Garage Heater Questions

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WoodWrangler

Jeremy
Senior User
Well, I'm in my fifth winter in NC and freezing my butt off once again. Two years ago I purchased a kerocene heater for my garage shop, but it requires I leave the door open with the back end out for exhaust, it stinks, and it's dangerous with little ones around the shop occassionally now. So, I'm looking to "move on up" (well, to the ceiling)

I'm leaning towards the infrared type, similar to what I saw recently at Rick's (thesource) place. His was electric, I believe, but 3-phase. I've found similar units in the 75,000BTU rating that are single phase. I've also found the same units in natural gas.

So ... a couple of questions:

1. Natural gas or electricity?

2. If natrual gas, who installs it? The gas company, or a plumber, or someone else?

3. If electric (220v), direct wire or can I hook it to a plug?

Decisions, decisions. I appreciate your help.
 

Travis Porter

Travis
Corporate Member
I second Scott's question as it was one of my first thoughts. Is your garage and garage door insulated?

Next, I would look at one of those two piece heat pumps I think Mitsubishi and others make. That way you could get some AC on the hottest days, and leave it running at lower temps in the winter so you don't have any freezing and it doesn't take as long to heat up.
 

scsmith42

New User
Scott Smith
Ditto Travis' recommendation re the Mitsubishi mini-split system. Very quiet and economical to operate too.

If you're in an insulated shop building, the best heating sources that I've found (from a comfort perspective, and also assuming that I'm in the shop frequently and thus leave them running) are radiant. Either radiant heating in the floor, or the little electic oil radiators (such as the DeLonghi units). The reason that I prefer radiant is - asuming that you leave them on all the time - they heat the objects inside the building, which in turn heats the air. If your floors, walls, and equipment are all warm, then when you lose some heat due to a door opening, the building comes back to temperature very quickly. Also, it's nicer to work standing on a warm floor versus a cold one.

One other benefit of this type of heating is that you don't have any open flames inside the shop, so working with flammable finishes, solvents, etc is a non-issue.

The two other options that I can think of are either heating the air (such as a typical HVAC system), or infrared / quartz directional heaters.

One favorite system here is what Travis recommended. You can leave it running all of the time so that the surfaces inside the shop get warm, and it doesn't cost and arm and a leg to run. Having the AC in the summer is a huge benefit.

For heating "in place", such as standing by a piece of equipment, the ceramic radiant heat such as what Danny posted work well. The thing that I don't care for with them is that my equipment and floor is still cold, and the shop seems cold overall.

For heating a lot of air quickly, an externally vented natural gas or propane ceiling mounted heater works well. Again, you have the problem of the cold surfaces if you don't leave it running, and a small concern re flammable vapors inside the room.

I have also used recycled upright home gas furnaces in my shop, with very good success. They will heat up the room quickly, and a lot of time you can pick them up for little or nothing from an HVAC contractor when they do a customer upgrade. My last woodshop had one of them - only took 10 - 15 minutes to heat the air in the room, but it was a little loud and again, the problem with the surfaces being cold if I didn't leave it running.

Scott
 

WoodWrangler

Jeremy
Senior User
Jeremy, before making a recommendation I have a question... is your garage insulated?
Nope. That's why such a high BTU. Based on an online tool I used, if it were insulated I could get away with about 25,000BTU, but without insulation it said 75,000BTU. Now, depending on cost I might land back at 25,000 if it will "break the chill" enough to work comfortably.

My garage door is solid wood, and two of the other three walls are exterior facing without insulation. The third wall faces the house and is well protected.
 

WoodWrangler

Jeremy
Senior User
Next, I would look at one of those two piece heat pumps I think Mitsubishi and others make. That way you could get some AC on the hottest days, and leave it running at lower temps in the winter so you don't have any freezing and it doesn't take as long to heat up.
I'm not familar with that and am open to any suggestion. I don't want to spend a grand on this, but would like something safer and warmer.

Since the summers are hot too... it would even better to find something that cools and heats effectively.

I've considered the little "self standing" units, but not sure how efficient they really are. I'd also like to have something that doesn't require me to turn it on 2 hours in advance.
 

WoodWrangler

Jeremy
Senior User
Those definitely make some heat. The only downside I've heard (and don't have personal experience with) is that they heat the air -- whereas an infrared heater heats the objects -- which supposedly is better.

If you go with this one ... how will you "plug" it in? Hard wire or plug?

UPDATE: I like the price on that one!
 

scsmith42

New User
Scott Smith
Jeremy, is insulating the walls a reasonable option? It sure would pay off in the long run (and allow you to use a mini-split system).

If not, I think a used takout home furnace would be your best option, becuase you will want a lot of BTU's in a short amount of time.

Here's some other good options:

http://charlotte.craigslist.org/for/929013098.html


http://charlotte.craigslist.org/hsh/926729026.html This is the basic home furnace that I was referencing. All that you'd need to do is to build a plenum on top of it to duct the heat. Mine had a straight plenum that rose about 4' above the heat exchanger, and it had a register in one side for ducting the air into the shop.

Installation was very simple. A 120 V circuit, an inexpensive thermostat, a gas line and regulator, and an external vent pipe.

I'm not sure what this one is, but it may also be of interest:
http://charlotte.craigslist.org/hsh/923081955.html


another used gas furnace. I think that I'd offer them $200 and see if they bite: http://charlotte.craigslist.org/hsh/921127876.html
 

BillPappas

New User
Bill
For what it is worth, I have the electric unit that Danny linked to from Northern Tools and it is more than adequate for my 2 car garage. It is 220, hard wired and hanging from the ceiling. I generally keep it set 2 tick marks on the adjustment knob above the low setting. Much higher than that and the garage is to hot to work in for very long. The only downside is the temp control on the unit is at least 9 feet off the ground so I have to get a ladder to change temps.

regards,

Bill
 

Joe Scharle

Joe
Corporate Member
For what it is worth, I have the electric unit that Danny linked to from Northern Tools and it is more than adequate for my 2 car garage. It is 220, hard wired and hanging from the ceiling. I generally keep it set 2 tick marks on the adjustment knob above the low setting. Much higher than that and the garage is to hot to work in for very long. The only downside is the temp control on the unit is at least 9 feet off the ground so I have to get a ladder to change temps.

regards,

Bill
I've had that unit for 5 years and it does the job. I mounted mine at 7'. Also, I keep a small fan running all the time to keep humidity down.
 

pcooper

Phillip Cooper
Corporate Member
All the suggestions are good, I use an 80,000 btu lp heater that is a free standing unit (available at Lowes for about $100), connected to a 100 lb cylinder of lp gas (also available at Lowes). Since my shop is super insulated, it doesn't take much heat to warm it up, but even when I used this in a shop with little insulation, I stayed quite warm. and there is little odor. I do vent a window ever so slightly if I need to, but usually the door is swinging open often enough. I get about two to three winters out of a single cylinder fill, and that is about $60. If you don't have floor space, then this may not be the best option, and going on the ceiling may be the best route for you, but something to think about.
 

Gotcha6

Dennis
Corporate Member
I've been watching all the suggestions here, and they are all good ideas. One thing you should surely factor in is if you are using any combustible heat source, a CO detector is a must. It's only required in the living space of a home so equipped, but it certainly would be good insurance against an untoward accident. CO poisoning is hard to overcome and simple to avoid.
Also, if you're thinking of a combustible source you should consider the height of any flames or sparks. Garage areas are considered a hazardous location within 18" of the floor. This is where flammable vapors can accumulate to an explosive limit, so keep it up off the floor. This might not sound important, but if you spill some thinner it could have dire consequences.
Before everyone jumps on me about kerosene heaters and such I'll hafta say I use 'em, but I try & avoid opening flammable liquids when I do unless the garage door is open.
 

WoodWrangler

Jeremy
Senior User
You guys have got me thinking some different thoughts now ...

Thanks for the research and links to Charlotte Craigslist, Scott. I really hadn't looked out there much for a heater yet.

Insulating the garage is an option ... kinda. I guess going the walls would be simple enough ... take down the pegboard covering I put up several years ago and lay some fiberglass insulation rolls (??) ... but what about the wood garage door? How would that work?

And to the point of a CO2 detector ... I have two already plugged in! That's one thing I don't want to mess with!
 

redhawknc1

New User
Wayne
Have been wondering how expensive the 220V heaters attached to the ceiling are to operate compared to alternatives? Would it be safe to leave on the lowest setting to keep things from freezing? There is a Dayton G73? on the bay that is attractively priced and the Microsoft Cashback is at 30% today...
Just ordered...$265 with free shipping. Got immediate Cashback! for a total of $185.50. We'll see! $79.50 savings!
 

BillPappas

New User
Bill
I leave my 220V heater on at the low setting and have not had any concern for safety...I figure its circuit breaker will pop if it shorts out. No idea on what it costs to operate as my electric goes down in the winter and the gas goes up.

Regards,

Bill
 

Marlin

New User
Marlin
Yea my small shop had no insularion. I did some R13 rolls and that alone helps a lot. I iwll also have solid wood doors so not much to do there. I/you could get some auto insulation that has the metalic backing and glue that on. Or use the bubble metalic insulation.

And if you just want to keep thinks from freezing just run a couple 40watt lights. Should make enough heat to keep from freezing and maybe keep people out since they think someone is there.
 

WoodWrangler

Jeremy
Senior User
Today I stopped by Northern Tool in Matthews to look at their inventory. I saw the smaller electric unit, but just don't see how that could do the job ... my garage is a 2 1/2 car with 12' ceiling.

If I had my way, I'd go with the natural gas solution, but I don't know what it would cost to get the gas line run and hooked up to it ... but I bet it won't be cheap.

Electric is nice too, but I don't know if I have room in my panel for it. I have a 200 amp service, but a relatively small panel. I really need to replace that thing ... not cheap again.

Crap. It's cold, kerocene stinks and is expensive, and my garage isn't insulated. Guess I just need to build a new shop! haha
 
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