Each year, homeowners spend thousands of hours in their garages. Whether it’s working on vehicles, craft projects, or simply used for storage, these additions are used for a variety of things through all four seasons. These spaces can be tricky to keep comfortable, however, especially if they aren’t properly insulated. If trips to the garage during the winter make your teeth chatter, you’ll want to keep reading as we are going to cover the best garage heaters available.
- Top 6 Garage Heater Reviews
- How to Find the Best Garage Heaters
- Garage Heater Safety
- Garage Heating Cost
- Garage Heater Warranties
- Installing a Garage Heater
- Garage Heater FAQ
Top 6 Garage Heater Reviews
While most all garage heaters fall into a few simple categories, finding the right model for your garage can be a time-consuming and frustrating process. It’s not quite as simple as picking up a heater for indoors, and you have to consider the power source and style of the heater as well. Our team chose the six garage heaters below based on their performance, coverage range, price, and power after careful consideration.
Heat Storm HS-1500-PHX-WIFI
- Style: Infrared
- Placement: Wall
- BTUs: 5,200
- Power: Electric
- Coverage: 400 sq. ft.
- Warranty: 1-year
Mr. Heater DR988
- Style: Forced Air
- Placement: Freestanding
- BTUs: 19,100
- Power: Electric
- Coverage: 600 sq. ft.
- Warranty: 1-year
- Style: Forced Air
- Placement: Freestanding
- BTUs: 68,000
- Power: Propane
- Coverage: 1,750 sq. ft.
- Warranty: 3 years
Mr. Heater Big Maxx
- Style: Forced Air
- Placement: Overhead
- BTUs: 50,000
- Power: Natural Gas
- Coverage: 1,250 sq. ft.
- Warranty: 3/10 years
Comfort Zone CZ260ER
- Style: Forced Air
- Placement: Overhead
- BTUs: 34,100
- Power: Electric
- Warranty: 1-year
Mr. Heater MH25NG
- Style: Radiant
- Placement: Overhead
- BTUs: 25,000
- Power: Natural Gas
- Coverage: 625 sq. ft.
- Warranty: 1-year
The Best Portable Garage Heater
#1 Dr. Infrared Heater DR988 Garage Shop Heater
Billed as an industrial heater, the DR988 from Dr. Heater packs a punch despite its size. It is the smallest garage heater on our list, is portable, and can heat up a small to a medium-sized garage without breaking the bank.
This is a small freestanding garage heater that measures 15”H x 11”W x 11”D. It only weighs 12 pounds, so it’s lightweight and easy to tote around thanks to a sturdy built-in handle on the top. You won’t find any digital displays on the DR-988 but is incredibly simple to use with only two controls on the front of the unit.
There’s a switch that has three settings with on, fan, and auto mode. A small dial allows you to adjust the temperature to suit your needs, and a built-in thermostat ensures you find the perfect setting. It’s rated for 45°F to 95°F and comes with auto overheat protection. This will shut the heater down if it exceeds safe operating temperatures, although it does not have tip-over protection.
The Dr Infrared Garage Shop Heater is listed at 5,600 watts and has a rating of 19,112 BTU. It can handle a garage up to 600 square feet in size and has a heavy-duty 6-foot power cord. That cord has a 6-30R plug, so you’ll need access to a 220-volt outlet to run this heater as well. We also like the grills on this model, which are small enough to keep fingers away from the intake and discharge areas.
This garage heater is a little light when it comes to features, although that’s understandable given the price. It doesn’t have enough power to handle larger spaces but is an excellent choice for homeowners with smaller garages that want something simple and affordable. The D988 garage heater comes with a 1-year warranty from Dr. Heater.
While Dr Heater has several fan-forced systems that could have made our list, the D988 stood out because of its price point and design. It’s not fancy but performs as advertised, and the thermostat is a nice touch. A longer warranty or tip-over protection would have been a nice addition, but it’s a great value for the price and one of the best portable heaters for garages around.
Pros: A small heater that won’t take up much space, but still has enough power for 600 square foot garages. Finger-proof grills, overheat protection, and the built-in thermostat.
Cons: Nothing significant.
The Best Natural Gas Garage Heater
#2 Mr. Heater Big Maxx Natural Gas Heater
Millions of homes across America use natural gas for cooking and heating their homes. If you already have a natural gas connection running to your house, a gas heater should be high on your list. Our favorite is the Big Maxx MHU50 from Mr. Heater, as it’s one of the most efficient garage heaters and can be mounted in two different ways.
The Big Maxx garage heater has an industrial look with a heavy-duty cabinet and has a powered exhaust system. This allows for category 1 vertical venting or category 3 horizontal venting. With a low profile design, you’ll only need 1” of clearance to mount this unit with the included brackets. The MHU50 measures 25”L x 18.5”W x 17”H and tips the scales at around 70 pounds.
Another perk of this system is the way it hooks up. While you will need a professional to handle the gas line, this garage heater only needs 115-volts of power. That means this heater will work with any standard plug in your garage. We are also fans of Mr. Heater’s Spark Ignition system, which has a self-diagnostic control module.
This Mr Heater garage heater is rated at 50,000 BTUs per hour. It only has one setting, but can cover areas between 700 to 1,250 square feet depending on how well your garage is insulated. It’s the perfect size for 2 to 3-car garages, even if it’s light on features. There is a high limit shut-off function, which makes it a safe garage heater, but it doesn’t have a thermostat or any other features to speak of.
This particular heater may be rated for 50,000 BTUs, but the company has two larger models available as well, with 80,000 and 125,000 BTU variants. They also have an affordable thermostat to go along with a number of parts if there is ever an issue with the system. The Mr Heater Big Maxx MHU50 has a 3-year warranty on parts and the burner, and a 10-year limited warranty on the heat exchanger.
This garage heater may be simple, but it’s highly effective in medium to larger garages. It’s one of the more reliable systems in this class if you have natural gas in your home, and we feel it has a nice price tag as well for what it brings to the table. It is one of the best gas garage heaters, in our opinion.
Pros: Easy to use and effective with vertical or horizontal venting. Available in three sizes, excellent warranty, and plenty of replacement parts if needed.
Cons: Light on features, no thermostat.
The Best Propane Garage Heater
#3 DeWalt Cordless Forced Air Propane Heater
The most common item found in garages across America besides vehicles and stored goods are tools. If you are invested in DeWalt’s famous Yellow and Black lineup or are interested in a cordless heater for your shop, this forced air system is both powerful and portable.
The DeWalt DXH70CFAV is built for garages, workshops, and job sites. It has a heavy-duty exterior made from stainless steel and has an electrostatic powder-coated finish. The handle makes it easy to move about, and the recessed controls ensure the settings stay where they should. This heater weighs 33 pounds and measures 19”W x 17”D x 11”H.
DeWalt designed this heater to be easy to use. The split barrel design makes maintenance simple, and the electronic ignition will fire up the heater in seconds. There is a variable rate valve and high-temperature limit switch on this system as well. It’s rated for garages or areas up to 1,750 square feet and produces between 27,000 to 68,000 BTU depending on the setting.
As this is a cordless heater, you will need a DeWalt brand battery and a tank of propane. The company’s 20V Max and FlexVolt batteries are compatible with the DXH70CFAV. It will accept 20, 40, or 100-pound tanks of propane as well. You can expect around 7 hours of runtime on high from a 20-pound tank or 13 to 14 hours on the lowest setting.
This garage heater is ready to go out of the box with a hose and regulator, so you’ll just need to supply a battery and propane to heat up your garage. If you prefer radiant heat to a fan-based system but still want to stick to propane, the DeWalt DXH12B is also an option, but not nearly as powerful. The DeWalt forced air cordless heater comes with a 3-year warranty.
Garage workshops are used during all four seasons, and the DeWalt one of the best propane garage heaters if you are looking for something small and powerful. Obviously, you’ll want to be invested or at least interested in the company’s tool lineup as well. This heater is simple to use, easy to move or store, and quiet for its size. There were some reports of consumers having trouble with the fan, but those can be chalked up to common quality control issues.
Pros: Portable design that’s compatible with DeWalt’s newer batteries. Homeowners found it quick and easy to set up and thought it was quieter than similar heaters.
Cons: Some quality control issues with the fan power.
The Best Garage Heater for Connected Homes
#4 Heat Storm Wall Mounted Infrared Heater
Garage heaters may come in a variety of colors and styles, but it’s safe to say that most have a rather industrial design. This sleek heater from Heat Storm is an exception to the rule and an interesting alternative for consumers that want to keep their garage warm in the cooler months.
Unlike most heaters on our list, the Heat Storm Wall Mounted Infrared Heater can be used in any room in your home or outdoors in the garage. The design is reminiscent of a thin window AC unit, and it won’t take up much space on a wall. This garage heater is 19” high and 13” long, but only 5” deep with a low-profile design and a unique trick.
When mounted over any standard 110-volt power outlet, the cord on this heater can be tucked away inside for a seamless look. Considering that cords are a tripping hazard in garages, it’s a great feature to have on hand. It’s also one of the safer with overheat protection, a cool-touch body and grill, and child lock buttons. The elements are enclosed as well, and there’s anti-trip protection for the breakers.
To say the Heat Storm HS-1500-PHX-WIFI is easy to use would be an understatement. It has a digital display with an adjustable thermostat and two heating modes. You can choose from full heating or energy-efficient heating, which uses half the power. This unit can be calibrated with the thermostat on your home's HVAC system and has built-in Wi-Fi, so it can be controlled with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, or through a mobile app.
This infrared heater isn’t geared towards garages but has received high marks from consumers that have used it there. It’s also useful for small workspaces in garages when you simply need to heat an area, and not the entire space. There are a few variants of this heater available as well if you prefer grey or want to set the heater on the floor. The HS-1500-PHX-WIFI is backed by a 1-year warranty from Heat Storm.
This heater's streamlined design is ideal when you want to keep a garage warm continuously without worrying about safety. While Wi-Fi is what initially drew us to this unit, we were impressed by the positive reviews and the array of features for the price. It’s not a traditional garage heater, but perfect for small garages or workspaces.
Pros: Wi-Fi allows you to monitor and control the heater remotely, and we like the fact you can tuck the cord behind the unit, which keeps it off the floor. Solid safety features, and powerful for its size at 5,200 BTUs.
Cons: The design won’t be for everyone, especially if you have a large garage or need a heavy-duty heater for your workshop. No automatic shutoff, although you can turn it off through the app.
The Best Industrial Electric Garage Heater
#5 Comfort Zone High Output Fan Forced Heater
Garages tend to see more abuse than other rooms, and there’s a reason manufacturers focus on built quality when it comes to equipment that’s used in these spaces. While every heater on our list will hold up well under normal use, the Comfort Zone CZ260ER will outlast those units by years thanks to its rugged exterior.
The design of this electric garage heater puts it in the industrial class. The company sheathed the heating elements, but also enclosed the motor to keep them free of dust and debris. The exterior is built from heavy-gauge steel as well. While this ensures the system is built to last, it’s heavy at 48 pounds and measures 20”H x 21”W x 20”D.
Comfort Zone may have designed this system to take plenty of abuse, but they didn’t skimp with the features. This unit has two settings and a digital control panel across the bottom that has a programmable thermostat. The heater can be switched between Celsius and Fahrenheit like most garage heaters in this class but has one feature those other systems lack.
This flagship feature on this system is a 12-hour timer which you can set from the unit itself or through the included remote control. The louvers are adjustable, and the CZ260ER is rated at 10,000 watts and roughly 34,000 BTUs. It’s suitable for garages up to around 1,000 square feet but will require a single-phase 240-volt connection in your garage.
The Comfort Zone CZ260ER is one of the best electric garage heaters for homeowners that want a heater in the industrial class that’s priced like a residential unit. It comes with a heavy-duty mounting bracket that’s fully adjustable and is available in two smaller sizes as well if you prefer a 7,500 or 5,000-watt system.
At 34,000 BTUs, this garage heater can quickly warm up a medium-sized garage, and while it’s large and hefty, you’ll be thankful for the build quality. It has an excellent range of features for the price as well, including the 12-hour timer. The only potential issues were a few reports related to quality control with users experiencing issues straight out of the box.
Pros: Well-built unit with a heavy-gauge steel chassis. Digital thermostat, 12-hour timer, and remote control. Nice price point given the features and built quality.
Cons: Potential quality control issues on some units.
The Best Radiant Heater for Garages with Workshops
#6 Heatstar Radiant Overhead Garage Heater
Overhead heating can be hard to come by in a garage unless you already have ductwork in place or want to hang a heater from a hook and bracket. Our last pick from the minds at Enerco is from their Heatstar lineup with the MH25NG, an overhead system geared for natural gas.
This heater can be mounted on any wall in your garage with minimal effort. It has a space-saving design with a thick metal bracket that keeps the heater up high and out of the way. It’s one of the simpler garage heaters from a design standpoint, considering there are no moving parts. The heater is built with a non-corrosive material, so it will hold up well for years with very little maintenance.
With a rating of 25,000 BTUs per hour, the Heatstar MH25NG is capable of heating garages around 600 square feet. The system itself is lightweight at 22 pounds and is 29” long. Given the design, it’s one of the easier overhead heaters to install as well, although you may still want to rely on a professional to hook up the natural gas line.
While not as budget-friendly as an infrared heater of a similar size, this radiant system is a great choice for workshops where you need focused heat. You won’t have to worry about wind from a fan kicking up dust with the MH25NG, and there’s a comparable model that works with propane as well. This natural gas garage heater is backed by a 1-year warranty and comes with a wall vent, thermostat, and everything you need to get started.
This radiant heater isn’t as popular as some of the infrared models from Mr. Heater but has received high marks from consumers across the board. We like the fact it’s a complete kit with a thermostat and vent, although the price tag or style will rule it out for some. Despite that fact it’s easy to maintain, a longer warranty would have been a bonus considering the price point.
Pros: Up to 25,000 BTUs of focused heat in a tidy package. It provides quick, quiet heating and comes with a thermostat.
Cons: It’s expensive and has a short warranty.
How to Find the Best Garage Heaters
There are dozens of styles of heaters that will work in a garage but aren’t necessarily designed for it. The best garage heater should be safe to use indoors, but also tough enough to handle a garage of any kind. That includes homeowners that just want to add some warmth to the area where they park along with folks that need to heat up a large workshop.
In our guide to the best garage heaters, we are going to cover a bit of everything from radiant systems that can heat up an area to natural gas heaters and safety features. We’re also going to cover some commonly asked questions in our garage heater FAQ while providing you with tips that will make your shopping experience a breeze.
Consider the Garage before the Heater
Whether you are working in a garage for hours on end or just hate walking into one during the winter, it can be tempting to choose the first heater that fits your budget. As we mentioned, there are a number of options that will certainly work, but the best thing you can do before looking at any type of garage heaters is to consider the space itself.
What is your garage used for?
Garages are interesting areas, and one of the more versatile rooms on a home. There are garages with livable areas or apartments on top, and structures where you simply part your car. We’ve also seen a number of homes with split garages that have a workspace or gym in one area along with a parking space.
It’s wise to consider the garage, and what’s it’s used for, but also any plans you may have for it in the future. This will help you narrow down a style of garage heater, and can keep you from making a costly mistake as well.
How much space are you willing to dedicate?
Garage heaters come in all shapes and sizes. That means you can find small portable systems or heaters than hang from a bracket on the ceiling. Those are ideal if space is tight, and there are even infrared heaters designed to be installed in the wall of a room.
Do you have a busy two-car garage with kids and cars going in and out or a dedicated workshop several thousand square feet? In either case, you need to think about how much space you’re willing to dedicate to a heater and whether it will be a permanent, seasonal, or portable solution.
We have developed a handy garage heating calculator to help you get an estimated size for different types of garages.
Do you want an electric or gas garage heater?
This is something we will go in-depth with in our guide, but one of the first things most homeowners can be surprised by. While everyone is familiar with electric heaters that plug into an electrical outlet, did you know there are garage heaters that use natural gas or propane as well?
The classic kerosene heater is still a viable option for some spaces, but manufacturers have a variety of modern fuel-based heaters that are both sleek and safe. If you prefer an electric heater, the possibilities are limitless, but garage heaters that use propane or natural gas could be a better fit for your needs.
Types of Garage Heaters
There are several different styles of garage heaters and plenty of options when it comes to a choice of fuel as well. With that in mind, all garage heaters tend to fall into one of two categories, and we’re going to touch on the pros and cons of each type of system below.
Forced Air Garage Heater
Whenever you hear the term fan-forced or forced air, it refers to a garage fan that uses a heating element and a fan to evenly distribute warm air throughout a room. These heaters are usually electric and can come with a standard 110-volt plug or a 220-volt plug if they are heavy-duty or in the commercial class.
These garage heaters are the most popular for the average homeowner, and typically the most affordable as well if they run off of electricity – not fuel. While they can quickly heat up a small to large garage, those fans can also blow dust and other particles around. That’s not ideal if you have a dusty garage or use the space for crafting or woodworking projects.
Radiant Garage Heaters
When you need to heat up an area fast, a radiant heater is an excellent choice. These highly efficient systems provide more directional heating, which allows them to warm up workspaces and objects like tools quickly and quietly. Infrared heaters fall under this category as well; they just use a different type of radiation to heat the air.
The downside to a radiant garage heater is its limited coverage area. They aren’t designed to heat up large areas and are geared more towards spot heating unless you purchase a large, expensive system. As there’s no fan, they are better suited for garages that double as workshops or small spaces.
Permanent or portable garage heater?
While this is an area where the size of a garage heater can have an impact, it’s also where your budget and pricing comes into play. If you live in a colder region where summers are mild, and winters are harsh, a permanent garage heater may be the best solution for your home. Most will require a professional installation but can save you a considerable amount of cash in the long run.
Alternatively, if you only intend to use a heater when you are in your garage working, a portable garage heater may be a better choice. Small to medium-sized models can be stored on a shelf or in a closet when not in use. There are more options from a design standpoint with portable units as well, whereas you’re restricted to only a few styles with a fixed or permanent garage heater.
Garage Heater Output
In the heating world, one of the main specifications you’ll want to pay attention to is BTU. This stands for British Thermal Units and is how power is measured with heaters of any kind. It’s something we’ve covered in-depth a number of times, and easy to understand even if you’ve never heard the term before.
With garage heaters, most manufacturers provide a square footage number to go along with a BTU rating. If you know the size of your garage, you are good to go, otherwise, you can figure out the size by simply performing a little math. Multiply the length of one side of your garage by its width, and you’ll have the square footage of the room.
Keep in mind, manufacturer ratings and our method of calculation are for garages with a standard 8’ ceiling. If your garage or workshop has higher ceilings, you need to take those into account. With that in mind, unlike humidifiers or HVAC systems, it’s better to go a size up with a garage heater for a number of reasons.
Is your garage insulated or simply framed in with a minimal amount of protection from the weather outdoors? That can have a major impact on how well a garage heater can heat up a space. You’ll want to buy a stronger unit if you have an insulated garage, but you may be able to get away with a system built for a garage your size if you plan to add insulation within the next few seasons.
If you live in a colder region of the United States, it can be harder to bring the temperatures in a garage up to acceptable levels. This is another instance where a heater that’s just a bit larger than what you require may come in handy. Also, consider drafty windows and garage doors as the tighter a garage is sealed, the more efficient your heater will be.
Garage Heater Power Sources
For the average homeowner that just wants to knock the chill out of the air in the garage during winter, an electric garage heater will probably do the trick. They aren’t the only options, however, especially for garages that are used as workshops, and not for storing vehicles.
Electric Garage Heater
The most popular style of garage heater for most homeowners is one that plugs into a wall outlet. An electric garage heater can run off of a 120-volt or 220-volt plug, and its’ not uncommon to find at least one, if not both of these plugs inside of a garage. If you don’t have a higher amperage outlet, but want a high capacity electric heater, you will have to call in an electrician to have one wired up.
That can be a costly endeavor, and a hardwired system is a more permanent solution that some homeowners would like. If you plan on moving or are just renting, you’re better served with a portable garage heater. Some of these systems can draw a considerable amount of energy, something we’ll cover in our cost to run section below.
Natural Gas Garage Heater
This is another type of power that can depend on the current setup in your garage. While every garage will have access to a power plug, natural gas is a different story. If you already have a natural gas line running to your home for heating or cooking, you can pay a professional to run a new line to your garage for a gas garage heater.
Using natural gas for a garage heater means you’ll need to rely on a fixed system, which is typically mounted high on the ceiling or from the wall. There are also additional safety concerns compared to an electric garage heater, so you’ll want to have your unit installed by a professional as well. Natural gas garage heaters can be more expensive up front, but cheaper to run in the long term.
Propane Garage Heaters
Natural gas has grown in popularity across the U.S., but there are millions of homes that rely on propane on a daily basis for a variety of reasons. Campers and homeowners will gas grills already known how well propane can heat, and it’s highly effective in garages and workshops as well.
Propane garage heaters generally work off of 20 and 40-pound tanks, which are easy to acquire but can be a hassle to deal with due to their weight. These systems aren’t the best choice for homeowners looking for a permanent heating solution for their garage, but ideal for seasonal heating in some workspaces.
Gas, Diesel, and Kerosene Garage Heaters
While you won’t find any gas-based garage heaters on our list, they are an option. Kerosene heaters have been used to heat rooms in homes for decades, but aren’t the safest choice for regular use in a garage. The same rules apply for space heaters, which are popular on job sites and can use gasoline or diesel.
These machines are convenient, highly effective, and portable, but not a good idea for a standard garage. Overall, we don’t recommend heaters that use liquid fuel in normal, residential garages – especially given the viable alternatives available.
Garage Heater Features
When you are purchasing a heater to use indoors, you’ll find a lot of options at your disposal. Things are far more simple with garage heaters, because there aren’t nearly as many bells & whistles that can affect the price.
- Thermostats – This is one of the top features we recommend if you plan on using your garage heater regularly or want total control of the temperature. A thermostat on a garage heater works just like one on the HVAC unit in your home as it allows you to dial in settings to suit your needs. It can raise the overall price of a system but is well worth the cost, in our opinion.
- Wi-Fi – Connectivity is still rare when it comes to garage or shop heaters, although there are a few systems that buck that trend. Whether you want to control your heater with your voice or your smartphone, there are a handful of manufacturers that produce Wi-Fi enabled garage heaters.
- Remote Controls – While you may have a hard time located a heater with Wi-Fi, we were able to find a number of models that come with a remote control. This is a feature commonly reserved for heating and cooling products used indoors but also found on garage heaters. Just make sure it gives you access to all the features your garage heater provides and doesn’t simply turn the unit on or off.
- Adjustable Louvers – Louvers aren’t high-tech like Wi-Fi or even a thermostat, but they are a feature that no one should overlook. Louvers are found on several styles of garage heaters, although most popular on fan-based systems. These allow you to direct the heated airflow as you would with a vent in your car or home.
- Timers – A timer is something you can find on hundreds of tower fans, and there are plenty of in-home heaters with this feature as well. With garage heaters, they are rare as we were only able to find a handful of models with a timer. If you are concerned about leaving your heater on unintentionally, look for a garage heater with this feature.
Ease of Use
Most garage heaters are easy to use, although some are a bit easier to deal with by design. With that in mind, the easiest type of system is electric. The best electric garage heater only requires you to plug it in and flip a power switch, and you’ll only have to turn the power on if it’s hardwired.
Natural gas heaters are also easy to use, whereas a propane-based system typically requires you to change out tanks. Regardless of the style, the control should always be easy to access. If you’re purchasing a system that mounts high on the ceiling, consider a heater with a remote control or an automatic heating mode.
A few other things that are easy to overlook are cords, handles, and wheels. Many garage heaters have 6’ cords, which should be sufficient depending on plug and heater placement. If you’re looking at a portable heater or one for seasonal use, look for models that have wheels or a handle. In our research, we found that more systems have the former than the latter, but a few heavy units have both.
Garage Heater Safety
Any product that uses electricity or fuel comes with its own set of hazards, and garage heaters are no different in that regard. In fact, most of the questions we have received from our readers have to do with finding a safe garage heater. Well, these systems are completely safe to use as long as you use common sense and follow a few rules. There are also a handful of features you can keep an eye out for as well.
The top safety feature in our mind that isn’t somewhat standard is a tip-over switch. It’s something you’ll want for any floor-standing model as it ensures the unit will shut itself off if it becomes knocked over accidentally. Most heaters also have a form of overheat protection built-in, which keeps shuts things down if the unit becomes too hot.
Have children in your home that like to spend time in the garage? Look for a garage heater with child lock buttons or consider a cool-touch system. These heaters keep the body and grill cool to the touch, but it’s also important to make sure any grills are small enough to keep fingers or small objects out. Unless the heater is mounted high in your garage, always pay attention to the louvers, grills, or vents.
Garage Heating Cost
The cost of a garage heater is only one part of the overall price, as you may also need to pay for a professional installation. The cost to actually run the system itself is another factor many homeowners overlook, but one that’s simple to calculate once you know a few figures.
The cost to run an electric garage heater is the easiest to calculate. All you need to do is find your electric bill to see how much they charge for electricity in your area. The number should be given at a cost per kilowatt-hour, but you can also contact the company responsible for electricity where you live to get that figure.
When you have that figure, you’ll want to multiply your heater's wattage by how many hours each day you intend to use it. Divide that number by 1000, and then multiply it by the kilowatt rate per hour you found on your electric bill. For example, a 2,000-watt heater that runs for 12 hours a day at a rate of $0.06kWh would cost $1.44 a day to run or roughly $43.00 during a 30-day month.
With natural gas heaters, the process is similar as you need to know how much natural gas is in your area, and the BTU rating for the heater you plan to use in your garage. Things can get tricky depending on how your natural gas is billed, however, so you could be dealing with anything from MCF or CCF to BTUs.
This handy reference will help you calculate those numbers, and the “cost per therm” tends to vary throughout the year as well. Natural gas is typically cheaper the more you use and always costs more in the winter than in the summer. As for propane, unless you are having it piped in, it all comes down to the tank's size, where you live, and how often you plan on using the heater.
Garage Heater Warranties
It’s not uncommon to find a high-tech tower fan or indoor heater with a warranty from 3 to 5 years. When you’re considering a heater for the garage, those numbers can take a significant hit depending on the brand and style of heater.
While there appears to be no rhyme or reason for how garage heaters are warrantied, we found that natural gas heaters usually have longer guarantees. In most cases, it comes down to the parts and how the system is designed, however. Fan-based systems have more moving parts, so there is more chance for things to break.
Even if a garage heater only has a 1-year guarantee, it can last for decades if it’s built well. Build quality is important if your garage also serves as a workshop, and depends on placement as well. Heaters that hang from the ceiling or are mounted stand less chance to take abuse than heaters that sit on the floor of your garage.
Installing a Garage Heater
We aren’t going to spend a great deal of time here as you can find instructions to install your garage heater online before your purchase it. That being said, an electric heater is by far the easiest to install if it has a standard 110/120-volt plug as you only need a wall outlet.
For hardwired heaters, it’s entirely possible to accomplish the job yourself as long as the company provides good directions. If you are not comfortable with electricity or don’t want to risk the chance of a short, we highly recommend hiring an electrician or certified handyman to tackle the job.
If you are purchasing a heater that needs to be mounted, ensure there is enough clearance around the unit for it to function efficiently. The type of venting required for some natural gas heaters will vary as well. For fixed installations, think ahead about any potential changes to your garage in the future, and plan accordingly before you hang or mount the heater.
Garage Heater FAQ
Q: Will a garage heater affect the paint on my car or damage any vehicles?
A: If you place the heater or any heat source too close to your car, yes. Otherwise, heaters shouldn’t be an issue as long as you remember placement in general and with overhead systems when parking your vehicle.
Q: What is the best way to use my garage heater efficiently?
A: Follow the directions, keep the heater clean, and add insulation to your garage if you don’t have some already. The biggest mistake most homeowners make is buying a heater and expecting it to fix a problem with a drafty garage. It can heat up a space, but it won’t fix any gaps around the windows and isn’t a replacement for good insulation.
Q: Why aren’t any diesel, kerosene, or gas heaters on your list?
A: While these heaters can outperform electric or natural gas systems, they require plenty of ventilation and aren’t the best choice for enclosed areas when more suitable options are available.
Q: Are solar-powered heaters suitable for garages?
A: In some cases, but we didn’t include them for two reasons. They aren’t cost-effective for most homeowners, and they aren’t ideal for use in the wintertime if you need warmth quickly or continuously.
Q: What is the safest type of garage heater?
A: Electric, as we feel propane is a temporary solution, and you don’t have to worry about ventilation or carbon monoxide with a simple electric heater. That said, any heater can produce enough heat to cause a problem, so keep your garage clean and be aware of anything flammable in the area.