For many of us, a garage is more than a place to park the car and store tools. It can be a workshop, an exercise area, or a rehearsal space for a band. But if you live in Colorado, you probably don’t enjoy spending a lot of time in the garage when winter comes around. Since garages are uninsulated spaces, they get uncomfortably cold, so that special place hobby space can go unused for months. Wouldn’t it be great to make it warm and cozy? Let’s look at the best ways to heat your garage.
Electric Space Heater
These are available in a very wide variety of styles, sizes, shapes and power capacities. They can be mounted on the wall or hung from the ceiling, or you can get portable units that can be used in the house or anywhere you like. They can take a while to heat up an uninsulated garage, but they don’t require ventilation and cost less than other types of heaters. Some electric heaters have thermostats and/or timers, which make them safer and more convenient. Some units have remote controls, or the ability to oscillate like fans.
Overhead Infrared Tube Heater
Infrared heaters are different because instead of warming the air, they warm physical objects, including you. With this setup, you save on floor space because the units can be attached to the ceiling, and you will worry less about your precious warm air whooshing away every time the door opens, or getting sucked out of the garage through cracks or uninsulated windows, because it doesn’t rely on convection. That said, these units can be pretty expensive to purchase and operate.
Propane or Kerosene Combustion Space Heater
These units tend to be a little cheaper than electric space heaters, and will heat up your garage much faster. Some units require a certain fuel type while others let you use whichever of the two combustion fuels is cheaper or more convenient for you. They can be used during power outages. On the downside, you have to go out and buy the fuel (though one 20lb propane tank should last you for months), the units can be pretty loud, and the combustion process causes moisture, which can pose a risk to the stuff in your garage. They also produce carbon monoxide, so you have to crack open the garage door or a couple of windows, and you might want to get a carbon monoxide detector. For this reason, these space heaters can not be used in the house like electric space heaters can.
There’s a special kind of combustion heater called a Torpedo, which forces out hot air at high velocity. They can run on kerosene, but propane is safer indoors, and cheaper. Since it emits a concentrated stream of hot air, it can overheat you when you’re in its path, and it does carry some risk of fire, so make sure you have a safe space for it away from all combustible materials. If this concerns you you’re better off with a safer propane space heater like Mr Heater. It has automatic tip-over protection, which means it shuts off when tipped over. It’s safe for most surfaces, even workbenches.
Ductless Mini-Split Heating and Cooling System
This setup is kind of like installing a little HVAC system without the duct work. The compressor is set up outside the garage, and connected through a conduit to an air-handling unit inside the room that can be installed on the ceiling, on the wall or on the floor. The installation will probably require an electrician, and the purchase cost is higher than other options, but it does tend to be efficient and therefore eco-friendly. Most of these ductless units come with a remote control device, and it’s really nice to have some AC in the garage during the summer months.
Add Insulation to Your Garage
There are ways to add insulation to your garage that aren’t too terribly complicated or expensive. You can buy inexpensive weather stripping and insulation tape to make your windows and doors retain more warmth. You can put a carpet over that cold concrete floor. Look and feel around the whole garage to find the coldest areas. That’s where warm air is escaping and cold air is coming in. Since heat rises, a lot of your warm air goes up to the roof, especially if it’s unfinished and/or metal, in which case you can see about getting ceiling tiles added. This option of course is a lot more expensive than insulating your windows and doors on your own, but may be a good long-term investment because over time you save that money by not wasting warm air.
If your garage walls are just studs, they will lose a lot of your warmth. To make an insulated barrier, install fiberglass batt insulation in each stud space. Then finish the walls by installing drywall panels, plywood sheets, or oriented strand board. This is a bit of work, and expense, but will save you a lot of heating costs over time. There are also garage door insulation kits widely available that will serve a similar purpose, sealing the drafts that develop all around the garage door, and across the door paneling itself.
If you need professional heating your garage or your home, call the Allen team. Allen Service has been servicing Fort Collins, CO homes for over five decades. Owners and brothers, Mike and Jeff Allen are the third generation of the Allen family to run the business. They carry out the tradition of delivering excellent customer service and high-quality parts for all plumbing, heating, and air conditioning projects to your home. When you work with Allen Service, you are working with the best!