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Best (Safest) Garage Heaters


E. Tyler Pedersen
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Since it is getting cold in the north here soon and Violette is sitting out in the shop in a non insulated barn, I need some help on how to provide some heat this winter so I can go and work on the car.  The shop is rather large with 18ft ceilings.  This is the first winter in the new shop at the house.  I was looking into salamanders that burned kerosene/diesel/propane.  I also looked into the round heaters with a wick that burns kerosene.  I know some of these methods need a good ventilation in order to keep you from being sick.  When I had my other house I just poked a small hole in the duct work in the garage and had instant heat from the furnace.

 

What is the safest way to keep the space that I am working with warm?  I don't need the whole shop to be warm, just the area I am working on. 

 

Thanks for the advice.

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I have an identical situation here in MD (large steel building, zero insulation and lots of holes in the ceiling/wall interface). I was looking on electric heaters for a bit. https://www.mcmaster.com/#space-heaters/=19xs4h1 , but never pulled the trigger.

 

Curious the reply re: kerosene/diesel/propane and fumes. I can just shut the barn doors and poke the salamander in. 

 

 

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14 minutes ago, MichaelPal said:

I have an identical situation here in MD (large steel building, zero insulation and lots of holes in the ceiling/wall interface). I was looking on electric heaters for a bit. https://www.mcmaster.com/#space-heaters/=19xs4h1 , but never pulled the trigger.

 

Curious the reply re: kerosene/diesel/propane and fumes. I can just shut the barn doors and poke the salamander in. 

 

 

 

From my understanding the fumes are pretty toxic to breath in and need some proper venting.  I would have to leave a door open from what I have read.  Maybe it's different.  I know when I was in Fort Wayne I used a propane heater and it smelled pretty bad and had to crack open the garage door.

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2 hours ago, Huggy said:

I use one of these in my shop, with no ill-affects

 

https://www.harborfreight.com/lawn-garden/heaters-torches/15000-btu-tank-top-propane-heater-63073.html

 

Use at your own risk tho

 

As Huggy said use at your own risk!  I had two of these in my garage for less then a year.  After a long day (8-10hrs) the head unit on one ignited,  luckily I was able to get it outside and shut off before anything serious happened. 

 

I have used the torpedo and upright kerosene heaters(don't believe the pictures on the box of the uprights being used in the house, I would never do it).  You have to use ventilation, so it will warm your area up but you always have that nice cold air coming in.  If I use them with no ventilation after 4+ hours I will get a bad headache. 

 

Ron

Edited by Ronh911
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57 minutes ago, ABR-Glen said:

Do you want/need it to be warm in there when you aren't working on the car? Is there natural gas available? 

 

Nope this isn't a big deal.  I am looking for something to keep me warm while I'm in there this winter. 

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Maybe we can come out for a weekend and put up some insulation and install a heater or 2.

 

If you have heat, you will work on the car.  If you don't, you wont.....

 

Insulation is easy to put up(as long as you don't mind being on a ladder).

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11 minutes ago, wvumtnbkr said:

As I was saying with the texts, reznor is what you will end up buying.  Just get the right thing for the job the first time.  Don't spend money on a bandaid.  

 

What utilities do you have available?  

 

I need to check into this to see if natural gas is available.  Right now we just have electric out at the house. 

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Check the feed from the house.  The service box at the garage may be a larger service than what is provided from the house.

 

That is, if it is run from the house.  

 

For example, I have a 100 amp box in the garage (for future expansion) but it's fed from a 60 or so breaker in the house.

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Well I know I am pretty sarcastic on here from time to time but I am shocked to read some are using propane heaters for garage stuff. That sounds real dicey. 

 

But anywhooo...

 

Tyler, look into a wood pellet stove/furnace. It is a pretty popular option in canada due to its low cost and low installation costs. For the little bit of pellets it uses most are capable of 8500 btu on low. And pellet bags are pretty cheap from TCS/lowes/Home Depot. 

 

You will Have to weigh the options with what rob suggested as per what your electricity rates are. An electric fan force heater can be pretty costly to run and could easily consume a good 1/2 the amount of your homes power if you only have a 100amp service. Depending on the size of course. 

 

You can call me if you need more life lessons on electricity or wood pellet stoves.

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7 minutes ago, thewheelerZ said:

With 18ft ceilings, does it make sense to also put a ceiling fan in? 

 

The problem here is he has a lot of unused  space which will take a form of energy to heat.  He should at one point add a ceiling to what ever height he needs and insulate. To reduce the amount of air he has to heat.

 

A fan won't help much in the winter here as he is not making the shop tropical style temps, but more of working temperatures. Air flow in the summer is a different matter depending how much Tyler likes heat.

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Natural Gas or Propane radiant heat they come in a tube or square design they heat the objects in front of them  and in turn heat up the air .  Will keep you warm even with the door wide open . I'm not talking about the ones that mount to the top of a bottle but mount in the ceiling or on the wall ..  They are used in lots of shops and dealerships that open their doors often ..  Kerosene is expensive and smelly ,last resort ,heating with wood is work and has a learning curve ...  My shop has two radiant heaters and a large forced air Propane that I use to warm up the place and also a big new england wood stove my brother modified with a large heat exchange with blower that keeps it toasty all day ..   but back to the radiant heat it's is instant and ez , look at some newer shops around you and its probably what you will find .. 

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In reference to the wood stove setup, a gentleman at church (who passed away a while ago) had a wood stove in his shop behind his house.  He had the stove near the front where he worked and piped the exhaust around 3/4 of the ceiling and then vented it.  The radiant heat from the exhaust kept the rest of the shop fairly warm.  This is in a 20'x40' shop with 10' ceilings.  

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+1 on waste oil....   friend had one, his shop was so hot we always had to open doors / windows in wisconsin winters...  if you want to be legit you have to do some fancy stuff to store / mount the waste oil tank depending on your local rules.

 

I will say however, LP or Natural Gas modine style is the way to go for me...  really doesnt cost that much to run, keep it set low to keep stuff from freezing, only takes a few minutes to heat up a fairly large space from 40 to 65, and makes it nice to work...  also not having your tools freezing in your hands is a bonus.

 

Being able to keep the whole shop above freezing is also good for tires, paints, etc...

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23 hours ago, wvumtnbkr said:

Maybe we can come out for a weekend and put up some insulation and install a heater or 2.

 

If you have heat, you will work on the car.  If you don't, you wont.....

 

Insulation is easy to put up(as long as you don't mind being on a ladder).

I think I just got volunteered to help install insulation?  I'm in!!!!

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So I found out my father-in-law has an old school wood burner that he wants to install in the shop. It has some fierce blowing power out the front and only uses wood with a built in thermometer and will turn itself down once it gets up to temp.  I think this will be going in for the year but if @wvumtnbkr and @bbaker480 want to come help with insulation install then I have Guinness and car bombs and Cubans readily available.  Not to mention the hot tub!

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