what type of heater is best for a garage

What Type of Heater is Best for a Garage?

Garage too cold?

Need to heat it a little (or a lot)?

Are you on a budget or are you looking to invest in something more expensive?

Your garage can be a great place for projects but not if your fingers are frozen and fumbling.  Fortunately, you have a wide range of heater options to keep you warm and working through the cold weather.

Best Heaters for a Garage

Are you in a hurry? We have put the best heaters here in this comparison chart. We also have a lot more information about heating your garage below. We also have more information about each heater below to help you with your research.

Where to start?  Power!

The power rating of the heater will give you the approximate area it will heat, although some brands will also specify the size of the space in feet.  A rule of thumb is 10 watts per square foot of floor space.  

The average two-car garage is 24’ x 24’ which is 576 square feet.  Multiply 576 by 10 equals 5760 watts that you need in a heater.  

Some heaters give BTUs instead of watts (more on that later).  To get BTUs, multiply the watts by 3.41. Our average two-car garage needs 19,642 BTUs (5760 watts x 3.41).

Remember, like the expected mileage sticker on a new car, the power rating assumes you have no draughts in your garage or poor insulation and that your ceiling isn’t tall, so go with a little more power (like you need the encouragement to kick it up a notch).  Don’t overdo it, though; a heater that warms up a bigger area generally means a heater that takes up more space and is less mobile.

Electric, propane or natural gas?

Without getting too complicated, electric heaters work by emitting infrared rays which are absorbed by you and the objects around you.  This is especially useful if you have poor insulation. On the other hand, propane and natural gas heaters warm the air and blow the warmed air around you.  Electric heaters measure power in watts, while propane and natural gas heaters measure in BTUs.

Here’s a list of the benefits of electric heaters:

  • Heats the area quickly
  • Reliable
  • Easy to control the thermostat
  • Takes up minimal space
  • Lightweight
  • No fumes from burning fuel
  • No open flame

The benefits of propane and natural gas heaters are:

  • Heats the area more gradually and softly
  • Generally cheaper to use
  • Can heat quite a large area
  • Variety of sizes available
  • Durable

Note: a natural gas heater will require a gas line installed in your garage

Safety, safety, safety

Pretty much anything that heats can start a fire.  Fortunately, many safety features are available, even standard.  Your specific situation will dictate what your must-haves are.  

  • Doing a project for a long-time, or potentially getting called away from it?  A heater with an overheating protection feature will automatically turn the heater off if it’s producing too much heat.
  • Working in a tight space?  (Or is anyone working with you a little clumsy?)  Tip-over protection is important; sensors will detect that the heater has been knocked over and will immediately turn it off.
  • Do you have children ‘helping’ you with your project, or pets keeping you company?  A cool-touch feature on the surface of the heater will protect little hands and paws that can’t resist exploring

A few more considerations

Portability, adjustable features (high/low setting, directional air flow, etc), and the ease of assembling and setting up your heater are additional features you need to consider for your specific situation and needs.  And don’t forget to check out the length of the power cord (if applicable), as not all extension cords will work with all heater cords, especially the heavier duty heaters. If you’re considering a propane-powered heater, a feature to keep in mind is the length of the propane hose; some heaters come with a 10’ hose for better mobility.

Some products to check out on Amazon

For small garages (up to approx 300‘ sq)

Fahrenheat FUH 54 Electric Garage Heater (electric)

  • 2,500-5,000 watts
  • Quick heating
  • Compact
  • Safety features: 
    • Overheating protection feature
  • Industrial construction
  • Wall or ceiling mounted
  • Adjustable louvres to direct heat
  • *Requires permanent installation
  • Summary of customer reviews
    • Easy to set up 
    • Easy to use
    • Heats fast
    • Thermostat is not very accurate

Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Radiant Gas-powered Buddy (propane)

  • 4,000-9,000 BTU with a 1lb propane cylinder
  • Quick heating
  • Compact, portable
  • Safety features:
    • Tip-over protection
    • Auto shut-off if oxygen drops too low or if pilot light goes out
    • High-temperature wire guard to protect from heater’s surface
  • Two heat settings
  • Easy cylinder access and hose installation
  • Great value
  • Summary of customer reviews
    • Easy to set up 
    • Easy to use
    • Heats fast
    • Goes through 1lb propane tanks quickly
    • Adaptor hose may be needed if a large propane tank is used
    • Might be difficult to start at high altitudes (5000’+)

Medium garages (up to approx 600‘ sq)

Cadet RCP402S 10 Amp “The Hot One” Electric Space Heater (electric)

  • 4,000 watts
  • Quick heating
  • Compact, lightweight
  • Safety features:
    • Overheating protection feature
  • Two heat settings and a fan-only mode
  • Durable
  • 6’ power cord
  • *Requires a 20 amp 240v receptacle as a standard outlet will not work

Newair G56 (electric)

  • 5,600 watts
  • Quick heating
  • Compact, portable
  • Safety features:
    • Overheating protection feature
    • Steel safety grill to protect from heater’s surface
  • 6’ power cord

Large garages (approx 600‘ sq and up)

Dr Infrared Heater 

  • 7,500 watt 240 volt
  • Two heat settings
  • Safety features:
    • Overheating protection feature
  • Wall or ceiling mount requiring installation and possibly professional wiring, depending on your electrical skill and knowledge
  • Remote-controlled thermostat with digital display for easy reading
  • Summary of customer reviews
    • Easy to use
    • Powerful
    • Quiet
    • Difficult to access unit (mounting bracket is close to the wall, junction box opening is small, wires are short) 
    • Wall-mounted thermostat a recommended purchase (vs thermostat on unit which attached to the unit)
    • Only means of controlling unit is with the remote, no manual switches

Mr Heater Natural Gas Garage Heater MHVFB30NGT (natural gas)

  • 30,000 BTU
  • Two heat settings
  • Safety features:
    • Auto shut-off if oxygen drops too low 
  • Wall mount hardware or legs
  • Electronic ignition
  • Summary of customer reviews
    • Easy to use
    • Easy to install
    • Effective
    • Make sure it’s vented

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you have to banish yourself indoors for your projects.  Your garage can be a cozy place to work with the purchase of a garage heater in four easy steps:

  • Figure out how much power you need
  • Asses whether electric, propane or natural gas heater suits your needs best
  • Decide if you have any must-have features
  • Check out your heater options on Amazon

Stay toasty, my friends!

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