How to Heat a Garage – All Answers in One Place

Last updated: Sep 06, 2020

If you love using your hands to work and use your garage as a workshop, the winter months can keep you away from working for months on end every year. There are several ways to solve this problem, and one of the best options is to heat up your garage. We have created this post to help show you how to heat a garage. By following these steps and reading the information presented in this post, you will never have any cause to hang up your tools in the winter.

Why you should heat your garage

How to Heat a Garage - All Answers in One Place

For many folks, the garage is an extension of the home. It is a place to get work done, make adjustments and repairs, and somewhere to begin new products. If you live in regions that suffer from especially cold winter months, having a heater in the garage is a necessity. In this section, we will consider why it is important to heat the garage.

Benefits of heating the garage

Further you will find useful information about what benefits a heated garage will bring into your life.

1. Keep your Vehicles warmer

During the winter, weather conditions are pretty harsh, and this can cause damage to your vehicle. However, by having a heated garage, you can keep the cold away with certain advantages. Here are some of the benefits to your vehicle:

  • Heating the garage will enable your vehicle to warm up and start faster in the winter.
  • The coolant in the vehicle will be warmer despite the sub-zero temperatures.
  • The motor oil will be less viscous. If the oil is too viscous, it will affect the efficiency of your car and the moving parts in the engine.
  • Your doors, windows, and other parts of the car will not freeze over and be difficult to use.
  • Snow, ice, and other elements will not have to be removed from the car every morning.
  • Cold weather can cause your car engine to wear out faster. Hence, by heating the garage, your car will maintain its efficiency, fuel economy will be improved, and the car will last longer.

2. Keep rooms above the garage warm

There is an added bonus of heating the garage. By heating the garage, the rooms and bedrooms that lie above it will feel warmer than usual. Despite having a heat source, these rooms might still feel cold. But by heating the garage, the rooms feel warmer and safer on the coldest nights. Additionally, if you have pets or plants in the room or garage, it will make them thrive and feel very comfortable.

3. Keeps you warm as you work

As we pointed out earlier, the garage is one of the best places to work. However, in the winter months, it can become so cold that you feel uncomfortable. Well, when it is cold outside, the heater can make your garage warm and make it more comfortable for you to work. You will spend more time on your work and will see an uptick in your productivity levels.

By adding heating to the garage, you will be able to work whenever you like without fearing the cold.

Heating your garage doesn’t usually involve plenty of money. Even if it is relatively expensive, the comfort you feel will make it worth it.

4. Protects your possessions

Aside from your car, there are other appliances and things in the garage that can be negatively affected by the cold weather. By heating the garage, you will offer extra protection to these tools and appliances. The heater will ensure the cold doesn’t affect it.

5. Follow Neighborhood Codes

Another reason to install a heater in the garage is that some areas require that homes come with heaters in their garages. This requirement serves to protect homes from the damage incurred from the cold. It also serves to protect residents and pets from freezing in the winter.

6. Allows future development

How to Heat a Garage - All Answers in One Place

If you decide to have your garage as a living space, installing heating in your garage will make it easier to make renovations. Due to the heating, the garage can be converted to a small apartment, a bedroom, a rec room, or family room. As homeowners carry out these renovations, they will need a way to keep the garage warm. By installing heating now, future expansions are easier to carry out.

7. Reduce safety concerns

Consider your morning routine as you start your vehicle on a cold winter day. Many folks start their vehicles and leave it idle to warm up for a couple of minutes. Well, as you do this while your car is in the garage, it emits harmful fumes that leak into the home and affect the air you breathe.

When you install a heater in your garage, you will remove the need to warm your car in the morning since the heating will make your car start in optimal conditions. It is great on your car and will improve your health too!

8. Garage heaters are easy to use and maintain

One benefit of having a heater in the garage is that it is easy to use. These appliances do not usually take up plenty of space in the garage. Their compact form allows them to be placed in different parts of the garage with obstructing movement.

They are also easy to maintain. All you need to do regularly is to change the filters. This will save you from repair costs and servicing.

How Many BTUs are needed to heat up a garage

Whether you live in a cold region, or you want to be able to get into a warm car, or you are looking to convert your garage into a living space or shop, heat is something that you should consider adding to the garage. There are several options available for you to use in heating your garage.

Regardless of the method of heating that you plan to use, it is important for you to consider the BTUs required to heat up the space.

The first challenge you must successfully navigate as you heat your garage space is knowing how difficult it will be to heat it up.

In choosing the heater, you must consider the size of the garage. You also need to know the level of insulation that the garage already has. You should also consider if you are ready to make adjustments to the garage to add a heater.

Think about just how warm you want the garage to be while you work.

By considering these factors, you will be better equipped in determining the BTUs you will need. After thoroughly considering all these parameters, you can use a tried and tested formula that will assist you to know just how much power you need your heater to produce.

What are BTUs?

Well, BTU is the measurement of output of a heater.

To find out just how strong you will need the garage heater to be, you must follow the following steps.

  • First, measure out the dimensions of the garage. This involves measuring the length and width of the interior of your garage. After getting this, multiply your values to find out the square footage available to you. For instance, if your garage can accommodate two cars, it is likely within the 500 square feet range. This is an estimate and isn’t an exact value.
  • Next, determine the level of insulation in your garage. You can estimate this easier if you have the same insulation as what you have in the home. If you already have it insulated and you have a heated ceiling, you will just need a small BTU heater. However, if you don’t have a finished ceiling, you will need to get a bigger option. Why? Well, a lack of insulation and rafters will make heat escape faster. Hence you will need a device that can match the heat loss.
  • If you hate mathematics, unfortunately, you will have to use it now. With the square footage you obtained:
  • Divide it by 200
  • Multiply your answer by 9000 for a poorly insulated garage and 6000 for an already insulated garage.
  • Your answer is the BTU output you need in a garage for efficient heating. This value is an excellent guide that will help you to choose the best appliance.

How to heat a garage

In this section, we will provide a short summary of the options available to you, including the pros and cons of each option.

On the basic level, a garage can be handled as any living space. You might not need it to be cozy enough to sleep in or walk around naked, but proper environmental control requires that you keep the temperature constant.

The following are some of the common methods that can assist you to keep your garage comfortable even in the dead of winter.

Before fitting any of these methods, you have to prepare your garage. This involves more than just fixing some fiberglass insulation and covering it with plywood. Aside from that, you need to prepare the garage by ensuring that there are no cracks or drafts. You will need to weatherproof the garage door or get yourself an insulated garage door.

Preparing the garage

Here are the things to focus on as you get your garage ready for winter.

Windows

If your garage will be heated in the winter, it is important that your windows come with similar insulating value as what you have in the house. We recommend using double or triple-pane insulated glass with inert gas composition as they offer the best insulation values.

Doors

You need to get an energy-efficient door. These doors are made from high-quality materials with excellent R-values. The R-value refers to the resistance of the material to energy loss. Some of the materials to look out for include steel, fiberglass with polyurethane foam, and aluminium.

For instance, the polyurethane foam has an R-value of 6.5, which is better than the R-value of 4 found in a wooden door. However, it pales in comparison to a fiberglass with polyurethane foam that comes with an R-value of 20!

We recommend that the material you decide to choose comes with a minimum R-value of 12.

Seals

In preparing the garage, you also need to seal along the bottom and sides of the door. Drafts are the major reason for energy losses in winter; therefore, you need to do everything necessary to get rid of them. This involves sealing all openings by the garage door. You should ensure that the weather-stripping along the sides and bottom of the garage door is in excellent condition. You should also carry out the same checks for windows and other openings.

Insulate the exterior walls

How to Heat a Garage - All Answers in One Place

To enjoy your heating, you should ensure that your external walls are insulated using fiberglass insulation used in the home.

Finish the ceiling

Unfinished ceilings or a ceiling with open rafters will cause the garage to lose heat. Therefore you should minimize heat loss by insulating all the spaces above.

A fully insulated garage means that it is sealed from different temperatures except for the most severe options.

Now, let’s consider some of the best methods of heating the garage.

Garage Heating Units

There are different types of heating unit options on the market. These come in convection, space, and full-size units. As we pointed out earlier, you need to buy the unit that will deliver enough BTU for your garage.

Liquid Fuel and Gas Heaters

There are several space heaters that use liquid fuel like propane, natural gas and kerosene. There are two main types of these products. These are:

  • Free-standing space heaters
  • Direct-vent space heaters

Free-standing Space Heaters:

These models are designed to burn kerosene or propane. They come in small, compact, and portable sizes and do not cost plenty of money. The downside of these models is that they cannot heat large spaces. Therefore, if you have a large garage, you will not find them sufficient.

Furthermore, these models release harmful carbon monoxide and moisture into the air. Now, while it might make the garage warm, the health disadvantages prevent some from using them.

Additionally, many folks are not comfortable with using a liquid fuel heat in enclosed spaces due to the ever-present fire hazard.

Direct-vent space heaters

These models are excellent choices for warming up the garage. They are especially great if the home is already built to use propane or natural gas via a furnace or fireplace.

They act by swapping combustion air and exhaust fumes through a pipe in the wall. As a result, they are very effective at removing harmful fumes from the air in the home.

If the plan is to use this model regularly, we highly recommend that you look for a model that offers excellent efficiency. These models are known for being quite easy to install since they come with clear, detailed instructions. Nevertheless, when unsure about installation, it is better to engage the services of a professional.

They are excellent for garages that require regular heating or a space that needs to be constantly kept above-freezing temperatures.

Wood Stoves

The next option that can be used in heating a garage are wood stoves. These products are useful in certain conditions and surely can’t be used in all situations.

To use this product, you must have a steady supply of wood.

Despite the nice heating ability, it comes with certain drawbacks. First, you must have enough space to safely install it. Due to the nature of the product, there must be enough space between it and combustible materials in the garage.

Additionally, wood stoves have to be properly connected to chimneys to prevent fumes and smoke in the garage.

Although it burns true and hot, wood stoves take a while to get going. If you require heat quickly and for short periods, you might want to look away from these products because aside from taking time to heat up, they don’t stop heating immediately. In fact, hours after putting out the fire, it might still continue to generate heat.

Aside from all these downsides, if you are looking for an option that can serve for day-long use, then you might find it to be an excellent alternative.

It should be noted that as you feed the stove, you should never burn materials that have chemical resins. These materials are dangerous because they release toxic fumes that the law prohibits from being transferred into the atmosphere.

Electric heaters

How to Heat a Garage - All Answers in One Place

Up next are electric heaters. As the name implies, these products are powered by electricity. They come in different models and have different capabilities.

For example, some come as 120-volt portable plug-in heaters, while others are powerful 240-volt overhead heating units, and still, others are even more powerful permanent baseboard heaters.

One major reason why people love these products is that they are so convenient to use. Unlike other heaters that need to be filled or feed with fuel, these heaters can be used with just the push of a button. Some models have timers that allow you to use them even without physically touching them. They are usually quiet, clean and do not need any vents or chimneys as they don’t produce any fumes.

Installation is a breeze with these products too.

If there is a downside to these models, it is that they are quite expensive to run. Leaving your electric heater on for several hours can deal a heavy blow to your power bills.

You will find these excellent products in three types: Convection, Radiant, and Combination heaters.

Convection heaters are the most common types found in several homes today. These models heat the air and circulate the heated air around the room. They work through the principle of convection.

Even these models fall into several categories. You have the electric baseboard heater and the portable plug-in radiators that run on oil. Overall, convection heaters are straightforward and easy to use. They often come with safety features. For instance, some come with an auto shut-off feature that starts whenever the heater gets too heated.

Radiant heaters don’t heat the air; rather, they heat the objects around them. They are great options if you want quick heating. However, as they heat objects rather than the air, they pose a burn and fire hazard, especially if the objects are too close to the heater.

Combination heaters as the name implies, combine the properties of radiant and convection heaters. They come with radiant coils, and a fan spreads the air around the garage.

Now that we have had a brief summary of the different types of ways to heat up your garage, the next section discusses each of these methods in even more detail.


Heating Options

When it comes to heating the garage space, there are tons of options on the market. Let’s consider each available option in greater detail.

1. Forced Air Heating

These products work by blowing hot air into the garage to heat it, hence the name “forced air heaters”.

Since it involves pushing air, you will need to install ductwork. Ductwork isn’t something to be done lightly, and you will very likely require the services of a professional to help with installation.

You can find forced air heating in different types of units on the market. Fortunately, these can work with different system options ranging from a gas furnace to an electric furnace, heat pump, or even a hydronic cell. The unit is then paired with an air blower which will help to spread the hot air around the garage space.

What you can use it for

This type of heating is great for folks that plan on converting the garage space to a living space. It is great since it delivers great amounts of heat and requires extensive work, which might not be practical if you only plan on using the garage space infrequently.

We love this option because it doesn’t cost as much to install as some other options. If you are looking to integrate HVAC with your garage heating, this type of heating also offers a good outlet.

Pros

  • This heating style quickly heats the garage
  • It heats the garage space evenly
  • You will get clean air because it filters the air before spreading it across the space
  • It is very efficient compared to other options

Cons

  • It requires frequent and extensive maintenance
  • It produces plenty of noise
  • As it blows air, it might also blow dirt and debris; hence, it might not be ideal for a workshop

How to Heat a Garage - All Answers in One Place

Tips on choosing a Forced Air heating system

If you decide to choose this system, you should consult as many contractors as possible to get the best price. By consulting many contractors, you will be able to compare quality of past work and choose the contractor that you feel will deliver the best job.

When installing this heating, always over-budget. That way, when technical issues arise (which is common with this system), you will not be caught flat-footed.

2. Convection Heating

As the name implies, this heating system works using the principle of convection. It works by heating the air from the top down. Natural airflow (hot air flowing up and cool air flowing down) then creates the ambient temperature based on this technology.

The air is heated as it passes over a heated coil, rises on its own accord, and then is pushed out by a fan.

Interestingly, you will find this heating system in models that use another fan to draw in cool air, heat it up and then push it out.

We like convection heaters because you can find them in so many forms. Some of the forms in which they exist include:

  • Wall-mounted
  • Free-standing fan heaters
  • Oil column heaters
  • Central furnace heaters

While all of these can be used for your garage, we highly recommend the wall-mounted models or free-standing models as they are easier to use.

Pros

  • These models are designed to work with the natural flow of air. Hence they provide an even heating performance across the space
  • The free-standing models are very easy to set up and can be done without requiring professional assistance
  • They do not produce plenty of noise
  • They are highly energy-efficient, saving you money on electricity bills.

Cons

  • Unlike forced-air heating systems, these do not filter the air. Hence, they can be problematic for folks with allergies
  • They do not offer additional air circulation on a closed space since they don’t force out air.

Tips to consider

These models are usually more expensive than the other options on the market; however, the convenience and the cheap maintenance make them really appealing. If you do not plan on heating your garage every minute of the day, but you still want an option that speedily heats up the space, then we highly recommend this option. It is great for small and large garages.

3. Ductless Heating

How to Heat a Garage - All Answers in One Place

For folks looking for an efficient means of heating the garage or space, ductless heating comes as a good alternative. These models often comes with a pair of components: an outdoor condenser or compressor, and an air handling unit inside the space to be heated. The two components are joined via a conduit. The conduit will enclose the cable, the drain, and the tubing.

It works similarly to the typical heating system. Unlike the other options considered, especially Forced Air heating styles, they do not need any ductwork. They are for heating a single space separately for others, which makes them very efficient and great for spaces like the garage.

Pros

  • These options are very easy to set up, at least when compared to several other heating options on the market. Although you might still require the help of a professional, it is cheaper and quicker than other options.
  • Very versatile and energy-efficient.
  • It looks great and will be a great addition to the décor of the garage. It doesn’t stick out like other options.

Cons

  • Since it services a particular space, you need to carefully measure out the space to get the right-sized unit that will heat it effectively.
  • It is somewhat trickier to install since not all contractors have training in setting it up.

Tips to consider

As with Forced Air heating, you should consult as many contractors as possible to get the best price. By consulting many contractors, you will be able to compare quality of past work and choose the contractor that you feel will deliver the best job.

You should check out reviews of the contractor as well to know whether they can really install it without issues.

This heating method requires that you choose a good location to ensure maximum operating efficiency and unblocked use.

4. Propane Heating

This heating method has steadily grown in popularity. You can have propane heating as a central heating system in the home.

Many also like it because it is very easy to size and can even be moved in certain instances, just in case you don’t want to heat up the entire space.

Propane furnaces can be centralized or can be a single wall unit that is sized to heat a smaller space like a garage. However, there are also combination heat systems that can also heat appliances, such as your water heater, which will then offer additional radiant heat in the space. Propane is extremely energy efficient and can be a very cost-effective way to keep your garage cozy during the winter.

Pros

  • It delivers excellent heating, with the ability to reach an 8% higher rating than other options
  • Propane is relatively cheap
  • You don’t have to run it all day; nevertheless, it still quickly warms up whenever you need it
  • There are many different models available on the market to choose from
  • It does not require lots of maintenance

Cons

  • The initial cost might be more expensive than other heating options
  • Needs to be watched as it can easily turn into a fire hazard

Tips to consider

The ability to fuel appliances is one big reason why many choose this form of heating. Therefore, if you’re considering creating a ‘man cave’ in your garage and want to have a stove or other appliance aside from heating the space, you can get a propane system that will take care of both with excellent energy efficiency. Also, in a garage where insulation and loss of heat are so important, the propane heating units don’t lose nearly as much heat as a typical oil furnace, which banks on heating and cooling and leads to an initial loss of about 30 percent of heat, even before concerns over proper insulation.

5. Sealed Combustion Heaters

How to Heat a Garage - All Answers in One Place

This system is designed to draw clean air from the environment and vet exhaust outdoors. This system is especially great when used in a workshop. The combustion chamber provides the heat needed.

If you already have natural gas or propane in your home, then it will serve as a good complement.

Installation is not easy and will require the assistance of a professional. When it comes as a wall-mounted system, it is very convenient and relatively easier to install than a forced-air system.

Pros

  • The design lets you turn it on when in the garage, and you don’t even need another fuel source
  • By using outdoor air and a sealed combustion heater, it is excellent for workshops since there is no chance of debris or metal, wood shavings flying around and entering the unit.
  • It works very quickly, heating up the space in a short period. Therefore, you can run them when in the garage and conserve energy.

Cons

  • It has to be placed near the exterior wall of the garage; else, it becomes useless
  • It isn’t great for large garages

Tips to consider

If you don’t have gas or propane, you may want to consider installing a propane fuel source for your sealed combustion heater. This would likely be the most economical choice for fuel sources. However, if you don’t have a source of energy pulled into your garage, you may want to consider a different type of heating space. Combustion heaters are fast and effective in a well-insulated space, but you’ll want to consider that there are more energy-efficient sources available for a reasonable cost.

6. Electric ceiling panel heating

If you want an ‘out of the way’ system, then electric ceiling panel heating is an excellent choice. If you are looking to entertain guests or generally want your garage to look classy, this option allows you enjoy beautiful aesthetics. They come in an attractive design and, as the name implies, are installed overhead. Therefore, if you have limited space in the garage, they are out of the way and won’t take up additional space.

Aside from their design, they are also very energy efficient.

Pros

  • They are very energy efficient and can save you up to 33 percent on costs
  • They are easy to install
  • They look great on the ceiling
  • Unlike other heating methods, like forced air systems, they are easily replaceable at a cheap price.
  • They heat up without causing dry air.

Cons

  • They are not as effective in heating up a space as other options
  • They definitely require finished ceilings before they can be installed.

Tips to consider

This option is great if you want quick heating. While other options might offer better heating, none cool as quickly as this product after being switched off.

7. Mounted Electric Heaters

How to Heat a Garage - All Answers in One Place

These offer a reliable, convenient, and easy to install option that will still deliver on impressive heating of the garage space. They are very similar to wall-mounted heaters; however, the major difference is that they are often bigger, more powerful, and can heat up larger spaces.

They are great to use whether you want temporary heating or something that can last all day long. It is quite easy to install, although you might need to find a professional to help you run a 240-v electricity source to run it.

Pros

  • Efficient overall performance; making them economically friendly
  • They come with auto shut-off and are very easy and safe
  • Easy to install and one of the most versatile options
  • They offer quick heating action

Cons

  • The power cords might be obtrusive
  • You might require multiple units for large spaces
  • It might take longer to heat a large space

Tips to consider

Since most of these models run on 240-V, you might have to change the wall sockets of the garage and get an electrician to help you run a 240-V electrical source.

8. Portable Space Heaters

These are the cheapest options you can find if you want to maintain heat in a garage. They are portable and can be used in different places in the home. They are also very energy efficient; that is why you can run multiple units at a time without a big change in your energy bills.

If you are working in a small area in the garage, these models will come in very handy as they will keep you warm without heating up the entire garage.

Pros

  • Relatively cheap
  • Very easy to use and set up
  • They use very little electricity compared to other options

Cons

  • Since they are portable and get very hot, they easily burn the skin when in close proximity
  • They only heat up small spaces

Tips to consider

When buying a unit, you should consider such factors as the price, size, safety features, and efficiency.

9. Infrared Heaters

This is a great option for those who do not fancy forced air systems. They use a heating tube that radiates heat across the garage.

Instead of pushing out hot air, this system heats the bodies of the objects in the garage. They can be powered via electricity, natural gas, and propane; hence they are one of the most versatile options you will find.

If your garage isn’t well insulated and you don’t have the time or funds to insulate it, then you will likely find this system to be an excellent choice.

Pros

  • They are powerful and easily heat up a poorly insulated area
  • Highly efficient
  • They last long and do not require plenty of maintenance
  • They are quiet

Cons

  • Not great for large garages
  • The heat transmitted doesn’t ‘stay’ for long before dissipating

Tips to consider

Before making a purchase, it is vital to consider the size of the garage and the cost. You should note that you might require a professional to come and help you to connect it.

10. Wood Burning Stove

How to Heat a Garage - All Answers in One Place

If you really want to save money, then this is the option for you. This system can be powered by, not just wood, but even lawn clippings, brush clippings, and other dried out things. It delivers a massive amount of heat that you might not even need to insulate the garage before using it.

Pros

  • This option is one of the cheapest
  • It is very energy efficient and can heat up the garage in a short time

Cons

  • It can’t be installed without community approval
  • Needs to be cleaned frequently

Tips to consider

Consider the space required to store the fuel. You should also ensure you have a clean-burning experience that isn’t harmful to you, your neighbors, or the environment.

Conclusion

Choosing a source for heating up your garage can be a tedious task, but you are better off now than you were before. Now you know the different types of systems, and this can help you to choose that which will suit your needs. Using an infrared heater is an excellent way of heating up your space cheaply.

You can also use a wood stove as it is hands down the cheapest and provides copious amounts of heat, although you must consider the regulations of the community that you live.

We hope that you will use this post on how to heat a garage to make a good choice.

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