If you use your garage as a workshop, cold weather can keep you from DIYing for months every year. But there are plenty of ways to reclaim your workbench. We’re here to help you figure out how to heat your garage so you’ll never again have to hang up your tool belt for the winter.
“We hear from people needing to heat their garage for all kinds of reasons. Your garage may be a great place to keep your garden thriving during the winter months. We’ve also heard from professional woodworkers who use our heaters for drying sealant and other projects that go smoother with a warmer temperature.”
Lena Crocker | Cadet Heat
How to Heat a Garage for Year-Round Use
In the tables below, we’ll look at the pros and cons of five common garage heating solutions. We’ll also cover whether each option is a good candidate for DIY installation. With that information in hand, you’ll be able to decide the best way for you to heat your garage.
1. Install Better Insulation
The Cheapest Way to Heat Your Garage
What Is It? If you tend to have mild winters, you can keep your garage at a comfortable temperature by simply insulating your garage door and windows, and weather-stripping exterior doors. You’ll likely still need to wear some layers while you work, but beefed up insulation will keep your garage much warmer than the outside.
DIY Friendly? Yes! According to Lena Crocker of Cadet Heat, “Adding insulation is an easy project for most DIYers that with will help limit heat loss and keep your garage warmer.” Most homeowners will have no trouble adding insulation to windows and weather stripping to doors. Insulating a garage door is a bit more involved, but still very doable for the average DIYer.
2. Hook Up an Electric Space Heater
The Simplest Way to Heat a Garage
What Is It? Electric space heaters for your garage are really just bigger and more powerful versions of the portable units you might use to warm up your office or bedroom. If floor space in your garage is limited, you can even find electric space heaters that can be mounted on the wall or from the ceiling.
DIY-Friendly? Very – heating your garage with an electric space heater is as simple as finding a good spot and plugging it in.
“We recommend looking into a heating system that can be controlled by a thermostat. It’s easy to forget about a heater out in your garage after turning it on. Using a thermostat is safer and can save you some money on your energy bill because you won’t be using more electricity than you need.”
Lena Crocker | Cadet Heat
3. Fire Up a Combustion Space Heater
The Fastest Way to Heat a Garage
What Is It? Combustion space heaters use a fuel source such as kerosene or propane to create heat. Most need to be run on a specific fuel type. However, there are models that can run on multiple types of fuel, giving you the flexibility to buy whichever is currently cheapest.
DIY-Friendly? Yes – just like with an electric version, all you need to do is set it in place and fire it up.
Combustion heaters produce carbon monoxide. They should never be used without cracking your garage door several inches and/or opening windows to create ventilation. They should also never be used inside your home. Even in well-ventilated garages, you should install a carbon monoxide detector for added safety.
4. Install a Ductless Mini-Split System
The Most Comfortable Way to Heat Your Garage
What Is It? A ductless mini-split system is made up of an air-handling unit, which is installed inside a room, and a compressor which is located outside. These two components are connected by a conduit. The entire system is powered by electricity.
DIY Friendly? Only if you have advanced DIY and electrical experience. In most cases, you should hire an HVAC professional to install your system.
“It is important to hire someone who is familiar with your specific heating system. For example, when working with electric heaters, we recommend using a licensed electrician. That way they are sure to be very familiar with electricity rather than a general contractor.”
Lena Crocker | Cadet Heat
5. Add Radiant Heating
The Most Efficient Way to Heat a Garage
What Is It? Radiant heating systems are installed under a floor or as panels in the walls or ceiling. The system uses infrared radiation to heat a surface itself rather than the air of the room. There are several different types of both floor and wall/ceiling radiant heat systems, so do your research to see which type is best for you.
DIY-Friendly? No – this garage heating option should always be installed by a professional who has experience with radiant heating.
A Word of Caution for Woodworkers:
“Two big things come to mind when it comes to garage safety and heaters: sawdust and flammable vapors. Neither one of these mix well with heaters. If you do woodworking, we always recommend checking in with heater manufacturers to see which products can be safely used in your garage.”
Lena Crocker | Cadet Heat
Take Your Garage Heating Project to the Next Level
Once you’ve decided on the best way to heat your garage, use these guides to make the most of your newly revamped space:
- What to Consider Before Converting a Garage Into a Room
- How to Clean Out Your Garage
- Cheap Garage Storage Ideas to Help You Stay Organized
Need to make room before sealing up your garage?
Call 833-499-7507 and we’ll set you up with a residential dumpster for all your junk.
Why don’t you mention the easiest install a small wood stove??
Some places or most places their insurance will not allow a wood stove
Installing a woodstove can be prohibited or require building permits and fire inspectors certification. Totally unsat for woodworking. Its a lot of work to keep going even at a 50 to 70 degree faranheit range.
Propane cooker is all you need keep a pot of water on it to put moisture in the air
The idea of a space heater for my renovated shed was enticing until I remembered a science experiment which involved flour dust or wood dust and an ignition source… a glowing coil. At a point when energized it exploded. As a kid, a grain silo explosion was a not uncommon occurrence when a spark or an idiot lit a cigarette in a recently emptied silo, and a concrete reinforced multistory cylinder became a huge bomb shattering windows in town..
So, the idea of a wood dust shop and an coil or flame source heater is disaster waiting to flash cook this DYIer. I’ll probably go with a floorboard variant that doesn’t get close to ignition temp even internally.
I hadn’t considered the ramifications until I happened on this thread by happenstance.
dead right ,you can get off cuts from building site and they are glad for you too take em.
Drop off from construction sites is more than likely pine and you’ll get a lot more creosote build-up in the flue. Thats why you don’t burn pine in your fireplace.
Not sure that’s really easier than my propane ventless wall heater but I do see the appeal
I use a propane torpedo style heater on my two car shop it will go from 35dgrees to 60 in about 30 minutes then I turn off light my kerosene heater and good for the day
I have a 30 Gallon drum wood stove in my two car garage that I use for a workshop. It does not heat up the whole garage, it barely takes the chill out. I’ve had it for ten years, only use it three or four times a winter, not really worth it.
Where I live, in Salt Lake City, air quality concerns prohibit the use of a wood burning devices ( unless it is the only source of heat for the entire house ). when the the air quality is poor. Because of the local topography, we often get temperature inversions in the winter. During inversions the valley locations are colder than the mountain locations and pollutants get trapped in the cold air making wood burning virtually untenable.
I took live in SLC I am one of those whos. House heat is soley wood. I have set up for radiant heat poured concrete floors in house. Garage I just put up an 800 sq foot metal building that was on an existing 20/20 concrete pad that I removed my falling down garage. Currently I’m usei g a pellet stove. I have 2 inch poly foam board insulation with a radiant barrier between metal and insulation. After running non stop all day a 7$ bag can get the temp down stairs to 55 which is nice working weather. As soon as the sun comes out the up stairs is toasty even on coldest days. I haven’t insulated the up stairs yet. The pellet stove was a free bee on KSL. It does the job but I can see it getting expensive. I am looking into better way to heat. The gas shop units that hang from ceiling are pretty awesome and don’t use much gas if your not drafty. However the initial cost for the unit is expensive.
Depends if your jurisdiction has accepted national guideline.
8-3.4 ANSI/NFPA 211, Solid Fuel Burning Appliances, says, “Solid fuel burning appliances shall not be installed in any residential garage.”
Mostly insurers will deny you coverage for and claim.
I’m in the fire protection business. Gas fumes and open flames don’t mix well.
I live in the UK, regulations on gas heaters wood Burners and at this time the Extortionate Electrical Heaters Are just not viable, I have One solar panel that I use but this is wired into 12 12v Batteries and small Fan Heater, This has passed the Inspection! but I am not allowed to take this further without an Electricians Inspection and Certificate, So I will have at to leave it as it Is, This takes of the chill and a lot of the Damp
You’ll never be insured with a wood stove in the garage, even if something completely unrelated happens to your house, insurance can be void due to misrepresentation
Unlikely based on what?
I agree done it several times works the best in cold climats
A woodstove setup outside the garage id completely safe and keeps thinhs nice and toasty. No insurance problems either
How do you set up outside and warm your shed, I was thinking of a wood heater. Thanks Rob
Why not solar??? I live in Minnesota so you know it gets COLD here. I have a solar panel that heats air and 2 small fans that run on solar power to increase circulation. That combination heats my 12′ x 26′ shop ( when the sun is shining) very well.
Can I see your solar setup?
I to live in Minnesota and would love to see that option. Is it relatively even heat? Temperature controlled at all?
I love your idea of solar, best, what size panel did you get for that size garage and not being too scientific, I’ve always wondered how the panel is connected to the heater (s)
I have radiant floor heat in my 30 x 40 foot garage hooked to my propane fired boiler. I leave it set on 55 and I can go out there and work in a t-shirt and be comfortable. I live in central Maine and I spend between 60 – 80 dollars a month tops to heat this area, depending on weather.
Hi, I’m moving to Maine this summer. I’m curious about your installation of radiant. I’m a fan, for sure. Was yours a retrofit or did you install the tubing in the concrete prior to popuring the slab? I’d like to install a retro system on which I could park the cars when I’m not using the tools.
Thanks for your thoughts.
The propane boiler installed in a separate area w/ ventilation to support combustion and a liquid filled in floor heating system is the best. In floor water systems are really available and manufactures can walk you thru the installation. YES you will need to pour a new 4″ concrete floor on top of your existing floor using insulation board which provides insulation, and attachment for the new 1/2′ diameter plastic piping .
Your system will involve a boiler with aquastat to maintain boiler water temperature (where temperatures vary widely you can add a aquastat to vary boiler water temperatures ti reflect outside conditions), a small circulating pump, room thermostat, and misc. valves. Manufacturers will gladly help.
Mix into water antifreeze to protect against freeing in case of power loss etc.
There is no better system I could recommend, albeit the more expensive first cost. This will last a lifetime and provide an even heat at the level you occupy, i.e., the floor. One caveot; this is a system you turn on in October and shut down in April as it takes a while to heat the floor and space; but once achieved there is no bette, more even heating system. The concrete floor become a radiant panel.
Most other systems heat the ceiling area
My garage is going to be 40 x 60 with 14’ ceilings. Propane or electric boiler which is the best? Does the piping need to cover entire floor or can you just run several runs along the outside perimeter? Each run can’t be longer than 300’ correct.
Where can you find a system like you put in and approximate $ cost?
I live in western Wyoming, right now as I post its 5 degrees outside, probably about -10 degrees over night. I just built my garage last year, with plans to heat it during the winter months. I keep our dogs in the garage during the day while we work, and park our vehicles inside overnight. I insulated the exterior walls bought insulated garage doors to start. I then installed a propane heater from the ceiling and installed a blaze king wood stove with a catalytic combustor. I can load the wood stove in the morning before heading to work and that bad boy will heat my 32×48 garage all day. Rarely this winter have I turned on the forced air propane heater. My dogs are comfy all day and my truck is warm and dry. If you can heat with a wood stove that has the catalytic combustor, it’s the most effective and efficient way to heat.
I completely agree with this post. In addition, if one has natural gas, a regular hot water tank can provide the heating source. A high efficiency water heater would be fantastic. Antifreeze is critical for any garage in floor radiant system … a must have. Sub slab insulation can speed installation and will significantly lower the heating cost. While a 4 inch slab has a large thermal mass, this will come up to temperature over several hours if the system is not used every day. As pointed out, radiant heat warms things the closest to the floor rather than the ceiling as would a forced air system. Also the slab temp can be idled is the 40-50 degree range and then raised to heat up the space more quickly if that fits the need. This would be the top pick hands down if placed with the original slab.
A friend of mine installed a regular gas furnace with the vent pipe to the outside wall of his garage.
I’ve fitted a Proper 2000 unit to my garage. This is a propane powered vented heater, so via heat exchanger it heat the garage with blown hot air whilst all of the exhaust gases and moisture are vented to outside.
Roughly equivalent to a 2000w electric heater, heats my three bay garage quickly and efficiently. It’s also fitted with a thermostat so I can leave it on when I’m not there.
What’s the manufacturer and model number? I couldn’t find anything under Proper 2000. I’m in NW Indiana and also have a 3-bay garage that I would like to heat. Thanks!
I think by “proper” he meant a normal standard household vented furnace. I’m sure you could pick one up used from someone upgrading theirs
Also in NWI. Let me know what you go with. I just moved to a house with a pretty good size garage with full loft
Natural gas heater hung on wall vents outside. Cheapest to operate and efficient. Can run with a programmable thermostat too.
I built a 24×36 garage with in-floor radiant heat. Best choice I ever made. You can open the door to move stuff in and out in -30 temperatures and the garage is warm again almost right away. The floor acts as a giant heatsink which does not let the room cool very quickly.
My other two favourites were always having warm tools (common in any heated garage I guess) and standing on a warm floor. I found even keeping the garage a few degrees above freezing in our nice cool Canadian climate and I could stay warm because my feet weren’t on frozen concrete.
If you can afford it when you build, I wouldn’t even think twice. We moves two years ago. This summer I’m building another shop and will not consider any heat other then I – floor.
Propane or electric boiler? What was your average cost per month to operate it in your cold climate. We might only have a few days in single digits.
how about an oil furnace. I did this and it was the best choice I could be made. i stayed nice and warm and it didn’t cost much. very inexpensive
Electric conterflow furnace works great in my shop. Controlled by thermostat on a 40amp 220 circuit. Bought mine from Grainger. I setup a filter on the intake side. Works great. Easy install. Heats up quick. Doesn’t take up a lot of space.
Just add a duct from your existing furnace. Mine stays comfy and cars warm in winter. Close the vent in summer.
Building code does not allow this in our area.
In most places this is illegal.
It introduces the risk of people running a vehicle n the garage and poisoning everyone in the house with carbon monoxide.
Please don’t do this!
It States “Moisture may build up on the surface where the system is installed.”
This statement cant be farther from the truth!, in fact the exact opposite. I have hydronic heat in my garage floor 24 x 30 and a water to air heat exchanger to heat the upper 14 x 30 area, heated by a Bosch condensing Natural Gas boiler. Its dry quite, safe around flammable liquids and mostly importantly it only cost about 67$ a month to heat at 68 F thats just over 2$ a day.
I use a forced air kerosene heater (55,000 btu) to warm a 14×24 garage up quickly, turn it off then use a convection kerosene heater with a shop fan blowing to keep it warm.
Ii have both a wood stove and a natural gas fired FCU in the detached garage/shop, Both work great but prefer the wood stove with a water container on top for adding humidification.
Sorry, please explain natural gas FCU. I have a 3-bay garage that I would like to heat efficiently. Thanks!
I do contracting and one we have found to have the radiant properties of in-floor radiant systems but can be installed alongside an existing slab is comfort cove electric radiant haters. They are sleek, can be instalked on thr wall and heat objects such as floor amd tools rsther than just the air like a minisplit.
I love your solution.
I live on Long Island N.Y. within a home I designed and built to have Electric Base board radiant heat; each room on its own thermostat. To qualify for the preferred Electric heating rate I also had electric cooking and hot water. My total bill was estimated by the utility co. to cost approximately $600. PER YR. in 1973. When I built my home our utility Co was building a nuclear power plant, still the safest cleanest system around. Unfortunately the fear mongers prevailed and the plant was abandoned leaving us with a $6,000,000,000. NON PLANT.
When my electric bills reached $600. per month I through in the towel. I tried reverse cycle Electric Heat Pump w/ Forced Hot Air (the worst system in my opinion), Gas fired forced Hot Air system; still unsatisfactory, but marginally less expensive, and I supplement it with some electric base bd heat.
I have since convinced my daughter and son when building their houses to install “In Floor Heating”, and that provided a happy ending to my story. Utility costs on L.I., NY are still vary high no mater what you use, and I built the best well insulated homes, in case you were wondering.
The in-floor tubing is not using infrared radiation as stated. It is using conduction. Infrared refers to light spectrum. I don’t think you’re shooting infrared light through the tubes. ☺
Yup. I noticed the same thing.
It is heating the floor slab by conduction. It is heating the objects in the room by infrared radiation, and that is where most of the room heating happens
I agree. To make this point more clearly, the sun warms the planet with radiant energy, not conduction or convection through empty space. The warm slab will warm the occupants with radiant energy as well, infrared to be sure.
Your comment about a Mimi-split heat pump not being adequate in colder regions, I believe is not correct. I live in Canada and heat my house with a mini-split, which still produces heat at -15 degrees F. I do use my wood furnace once the temperature dips below -10 because the mini-split loses efficiency at that temperature. The bonus is the cheap air conditioning in the summer. I tried to calculate the cost and my best guess is about $2-3 a month.
I’m quite pleased with what I have for garage heating. I bought a used 80,000 btu heater. It
uses a line voltage thermostat and is ducted through the wall and up on the outside. I live in Colorado. I keep the thermostat at 40 degrees so nothing will freeze. If I am working on a project I will raise the temprature to what is needed.
Pros: Adjustable temprature, Doesn’t allow anything to freeze, Natural gas, no fumes. Warm autos, freezer and fridge work properly.
Cons: Some fan noise.
The photo of the Combustion Space Heater looks more like a regular kerosene heater. they make no noise at all and give off pretty good heat. I need 2 of them, though, in my garage in Pennsylvania and it takes at least an hour before i’ll even go out to work there as it’s pretty slow to heat. I have insulation and drywall in the ceiling and walls too. they work pretty good around 30 degrees or so but when it gets real cold you’ll still need a coat.
A Kerosene heater is a combustion space heater.
I have a 40 x 60 insulated pole barn and heat it with a natural gas furnace. I had the heating company mount it in the attic area (like some homes) and duct it through ceiling registers. I keep it at 60 degrees from late November to March or early April. A 90 percent efficient furnace draws outside air into the furnace for combustion and ducts the exhaust outside the vent pipe. No worry about fumes or an open flame This was cheaper that radiant heat to install and only adds about $75 to the heating bill in the winter.
How tall is your building? What size furnace did you install? Did you only run one heat duct down the center dropping off that numerous times? What r-value do you have on your walls and ceiling?
I rent a duplex. I installed a electric heater in the ceiling w/fan. It works great but no insulation in the ceiling. Dry wall already on ceiling. Do you have any suggestions on how to insulate and what kind?
i would screw 100mm kingspan straight onto the ceiling if you have the height
I purchased a motel combo/heat/A/C unit from a motel that was being demolished. I placed it on a framework constructed of metal bedframe rails and added rollers. Since it is 240/15 amp, I replaced the cord with a 10 gauge cable and used twist lock wall socket and cable plug. It heats very well, I live in Nebraska. This is just a thought to pass on to someone else.
How big of a garage are you heating with this, I like the idea
I have a mini split system in my shop and I love it. Yes, the upfront cost is high but the ongoing cost is very low. If you get one with a timer built in, you can schedule it to come on 1-2 hours before you plan to use your shop and it will heat/cool to your desired temperature while you are still in bed. The filter cleaning issue only applies if you are using your shop all day everyday.
Those propane and kerosene heaters do not produce Carbon Monoxide CO in normal use. Only when the oxygen is so limited the flame starts to die out. They produce Carbon Dioxide CO2 and you should use ventilation but a person can handle considerably more CO2 than CO.
In my opinion a regular natural gas / propane heating system is an easy DIY installation.
You can buy a high efficiency furnace with central air and duct work for $3500. You can mount these furnaces vertical or horizontal they vent in pvc right out the wall. you can run the return to the floor to get cold air off the floor you can add more then one filter ,you can run supply duct along ceiling to distribute heat better in garage and you can just run the unit on just fan mode to move air around
I keep my garage 65 in winter and 70 in summer
Radiant heating in the garage? It gets expensive to break up your concrete floor and replace it. I just run my air compressor for about 30 minutes. PV=nrT
I was able to find a charged ductless for 1500$
And installed it myself it was very easy if you don’t like working on electrical panel please get an electrician but the rest is just mounting the outside and inside units just make sure you roll out the hoses to the right length and you don’t have to do any plumbing you just hook them up with two wrenches, check for leaks. No leaks charge it turn it on.