With all that you do in your garage, it’s definitely worth it to make sure you’re comfortable out there during all four seasons of the year. When winter arrives, along with it the cold air, you need a reliable, powerful shop heater to make spending time there both practical and comfortable — even if it’s not insulated. A wall mounted or portable electric garage heater will get the job done, but it’s a good idea to consider your needs before you buy. Here’s what you should think about as you shop for a best electric garage heater that can create a lot of hot air!
Watch this video using the NewAir G73Electric Garage Heater to demonstrate the setup, wiring and actual heating of an enclosed workshop:
1. Garage Heater Location
Ideally, your grange heater should be located where it will direct heat to the parts of the garage you spend the most time in. For most people, this is the central portion of the space, but those with a workshop or hobby area along one wall may wish to offset the heater to aim airflow to a particular spot. While an infrared heater or radiant heat heater may be an option, consider the ability to direct or aim heat to a desired location.
As you consider where to locate your garage heater, you have another decision to make: Would you prefer a portable garage heater or a wall or ceiling mounted heater? A wall mounted garage heater may require special hardware, though some options come with a garage heater hanger that can be used on both the ceiling and the wall. In general, you’ll need to screw a mounted heater into a stud for security.
2. Type of Installation
The next big choice is between a heater that needs to be hardwired (220V or 240V) vs. one that plugs in to an existing outlet (110V) using a powercord. Installing a heavy dutygarage heater requires a professional electrician if you choose one that needs to be hardwired with its own switch and circuit. Placing a heater on a line allows you to use your tools and other electrical items without worrying about blowing a fuse, so it’s often a good choice for workshops and garages where you have a range of tools and hardware.
On the other hand, a portable heater is ready to go right out of the box: Just plug it in for nearly instant heat. This is a good choice for a garage that is already fitted with several outlets. It also makes sense if you plan to move the heater around the space as you work, or if you have a need for portable heat outside of your home.
3. Garage HeaterSafety Features
In general, an electric heater is safer than one that requires combustible fuel like natural gas heaters or propane heaters. These space heaters have an additional fire risk with flammable fuel, gas lines and need additional care to avoid the build-up of noxious fumes. Because propane models often require additional venting to avoid this issue, you may also pay more for installation.
Electric models don’t need garage heater venting like a forced air heater. For the safest heater, look for models that have a heavy duty housing designed to keep items away from the heating element to avoid fires. It’s also a good idea to look for models that keep hands away from the heat to reduce the risk of burns. A ceiling mounted garage heater is a good choice for homes with children or pets, since it will be well out of the way of any curious fingers or paws and should have adjustable louvers and heat settings to control and direct the heat using a temperature control. A model with a overheat protection that shuts the heater off when it overheats is also a good idea and a portable garage heater, at minimum should have a safety shut-off tip-over switch and adjustable thermostat control.
4. Garage Heater Sizing
Sizing a garage heater depends on two main factors: the size of your room and the power of the heater. Start by calculating the square footage of your garage by measuring its length and width in feet (to make the math easier, round up to the nearest foot as you measure.)
Multiply the length and width together to determine the area of your space in square feet:
For example: 20 foot x 20 foot space = 400 square feet
A heater’s output is measured in BTUs. In general, you’ll need 20 to 40 BTUs per square foot to warm your garage, though this final number depends on your level of insulation and climate as well.
Multiply your square footage by the number of BTUs noted above, using the higher number for far northern climates. Look for this total BTU output in the spec sheet of heaters you’re considering to make sure it’s powerful enough to warm your small or large garage or smaller spaces.
Read our blog article that’s all about finding the right size garage heater.
To calculate the BTU’s & wattage needed in a garage heater:
400 square feet x 40 BTU’s = 16,000 BTU’s
So any electric garage heater that is at least 16,000 BTU’s will do the job.
Another quick way to calculate square foot heating area for smaller spaces or large spaces is to take the Wattage of the desired garage heater and divide by 10 to calculate approximately how many square feet you may require.
For Example: 5,600 Watt Electric Garage Heater divided by 10 = 560 sq. ft of heating area.
Note: This assumes an 8′ ceiling height and moderately insulated workspace. Depending on your requirements you may be able to heat a smaller or larger space based on your needs.
5. Cost to Run an Electric Garage Heater
One of the most common questions asked online about garage heaters, or any other home appliance for that matter, is ‘how much does it cost to run my garage heater?’. To help you figure this out before you purchase the best electric garage heater, here’s a quick calculation using standard electricity rates:
Considering Your Garage Heater Options
As you research your choices, be sure to read all the garage heater reviews for any models you like. In addition to the quality of the heater itself, consider other aspects of your purchase, including free shipping, customer service and any warranty that may be offered. It’s also a good idea to add in the estimated costs of your garage heater installation if you choose a hardwired unit.
Whether you plan to use your garage heater in your garage, unfinished basement, outdoor workshop or any other unheated space, you’ll be glad for the extra warmth that allows you to make full use of your home this winter.
If you’re considering a garage heater, check out our two best electric garage heaters: