When it comes to the most efficient way to heat a garage over the winter, you have many options.
There are many benefits to heating your garage, from providing a friendly workspace to keeping your vehicle at a stable temperature.
If you’re not sure what to choose, this blog is for you. First, let’s take a closer look at your options regarding the best way to heat a garage during winter. A storage solution from Garage Storage Solutions can transform your garage into a social focal point for visitors with a modern look.
Figure Out Your Heating Needs
Before you choose a garage heating method, you’ll need to determine your specific heating needs.
In other words, you have to figure out how hard your heater will need to work to warm your garage. Start by asking yourself these questions:
- How cold is winter in your area?
- What is the square footage of your garage?
- Do you already have sufficient insulation?
- How warm do you want your garage to be?
- How difficult will it be to warm your garage in the heart of winter?
- How easy is it to get cheap heat in your garage?
Consider how cold it gets in your part of the world, the square footage of your space and if you have sufficient insulation.
Install Better Insulation
If you tend to have mild winters, you can keep your garage at a comfortable temperature by simply insulating your garage door and windows and weather-stripping exterior doors.
You’ll likely still need to wear some layers while you work, but beefed up insulation will keep your garage much warmer than the outside.
- Insulation and weather stripping are typically very affordable.
- No ongoing costs once installed.
- Installation is straightforward.
- Not a good choice for areas where temperatures regularly dip below freezing.
- You won’t have control over the exact temperature in your garage.
Is it DIY Friendly? Yes! Adding insulation is an easy project for most DIYers to help limit heat loss and keep your garage warmer.
Most homeowners will have no trouble adding insulation to windows and weather stripping to doors.
Insulating a garage door is a bit more involved but still very doable for the average DIYer. Insulation helps keep the heat generated by other sources from escaping your garage. And once your garage has been insulated, there are few ongoing maintenance costs.
You should insulate your garage door, windows, and weather stripping, including around pedestrian doors.
Insulating your garage windows is easy. Simply cover them with transparent, plastic shrink film for added protection.
If you see any holes or cracks in your garage’s foundation, seal them with expanding foam insulation.
Cold air can easily seep into your garage from flooring cracks, which will do a number on your heating bill.
You might also consider putting down parking mats to soak up any moisture your vehicle may bring into your garage.
If your walls are open (e.g. not covered by drywall), insulating them is very important. Unfortunately, many older garages weren’t constructed with insulation in mind, so they let a lot of cold air in (and warm air out).
Adding insulation to your garage walls will help you maintain a more consistent temperature inside your garage.
There are multiple options when it comes to wall insulation:
- Cotton-fibreglass batt insulation
- Cellulose blown-in insulation
- Spray or injection foam insulation
Once you’ve thoroughly insulated your garage, you’re ready to learn how to heat a garage in winter.
Choose A Heating Method
Let’s take a look at your many options when it comes to heating your garage.
Electric Space Heater
Electric space heaters for your garage are just more extensive and more powerful versions of the portable units you might use to warm up your office or bedroom.
If floor space in your garage is limited, you can even find electric space heaters that can be mounted on the wall or from the ceiling.
- Current energy-efficient models typically won’t raise your electric bill by much.
- It can also be used inside the house if needed.
- No ventilation is required.
- It can take longer to heat a garage than other options.
- It might be challenging to use in garages with few outlets.
- It will be less effective in an uninsulated garage.
Bonus Tip: We recommend looking into a heating system that a thermostat can control. It’s easy to forget about a heater out in your garage after turning it on.
Using a thermostat is safer and can save you some money on your energy bill because you won’t be using more electricity than you need.
Combustion Space Heater
Combustion space heaters use a fuel source such as kerosene or propane to create heat. Therefore, most need to be run on a specific fuel type.
However, some models can run on multiple fuel types, giving you the flexibility to buy whichever is currently cheapest.
- Most models will heat an average-sized garage reasonably quickly.
- Can continue heating the garage even during power outages.
- Often cheaper upfront than an electric space heater.
- Very noisy. Many people equate it to the sound of a jet engine.
- Fuel odour may bother some people.
- You’ll have ongoing fuel costs.
Combustion introduces moisture into the air, so there’s a risk of rusting your tools or vehicles if you frequently use your heater for long periods.
Safety Concerns: Combustion heaters produce carbon monoxide. They should never be used without cracking your garage door several inches and opening windows to create ventilation.
They should also never be used inside your home. Even in well-ventilated garages, you should install a carbon monoxide detector for added safety.
These units generate heat through convection. Air currents circulate through the team and across the heating element.
They’re then pushed out by a fan, thereby heating the air around the unit.
Some convection heaters use a separate fan to draw in cool air, which allows the unit to heat up more quickly.
Convection heaters warm the air from the top down to natural airflow since hot air rises and cool air sinks.
- Quiet operation
- Choose from multiple power sources (e.g. electricity, natural gas, propane, etc.)
- Heats spaces evenly due to the natural airflow produced by circulation
- It doesn’t provide additional circulation since the air outside the unit doesn’t move.
- It doesn’t filter the air, which may leave dust and dirt in the garage.
This system generates heat by combining an outdoor compressor and an indoor air-handling unit.
Ductless heating works similarly to a central heating system, but you don’t have to install ductwork or connect with an existing duct system.
Ductless heating is more aesthetically pleasing than other options, so it’s ideal for garage conversions or retrofits.
- Flexible placement options (e.g. floor, wall, ceiling suspension, etc.)
- More expensive upfront than some other heating options
- The filter must be cleaned regularly to prevent debris from building up.
Radiant heating systems are installed under a floor or as panels in the walls or ceiling. The system uses infrared radiation to heat a surface itself rather than the air of the room.
There are several different types of floor and wall/ceiling radiant heat systems, so do your research to see which type is best for you.
- Meagre operating costs once installed.
- Extremely quiet.
- Floor installations heat a space more evenly than other options. This avoids creating spots that are significantly warmer or cooler than the rest of the garage.
- Expensive upfront to install.
- Installation is an involved process, especially for floor systems.
- Moisture may build up on the surface where the system is installed.
DIY-Friendly? No, this garage heating option should permanently be installed by a professional who has experience with radiant heating.
A Word of Caution: Two big things come to mind regarding garage safety and heaters: sawdust and flammable vapours.
Neither one of this mix well with heaters. We always recommend checking in with heater manufacturers to see which products can be safely used in your garage if you do woodworking. Garage Storage Solutions features an innovative wall storage system with heavy-duty sliding wall components such as hooks, garage shelving and stylish, durable steel cabinets designed to hold your gear securely and neatly in place.
Electric Ceiling Panels
Consider the radiant electric ceiling panel if you’re looking for a primary way to heat your garage in winter.
These 1-in.-thick panels mount on the ceiling and can be an energy-efficient option that heats up quickly and cools down just as fast.
Plus, if your garage not only needs to function well but look good, you can’t go wrong with these ceiling-slimming panels.
- Easy to install and replace since they’re dropped into ceiling frames
- The garage floor may be cold since heat rises
- Requires a finished ceiling
- It can be slower to cool down than other heating methods
This heating system generates heat by blasting hot air into your garage. They typically distribute air via a fan, blower, or air handler.
You can use a forced-air unit to heat your cold garage. These heaters range in price and size and are not as pricey as an infrared heat source.
Here are some factors to consider: Forced-air heaters work by blasting hot air into the room. They can be professionally installed to tie into your home’s gas or propane line, too.
The downside here is doing a lot of woodworking; for example, the forced air will blow dirt and debris around, which is a significant drawback, especially when you’re painting, staining and finishing projects.
- Less expensive than infrared heat sources and duct systems
- Can be connected to your home’s existing gas or propane lines
- Fairly efficient power consumption vs. power output
- Noisy operation
- Blows dirt and debris around your garage
- Requires regular maintenance, such as duct cleaning
These units generate heat through a low-intensity infrared tube that radiates heat throughout your garage.
Infrared heaters warm objects before people, so they don’t necessarily warm the air. However, they work well for garages that aren’t sufficiently insulated because you’re not losing hot air.
A low-intensity infrared tube heater can be one of the best ways to heat your garage. (Not the kind that glows red, since that could be a potential fire hazard.)
Instead of blowing air like a forced-air unit, a tube heater radiates heat throughout your space. This kind of heater tends to heat objects first, people second.
So, you’ll get comfortable, but it may take a little while. Check out these tips on how to install an infrared heater or a forced air unit, so you’ll be ready to go if you choose this type of system.
- A quiet option that can be powered by electricity, propane, or natural gas
- Requires little ongoing maintenance
- Heat is short-lived
- It warms a small area, so you’ll need more than one for an oversized garage
Mounted Electric Heaters
These units generate heat through a 240-volt electrical connection. All you have to do is mount it on the surface of your choice and plug it into an outlet.
More extensive than a portable space heater, a wall-mounted electric heater is among the best ways to heat your garage space in winter.
Here you’re typically looking at installing a 240-volt hard-wired unit. Another plus—these heaters can be easier to install than a forced-air heating system, so you may not need to call in a professional for help.
If you go with this kind of heater, here are some DIY tips for mounting a heater on a wall to help you.
- More powerful than a space heater so that it can heat your whole garage
- The safe option since they have an auto-shutoff feature
- Potentially long power cords
- Heat may take longer to disperse than other systems
These units generate heat using propane as a fuel source. The propane can also be used to heat appliances, so these units are ideal for garage conversions.
Whether the garage is the place where you tinker, or you do more serious work, you’ll want to be comfortable in winter.
When searching for a heat source, you’ll come across many options, including a propane appliance.
Propane, an affordable heat source, also delivers excellent warmth. With a propane heater, you can go big or small, depending on your needs.
With this type of heater, you add fuel to the appliance and instantly warm your space.
The unit typically provides an automatic setting or manual ignition. Their affordability and mobility make them a great option for warming up your space.
- Versatile since they can function as standalone units or central heating sources
- Ongoing fuel costs
- Requires regular inspection to prevent fire hazards
These units generate heat by burning wood. They function similar to infrared heaters because they heat the area around the unit.
A wood-burning stove is an economical way to heat your garage space in winter if done safely. Just like you take steps to make your indoor wood-burning fireplace safe, you’ll want to do the same with your garage stove.
First, check with your local municipality for the permits that may be required.
Then check with your insurance company to make sure installing a wood stove in the garage for cheap heat will not void your homeowner’s policy.
After getting the necessary approvals, you can order a wood stove from your local hardware store.
Once installed, don’t forget to clean your chimney and flue or hire a professional periodically. Otherwise, you risk exposure to toxic gases.
- One of the most affordable options since there are no energy costs
- Environmentally-friendly since the power source (wood) is renewable
- Heat large spaces very effectively and for a long time
- Use may void homeowner’s insurance policies
- Must regularly clean chimney and flue to avoid exposure to toxic gasses
- High heat can make feeding the fire dangerous
Tips For Heating Your Garage
Here are some tips for heating the garage to a comfortable temperature and creating a productive project space.
Choose A Heat Source Or Two That Are Sized For The Garage’s Square Footage.
Visit your local home improvement store in late fall, and you’ll find aisles of small and large portable space heaters. Most of these options, however, aren’t powerful enough to heat an entire garage.
Most of today’s ceiling-mounted heaters come with remote control and a thermostat so that you can set the temperature you prefer and rely on the heater to do the rest.
Finish The Walls With Fiberglass Batt Insulation And Paneling.
No matter how much power your garage heater packs, you’ll find it difficult to maintain comfortable warmth in your garage if the walls aren’t finished.
Many garage walls consist of just the wall studs, covered on the outside with sheathing and siding.
Without insulation to block, cold air will quickly transfer to the inside of the garage and detract from all of your efforts for heating the garage.
Insulate The Garage Door.
Often manufactured from thin metal, garage doors are notoriously cold in winter—in fact if you live in a northern climate, it’s not unusual to find frost clinging to the inside of a metal garage door.
Insulating the door will help keep the cold outside air from transferring through the door and cooling the workshop, keeping the garage an average of 10 to 12 degrees warmer in winter even before you even turn on units for heating the garage.
Eliminate All Other Sources Of Drafts.
In addition to the above steps, keeping your garage consistently comfortable this winter includes sealing all gaps that permit cold drafts to blow through. T
these are the three most likely sources of drafts:
Garage door frames.
Garage doors don’t fit tightly in their frames, so you’ll find small gaps around them.
Fortunately, addressing these spots is a quick task when using an integrated weather-strip seal. The self-adhesive strips will help block the gaps so cold drafts can’t enter.
If your current garage door is more than a couple of years old, it’s also a good idea to replace the gasket along the bottom of the door.
Garage door gaskets are designed to block drafts beneath the door, but, with time, they can become brittle and cracked, allowing cold air to enter.
These gaskets are available in various sizes to fit different size doors—measure your door width before you pick up a replacement.
To seal drafty windows, apply shrink-type film to the inside of the windows surface.
The film is applied with highly adhesive tape to the window frame, and then a hairdryer is used to heat the film, which will shrink it to fit snugly along with the window and seal out drafts.
Consider Radiant Heat For Your Floors.
If you enjoy working on automobiles in your garage, you probably dread having to lay on a frigid concrete floor while changing the oil or working on an engine.
One way to remedy this problem is to install a radiant floor heating system when you pour the garage floor.
Note: This is only a solution for those building a new garage or those planning to tear out an existing garage floor and replace it with a new concrete floor.
Before you pour concrete, a reflective liner is installed to overfill sand in the bottom of the excavated area, and flexible piping is carefully positioned in loops over the liner.
When finished, a boiler is installed inside the garage to circulate hot water through the pipes, which warms the floors and the objects above.
If you’re considering renovating the garage, do seriously consider installing a radiant floor heating system during the installation of the new garage floor.
Installing a radiant floor system is not a DIY project—you’ll need to hire a plumber who specialises in installing this type of floor heating system.
The resulting system is ideal for heating the garage workshop: it effectively warms the space without blowing wood chips and dust around as a forced air heater would, keeping your workspace clear of particles that might interfere with detail work. Can I find garage storage cabinets to match my style? Absolutely! Even the cabinets in the garage should reflect your unique tastes and style. Garage Storage Solutions offers stylish storage in a variety of materials and finishes.