How to Heat a Garage? 14 Best Ways to Maintain Warmth in Frigid Temperatures
If you use your garage as a workshop, you would know how cold it gets sitting on a concrete floor in winter months trying to complete your DIY project. Your hands and feet get freezing cold, and you don’t feel comfortable at all.
The garage spaces often lack insulation and heating systems, so they are not ideal for extreme weather conditions without making specific changes. To begin utilizing your garage for hobbies, entertaining guests, as a grow room or a workstation, the first consideration is usually to make it less chilly.
Garage heaters are a logical fix to the problem. You should also consider insulating your garage to prevent cold drafts from affecting your indoor temperature.
There are various options for heating systems available out there. For example, if you go to your garage only for weekend projects and don’t need to bring the temperature up significantly, you can consider smaller plug-in heaters. But if you want to use it for longer durations, you will need a powerful heater to maintain your garage above freezing temperatures.
To help you stay warm and cozy throughout the season, here’s a detailed guide on how to heat your garage using different types of heating units.
1. Ductless Mini-Split Heat Pump
If your garage is your relaxing place, a ductless mini-split heat pump is perfect for providing unlimited warmth. A mini-split unit is quite simple to install as it does not involve any ductwork, and you can even DIY the whole process!
Mini-split heat pump has an indoor unit connected to an outdoor unit via a pipe. In the colder months, the outdoor unit extracts heat from the air outside and releases it indoors via the air handler.
Ductless units are highly efficient – they deliver conditioned air straight to the focused area, eliminating heat loss. Ductless heat pumps like mini-splits are also perfect for preventing your pipes from freezing over. Most types come with freeze protection mode in which the unit blows out hot air while consuming minimum power to avoid freezing.
You can also make your heat pump smart by connecting it with a smart AC controller like Cielo Breez Plus. It allows you to fully automate your garage climate with geofencing, global control, scheduling, and Comfy mode. Moreover, you can control your heat pump through the Cielo Home app even if you’re away.
While they are efficient and easy to install, their high initial price and unappealing look might make them a tough choice.
|Energy efficient||Unappealing look|
|Ease of installation||High price|
|Lower energy bills||May require supplemental heating in extremely cold environments|
2. Window Heat Pump
Window heat pumps are self-contained units designed to heat and also cool a single space. They are not costly, so you can use them to heat your garage cheaply.
If you want to make your window heat pump smart, you can connect it with a window AC thermostat, also known as a smart AC controller. They use intelligent triggers to maintain your ideal temperature and humidity levels.
If your garage doesn’t have windows, you can use a through-the-wall air conditioner. It is similar to the window unit; the only difference is that the through-the-wall heating system is designed to sit in a wall instead of a window.
They are considered an eyesore and may clash with your interior decor; however, there are many creative ways you can use to hide your window unit.
|Easy installation||Considered an eyesore|
|Inexpensive||You won’t be able to use the window|
3. Portable Heat Pump
With a portable heat pump, you can easily maintain your preferred temperature settings in your garage.
A portable heat pump works just like any other heat pump with the added benefit of portability. It comes with wheels so you can easily move it around in your garage. In addition, this heating system does not require any professional installation; just route the exhaust hose out of the window or a hole in the wall, then plug in the switch and start heating.
A portable heat pump has a sleek look as all the components are fitted inside one container. It consumes less energy and is much safer than a space heater. You can also give it smart capabilities by connecting it with a smart AC controller!
The disadvantage of this portable unit is that it produces a lot of noise and may not be suitable for a relaxing environment.
|Simple installation||Produces noise|
|Portable||Takes up floor space|
4. Radiant Floor Heating
Radiant floor heating uses infrared radiation to heat your space using resistive wires or hot water tubes running under the floor.
The most significant advantage of radiant floor heating is that it provides uniform and consistent heating, reducing hot and cold spots. Also, unlike forced air systems, there is no blowing air, which means fewer dust particles are circulating. It is a highly efficient system, reducing energy costs without compromising your comfort.
One drawback of this system is that it is only for those who are building a new garage or considering replacing the existing floor. Radiant heating is installed before the concrete is poured and is quite challenging to retrofit.
|Uniform heating||Expensive to install|
|No allergen circulation in the air||Requires tearing up the floor|
|Low energy costs in the long run|
5. Electric Ceiling Panels
Consider installing electric ceiling panels if you have converted your garage into an art studio or a hangout place and don’t want your heating system to clash with the décor. They consist of slim panels that are embedded in your ceiling.
Electric panels are an energy-efficient option that can quickly warm up your space. In addition, they can be used as your primary source of heat without having to use a supplemental system.
The disadvantage of having a ceiling heater is uneven heating. You may feel like the room has not been appropriately heated at a lower level. Further, maintenance of ceiling panels can get costly.
|Quick heating||High maintenance cost|
|Doesn’t require supplemental heating||Uneven heating|
6. Space Heater
Space heater is an excellent way to warm up your garage space. It is a portable heater that you can move around and place nearby when working or reading a book, for instance.
Space heaters use electricity, propane, kerosene, or natural gas to operate. You can use direct vent space heaters that use natural gas if your garage is piped for gas. They are best used in areas where the temperature dips below freezing point. Electric space heaters either work by convection which involves circulating the air in the room, or by radiant heating that emits infrared radiation.
If accidentally knocked over, space heaters pose a fire hazard and are not considered energy-efficient units. Moreover, unvented kerosene and propane space heaters can boost the release of deadly carbon monoxide gas.
Note: When choosing a space heater, consider safety options such as a tip-over safety switch, overheating protection, and a cool-to-touch feature.
|Portability||Less effective in large and uninsulated areas|
|No ventilation is required with electric space heaters||Fire hazard|
|No installation||Takes up floor space|
7. Wall-Mounted Electric Heater
A wall-mounted electric heater is a great way to heat your small garage as it’s designed to save up floor space without affecting your comfort. These heaters are easy to install; you just plug them in the power outlet, and you can start using them right away.
Wall-mounted heaters are safer to use, especially with kids and pets, as you don’t have to worry about accidentally knocking them over and causing a fire. They rarely require maintenance and are eco-friendly as they do not emit any gases.
One disadvantage of these heaters is that they can lead to hefty bills.
|Easy to install||Can result in high electricity bills|
|Saves floor space|
|Do not emit harmful gases|
8. Central HVAC Extension
Don’t want to incorporate a separate heating system in your garage? No issues! You can simply extend your central HVAC system by adding ductwork in your garage.
Before you take this route, do contact a professional and have a thorough assessment. If your furnace passes the test and has the capacity to put up with the extra load, then this can be a great long-term heating solution for your garage.
The drawback of this method is that it requires ductwork installation, which would involve tearing up the walls. Moreover, some units may not be able to handle the added load, leading to an increase in energy bills.
|No need for a separate system||Requires ductwork installation|
|Increases home value||May lead to an increase in bills|
|HVAC unit may not be able to handle the extra load|
9. Convection Heater
Another option to heat up your garage is a convection heater. It intakes cool air and puts out warm air using the natural convection currents. Powered by electricity, gas, or propane, convection heaters uniformly heat the area by distributing the warm air evenly.
If your garage is a place to relax and unwind, convection heaters make a great option considering their silent operation.
The disadvantage of convection heaters is the lack of filters, resulting in dust and allergen accumulation in your garage space. Also, these heaters are not suitable for large rooms.
|Uniform heating||No air filters; resulting in allergen & dust accumulation|
|Minimal noise||Not suitable for large spaces|
10. Forced Air Heater
A forced-air heating system uses a powerful blower fan to draw in air from your home, heats it, and then sends it back via air ducts. It is quite effective in heating your entire garage.
A forced-air system is expensive to install and requires professional help. In addition, the ductwork requires frequent maintenance, and the unit produces a lot of noise which can be annoying. Another drawback is that it has the potential to circulate allergens and dust around as it blows the air.
|Effective in large areas||Expensive installation|
|High level of noise|
|Can circulate allergens and dust in the air|
11. Infrared Heater
If you are looking for a highly efficient heater for your garage, the infrared heater should be your top choice. These heaters use 100% of the heat they produce and consume less energy. They do not heat up the surrounding air; instead, they warm the nearby object through infrared radiation. Unlike forced systems, they do not dry out the air at all as they are not moving air around.
They produce minimal sound and are cool to touch, making them a perfect option if your kids or pets are going to hang out in the garage. IR heaters also work effectively when raising the ambient temperature would otherwise be difficult.
An infrared heater starts working instantly the second you turn it on, but it will also stop radiating heat when turned off.
|Consumes less energy||Stops radiating heat the moment it’s turned off|
|Do not dry out the air|
|Cool to touch|
12. Propane Heater
If you are looking for instant warmth in your garage space, a propane heater is an easy to use plus an affordable option. This heating unit can quickly heat up a medium to a large area using liquid propane as fuel. It is a highly efficient system, more efficient than an oil furnace, and usually qualifies for rebates and incentives. Most modern models even boast a 99% efficiency.
Portability is a feature of this unit that sets it apart from electric and natural gas heaters. However, not all propane heaters are portable as they have an electrical system that has to be plugged into a power source.
A propane heater boosts the air temperature up to 140 F, perfect for toasting your garage on freezing cold evenings.
The downside of this heater is that you have to keep a constant eye on it for safety reasons, and you can’t leave it unattended. Go with the one that comes with a tip-overswitch that protects you from the risk of fire if the heater falls over. Some models also come with an oxygen depletion sensor that automatically turns off the unit when the oxygen level in the vicinity drops.
|Highly efficient||Safety risk|
|Qualifies for rebate||Can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning|
13. Wood Stove
A wood stove provides slow, steady heating, which is a good choice if you frequently work on day-long projects. If you have a fresh supply of wood readily available, a wood stove can be a cheap way to warm up your garage.
Safety considerations should be taken into account when installing a wood stove. A wood stove requires a connection to a chimney and must permanently be installed by a professional. In addition, the stove should be positioned on a non-flammable surface, preferably a concrete garage floor, and it must be located a safe distance from flammable items. Plus, it should be vented outside to keep the smoke from backing up in your garage space.
A garage wood stove isn’t for you if you want a quick heating system. Another drawback is that it requires high maintenance as you have to load the wood every day and start the fire. Moreover, it also demands frequent cleaning to avoid the buildup of harmful substances. A wood stove is also a fire hazard when improperly installed or when there are gas fumes from a leaking vehicle in the garage.
|Can be a great option if you have a fresh supply of wood||High maintenance|
|Provides warmth for longer duration||Fire hazard|
|Requires professional installation|
14. Garage Insulation
Insulation is crucial for the optimal working of any heating system as it helps to keep the warm air inside and prevents outside cold air from seeping in. Without insulation, your heating unit will have to work hard to achieve your desired temperature, resulting in increased bills. An attached and well-insulated garage can help provide a better thermal boundary to your home, restricting cold or hot air exchange from hallways or rooms above or next to your garage.
Start by insulating your garage doors and walls with rigid foam insulation. Also, fill in any cracks and gaps with caulking and apply weatherstripping on door jambs and between the window frame and sash. You can also cover the window with film insulation to further minimize heat loss. Moreover, use fiberglass insulation to cover the ceiling and floor of your garage. Rubber rugs or mats can be added for extra floor insulation. Finally, spray foam insulation does an excellent job at filling any nooks and crannies. Have a look at this guide on different types of insulation.
What to Consider When Selecting a Heating System for Your Garage
When deciding on how to heat your garage, do take into account these important considerations:
1. Size of Your Garage
To assess your heating needs, you would have to determine your garage size. If you have ample space and you get a unit that is not powerful enough to handle the load, it won’t heat up your garage. Similarly, a larger than required unit will overheat and affect your comfort.
Calculate the square footage of your garage and have a professional evaluate what heater size would be suitable. For electric heaters, a good rule is for every 10 watts of output; you can heat one square foot of space.
Also, check the amount of space you actually require. You may be using only half the portion while the other half is reserved for vehicle or storage items. You can use a smaller heater to provide adequate heat in this scenario.
This air conditioner sizing guide will help you determine what heater size would be the best fit for your garage.
2. Power of Heating Unit
Heat output is measured in BTUs, and you have to check both the wattage and BTU of the heater to see if it will sufficiently heat the entire space.
Also, consider the voltage of the garage heater. If it’s a plug-in heater, you’ll need to ensure it won’t trip the power outlet.
3. Maintenance Needs
Maintenance is key if you want your garage heaters to function optimally and last longer. If you have little to no time for AC tune-ups, go for simple electric space heaters or portable heat pumps. Most durable heaters, however, will require extra maintenance such as more cleaning and inspection.
4. Safety Features
Safety is a significant concern with garage heating. Therefore, you should look for safety features such as tip-over mechanisms and overheating protection to avoid mishaps. The tip-over mechanism shuts down the heater when it’s knocked over, and overheating mode senses the rising temperature and shuts down the heater. Another essential feature is a cool-touch feature that mainly comes with wall-mounted and portable heaters as they are set up in locations easily accessible to kids and pets.
5. Smart Controls
If you want to control your garage temperature remotely using your phone, you should look for a unit that can be paired with a smart thermostat or smart AC controller. With smart climate control devices, you don’t have to micromanage your garage temperature on an hourly or daily basis, just set the schedule once, and that’s it! Setting up weekly schedules would also eliminate the need to go to your garage just to turn your heat pump on/off.
6. Portability of Heating Unit
Depending on your requirements, you can either go for a portable heating unit or a permanent solution.
You can move around your portable units, and they are easy to set up as they don’t require any installations. However, they take up floor space, and there’s a chance of accidentally tripping over their cords. You can also go for permanent types like radiant floor heating or extending your ductwork to the garage.
7. Noise of Heater
Some garage heaters can be very noisy, so check out the specs before purchasing. If you prefer a quiet workspace, go for an electrical heating system. Also, check the decibel ratings and choose the one with a higher dB value.
A mini-split heat pump combined with a smart AC controller can eliminate all your temperature woes, while radiant heating is excellent for uniform garage heating. If you want the element of portability, consider going for space heaters or portable heat pumps. If it gets icy cold in your area, you can try combining different heaters to maximize the output. Whichever heating unit you choose, make sure to insulate beforehand to maintain your ideal climate and avoid energy wastage. Moreover, always ensure that you follow all the safety guidelines on installation and use.