I'm wondering with winter roaring in, whats the safest way to heat my
refrigerator of a 2-car garage. It has roll-up doors so theres some gap
there. It's insulated on some walls and not on others, :( and covered
with 1/2" plywood. It has about a 6" "flue vent" from the previous
owner where apparently they used to have a wood stove, but now that
would be in my office space, so not much help to the shop itself.
I'm still working on a good dust collecting method, but with sub-zero
temperatures coming I really don't want to freeze my fingers off.
If you face sub zero winter temps then the first thing you should look at is
properly insulating the building and addressing the gaps in the overhead
doors. You can put all the heat you want into a building but if it won't
hold the heat or it allows that nice fresh air inside through gaps, it'll
never feel nice and warm. Lots of waste there, in either money or effort
depending on whether you buy your heat or chop it.
After that, there is no such thing as the best way to heat. Start by
thinking about what form of heat you already have for the house - can you
bring that out into the garage? If not, how about propane? How big is the
garage? There are some very good ceiling mount systems out there if you're
interested in that option. Good way to conserve floor space.
Unless you are independently wealthy or can generate your own power, I'd
suggest staying away from electric.
I have an older, but very well maintained propane furnace in my garage. I
do woodworking, autobody repair, mechanical repair, etc. in my garage with
no problems and all the heat I want. My garage is 36x26 and is very well
insulated, with good, insulated metal clad doors. Works very well in
Northeast winters. More modern units are more efficient than mine and
typically smaller. If I were to replace mine it would be with a more
modern, ceiling mount unit. Mine is the size of a small refrigerator and it
is mounted in a corner about a foot off the floor.
I use more solvents in the course of painting one car than most woodworkers
use in the course of a year and I generate more very fine dust than any wood
sanding process will ever generate. You will likely hear a lot about open
pilot lights and concerns for solvents and other explosion concerns. Most
of these (though not all) are not valid concerns. A little research into
the required ratios of vapors and/or dust to air volume will provide you
with a great deal of information that can steer your confidence in any
particular heating solution.
I went with propane because it was easier, and because I had been given the
furnace by a friend who is a heating contractor. It came out of a facility
where it had received annual maintenance by his company and it was on an
upgrade cycle. The price was certainly right and I already had propane for
the kitchen stove and oven, so it was easy to simply have a larger tank
placed by the propane company. Not as efficient as fuel oil, but I didn't
have to trench over to my basement, purchase and install all of the copper,
etc. I keep it throttled back to the lowest setting unless I'm going to be
working out there. At that, it keeps the garage above 40 through the worst
of the weather. So, it does not take more than a few minutes to bring it up
So, there's my thoughts. But... get that place insulated.
Ok, that was my first thought. I'm installing RJ-11 insulation in the
walls that don't have it and then in the ceiling joists above the
"office" I created. I'm also insulating the cieling with 1" styrofoam
panels and the blue panels on the walls. I have a few walls ( like the
one my desk it on ) where it would be a MAJOR pain to have to pull the
plywood off the wall to insulate. Is there a better way?
My windows are so weird, that they slide UP into the wall itself. Its
hard to explain if you've never seen one. The whole window dissapears
just about. Luckily there are only 2 of them and they are small. The
garage doors are going to be my biggest problem. I looked today and
sure enough there are gaps big enough to give the largest heater a run
for its money. But short of putting a "false" wall up in front of them
for the winter I haven't the foggiest idea how to insulate them and
close off those gaps. Do they just need readjusting? There is a large
"gap" in the concrete at the base of each door but it is full of root
and debri and even if it wasn't the one door for sure would never go in
there as its bowed inward at the bottom slightly. These doors have
brown horizontal (plastic?) panels. I shouldn't call them "roll up"
cause they more "fold up" then roll. The slide up into the ceiling so
I'm in Knoxville, Iowa and already we're in the 20's at night. I've got
1 small electric heater and 2 large ones going and they are barely
keeping the office bearable. I definetly don't want to waste energy as
my utility bills are already quite high as we have a 100+yr old house!
We're trying to get it "weatherized" now. We keep not catching the guy.
As for the house we have "central heat and air" and the Garage is
unattached so I don't think that would be very efficient even though its
only about 12' from the house.
We currently have natural gas. Propane here is MUCH more expensive then
Natural gas. I was considering Kerosene like walmart sells but I don't
know about that.
My garage is roughly 24' square.
The ceiling is another thing. It is open right now. Just look up and
there's the roof. ( except as mentioned in the office )
I don't know if I should "close this off" and lose the storage space, or
keep it open. I know I need to do something!
I'm more then fine with ceiling mount. My one larger heater that I'm
using right now is a "radiant shop heater" and its a cieling mount with
a small halogen lamp for lighting.
Definetly not wealthy, in fact 100% on the opposite end of the pay scale :(
It will also help if I quit working at night so much. Much colder at
night of course. My body clock is all snaffued but thats another story.
The chilly Bear.
Mike Marlow wrote:
I would seriously consider loosing the potential storage space and closing
off the ceiling at some level. You cannot fight physics. Hot air rises.
If you leave the ceiling open, whatever heating system you use will not warm
the area in which you work until it has warmed that large open area above
you. Conversely the uninsulated roof will cause very cold air to drop down
to the working area causing internal drafts.
The 1in panels for the ceiling are better than nothing, but you really ought
to have more insulation at the ceiling, especially if you do not close it
Sounds like the garage doors are also a big problem. Direct air leaking
will loose more heat than the section of wall which is not insulated by your
Try looking for some type of rubber/foam seal. Can you attach anything to
the outside frame? I did this for my garage doors. It is plastic with
rubber flange. This is now sold at the likes of Home Depot/Lowes. At the
time I purchased mine from a speciality house.
A cheap solution, and better than nothing, would be to use 1-2 mil
plastic and double-sided tape to cover the entire doors and whatever
windows you don't need for ventilation. Just like the window
insulating kits they sell at the hardware store- not classy, but they
Kerosene isn't a terrible choice- they sell an odorless version now,
too. If you get one of those jet heaters that look like a tube on a
flat tank, it'll heat the place up quick. Just make sure you've got
some ventilation, and they work great. I've used them in construction
and woodshops alike, and there's never been an issue with the dust
igniting. A good one heats so quickly and intensely, you may find
yourself shutting it off fairly often, even without insulating.
Could split the difference, and staple plastic to the bottom of the
trusses for the winter to lower the ceiling so you're not heating the
peak before any warmth gets to you. It won't keep the heat in without
a heater running, but it will keep warm air around you for a longer
period of time before it blows out the roof.
In that case, look at the jet heaters, as mentioned above- or get a
"Mr. Heater" that hooks on a standard 20lb propane tank (usually for
heating ice fishing shacks). Either one will make your shop bearable,
at least- though you may have to move the Mr. Heater around a bit to
keep it near where you're working.
But from previous expeience, don't even bother with electric ones.
I assume technology has improved, but unless your venting to the
outside Kerosene and propane will add moisture to the shop air and
increase rust problems. I recommend a dry heat source for your tools,
and you want to match house humidity for wood which will be going in
On Sat, 14 Oct 2006 21:07:42 -0500, Prometheus
You raise a vaild point, but I was looking at this-
">>>Definetly not wealthy, in fact 100% on the opposite end of the payscale :("
Having been there more often than I'd like to admit, I know that cheap
and warm is going to beat expensive and dry 99.9% of the time- and a
cheap propane or kerosene heater will warm the place up, while a cheap
electric heater will burn a lot of electricity with no real effect.
Just have to make the call, and wax your tools if it gets steamy.
You have two considerations, safe for intended use and safe per
code/insurance for a garage.
Safe per code for a garage you really need to consult the building inspector
or the local code--in general though a flame less than x distance above the
floor would be a no-no due to the possibility of igniting gasoline vapor,
but there may be other limitations. And as long as it has a door large
enough to pass a motor vehicle the inspector is going to consider it to be a
Safe for an office or workshop the main concern unless you are spraying
coatings is carbon monoxide--the danger of heater-induced fire in a wood
shop is greatly exaggerated--you do want to keep piles of chips and sawdust
away from the heater/furnace though. If you do want to spray coatings in
cold weather then you've got a whole nother set of problems to deal with
besides the heater.
If you want to be super-safe then a hot water system with the boiler in
another room would be the way to go--it moves the flame to a point external
to the shop. Trouble with that is that unless you do an in-floor radiant
system the radiators use up a lot of wall space. Also you _have_ to run it
in the winter in areas where the temperature goes below freezing or it will
Anything that uses gas or oil is going to need to be vented--the new high
efficiency designs vent with a piece of PVC pipe, not a conventional flue,
and may be easier for you to install for that reason, but you'll need to put
up either radiators or duct work to use one (I don't know of any that are
standalone). A conventional vented gas or oil heater will certainly keep
the place warm but may not pass code for a garage unless hung from the
ceiling, and if the ceiling is low then it may not pass even then.
As far as your walls go, there are constractors who will cut holes from the
outside between the studs and blow in fiberglass insulation, then close the
holes. This is the easy way to do it if you don't want to pull down the
interior sheathing, but it isn't necessarily the cheap way to do it--pulling
down the plywood, putting in fiberglass, and putting the plywood back up
isn't going to be quite as great a task as it seems before you get started
You need to seal and insulate that door. There are purpose-made garage door
seals that work more or less well, but if you don't need it to open never
understimate the utility of duct tape. It's not pretty but it _is_ a seal.
Some pink foam glued to the back will go a long way toward cutting down the
losses through the door material itself.
Since I'm primarily doing penmaking and such I don't PLAN on doing
spraying in the wintertime, but I guess if I did, I could always create
a booth near the window on my bench and put a box fan there to draw the
fumes out. Would be easier just to do it in the basement or outside
Is considering it a garage a necessarily bad thing? As a first time
home owner I haven't the foggiest.
If I pickup a carbon monoxide detector does that solve the CO problem?
Or is it too late once they go off?
Its 8' to the bottom of the truss's and then about another 3-4 feet to
Of the 2 doors, One has some serious problems opening ( read broken
parts ) so that one can be sealed off totally as far as I'm concerned as
its in the "lumber storage area" anyway! The other perhaps I can
persuade the bottom panel to get back into the groove? At any event I
can for the winter at least use the "regular" door for bringing supplies
and equipment in and out. Luckily "equiptment" is usually a one way trip :D
Thanks for the duck tape reminder... Amazing stuff.
J. Clarke wrote:
I have been considering building a removeable wall outside of my garage
door. I could then insulate between the wall and the garage door. I would
make the wall look like my paneled garage door.
Troy (in egpvme$53r$ firstname.lastname@example.org) said:
| I'm wondering with winter roaring in, whats the safest way to heat
| my refrigerator of a 2-car garage. It has roll-up doors so theres
| some gap there. It's insulated on some walls and not on others, :(
| and covered with 1/2" plywood. It has about a 6" "flue vent" from
| the previous owner where apparently they used to have a wood stove,
| but now that would be in my office space, so not much help to the
| shop itself.
| I'm still working on a good dust collecting method, but with
| sub-zero temperatures coming I really don't want to freeze my
| fingers off.
Seal gaps and insulate first. Close that flue vent (top and bottom) if
you're not going to use it.
Since you already have woodworking skills, I'll suggest building solar
air-heating panels for the south (first) and west (second) sides of
your garage. The panels on the west side will need plywood covers
during the warm season, but will gather warmth during winter
If you need help getting started, you're invited to visit next time
you're in the Des Moines area. It might also be helpful to lurk on
news:alt.solar.thermal - there are a few people there who really know
their stuff (as well as a fair number who just like to dream). If you
lurk for a while, you can probably sort 'em out for yourself. :-)
DeSoto, Iowa USA
You know Morris I was thinking about you just the other day when I was
at the Woodsmith Store. Let me find out the next day the wife has off
and we'll plan a trip to your place. Maybe by then I'll have an
"olivewood pen" done and can get your opinion. I'm a beginning
woodworker. FAR better computer tech then woodworker :D
I was wondering how well passive solar would work out here. Be talking
to ya soon.
Morris Dovey wrote:
I have made a set of barn doors which close over the insulated roll-up
These doors are insulated w/3" ridged insulation.I have somewhere around a
The shop itself is 2x4 construction with 8 foot ceiling ,with heavy
Shop size is 32x22 and is heated with a Monitor kerosene heater.Monitor also
makes a gas version.
I COULDN'T BE HAPPIER
I used less than 100 gallons last winter,heated all the time at least to 50
when working sometimes heated to 70 degrees.
this is in central Maine
Thats an excellent Idea. Stopping the air infiltration will be a big
step towards solving the freezing problem. I'll still get some from the
slab floor but not nearly as much as from the doors. Great idea. I
suppose I could store them in the ceiling during the summer so I can use
the door? hmmmmmm..... Either that or I'll have to run AC all the time
in the summer LOL
I wonder how effiecient one or two of those oil filled radiator heaters
would be? I'll focus on getting the ceiling closed off ASAP and then
tackle the next steps.
My vote would be for a natural gas garage heater- the kind that mount
on the ceiling. Why? Because natural gas prices are down 11% this
year, while oil and electricity have gone up. I don't think any one
of the big three are particularly safer than the others, so you may as
well save some money.
The cheapest has got to be wood heat, but the safety of that route is
a little iffy in a wood shop, depending on who you are, and how
careful you can be- not to mention whether or not your insurance
company will allow it at all.
I can see it now. You're too cold so you're burning your project wood
for heat. A few minutes later, it's cold again and you've got no wood,
no heat, and you wish you lived around the middle-northwest so you can
get a pickup truck load of wood from that one guy's gloat.
Wise is the man who attempts to answer his question before asking it.
To email me directly, send a message to puckdropper (at) fastmail.fm
For the last couple of years I have used a 15,000 btu blue flame
ventless propane heater I purchased off of ebay. I have it sitting on
a milk crate in the garage, but it can be hung on the wall as the back
of it is always quite cool.
My garage is insulated, but has many air gaps around the garage door
and good infiltration at the light switch I haven't closed up in the
drywall, some places in the ceiling with no drywall, but insulation.
When the heater is on, you can stick your hand up into the 8' ceilings
and feel the hot air up there. Since there is substantial storage
above my garage, you an also feel the heat rolling in from the heater
across the garage when you open the access door.
You need to insulate those walls, that made a BIG difference in my
little garage (15x22).
Propane ran me about $.50 an hour (propane in the $2.20 range), the
same BTU's in electricity here would be less 1/2 of that. (7.2 per
Currently in the process of putting in a radiant floor heated shop.
Planning on electrical water heater for that heatsource. Gas used to
he half 6 years ago to use, but the price increased have made it MUCH
closer, add that to the extra cost of the gas water heater, and you
don't get a payback in the life of the water heater.
Regarding the garage doors:
Suggest buying a few 4'x8' sheets of celotex rigid insulating board
off the INSIDE of the doors. You can cut it to fit with a bread knife.
I use it every
winter to close my basement windows.Ihave SLIGHTLY oversized cutouts
I tap them in place with a rubber mallet. Tape the seams with duct
suggest 2" thick, as its rugged enough to last several seasons of
and re-use. I use "Great Stuff" to seal the corners that get hurt.
Regarding Heat: I'd go with a "salamander" air-forced kero heater (The
tube shaped thing)
They throw huge amounts of heat fast, and since they are fan-forced,
heat by default. ~$200
Your shop will freeze when not in use. If anything in there cannot
use 4mil plastic and staple-gun up a false ceiling and add a
to keep the room above 32degrees when not in use.
My $.02 ,
MikeD , UpstateNY.
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