As temperatures begin to drop and winter sets in it can make working on projects in your garage or workshop seem more daunting than during warmer seasons. After all, fiddling with nuts and bolts with frozen fingers is no fun at all. Luckily there’s a wide-ranging market of garage heaters to keep you warm and working through the colder months making sure Old Man Winter won’t stop you from making progress and enjoying time in your workspace. From electric to propane fuelled there exists a wide variety of heaters with different warmth-producing characteristics and output levels. This article will compare nine of the best on the market across a range of different applications to help you choose the perfect heater for your individual needs.
The Best Garage Heater
Mr. Heater touts their liquid propane fuelled F232000 heater as the most popular portable propane heater in North America, and with capabilities like these it’s not hard to imagine that that’s true. Fuelled by a 1lb propane tank and boasting very nearly 100% fuel efficiency, the F232000 is certified clean burning and is guaranteed safe for use both indoors and out.
The F232000 is capable of heating spaces up to 225 square feet and features a variety of safety-minded design features.
The heater will shut itself off if it senses that it has been tipped over, if the pilot light has gone out, or if it detects that it is not receiving enough oxygen to function properly. The F232000 comes equipped with an electrical ignition system meaning that once you have fuel it won’t be very long at all before you also have heat.
Heats up to 225 square feet
Safe for indoor/outdoor use
Operates at near-100% efficiency
Auto-shutoff if the unit is knocked over
- BrandMr. Heater
- Weight9.5 lbs
Extremely efficient; almost 100% clean burning
Provides heat in places that electric heaters cannot go.
Smaller heating area relative to similarly sized electric units.
Farenheat’s FUH54 brings industrial-style materials and construction to heat your garage and keep you warm while working over the cold winter. Featuring a wide output range from 45 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit in a compact 11x14x13 inch package, the FUH54 is an excellent choice for heating your workspace when temperatures plummet.
The FUH54 packs 5000 watts of electrical heating power meaning that you can simply plug it in and start warming up. A built-in mounting bracket makes securing the heater to any horizontal, vertical or ceiling surface hassle-free and adjustable front-mounted louvers direct heat exactly where you need it.
Built-in thermostat with an output range of 45-135 Fahrenheit
Front-mounted louvers direct heat where you need it
Industrial-grade build quality
Design incorporates mounting brackets for simple, effective installation
- Weight24 lbs
Easily installed and operated
Simple electric heating means no hassle with propane fuelling and refills
Not ideal for heating larger spaces
The NewAir G56 is a great heater to consider if you require some portability as well as plenty of heat. With the power to heat up to 560 square feet contained within a compact steel construction you’ll be toasty warm in no time. The G56 also comes certified for electrical safety with a overheat protection system which shuts the heater off if it starts to become too hot.
Designed to be set down on the floor, the G56 features a sturdy carrying handle on its top surface and a 6 foot long power cord to allow it to deliver its 5600 watts of heating power. In addition all moving parts stay contained behind a steel safety grille. A single-pole thermostat ensures that you get precisely the amount of heat that you need.
Capable of heating 560 square feet
Built-in overheat protection for safe operation
Portable design and 6-foot power cord
Easy to use with simple manual controls
- Weight16.6 lbs
Portable and powerful
Steel construction and safety systems provide worry-free heating
Lack of mounting bracket means this floor positioned heater may prove to be a tripping hazard.
Modine’s Hot Dawg garage heater provides 45,000 BTUs of heating power and is capable of running on either natural or propane gas. Its quiet operating volume makes it ideal for commercial, industrial, and especially residential uses.
The Hot Dawg runs at 80% efficiency and comes packaged in a compact 26x12x16 inch casing; no mean feat considering the heating power that it’s capable of putting out. Intake and exhaust piping can be routed from the left or right sides of the unit and a small-diameter exhaust pipe makes the venting process simple.
45,000 BTU heating capacity
Residential, industrial, and commercial usage approved
Able to run on natural gas or propane
- Weight60 lbs
115 volt power means no special wiring required
Powerful heating capability in a compact package
Quite heavy with a weight of 60 lbs
Optimus’s H-9010 provides excellent heating power in an attractive package. Featuring a quartz heating element contained within a sturdy metal frame, the H-9010 is compact and can be mounted on walls or ceilings to save space. The heating unit begins producing warmth the second it gets turned on and features an operating range of between 750 and 1500 watts.
The heater also features a built-in work light to illuminate the area below it and which can be operated totally independently of the heating element. Safety has been considered too with the H-9010 featuring an auto-shutoff system in case it detects any overheating. A pull cord on/off switch makes operating the heater extremely simple.
Quartz heating elements
Durable metal housing give a long service life
Built-in halogen light
Can be mounted on walls or ceilings
- Weight8.25 lbs
Produces heat as soon as it gets switched on
Low-profile design and mounting versatility keeps the heater out of your workspace
Lack of precise range of heating temperatures
Dyna-Glo’s RMC-FA60DGD is a real heavy hitter on this list, producing a massive 60,000 BTUs of heat with a relatively feather-like unit weight of just 16.8 lbs. The RMC leans more towards the industrial side of things with the ability to heat up to 1,350 square feet for 14 hours fuelled by a 20 lb liquid propane tank.
Also perfect for those larger garages, the RMC is a top-quality product with reliable motors, materials and brass burner nozzles that Dyna-Glo claim to be indestructible compared with other stamped stainless steel burners in the space heater industry.
The RMC is certified for both indoor and outdoor usage featuring tip-over and overheat protection shutoff systems. Dyna-Glo’s entry is really a high quality space heater and one that should certainly be able to warm any garage.
Heats up to 1,350 square feet
Electronic ignition, propane fueled
Auto-shutoff for overheat protection
- Weight16.8 lbs
High quality construction, materials, and design
Powerful heat production
May be unnecessarily powerful for smaller garage heating applications
Lasko’s Stanley Pro-Ceramic heater provides excellent personal heating combined with extreme portability. Weighing just 8.75 lbs, the Pro-Ceramic packs 1500 watts of heat-producing power into its compact frame and has the ability to pivot in its tubular steel base to provide heat exactly where you need it.
The heater features a multi-positional thermostat to make sure that you receive exactly the amount of heat that you need and can also operate in fan-only mode if heat is not required.
The Pro-Ceramic comes equipped with automatic overheat shutoff and arrives fully assembled backed up by a 3 year limited warranty.
1500 watt ceramic heater
Durable steel base construction
Pivots to direct heat where needed
- BrandLasko Metal Products
- Weight10 lbs
Arrives fully assembled; just plug in and heat
More of a personal heater than a garage heater
The Patton Milk-House heater utilizes fan-forced heat where a fan blows air past a heated wire element to provide a soft, gentle heat in garages, basements, and other smaller sized spaces. Able to heat at 1000 and 1500 watt levels, the Milk-House heater is designed with safety and durability in mind.
Guards on the front protect the heater if it is knocked over and serve to keep the heating and moving components of the heater well separated from the surrounding area.
Manual controls ensure that you get exactly the amount of warmth that you require while tip-over and overheating auto-shutoff protections keep you nice and safe. The Milk-House heater will provide gentle heat for years to come.
Fan-forced convection coil heat
Durable steel body construction
Auto-shutoff if tipped over
1000 and 1500 watt heat settings
- Weight5.45 lbs
Fan-forced heat delivers comfortable warmth
Built for safety and durability
Not as adept at heating large spaces as other heaters on this list
The Cadet RCP502S provides serious electric heating power within a small, portable frame. The 5000 watt Cadet produces its heat from a 240 volt power source and the built-in bracket means that it can be mounted on walls or used as a floor-standing heater. The frame and body are made from 20-gauge steel before being powder coated in a range of finishes for long-lasting durability.
The Cadet also doubles as an air circulation fan during summer months meaning that it has the ability to make your garage or shop a more comfortable place all year round.
Other features include a selector switch allowing you to choose between 3333 and 5000 watt heat outputs, a double pole thermostat control and a 6 foot long power cord.
5000 watt heating power
20-gauge steel powder-coated casing
Fan-only setting doubles as an air circulator during summer months
Wall mount or floor stand
- Weight30 lbs
Durable 20-gauge steel construction
Can be used as an air circulation fan during summer months
30 amp receptacle requirement limits where the heater can be used
Garage Heater Buying Guide and FAQ
Types of Garage Heaters
Garage heaters can take many forms based on what you require in your workspace. From small personal heaters right up to units that are capable of heating cavernous job sites there is a heater that would be perfect for your needs. As a basic rule of thumb, electric heaters have a ten to one ratio of watts to square footage heated. Therefore a 3000 watt heater will heat a space that measures 300 square feet. Listed below you’ll find some of the major heater styles as well as information on their characteristics.
- Fan Forced
Fan forced heaters utilize a fan to move air past a heated electrical element. As the air moves past the element it becomes heated before moving out into the room. Fan forced heaters provide soft, comfortable, and gradual heating and are well suited to smaller rooms which do not need to be heated immediately after the heater is switched on.
Ceramic heaters replace the electrical element in fan forced heaters with a ceramic heating element to provide more heat while using the same principles. As such, ceramic heaters are suited to heating larger rooms. They also have a greater ability to focus the heat being produced than do their fan forced counterparts.
Quartz heaters utilize infrared radiation to provide greater heat which is often compared to that of the sun. They are very useful for heating people and objects but less so for heating air as the infrared heat produced is of a different spectrum than the absorption spectrum of air. Quartz heaters use metal reflector sheets to direct the heat in the direction it is needed and are well suited to heating larger rooms as well as outdoor spaces.
- Propane/Natural Gas
Propane and natural gas fuelled heaters work on the principle of an extremely controlled flame within the unit heating the air inside before a fan pushes the heated air out into the room. These are the most common kinds of heaters found in industrial applications and can produce large quantities of heat for extended periods of time. Residential applications often value electrically generated heat over propane or natural gas because of the simplicity of plugging the unit into a wall over refilling and fuelling with compressed gas.
- Free Standing or Wall Mounted
The question of free standing or wall mounted heaters essentially comes down to your own application and personal preferences. Free standing heaters can be moved around a space which is useful if you need to direct heat to a few different locations. They can, however, provide a tripping hazard when sitting on the floor which is not ideal if you will be moving around your garage or workspace a lot. Wall mounted heaters remove the tripping hazard as they are not typically in an area that you would find yourself moving about in. The downside to this is the fact that they are difficult to move once they have been installed and therefore cannot be transferred as needs be. One upside of mounting propane or natural gas fuelled heaters on a wall is the fact that you are able to isolate all of the necessary piping and fuel bottles away from walkways. If your heater is mounted on an exterior wall it is also easier to run piping for venting to outside your workshop.
Safety Features to Look For
Modern garage heaters come with a wide variety of safety features to ensure that nothing bad comes from having an extremely hot object inside the walls of your house or workshop. A major safety feature to look out for would be overheating protection. This system will detect if the heater is producing too much heat and therefore becoming unsafe, stepping in to switch it off before any damage is done to your home or the heater itself.
Another extremely useful safety precaution is tip-over protection. Imagine your heater gets inadvertently knocked over and is laying face-down on the floor. This is bad enough in a garage but could be disastrous on a carpet inside a house. Sensors inside the heater will detect when the unit has been knocked over and shut it off immediately so as to minimize the risk of a fire starting.
Safety Precautions when Using a Garage Heater
Garage heaters are, by their very nature, capable of generating intense quantities of heat. Even electric heaters, which lack the controlled but active flame of propane/gas burning heaters, can start fires and have other adverse effects if used improperly. There are a few things to consider when using a garage heater in a safe manner.
Firstly, you should always make sure that any gas bottles or fuel sources are kept well away from your heater. Fuel sources can include oils, aerosols, gasoline/diesel storage containers, firewood, and any other flammable material. If possible you should keep substances that can add fuel to a fire are kept in a separate storage area, be that a different room from the one being heated or a specifically designed fireproof cabinet.
Second, you should try to keep your garage heater out of the path of foot traffic and other movements. This may mean mounting the heater on a wall/ceiling or simply finding a place for it that’s well out of the way. Avoiding the possibility of the heater being knocked over should be of high priority. Although modern garage heaters feature safety systems that will shut the heater off if it gets knocked over it’s always better to be safe than sorry when dealing with fire risks and ignition sources.
Third, you should make sure that your new heater is in good condition when it arrives and that you frequently check on it to make sure that it hasn’t become damaged without your knowledge. As you might imagine, the manufacturers of garage heaters want their operation to be as safe as possible and they will happily replace the faulty unit if it arrives with damaged components. If you have an electric heater you should make sure that the power cord is not frayed and is in good condition. Gas fuelled heaters should have their burner nozzles inspected to make sure they’re functioning as they were designed to do. If you are not comfortable performing these inspections yourself you can always take your heater to someone who is certified in their maintenance.
With any kind of heater, you should make sure that the motors/fans are free of dust and debris and that you keep any accessible areas of the heater clean. Dust and lint can prove extremely flammable and making sure they don’t build up on your heater can save you from an unnecessary fire.
Finally, any gas fuelled heater will require exhaust venting. Make sure that the exhaust piping ends up outside the building in the fresh air and that it isn’t being expelled near any windows or HVAC intakes. When used correctly and given their proper respect garage heaters are an excellent way to keep warm and keep working through the cold winter months.