What is the best heater for garage use?
There are many types of garage heater, so it really depends on your specific needs.
Our list of best garage heaters covers all the types, and no two are alike.
This Best Heater for Garage Guide starts with the top garage heater reviews. The guide that follows includes information on choosing the best garage heater for your purposes.
The Best Garage Heater Models
Here are the top heaters in each category.
- 45,000 BTU
- venting and gas line Needed
- Heats an insulated 2.5 car garage
Fahrenheat Ceiling Mounted
- overheating protection
- No venting or gas line needed
Mr. Heater MH18BRV
- 4, 000- to 18, 000-BTU, 450 sq. ft
- Tip-Over Protection
- For Ventilated Spaces
- Up to 60, 000 BTUs
- For Ventilated Spaces
- Push-Button Piezo Ignitor
- 2 Heat Settings Up To 1500W
- Tip-over shutoff
- Compact Design
Mr. Heater Tank Top
- 29K/36K/45K BTU settings
- Tip-Over & Overheating Protection
- Built-in regulator, No hose needed
Pro-Temp Forced Air Heater
- 80,000 BTU
- For Ventilated Spaces
- Heats an insulated 2.5 car garage
Here are quick reviews of the top garage heaters with an option to buy them at the lowest current price. If you don’t like the model we’ve listed, Amazon will show similar models for you to consider.
But we’ve worked to ensure the models we’ve selected truly are the best garage heater in each category.
Best Gas Garage Heater – Mounted
#1 Modine HD45AS0111Natural Gas Garage Heater
This 45,000 BTU furnace/heater is made by one of the top brands in the HVAC industry.
- Pros: Heats an insulated 2.5 car garage. Residential or commercial use. Vents through wall or roof. 80% efficiency.
- Cons: Cost of venting. Cost of gas line. No LP conversion kit included (but available).
- Best Use: Garages and barns in cool and cold climates.
Hot Dawg Propane Conversion Kit – If you plan to plumb this to your propane tank (pig), you’ll need this LP conversion kit.
Best Electric Garage Heater – Mounted
#2 Heavy Duty Fan Forced Ceiling Mounted Heater by Fahrenheat
The best electric garage heater delivers 5000 watts of heat for medium to large spaces.
- Pros: No venting or gas line needed. Installation costs less than gas models. Hangs vertical or horizontal. Adjustable louvers. Overheat shutoff.
- Cons: Electric heat costs more than gas heat.
- Best Use: Garages and barns in warm and cool climates.
Best Portable Garage Heater – Medium
#3 Mr. Heater MH18BRV Portable Propane Heater
Mr. Heater is the top brand in the portable propane heater industry. This one has three heat levels for small/medium garages.
- Pros: Safe for indoors. 4K, 9K and 18K settings. Push-button ignition. Tip-over shutoff. Oxygen depletion sensor and shutoff. Uses 1lb or large cylinders.
- Cons: You need the hose and regulator for use with 20lb and larger cylinders. It’s available here.
- Best Use: Depending on your climate and whether the garage is insulated, this unit is ideal for 1-car and 1.5-car garages.
Best Portable Garage Heater – Large
#4 Stanley ST-60HB2-GFA Gas Forced Air Heater 60K BTU
This highly rated portable propane heater cranks out a lot of heat. And the cost is very affordable.
- Pros: 60,000 BTUs. Powerful fan. Hose and regulator included. Push-button ignition.
- Cons: Needs electricity. Space must be ventilated.
- Best Use: 2-car to 3-car garages, depending on outside temperature and whether the garage is insulated.
Best Workbench Garage Heater
#5 Stanley ST-222A-120 Heavy-Duty Electric Heater
This is ideal for times you’re well dressed for the weather but have to take your gloves off for a workbench project. It’ll keep your hands toasty. Suitable for the floor too.
- Pros: Rugged build. Low/High settings. Compact size. Tip-over shutoff.
- Cons: Won’t heat the entire garage in cold weather. It’s a space heater.
- Best Use: In a cold garage, the best use is on the workbench to heat your hands or on the floor to heat your legs and feet.
Best LP Tank Top Garage Heater
#6 Mr. Heater 29,000-45,000 BTU 540 Degree Tank Top
Just screw this highly rated heater onto your propane cylinder, and fire it up. Instant, cost-effective heat – and a lot of it. You’ll find many uses for this light, compact gas heater.
- Pros: Easy to use. Built-in regulator. No hose needed. Tip-over shutoff. Can be tilted 180 degrees. 29K/36K/45K BTU settings.
- Cons: Improper use is dangerous. Read and follow the directions.
- Best Use: In 1.5-car to 3-car garages in cool to cold weather.
Best Kerosene/Diesel Garage Heater
#7 Pro-Temp 80,000 BTU Kerosene/Diesel Forced Air Torpedo Heater
If you appreciate the heat output of kerosene, you’ll love this top-rated garage heater. This is the 80K BTU model, but use the Amazon link below to choose a model from 45K to 215K BTUs.
- Pros: Fast heating. Thermostat from 40-105F. Steel construction. 5-pt safety system.
- Cons: Space should be ventilated (an open window and/or the garage door up a couple inches).
- Best Use: 2.5-car and larger garages in cold climates. Read and follow the Use and Safety instructions.
Garage Heater Buying Guide
In this guide, we explain the topics consumers should consider when buying a garage heater.
Questions to Answer About Use
If you’re a car enthusiast and are preparing to rebuild an engine or restore a classic this winter, you’ll need a powerful, durable garage heater.
If your time in the garage is limited to short bursts at the workbench, another type of heater makes more sense.
You get the idea. One size and type doesn’t fit all.
Here are questions to consider before you decide on the best garage heater for your purposes.
Q: How much time do you [intend to] spend in the garage?
The more you’re out there, the more it makes sense to spend money for quality and heating power.
Q: How cold do winters get?
In colder climates, you’ll obviously need more heating capacity than in milder climates. In other words, a 1500-watt electric heater might suffice for chilly mornings in a Southern climate, but you’ll want 4,000+ watts or a gas/propane heater in the North for sub-freezing temperatures.
Q: Is your garage insulated?
If so, you’ll be fine with a smaller capacity heater than if there is no insulation in the garage walls or ceiling. Our section on the Importance of Garage Insulation might interest you.
Q: How big is your garage?
A 3+ car garage obviously needs a heater with much more capacity than a 1-car garage.
Many garage heaters are described as heating a set number of square feet. If you live in a cold climate and/or your garage is not insulated, then you’ll need a heater designed to heat 25% to 50% more space.
The opposite is true if your region is warm and your garage is insulated.
Q: Will you use the heater in other places?
If not, then a heater mounted to the ceiling or wall keeps the floor uncluttered.
However, if you would also enjoy a heater for activities like camping or keeping warm on the deck, then a portable heater is a better choice.
Q: Will the heater be used in power outages?
If so, then it should operate without electricity. Even some propane models need power to run the fan. Your best choice, if you plan to use the heater indoors for emergency heat, is an indoor-safe, radiant propane heater like the Mr. Heater MH18BRV Big Buddy in the list above.
Pros, Cons and Costs of Garage Heater Fuel Options
You have four fuel options for garage heaters: Natural gas (NG), liquid propane (LP), kerosene and electric (plug-in or hardwired).
Here’s a look at each with advantages and disadvantages.
Natural Gas Garage Heaters
NG is the most common type of home heating fuel. Natural gas heaters are fed from a gas line plumbed directly to them, usually off the main or another gas line in your home.
Pros: Natural gas is the most affordable and energy efficient fuel of the four. You won’t run out of fuel, as you might with propane or kerosene. Gas heaters have a lot of heating capacity for medium and large garages, and they heat much more quickly than electric heat.
Cons: If you don’t already have a gas line handy, installing one can cost $700 or more. NG heaters need to be vented too, so that is an additional cost. Most have fans, so won’t work in a power outage. These units are not portable. There’s a potential for carbon monoxide poisoning if improperly vented.
Cost: Small wall-mounted heaters start at about $200. Average cost of a ceiling unit is $450, and the most expensive cost more than $700.
Propane Garage Heaters
This is a very popular type because they are versatile and cost-effective. Cost to operate is higher than NG but less than electric.
Pros: Most are portable and easy to move around the garage or take with you on a hunting or to the sidelines of a youth football game. Your options include LP garage heaters for medium and large spaces. Several styles are offered too. Radiant units (without fans) can be used as emergency heaters during an outage. Some LP heaters don’t require ventilation. Be sure the one you buy is designed for ventilation-free use if that is your intent.
Cons: If you run an LP line from a tank (pig), cost might be $250-$500. If you use cylinders, you might run out of propane. Oxygen depletion is possible, so look for a unit with an oxygen depletion sensor (ODS) that will shut the unit off if needed.
Cost: Some dynamic LP heaters from Stanley and Mr. Heater start below $100. Large-capacity propane heaters range from $400-$600.
Kerosene Garage Heaters
These are the least common type of heater used in garages. Still, some users enjoy their high-heat production.
Pros: K-1 heating fuel packs a lot of heat! They are energy efficient too. You have a range of sizes to heat single-car to 5-car garages or more.
Cons: Filling a kerosene heater is messy and potentially dangerous. Combustion creates soot that might eventually build up on the ceiling and walls. The garage should be well ventilated.
Cost: The smallest capacities are about 45K BTUs and start below $200. Those with 200K BTU capacity cost $450-$525.
Electric Garage Heaters
These convenient heat sources come in a wide range of choices.
Pros: Watts start at about 500 for a workbench model and exceed 5,000, so you can size the heater to your garage and climate. 110/120 volt electricity is usually already available in the garage. Electric garage heaters don’t need to be vented.
Cons: Electric heat is the most expensive type. These heaters cause more home fires than other types when placed too close to flammable material. If you don’t have a 208/240 outlet in the garage, cost to install one will be $350-$600 in most homes.
Cost: Most electric heaters that will heat the entire garage cost $200-$350.
Note on Wattage: This chart is an approximate estimate of the heater size you’ll need based on garage size. It has a few tips for choosing the right size.
There is additional information on electric garage heaters and the top models in our Best Electric Garage Heater 2019 Reviews and Guide.
Garage Heater Types with Pros and Cons
We’ve covered fuel options. This section is about how various garage heaters heat the space. They are not all separate categories. There is overlap – for example, a heater can be both mounted and a forced-air model.
Your options are gas (NG and LP) and electric.
The largest garage heaters are fixed to the ceiling (most) or wall. Most are hardwired, though a few models plug in. Gas lines on gas models are plumbed.
Pros: Large heating capacity. Thermostat controlled. You can adjust the angle and/or louvers on many. Powerful fans blow heated air a good distance.
Cons: Installing wiring and plumbing and venting gas models is an additional cost. They’re not portable.
Portable garage heaters are popular. Propane is most common followed by electric and kerosene.
Pros: They’re easy to move around the garage and to other locations too. Gas models produce a lot of heat for their size. Most propane models can run off a 1lb camping-type bottle or be connected to a cylinder using a hose and regulator.
Cons: Most sit on the floor, so take up space and are a trip/tip-over hazard.
These are garage heaters with fans.
Pros: They are available in all fuel types and in a range of sizes and features. They heat space more quickly than radiant heaters.
Cons: Fans can be loud, and they can fail. In fact, when a forced air heater has mechanical issues, it is usually the fan. Finally, if there’s no power, the heater won’t operate.
These are also called infrared heaters. The heat radiates from them, like from the sun, without the use of a fan.
Pros: Simpler design with fewer mechanical issues. In general, they are very reliable garage heater units. No power? No problem They don’t require electricity.
Cons: They heat space more slowly than a forced-air garage heater.
These are portable propane heaters that fit directly onto an LP cylinder.
Pros: Easy setup and use. Extremely portable. Very dependable and durable. Cost is quite low for the BTUs you get from the unit.
Cons: There are fewer safeguards, so more risk for burns. We do not recommend their use around young kids and pets.
Garage Heater Safety Tips
There are general and specific safety tips for using a garage heater.
- Maintain a barrier of 3-5 feet around any space heater to prevent flammable materials from igniting.
- Don’t use extension cords with heaters. They are prone to getting hot and causing shorts.
- Don’t leave heaters unattended.
- Clean the heater periodically to prevent dust and debris from building up and catching fire.
Garage safety tips:
- Don’t store flammable liquids in the garage. Even if gasoline is in a no-spill, vapor-lock can, we recommend being on the safe side.
- If you smell gas, oil or other fumes in your garage, don’t ignite a heater.
- If you operate a saw in the garage, keep sawdust away from the heater. Sawdust is very flammable.
- Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use and safety.
The Importance of Garage Insulation
Adding insulation to your garage is the most cost-effective upgrade you can make.
When the ceiling and walls are insulated, garage heater efficiency goes up 100% or more. If your garage isn’t insulated, you’re wasting a lot of money every time you turn on the heater.
The US Department of Energy recommends ceiling insulation with an R-value of R30 for southern climates to R60 for the coldest climates. Walls should be R13 to R21.
Those values are for the house, rather than the garage. But insulation is cheap compared with the cost of electricity, NG, LP and K-1 kerosene. There’s no reason not to put the same level of insulation in the garage.
If you insulate your garage, the insulation will pay for itself in 2-10 years through lower energy costs. The more you use a heater in the garage, the faster the payback. It’s worth repeating: Adding insulation to your garage is the most cost-effective upgrade you can make.
This chart provides useful information about R-values for the different parts of your home. They apply to the garage too.
We hope that this Best Garage Heater Reviews and Guide has been useful research.
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Here is our list of Best Garage Heaters. If you have the time, perhaps you’d like to browse them and compare features, performance and cost.
Best Mounted Garage Heater – Gas: Modine HD45AS0111Natural Gas Hot Dawg Garage Heater 45,000 BTU
Best Mounted Garage Heater – Electric: 5000W 208/240V Heavy Duty Fan Forced Ceiling Mounted Heater by Fahrenheat
Best Portable Garage Heater – Medium: Mr. Heater MH18BRV Big Buddy Grey Indoor-Safe Portable Propane Heater 18K BTU
Best Portable Garage Heater – Large: Stanley ST-60HB2-GFA Gas Forced Air Heater 60K BTU
Best Workbench Garage Heater: Stanley ST-222A-120 Heavy-Duty Electric Heater
Best LP Tank Top Garage Heater: Mr. Heater Corporation 29,000-45,000 BTU 540 Degree Tank Top
Best Kerosene/Diesel Garage Heater: Pro-Temp 80,000 BTU Kerosene/Diesel Forced Air Torpedo Heater