I would like some recommendations or warnings about small space heaters
for woodshops that are not attached to main structures (or those
attached where installation of a heating system is not practical).
I know there are more varieties of small heaters than there are
cordless power tools, and like those tools, some work, some work well,
and some should be thrown in a well.
Please let me know what heaters you use and if you would buy the same
thing again. My space dimensions are 12 x 16 (not quite long enough
for ripping 8 footers, but that's what the main basement is for) and it
is a block wall surrounded by earth.
Thanks in advance for your suggestions.
The latest Fine Woodworking Tools & Shops issue has an article on shop
heat that would be worth reading. In your case, the first question is
what source of power/fuel is available? Do you have sufficeint electric
capacity for a few kW of heat? Piped gas?
My basement shop (orignally finished as a rec room) had electric
baseboard heaters, which accumulate a lot of dust and then toast it and
circulate it through the air. Not good to breathe, and a could be
potential fire hazard with sufficent dust accumulation. The baseboards
are now disconnected, and I use a small forced air electric heater,
which works well with frequent cleaning. If I were to upgrade, I would
look hard at the radiant electric heaters from Lee Valley
Two that I use (these are not recommendations, just info):
1) I use a small 1300W cube heater to take the chill off of my 3-stall
garage workshop. Obviously this is limited on capability but will bring the
temp up on a chilly day (45 degrees).
2) During cold weather I use a 23,000 btu kerosene heater. This is used
with a fair amount of caution. Cars and all other gasoline are removed from
the garage. It resides in stall #1 while most work is done in #3 and #2.
Also keep the floor and the heater itself clean. This does smell a bit
during startup and shutdown but otherwise ok. I often supplement with the
cube heater and if conditions are not too severe I can heat the garage with
kero and then turn the flame out and sustain with the cube. Downer -
Kerosene is getting expensive.
3) A previous shop was heated with a recycled forced air furnace. Paid $25
for the furnace. Probably another couple of hundred to hook it up. It was
a down-draft suspended about 1' above the floor on a simple metal frame that
allowed heat to blow down onto the floor of the small shop. Larger shop
would have benefitted from ductwork. Another reason to raise the furnace is
to get the firebox 3-4' above the floor and away from fumes and dust
accumulation. Still needs frequent cleaning.
It doesn't get all that cold in central Florida so all I use is a 1500W
electric heater. If you buy one of those be aware that...
1. they come in all sorts of prices
2. 1500W is the max possible on a normal circuit
3. any claimed bells and whistles about more heat than #2 is just smoke
so buy a cheap one.
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I have had good luck with an "oil filled" electric heater. Because of
the oil it produces low temperature heat that doesn't "toast" the wood
dust. The large fins and wide spacing make it very easy to clean. The
heat is even with no drafts or blowers. They come with thermostats and
usually cost less that $50. Max size for a portable (plug in) is about
1500 watts. They are available in a baseboard version but I have no
experience with that model.
I don't know if its feasible for a shop, but if you have gas, you'd be
surprised how much heat a little gas fire place can put out. I
personally like the cold, so I generally don't heat my shop, if I do I
use a small electric cube heater to take the edge off. Of course, I
don't know if either of these options would work when you are painting
or staining something.
Don't laugh, but I use more incandescent lighting in the winter. The
heat tossed off by powerful lighting is a PITA in the summer, but very
effective at taking a chill off.
In the summer, I use big task lights only while finishing. They end up
on all the time in cool weather. I also think the warmer tone of the
light vs. the fluorescents have a positive mental effect.
In really COLD weather, I use a KeroSun Omni 105.
Nothing to laugh about. Electric light IS electric heat... 100% of the
energy used by a lamp will eventually be converted into heat.
LOML likes to leave lights on in every room of the house. I used to
gripe about it ("whaddaya think, I'm made of electricity?"), but now
that we're in a home with electric heat, it doesn't cost any extra to
run indoor lights during the heating season (except for more frequent
bulb changes), so I can't complain anymore.
2 1/2 bay garashop here. I use a kerosense heater, one of the higher BTU
models. Do not recall the brand or BTU output but it does work fairly well.
Very slight smell on startup. I need to pre-plan when I use it. It takes an
hour or two to bring the garage up to a comfortable temp when it starts
below freezing. True with any heather though. Got mine at the blue store.
Check that you can convieniently get kero. I need to drive about 8 or 10
miles to nearest supplier or pay $8/gal, in 1 gal jugs, at the bog box
stores! Otherwise kero costs about $2+ / gal 'round here.
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