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3 Ways to Heat Your Garage

If you live in the Midwest area, you probably get tired of going out to the garage and getting into a COLD vehicle.   Our garage floor coatings work great, but the coatings don’t change that cold feel.   But, there are many affordable options to make the garage more enjoyable in winter.

I’m going to discuss the 3 most common solutions I have seen over the past 10 years.   Each solution can be scaled to the size of the garage.  Some are easily installed as a Do-It-Yourself solution, but homeowners should heed all requirements from the heater’s manufacturer.

Heat your Garage with a Gas Forced-Air Heater

Forced-air, natural gas heaters blow warm air like a conventional home furnace.  These solutions often heat the garage fastest due to the air circulation.  Most units can be configured to use propane as well. 

Typically installed in a corner, near a gas line and electrical outlet, these heaters often cost over $500 for a unit sized to 2 car garage and over $700 for a unit sized to a 3 car garage.  While some DIY sites provide detailed instructions for their setup, these units may prove too complicated for a homeowner to install safely.

Forced air units can be noisy and lose heat very quickly if the garage door is left open.  The forced air does tend to blow airborne dust about the garage, so wood workers may want to consider a different solution.

Common brands, like Modine’s Hot Dawg range from 30,000 to 125,000 BTU/hr.

Warm up the Cars with an Natural Gas, Infrared Tube Heater

Low intensity, infrared tube heaters also use natural gas or LP.  Instead of circulating air, they radiate heat which warms objects first and the air second. So, floor areas which are under the tube heaters warm and radiate heat back up into the garage.  You must keep objects a set distance away from these heaters or they will overheat.  

Unlike the forced air units, they do not stir up dust and recover more quickly from garage doors being opened and closed.  But, installation is more complicated, as the units must be located where they have all the distances from objects, walls and floor as specified by the manufacturer.

These units are more expensive than the equivalent forced air units, but are quiet, less costly to operate and the heat is move evenly distributed within the garage.

Take off the Chill with an Electric Garage Heater

These are often the cheapest and easiest to setup. Big box stores often have options that are under $200 and can easily heat a small to average, 2-car garage.    Most circulate air over heat coils.   They will not keep the garage as warm, and often do not distribute the heat as evenly as the other two options.

There are some electric, infrared heaters now which can do a better job than the units available at the hardware store.  But these will have a higher operational cost than their natural gas counterparts.

Stay Warm This Winter

All of these solutions will make you garage and vehicles more comfortable in winter.   If you spend a lot of time in the garage, consider going with the most BTUs appropriate for the size of your garage. 

Keep in mind all of these solutions lose a lot when the garage doors are up in cold temperatures. So, always keep the garage doors down as much as possible.

If you plan to do a lot of work in the garage, decide if noise and air circulation will be a problem and ensure the choice you make is properly installed and safe for your usage.