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Best Way to Heat a Garage in Winter

Best Way to Heat a Garage in Winter

Garage projects won’t slow down, even after the weather turns cold. It’s important to work in a heated garage, both for comfort and safety. Before pursuing any of what’s suggested in this article, it’s important to properly insulate the space. Then, correctly estimate your heating needs by measuring the total square footage, deciding how warm you’d like to keep it, and then finding a unit that produces enough BTU to get the job done. Once those steps are complete, you can choose a heater. Here’s how to safely heat up a garage, keeping you warm and productive all winter long.

How to Heat a Garage Cheaply: Propane-Fueled Radiant Heater

Radiant Heater

We hear you. You want a warmer garage, but you don’t want to spend a bunch of money to get it. In this instance, the best way to heat a garage in winter cheaply is to purchase and use a propane-fueled radiant heater. This is the most affordable option because natural gas is typically much less expensive than the electricity used powering other types of heaters and heating systems.

To safely heat a garage with a gas heater, it’s important the space is adequately ventilated. Triple check that your propane heater is meant for indoor use. Heaters of this sort can be fed either from the natural gas lines to your home, or from a propane tank. It’s also important to ensure you’ve correctly measured the square footage in your garage, matching it with a heater that’s powerful enough to warm the space. Otherwise you’ll be wasting money and energy without benefits.

A few words of caution: Forced-air radiant gas heaters may blow too much dust around. Keep this in mind if you do a lot of woodworking in your garage, or similar types of activities. Although they are generally cheaper to operate than other kinds of heaters, for safety, it may be necessary to hire a professional when installing these types of heaters.

Best Way to Heat a Detached Garage: Ductless Mini Split System

Split Mini Ductless Heater

If your detached garage is ductless, consider adding a ductless mini split system to heat it up. Powered by electricity, this option is a bit spendy up front. Additionally, these units do require some cleaning and general upkeep. But otherwise, single-zone split systems consist of an air handling unit and a compressor. They are installed on the outside of the structure connected through a conduit. 

For convenience, many of these heaters are also remote control operated, and some even have a cooling function to keep you comfy in the summer months as well. If you live in a particularly cold climate, a ductless mini split system may not be powerful enough. However, more often than not, they’re easy and hassle free. There’s also likely someone in your area who can help install this kind of heater at a reasonable price.

Best Way to Heat a Garage Workshop: Radiant Heaters

Best Way to Heat a Garage with a Radiant Heater

Like to get up to lots of dusty projects out there in the garage? The best garage heater in the world won’t do much good if the fan kicks up too much debris in the air, or if you’re doing work with noxious or hazardous fumes. For this reason, we recommend a radiant heater for your garage workshop. Radiant heaters can pump out up to 10,000 BTUs, so they work well in large spaces. They’re also a good choice for “spot heating”. Best of all, there’s no fan blowing dust all over the place. That is of course, unless you choose a forced air model, which we don’t recommend for a dusty workshop.

So, how do radiant heaters work without a fan? Also called infrared heaters, these types of appliances warm up the space or a specific area like a workbench with infrared rays, just like sunshine. Most are portable, and some are ceiling mounted — whatever you prefer. Best of all, they heat up quickly and work well in combination with a heating source. Just for one example, to keep you comfortable just while sanding wood and while you clean up the mess. Following that, you can fire up the workshop’s primary heating source for a more even temperature.

Best Way to Heat a Metal Garage: a Portable Heater

Forced Air Space Heater

As well as replacing your weather stripping and adding spray foam or fiberglass sheet insulation, the best way to heat a metal garage is to buy a portable heater. Preferably this should be one that runs on electricity and has forced air, helping spread the warmer air all around.  It’s also advisable to consider temperature when building the garage. Most are constructed from metal garage kits, standing separate from your house. 

Because of this, the garage can be situated to capture and retain warmth from sunlight, even when the weather is cold. However, metal garages can be drafty old things. So, no matter what kind of heater you choose, you’ll likely have to consider extra insulation to keep it comfortable. One further consideration when building the garage is to add radiant barrier insulation between the panels and the support beams. This will help keep warmth trapped inside the structure, right where you want it. 

How to Safely Heat a Garage in Winter: Conclusion

Just because the weather is cold doesn’t make your garage to-do list any shorter. To help you stay warm this winter, we broke down this post into the following four categories: 

  • How to Heat a Garage Cheaply: Propane-Fueled Radiant Heater
  • The Best Way to Heat a Detached Garage: Ductless Mini Split System
  • Best Way to Heat a Garage Workshop: Radiant Heaters
  • Best Way to Heat a Metal Garage: a Portable Heater

As well as what we’ve suggested, it’s important to make the area is properly insulated. Check that the weather stripping is intact, and even consider adding radiant barrier insulation where appropriate. Also, if you do a lot of sanding, painting, or some other kind of dusty activity, choose a heater without a fan.

Before deciding on an approach to heat your garage in winter, first calculate the square footage of the garage. Multiply the length of the area by the width, or by searching for a square footage calculator online. This way you’ll know the heater you purchase produces an adequate amount of BTUs to warm the space.

Last, but certainly not, least: The most foolproof way to heat a garage in winter is to wear your long underwear and gloves, and remember that spring will be here before you know it.