up just one small area, you can easily get away with a much smaller heater, such as a portable electric heater or even a radiant heater.
Ceiling Height – When thinking of the square footage you want to heat, don’t forget to count the ceiling space. This area is extra important since heat rises. The bigger your space, the bigger your ceiling space, and the more heat that will get lost rising to the top of the room. Using ceiling fans can help to keep some of this heat down, but overall, you’ll want to make sure that you plan accordingly when it comes to your ceiling height. The higher your ceilings are, the more powerful of heater you will need. Most garages have a ceiling height of at least eight feet.
Temperature Fluctuations – Depending on what type of climate you live in, you may need to consider a more or less powerful heater. In colder climates, you’ll need a more powerful heater to heat a space that a smaller heater could heat in a warmer climate. The colder your temperatures are overall, the more you will want to scale up on power.
Electrical requirements are another key factor you will want to consider before purchasing a heater for your workspace, specifically if you are in the market for an electric heater. Since space heaters for garages tend to be more powerful than standard residential space heaters, many of them can only be plugged into outlets that have a higher voltage. Luckily, many garages are already equipped with such outlets. Most garage-suitable heaters require somewhere between 220 and 240 volts. You’ll want to double-check what your outlets can handle before purchasing a heater for your space. In addition to checking the voltage, you’ll also want to confirm that your space can tolerate the necessary amperage. Many garage-suitable heaters require 15-20 amps. Heaters that run on natural gas are a good option if you are looking to avoid the worries of voltage and amps as they don’t need to be plugged in.
Speaking of plugs… one last bit of advice to consider before buying a heater is whether you are in the market for a plug-in heater or a hardwired heater. While plug-in heaters simply plug into an outlet, hardwired heaters need to be installed directly into a wall or ceiling. These installations should be done by a professional as they need to adhere to local electrical codes and it will be necessary to connect the heater directly to a circuit using cables. Hardwired versions are for individuals who are looking for a more permanent solution and space-saving (as these types of heaters can get mounted), while plug-in options are best for people who want portability or don’t intend to use the heater as often.
Types of Heaters Available:
There are many different types of heaters available on the market that can be used to heat a garage, shed or other workspaces. Overall, these types of heaters are broken down by fuel type. The most common types are natural gas, liquid propane, and electricity. Let’s take a look at what each of these types has to offer!
Natural Gas – Natural gas is one of the most popular methods of heat generation. This type of heater would be ideal for individuals who have a natural gas line easily accessible to the area in which they want to install the heater, otherwise, a professional will need to be hired to come and install a customized line. This shouldn’t be too much trouble if your home is already equipped with appliances that run on natural gas such as a clothes dryer, oven or furnace. In any case, natural gas is one of the most cost-effective methods of heating your garage in the long run.
Liquid Propane – Liquid propane is a great, cost-friendly alternative to natural gas for anyone who doesn’t already have convenient access to a natural gas line. Heaters that run on propane can be a convenient option since propane is readily available and can usually be found in a typical hardware store. If you choose to go with this option, please keep in mind that you will need to monitor the level of propane left in your tank so that you don’t run out.
Electricity – If measuring propane and dealing with natural gas lines sounds like too much of a hassle, electric heaters may be the right choice for you. Although they aren’t likely to be as cost-efficient to run, they are one of the most convenient options as these heaters are often portable and can be plugged into most outlets. These heaters can actually be a cost-effective option if your electricity is relatively inexpensive. The downside of electric heaters is that they don’t heat up large spaces as efficiently as natural gas. This is because their heating capabilities are limited to the amount of energy that the outlet is capable of supplying. On the plus side, electric heaters can often be mounted on a wall or ceiling which makes them great for saving space and staying out of the way.
Adding a heater to your garage is one of the best ways to make the most of this space, especially during the colder months. However, any type of heating product is automatically a known safety hazard due to the fact that any number of issues or accidents can occur as a result of normal use. In this section, we’ll explore the key safety tips and features that everyone should read carefully before using one of these products:
Safety Feature 1 – The Owner’s Manual
While it’s easy to want to toss the manual aside and just get your heater up and running the moment you unbox it, reading the owner’s manual is a critical step when it comes to safety. While many heaters look the same, they aren’t all built the same, and therefore, they don’t all operate in the exact same way and may require varying levels of maintenance or care. Keep in mind that what one heater might be able to handle with ease, another might not, even if they look the same or have similar features. So please, always read the owner’s manual. It only takes a few moments, but this step can truly be a lifesaver. Plus, you’re likely to learn a bunch of cool stuff about your new heater that you can brag to your friends about when they compliment your nice, warm garage.
Safety Feature 2 – Automatic Shut-Off
Heaters, especially space heaters, are prone to all kinds of issues when it comes to overheating. Overall, it’s downright dangerous to leave one of these heaters running unattended. But of course, we all make mistakes, and sometimes we forget to turn things off every time we leave the room, or perhaps we intend to leave just for a minute and end up taking a lot longer than expected to return. For all these blunders and more, the automatic shut-off features that are available on many space heaters can add an extra layer of protection in case your heater begins to overheat. This is a super important consideration when it comes to safety as overheating can head to fires, explosions, burns, and even fatal injuries.
Safety Feature 3 – Mounting and Stability
One of the biggest risks when it comes to using space heaters is their likelihood to fall over. When a heater falls over, it can restrict proper ventilation or cause surfaces to become too hot and catch fire, along with a number of other potential disasters. Because of this, heaters should always be placed on hard, stable surfaces. Many heaters also come with the ability to be mounted on a wall or ceiling or are built with extra stabilizing features that prevent it from falling over.
Safety Feature 4 – Low-Maintenance Capabilities
While most people think “convenience” when they hear terms like ‘low-maintenance’, when it comes to heaters, low-maintenance options are a key safety feature. This is because heater maintenance can be quite dangerous, so the less maintenance the owner has to do, the better. Remember that it’s always important to make sure that the heater vents are free from blockage and debris and that you should always unplug the heater before performing any maintenance. You should never attempt to repair or modify a space heater yourself, as this can cause catastrophic failures and accidents. If your heater is need of some more serious maintenance, you should have it worked on by a certified technician.
FAQ – The most frequently asked questions before buying the right garage heater
What type of heater is best for a garage?
The type of heater that is best for a garage really depends on the type of garage and the individual’s heating needs. However, for a typical garage (i.e. one that is uninsulated or minimally insulated, in a true four-seasons climate, can hold 1-2 cars) a powerful yet portable electric heater is a nice option. For example, the DR-988 by Dr. Infrared would be a safe bet for most typical garages. It’s portable and yet can still heat up large spaces in freezing temperatures. It’s also known for its ability to last for years, which is a great bonus given that many space heaters putter-out after a short while.
How many BTU does it take to heat a 2 car garage?
The answer to this question relies on various factors such as the size of the garage, the ceiling height, the overall climate the garage is in, and how well the garage is insulated. Given that a 2-car garage is typically at least 400 square feet, let’s suppose the garage has a standard 8-foot ceiling height in a climate with mixed temperature ranges and poor insulation; in this case, the space would need 75,000 BTUs. However, the same garage in a cold climate that has very good insulation would only need around 30,000 BTUs.
What is the best way to heat a garage?
First and foremost, spend the time and money to insulate your garage if you want it to be warm. It may seem like a hassle, but it’s a worthwhile investment that will save you money in the long run. When insulating the garage, don’t forget to insulate the garage doors as well. One cost-effective way to help insulate your garage is to put shrink film over the windows. Without proper insulation, you’re gonna end up losing a lot of heat and a lot of money. Overall, no matter what type of heater you choose for your garage, insulation is a key trick. Beyond that, the best heater type for you will depend largely on your space and your individual heating needs. Please see the buyer’s guide above for more information on factors to consider before buying a heater.
How much does it cost to heat a garage?
If you are adding insulation, this will usually cost about $500 to DIY, plus an additional $100-$200 to insulate the garage door. The cost to purchase a heater for a typical 2-car garage will cost upwards of $100 and as high as $1,500 depending on the heater and fuel type. The cost of the power needed to supply the heat will vary widely. Your electric and gas bill can help you measure these costs, as you can use the prices provided to calculate the cost to heat your electric bill based on the BTUs of your heater.
What is the safest heater for a garage?
Flat panel heaters and infrared heaters are known to be among the safest types of space heaters. Infrared heaters can be especially useful in situations where the owner only wants to heat one small area of the garage, such as a workspace in the corner. On the other hand, electric heaters, while one of the most convenient and more powerful than an infrared heater, are notoriously known as one of the least safe space heating options.
What is the cheapest way to heat a garage?
There are various ways to keep the cost of heating your garage low. Here are some factors to keep in mind: 1) Only use as much heat as you need by carefully calculating the amount of BTUs you need, 2) Insulate your garage before buying a heater to reduce the number of BTUs needed, 3) Sacrifice convenience for cost-effectiveness and go for a gas-powered heater if you’re looking for real cost savings.
How do I keep my garage warm in the winter?
Choose a heater that has more power and is known to withstand very low temperatures. In some cases, you may want to rely on multiple heaters. And of course, make sure that your garage is properly insulated if you really want to keep the garage warm. Insulation will help trap heat inside the garage and will keep it warm long after you have turned off the heater.
How big of a heater do I need for my garage?
As a rule of thumb, 20 BTUs are needed to heat every square foot of space.
Where are the best places to buy a garage heater?
Amazon is one of the best places to buy a heater for your garage, as you can quickly and easily comparison shop across various types of brands and also read user reviews of each one. Hardware stores and department stores that sell tools and hardware also usually have these types of heaters available. Larger heaters that require professional installation can also sometimes be purchased from third-party distributors.
What’s the best electric heater to use in a garage?
The best electric heaters are those that have built-in safety features. As these types of heaters are known for being comparatively more dangerous than other types of heaters, added safety features can help to alleviate much of the risk associated with using these types of heaters. Look for options that have things like built-in thermostats and automatic shut-off features such as the NewAir G73, or even things like water resistance, such as in the DR218-1500W by Dr. Heater.
How do garage heaters work?
Space heaters intended for garage use work differently depending on the type of heater. An infrared heater emits constant, low levels of heat that radiate out from the heater, while many natural gas varieties rely on forced air using vents and fans. Electric heaters can usually just be plugged into a wall and turned on using a dial.
Additional safety tips when using space heaters in your garage:
- Never leave heaters running unattended.
- Do not plug heaters into extension cords.
- Keep children and pets away from heaters.
- Ensure that flammable objects are kept far away from the heater.
- Read the manufacturer’s information to note the required spatial clearance around the product.
- Never attempt to mount a heater on a wall or ceiling unless the heater is specifically designed to be mounted.
- Never attempt to install a hardwired heater without the assistance of a trained professional.
- Remember that heaters can cause fires and even explosions. Use extreme caution when operating space heaters.
- Always turn off the heater if it starts to become too hot.
- Turn off heaters if they are emitting strong odors, such as the smell of melting plastic.
- Always check the voltage of an outlet before attempting to plug in a heater.
- Always read the manufacturer’s instructions before using any heater.
- Never place objects on top of a space heater.
- When using gas or propane heaters, be sure to install a carbon monoxide detector.
- Keep heaters free from dust and debris.
- Do not spray air fresheners or other aerosol-based products near the heater.
- Have your space heater inspected annually (ideally before each winter use).
- Be sure that all exits are free and clear in case of a fire when using a space heater.
- Look for heaters that have safety certifications.
- Keep heaters away from water sources, unless the heater is specifically designed for use in damp environments.