I'm getting ready to finish the inside of my garage here in Central
Illinois. I want to be able to heat it comfortably to work in it during the
winter. Figured I should think about heat before I do the wiring and
drywalling. I first thought about using natural gas, but figured electric
would be better when using chemicals and such. Just wondered what other
people out there are using and what to avoid. Any advice?
In most places natural gas is cheapest to run, but more expensive to
Most of the time the chemical concentration is not likely to be high
enough to cause issues. If you want to be really careful you can get
direct-vented gas heaters where the combustion air is drawn from outside
and the exhaust is vented directly outside. This costs quite a bit more
than a standard unit.
If your ceiling is high enough, you might want to consider a radiant
heater. These are available in gas or electric, and have the advantage
that they heat the objects in the room rather than the air. That way it
makes you feel warm even if the air is cooler.
Lastly, you should certainly consider insulating the walls/ceiling, with
vapour barrier on the inside. If you do insulate, you will also want to
vent the attic area if it isn't already.
Get a direct-vent gas unit if you're using lots of chemicals. If it's
just occasional chemical use, get a gas-fired radiant heater, and turn
it off when the chemicals are in the air.
The forced air is fine, too, but you'll find the floor and your tools
will be warmer with radiant heat.
I just installed a forced air overhead furnace (unit heater) in my
garage, and plan to install a small radiant electric heater over the
bench, which should give me the best of both worlds.
Attached or stand along garage? How often do you plan on using it, once
a month or five days a week? How comfortable do you need it?
I would suggest that radiant heat would be the best choice and electric
is likely to be the cheapest to install. If you use it daily, then you
would want gas as it will be cheaper to run.
Electric quartz infrared is a good choice especially if you want fast heat
but need it only infrequently. I have three 1600 watt units in my insulated
2-car garage. As a bonus, you get plenty of light along with the heat. The
lamps put out both short and long-wave infrared so objects are heated rather
than the air. Good for drying paint. I can leave the garage door open, in
fact, and keep warm in the garage unless the wind is blowing. It's great
for melting ice off the cars too.
Installation is easy. Just mount the units on standard electrical boxes
high on a wall or ceiling where they can "see" the area you want to heat.
They require 240 volt power. I've got mine wired through thermostats, but
usually just switch them on when I'm in the garage and want heat.
The lamps are mounted in what look like light fixtures. They're available
through electrical distributors. Lamp life is very long. I've never
replaced a lamp in more than 15 years.
Thanks for some good ideas. I'll do some searching and reading about them
BTW, it's an attached single wide garage with a 10 foot ceiling. Too narrow
for the F150 but big enough to hide from the family. The outside walls are
brick so I need to insulate soon if I want to spend some time in it.
I've just purchased a unit heater (got it off ebay at a reasonable price)
that runs on NG. For me, my electrical panel is about as loaded as I want
it so I didn't really consider electrical. I've not installed it yet but
when I do, I figure I'll run it to heat the garage then shut it off if I'm
using any chems. Most chems that I use probably wouldn't ignite but I
won't take the chance. I can then open the garage door when done and air
it out and fire the unit back up if I need to. I'm putting a low setpoint
thermostat on it to keep the garage at just above freezing to keep some
things from being ruined by freezing temps.
That is what I have used in my shop for years. Shop is small and well
insulated. I can usually turn it on, go back inside and drink a
second cup of coffee then go out to the shop and generally turn it off
after a half hour or so. I'm in the South, but it works well for
those days that start off and finish up below freezing. I run through
two or three 20lb tanks a winter, but don't use the shop every day.
I personally have avoided the propane route as I tend to find any of it's
odors pretty offensive. Secondly, I've heard it adds a lot of humidity to
the air which is not good. Just what I've heard anyway.
Propane does not smell any more than natural gas, IMO, but some people do
seem to be more sensitive to it than I am. As for adding humidity, yes, it
can as propane does give off water when it burns. If the heated area is
very dry, it is not a big deal, but in humid climates, it may be. If the
heater is vented, none of this matter.
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