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.
Keeping your garage ventilated can be a difficult task, but this high velocity van helps in a big way thanks to the three variable speeds that you have to choose between. The pivoting head allows you to direct the air flow and circulation wherever you need it the most. With twin-volt accessory outlets, you can easily plug in your tools or even your phone if you like.
You can use this fan in a number of different applications, whether you are simply looking to ventilate a space, or you want to dry down some areas of your garage. Since it comes fully assembled out of the box, you don’t have any work to do here. Plus, it is highly portable to take around and position whereve
Low, medium, and high speed options
Built-in pair of outlets
Pivoting function to direct circulation and air flow
- Weight10.1 pounds
Fully assembled out of the box
Suitable for cooling, ventilation, exhausting, and drying
Some complaints about rattling and/or clicking noises
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
Another product from Lasko, this space heater comes with its own remote control. You don’t have to worry about it overheating as it already comes with protection against this. While it is a powerful product, it is also a compact one, so you will have no problems taking it around from place to place. And there is also a built-in carry handle.
Thanks to its design, the oscillation is widespread. And there is also a timer which gives you the added convenience of setting it as you need. You have two settings to choose between – and both of them are quiet options.
Timer function and remote control
Low and high heat settings
1500w of warmth
- Weight7.45 pounds
Wireless remote control
Convenient to move around as needed
Some reports of malfunction and overheating
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
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
If you are looking for a heater to warm up a larger amount of space, this one can promises heating for areas of up to 750 square feet. The blue flame burner is there to allow for even convection heat. If there is low oxygen, the system shuts off automatically.
Other features that come with the product include wall mount hardware and legs. Bear in mind that it runs on natural gas, which means that it is not suitable for indoor areas such as bathrooms and bedrooms.
Heats areas up to 750 square feet
- BrandMr. Heater
- Weight26.8 pounds
Equipped with a thermostat for enhanced control
Can be permanently mounted on the wall
Not suitable for certain indoor living areas
Best Garage Heater Buying Guide & FAQ
What to Look for in a Garage Heater
- Power Rating
The first thing that you need to know about your garage heater is how much power you need to heat the space. Heater brands should list this power rating information, but some will tell you in distance as well to help you understand. Remember that the power rating is assuming the best conditions possible, so you should go for a heater that has a higher rating than the one you require, which accounts for any draughts or poor insulation in your garage area. Don’t forget to take into account the height of the ceiling as a garage with a tall ceiling requires a more powerful heater. As a general guide, if you have an especially large space that needs heating, a heater of around 4,000 to 5,000 watts is a great choice.
- Type of Heater
There are several different types of heater to choose between. First, you have the fan-forced heaters, which have an easily installable integrated fan. These are highly popular as they produce a lot of heat and can warm up a room quickly – particularly in smaller or medium-sized garage spaces. Next, you have radiant or infrared garage heaters, which work in a similar way but produce a more ‘comfortable’ heat. They are not as powerful, so you need to be close to fully appreciate the benefits. But they are a popular choice in smaller garage spaces as they work to heat up objects rather than the air. Finally, you have the heaters that use fuel such as diesel, kerosene or natural gas. These work quickly and don’t require access to an electricity supply. On the downside, they can be dangerous when used in an enclosed area. You also have to choose whether you would like a fixed or a portable garage heater. Both options have their individual set of pros and cons which we will discuss in more detail in a future section of the blog post.
- Safety Features
Keeping yourself safe is obviously the most important thing when you are at work in your garage. There are plenty of safety features out there that can work well. For example, a tip over switch will automatically shut the heater down if it happens to get knocked down for any reason. Some heaters offer overheating protection, which shuts the heater down if it becomes too hot and protects its internal parts too. If you want maximum protection, a cool touch heater will stop the surface of the heater from getting too hot. This is especially important if there are children and/or animals anywhere around the vicinity. Check the reports online for safety ratings and any accreditations that have been issues. After all, there is nothing more important than ensuring that you are totally safe when you are working in your garage.
If you need to be able to take the heater from one place to another with no problems, you should be looking for a device that is highly portable. A carry handle helps in your task of picking it up and moving the heater around whenever you want. Alternatively, wheels or casters help too – and you are not in danger of throwing out your back by trying to pick up something that is simply too heavy. Ultimately, this comes down to the question of whether you want a fixed or a portable garage heater. We will come onto this in more detail later in the blog post.
- Adjustable Features
It is worth checking whether the heater features any sort of adjustable features that allow you to redirect the heat as needed. Some feature a pivoting function, while you can also get heaters that are operational by remote control. Another common adjustable feature is the option to change the power setting from low to high.
- Ease of Assembly and Installation
Some of the heaters that we have talked about above come pre-assembled straight out of the box, whereas others require some assembly work. If you are handy with DIY, the latter may not be a problem, but the former is better if you want something that is ready to go straight away. Other heaters will need to be hardwired into the circuitry, and this needs someone with professional electrical experience to take care of the task. Otherwise, you could find yourself in a dangerous situation.
- Power Cord Length
A commonly overlooked feature that people don’t tend to think about is making sure that the power cord length is suitable to ensure that you can put it wherever in your garage. With high output heaters, it may be especially tough to find a safe extension lead, so you should double check to ensure that the cord is sufficiently long enough.
Why You Should Invest in Garage Heaters
There are plenty of different reasons why keeping your garage warm is a good idea. First, you help to prevent freezing damage during the winter months of the year. This can impact various components inside your garage such as your car battery and other electrical features. In some areas, it is required to heat your home properly, which protects it against wear and tear, so it is worth knowing whether your neighborhood code dictates this. The garage can be an area that invites a lot of cold air into the home, so heating the area properly can help to prevent cold air from reaching you, which helps to ensure your comfort.
Garage heaters are a quick and easy way of heating this area of your home. They are easy to assemble and don’t tend to require a lot of maintenance. Since many homeowners use this area of the house as a workspace, this is a great way to maintain comfort, so you can get on with the jobs that you want – even when the weather has taken a turn for the worse outside.
Fixed vs Portable Garage Heaters
One of the main questions that you need to ask yourself when you are choosing a garage heater is whether you want it to be fixed or portable. The latter makes sense if you ever envisage a time when you may need to move it to a different workshop space or area of the house. For the electrical ones, you just need to plug them into the nearest available outlet. Or you could go for a fuelled heater if you want to escape from the restrictions that a cord imposes on you.
There are plenty of benefits to using a fixed heater if you don’t think that you will ever need to move it. You wire them into the position that you like, and you don’t have to worry about finding somewhere safe to stand the heater where it is not in danger of being knocked over. This gives you more space to work with in your garage area.
How to Heat Your Garage Efficiently
When you are heating your garage, you need to do so in a way that ticks both the safety and efficiency boxes. When you are positioning your heater, you should choose an area that is off the floor and other work surfaces. Also, avoid putting a freestanding heater near any entrance or exit areas as it could easily get knocked over in the event that you need to make an emergency exit. If you can mount the heater directly to a wall or ceiling, this is the safest way of doing so that keeps it comfortably out of your way. You may need to enlist the support of a heating expert to take care of the installation for you.
Plenty of garage heaters have the convenient feature of giving you the option to direct the heat wherever you like. When you are choosing a direction, you should go for the middle of the garage or any area that you are going to be concentrating on working on. This will allow you to experience the full benefits of the heater. You could also look at investing in a radiant panel as this can help a garage keep warmer for longer.
As we mentioned before, you need to choose a heater that is effective in warming up the space. Bear in mind that some garage heaters require ventilation as well. But proper heating of your garage doesn’t only extend to using a garage heater. You should also insulate the space to stop any heat from escaping. If you use high-quality insulation, this will help to keep the heat in that little bit better. Also, check the window and door areas to ensure that the insulation here is adequate too. Any gaps can cause draughts, which allows the precious heat to simply escape outside. Remember, proper heating also has the other major benefit of lowering your heating bills, which no one is going to complain about!
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.
Best Garage Heater FAQ:
Q: How much power does my garage heater need?
A: The amount of power that your garage heater needs depends on the size of the space that you intend on heating. Watts is one of the most common power units out there, but British Thermal Units (BTU) is also widely used. You can use either to determine the size of the heater that you require for your garage. Watts are easy to calculate as you just need to think 10 watts per square foot of space. The calculations are slightly more complicated when it comes to BTU. You can convert the amount of watts into BTUs by multiplying by roughly 3.41. If you want to be even more accurate, you can calculate the amount of air by the volume inside your garage. Even more accuracy can be achieved by multiplying the R-value of the insulation into cubic feet.
Q: How do I install a garage heater?
A: Some of the portable heaters that we have discussed above have an installation method that is so simple. All you have to do is take it out of the box, plug it in, and you are good to go! Installing and wiring a fixed electric garage heater becomes an altogether more complicated affair. First, you need to complete all the installation work that ensures the correct wiring is there to begin with. Then, you can get into wiring the thermostat and the garage heater. For most people, they need to enlist the help of a professional electrician to make sure that the task is accomplished properly.
Before you purchase the heater, it is certainly worth checking the item description as this will tell you whether you need to install the heater directly into your electric supply or you can just put it into a power outlet. Or if you get an electrician to install the heater or you decide to do it yourself, you should make sure to check the voltage output. Some garages have a lower voltage which would be dangerous if you were to connect a heater to it.
Q: Are garage propane heaters safe?
A: Many people decide that a propane heater is the best choice for their garage. However, there are one or two points that you need to bear in mind so you can be assured of safety. First and foremost, there needs to be plenty of oxygen in the area to allow for proper combustion. Also, you need to ensure that there aren’t any flammable materials in your garage which could pose a fire risk. For example, if there are any spray paints or gas present, you should certainly avoid using a propane heater.
You don’t have to store the propane cylinder outdoors if you decide to use one in your garage. Some are suitable for indoor use, but these require smaller tanks. A bigger tank will obviously need to be kept outdoors.
And while it is possible use a propane heater inside your garage, it is certainly worth looking at the other choices that are available to you. Lots of heaters are designed specifically for garage use, and they could end up heating the garage more efficiently and will not rack up your bills quite so high.