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How to Choose and Use Garage Heaters

Updated on September 28, 2011

Staying Warm with Garage Heaters

If you have a garage, workshop, or worksite that gets uncomfortably cold, then a garage heater could solve the problem. These durable heaters can be used for supplemental heat or as a primary heating source for such areas.

In addition, they can be used as emergency back up when electricity fails in the worst of weather. On this page, you will learn more about garage heaters; the types available and some tips for choosing the right one.

Stay Safe

All space heaters can create burn and fire hazards in the home and garage. Users should always:

  • Keep objects, especially flammables at least 3 feet away from these heaters. Also keep flammable materials such as paint, kerosene, gasoline and so forth away from them.
  • Don't allow children and pets around space heaters unattended.
  • Don't lay anything on these devices.
  • Don't use extension cords with a garage heater.
  • Don't lay rugs over cords.
  • Make sure the heater you choose has an auto-shut off for overheating and tipping over.
  • Read and follow care and safety precautions provided by the manufacturer.
  • Be sure you provide adequate ventilation when using gas powered garage heaters.
  • Carefully locate the heater. Avoid placing it where it can be stepped on, have things splashed on it, and so forth. If mounting the heater, be sure that it's intended for this purpose and won't get too hot or have air flow restricted due to inappropriate mounting. Even ceiling mounted heaters can create a hazard if it's possible to hit your head on them as you're working.
  • Inspect the heater before each use. Be sure the cord is intact, vents are clear, and so forth.

Buying Tips

Choosing the right garage heater for your needs requires you to consider a few things:

  • Heater Types
    There are gas and electric heaters. Some provide radiant heat and others are fan forced. Fan forced heaters circulate warmed air around the room. This means that the entire area is heated. A radiant heater on the other hand does not heat the air, it warms people and objects that are touched by the infrared waves that it emits. This means it provides immediate warmth for anyone standing near it.

    The main cost of both electric and propane/gas heaters is the energy to operate them. Electricity can be expensive but propane cylinders are even more expensive in many situations. If you want a heater that will act as a heat back up even in emergencies, then a gas/propane model would be needed. They will operate even when the electricity is out. Gas/propane heaters can generally provide more heat and faster, but they also require good ventilation and extra safety features.
  • Heating Power
    Clearly the garage heater you choose has to have sufficient heating power. 240V heaters will take more power and produce more heating that a 110V model. Of course you'll need the appropriate outlet and a 220V breaker to handle it.

    You'll also want to be sure it produces enough heat or BTUs. To determine roughly how many BTUs you'll need, calculate the square footage of the room, multiply it by the height of the room, and then, multiply that by 3. That is the number of BTU's you'll need in your workshop or garage. (If there is little insulation there, you will want to multiply the space by 4)
  • Other features
    Some of these devices sit on the floor or another solid surface. Some can be mounted to a wall or the ceiling. Certainly mounting them can provide additional stability. Some can swivel and others have louvers that can tilt to assure warm air can be directed exactly where it's needed.

    Adjustable thermostats allow the user to regulate the level of heat and in some cases, set a temperature and allow the heater to auto regulate. All garage heaters should offer basic safety features as well. For instance, auto shut off in case of overheating or tipping over. Gas models should offer auto shut off in case of oxygen depletion or fumes. Push button igniters are also very handy on gas models.


This 240 volt electric garage heater is hard wired and provides 5,000 Watts of heating power. It's perfect for workshops, garages, and worksites 500 square feet in size. It features an auto shut-off safety feature in case of overheating, a built-in thermostat, and adjustable louvers to direct air wherever it's needed.

This energy efficient heater will cost less top operate than oil run models. It comes with both a celing and wall mount bracket.

Mr. Heater

This propane heater has variable output from 30,000 to 55,000 TBUs. It is made of rugged durable steel and has a heavy duty high output fan for instant, economical heat. This heater can provide adequate warmth for a 1,250 square feet space.

It features auto shut-off in the event of loss of flame or power supply. It requires a 20lb propane tank (purchased separately), 10ft hose, and regulator (included). It comes with a one year warranty.

(User must supply adequate ventiliation)

This convection propane heater offers 30,000 to 80,000 BTUs and can heat up to 1,900 square feet of space. It provides 360 degrees of directional heat making you warm wherever you work. It requires a 20lb (or larger) propane tank (not included) and a 10ft hose and regulator (included).

This device features an adjustable heat output control, piezo push-button igniter, sturdy base, and safety shut-off in the event the flame is lost. It comes with a 1 year warranty.

(Adequate ventiliation must be provided.)

This portable model from Mister Heater can be used with propane tanks or just as a radiant heater. It has low (4,000BTU), medium (9,000BTU), and high (18,000BTU) settings that are easy to adjust even with gloved hands thanks to the large knob. The blower fan can run off of D batteries or A/C power.

This device features auto shut off in the event of accidental tipping or fumes thanks to the oxygen sensor. The built-in Piezo starter makes it easy to start and the wire safety guard reduces the risk of burns. It can be mounted on the wall if desired using the key shaped holes on the back. It measures 17" x 10" x 17 1/2".

Another option from Mister Heater, this is a gas powered, vent free radiant heater which can be wall mounted. It provides up to 30,000 BTU for all the warmth you need.

This garage heater also features a quiet integrated blower for gently circulating heated air and an oxygen depletion sensor for safety.

This is a propane garage heater that heats objects and people in front of it but not the surrounding air; thus, it provides immediate warmth for people. It has 35,000 BTU heating power and works well in spaces measuring 800 square feet or less. It requires a 20lb propane cylinder (purchased separately) but has the hose and regulator that is necessary.

This device has rugged steel construction, a piezo push-button igniter, a folding handle, and wheels for easy storage and portability. It measures 12" x 10" x 34" and comes with a one year warranty.


This 240 volt Dimplex garage heater provides 4,000 watts/13,640 BTU of heating power with a stainless steel element. It features an auomatic temperature control to keep temperatures between 45 degrees and 77 degrees Fahrenheit.

It also has an auto safety shut off feature in the event that the unit is blocked for any reason. It can be set on a solid surface or attached to the wall or ceiling with the included bracket. The heater swivels to direct air where you need it. It measures 11" x 7 2/7" x 9".

This 240 volt portable model has 4800 watts, 16,000 BTUs of heating power. It has running lights to indicate when it's on and a thermal cut-off for safety. It features a durable stainless steel tubular element and propeller type fan.

This heater has a thermostat control and a 6 ft. cord that can wrap around the handle for storage. It measures 11" x 7.2" x 9.2".


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    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Good idea and nice selection of heaters.

    • BrianS profile image

      Brian Stephens 

      8 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

      I can see how these are very useful for a quick heat source but they are sure to be expensive over time at the power ratings quoted. Still it's nice to be warm when you are working in the garage so probably well worth the cost.

    • lakeerieartists profile image

      Paula Atwell 

      8 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      Great info here. I use a small ceramic space heater in the back room of my shop which does not get heated as well as the rest, and it really helps.


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