How to heat up your garage

How to heat up your garage

How to heat up your garage

Garages get a lot more use in warmer weather, but they are often put into hibernation during winter. It doesn’t mean that you should abandon your garage because it is cold outside. Your garage will feel warm and cozy in no time with the right heating options. These heating solutions will allow you to spend more time in your garage during winter and when it is cold outside.

Weatherize and Insulate First

Inadequate insulation and weatherstripping can make your heating costs double to triple if you use your garage a lot during the heating season. You pay for the energy lost through drafty windows and through uninsulated walls. It is therefore a good idea to do the same with your garage’s energy conservation efforts as with your home. According to the Department of Energy, insulation can save you up to 20% on your energy costs. These are some of the things you should pay special attention to:

  • Windows: Garages that are heated in winter should have windows with the same insulation value you use for your home. The best option is double- or triple-paned insulated glass with inert gas.
  • The most energy-efficient garage doors: Aluminum, steel, and fiberglass doors with polyurethane foam in them will have the highest R-values (resistance to energy loss). A 1 3/8 inch thick polystyrene foam door has an R value of 6.5. This is in contrast to a plain wooden door which typically has an R value of 4 to 5. However, polyurethane foam doors can have an R-value up to 20. Experts recommend that garages that are heated have overhead doors with minimum R-values of 10-12.
  • Seals on the sides and bottom of the door: Drafts can cause energy loss. Make sure that weatherstripping is intact along the bottom of your main garage door. Check the weatherstripping around passage doors and windows.
  • Insulate exterior walls: Garages that are heated in winter should have the same fiberglass batt insulation as your house.
  • Finish the ceiling. Many garages have open beams and trusses above. Insulating the space between trusses, rafters and ceiling with wallboard will reduce heat loss.

Gas Heaters and Liquid Fuel

There are many space heaters that use liquid fuel. These include kerosene and liquid propane. There are two main types:

  • Although they can be used to heat small spaces, freestanding space heaters that burn propane or kerosene are very portable and affordable. Although unvented propane and kerosene space heaters can increase the temperature of a small garage, if the area is well insulated, they also release carbon monoxide into the atmosphere. Safety experts discourage the use of a portable liquid fuel heater within an enclosed space.
  • If your garage is already piped with propane or natural gas, direct-vent space heaters can be a great choice for heating your garage. Direct-vent garage heaters heat up combustion air and exhale fumes via a pipe inside the wall. This eliminates carbon monoxide risk. Look for the most efficient model if you intend to use your heater often. Direct-vent heater suppliers provide detailed instructions on how to install the unit yourself. However, even if you are able to do it yourself, it is best to have someone else install the gas line. Direct-vent space heaters may be the best option for garages in cold climates that need to be heated frequently or maintained at above-freezing temperatures.

Wood Stoves

A wood stove can be an excellent choice for heating the garage under certain circumstances–especially if you have a steady, inexpensive supply of wood for fuel. However, there are some caveats to using a wood stove.

It is important to allow for safe installation. All wood stoves should be connected to chimneys. Wood stoves take a long time to heat up and continue producing heat even after you have stopped giving it fuel. This is why they are not recommended for quick heating. For long projects, a wood stove is ideal. A woodworker who has a lot of scrap lumber might find a wood stove a great solution.


In a wood-burning fireplace, never burn pressure-treated lumber or any scraps of sheet material containing chemical resins. These materials can be contaminated with chemicals that pose health and safety hazards.

Electric Heaters

There are many types of electric heaters that can be used to heat garages. They come in a variety of sizes, including small 120-volt portable plug–in heaters, radiant overhead heating units up to 240-volt permanent heaters, and even permanent baseboard heaters. Electric heaters are convenient. They are silent, unobtrusive, and clean.

Although electric heaters can be relatively inexpensive to buy and install, they can also be quite expensive to run on a regular basis in colder climates. If you plan to use electric heat frequently in cold climates, it is best to weatherproof and fully insulate your garage. In moderate climates, where subfreezing temperatures may be rare, electric heaters can be a great option.

There are three types of electric space heaters:

Convection Heaters

Convection heaters, which are space heaters, heat the air and circulate it. They work by convection currents, which cause warm air and cool air to rise and fall. There are many types of convection heaters, including electric baseboard heaters and portable plug-in radiators filled with oil. These heaters are safe to use, especially if they have an automatic shut off feature that kicks in if the heater tip over. Convection heaters include ceramic heaters.

Radiant Heaters

Radiant heaters heat things in their immediate vicinity, such as people. However, they don’t heat the air. These heaters are great for heating fast, but they can also burn pets or people, and could be a fire hazard if operated near flammable materials.

Combination Heaters

Combination heaters combine convection and radiant heaters by using a fan for heat distribution.

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