I have heated a 700 sf, and more recently a 1,040 sf garage with
kerosene with pretty good success. The current garage is very well
insulated with 6" walls and about R30 blown above the 10' ceiling. My
eventual plan, with this new house, is to hang a natural gas furnace
from the ceiling but I haven't gotten around to that. The plumbing is
there but no furnace yet. A few years ago I did look into propane and
the same amount of heat was going to be substantially higher in our
If you go with kerosene, shop for prices. The big box and hardware
store sell kerosene at obscene prices. The pre-packaged 2 and 5
gallon cans are as much as $8/gallon in this area. We buy ours from a
local farm co op in the $2.50 to $3.00 range. Another local gas and
petroleum distributor sells it at a slightly lower price but the
longer drive isn't worth it. Again, shop around for good prices
before you commit to the fuel. We use a 17,500 btu kero-sun type of
heater. I also use a small electric cube heater to supplement it.
Some milder mornings (30 degrees or above) I can bring the temp up in
the garage with both, then turn the Kerosene heater off for a while or
If you use kerosene or any open flame you need to keep the shop,
especially the area around the heater, clean. Blow the dust off and
out of the heater from time to time. When I get ready to use
flammable substances such as finishes or solvents I TURN IT OFF
several minutes before I start and let the electric heater do the work
until fumes are gone.
If you can at all, install a permanent natural gas heater but install
it well above the floor. Some codes require flame devices at least 2
feet above a garage floor and 4 feet would be better.
I use to work in my garage(two car with insulated walls and door.) I used a
propane heater attached to a small propane bottle(the type you use for a gas
grill).it would heat up the room in about ten minutes and would last me a
week(you need to turn it down after heating the room up) With no odor and
minimum fuss it worked for me.I would try to insulate the walls(it is fairly
easy to do,I weigh nearly 400lbs and I did it myself over a couple days).
Hmm. When a whole beef would strain the budget, I can generally get by
with a couple pounds of hamburger and a steak or two...
Think of it this way, if you were totally off the grid, you'd have a lot
more stuff with inflexible maintenance requirements.
Usually, I found that a pile of steaks cost almost as much as a whole beef and I did not get all the parts that people are not supposed to eat - liver, kidney, heart and I never did acquire a taste for tripe.
With the advent of "Smart" meters, I now have to schedule my dish and clothes washing for the midnight hour so as to be using "cheap" hydro. When the utilities figure out what is happening, they will up the rates to make up for the lost income and I will have to resort to other means of keeping my costs down -- maybe a rock in the river and my wife up to her neck in the stream.
Now, if you have any pocket pleasing ideas on how to turn my 70 foot south roof into a viable solar collector, "Lay on MacDuff".
P D Q
It's possible to DIY the PV panels, and there are a number of good
articles on the web with step-by-step how-to info - but the requisite
charge controller, batteries, and inverter still aren't cheap.
For the panels themselves, the silicon and solder are available on eBay,
the wood and glass can be purchased locally - and the enclosures can be
built by an average woodworker. I was tempted to build a couple of 4'x8'
panels, just for the heck of it - but decided that my money would be
better spent on another (solar thermal pump) project.
I'll repeat for both you and Bill: for the cash spent, solar thermal
applications (such as heating) provide the best return on investment -
and offer, if not total energy independence, at least a satisfying
reduction in dependence and operating costs.
If you're really eager to get off the grid, I can probably re-find some
of the PV how-to web pages...
Assuming that you will be making sure the building is pretty tight
and insulated, I'd consider a forced air LP-fired suspended
heater. It would vent through the roof and the blower would
circulate the heated air around the shop. If you're going to use
it just occasionally, then consider adding a timer or on demand
control to the t-stat to let you fire it up just before you get
One of our people had a pretty good sized garage up in a snow-belt
area and despite all the insulation and sealing, his car would
still have huge chunks of snow and ice on it the next morning. He
solved the problem nicely with a suspended gas fired heater and a
timer. He'd pull into the garage and hit the timer. The garage
would warm nicely, aided by the already-hot car engine, and the
ice would melt off the car. About an hour or so later, the
interval timer would shut the heat off.
He used this for the first winter, then made a change: the next
winter, a timer turned the heater on at 5:00a and off after he
departed. That way, he had a warm and comfortable car to drive to
Price is a prime factor. Kerosene is a non-issue, having climbed from
approx $1.50 gal 10-15 yrs ago to an astonishing $10 gal!! I couldn't
even give away my 25K BTU almost-new kerosene htr. Can't say about
nat-gas. Ditto electricity. OTOH, I've seen propane drop almost 60%
in price in last 2 yrs. Savings! Plus, propane burns hotter than
As for the fumes, I'm still researching that, myself. I'm in CO
Rockies at 8K ft and it's an early Winter. Get up, light all 4
burners on stove, plus oven. Have never suffered headaches or
shortness of breath (knock on wood), although a pretty tight abode. I
had (past tense) a Reddy propane space heater and feel space heaters
do not combust efficiently, so there may be issues with propane space
htr fumes more than other types of more efficient propane heaters. In
the end, I'd go propane.
An overhead fan, of some sort, is almost a necessity. Hot air rises.
Even an inexpensive ceiling fan will bring that hot air down to you
before you spend twice the money to heat the whole building from the
Also, consider a digital thermostat and how often you will be using
the place. It's my feeling it's cheaper to keep a place warm than to
let it go cold and then re-warm it, another thing I'm still
researching (I missed thermodynamics in college). Maybe someone will
Just observations from a former sweat-my-ass-off CA expat now living
in frigid CO ....and loving it!! ;)
On Mon, 2 Nov 2009 14:52:41 -0500, the infamous "Bill"
Extremely concerned. Do watch it. Propane also produces a damp
Yes. Insulate and finish the walls. It will create an entirely
different environment for your shop and won't cost very much.
Warming won't condense much except on the metal. Do protect all of
your steel tools with Johnson's paste wax. $4 or so at Wally World.
And insulated shop can be heated with a small ceramic cube heater.
No exhaust, no moisture, no idiots with carbon taxes jumping all over
Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight
very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands.
I use a 150,00 btu forced air kerosene heater made by Dayton
(Grainger). It runs on a portable thermostat. I left it on last night
so that my glue up could cure. This morning it is 61 degrees and 37%
relative humidity in the shop. It is 37 degrees outside. People
complain about the moisture added by the combustion process but I see
it as an advantage. I recently bought kerosene for $2.49 per gallon.
I keep two CO meters running in the shop. My main shop area is about
900 square feet with a pitched roof that runs from 14 feet in the
center to 8'3" on the sides. The kero doesn't smell bad to me but I
service the heater every Fall and use only #1 clear kerosene in it.
We insulated an attached garage (but didn't heat it, it was for the car)
and it made drastic improvements in the rooms of the house attached to the
garage. Depending on how leaky your garage is, insulating might pay for
itself within a few years.
This signature line will explode in 2, h, E, 5, 1
Check these out. Someone from Highland Woodworking in Atlanta review it in
their latest newsletter.
I have no personal connection with the manuf. just happened to be reading
Thank you Steve, but I think I've learned that what is necessary to warm
your garage in Atlanta
and what is necessary to warm your garage in central Indiana are miles
during the cooler months.
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