12 Best Ways to Heat a Garage in the Winter
Even in winter, projects, repairs and hobbies must go on. And that often means you'll be spending time in the garage. Instead of risking frost bite, consider these 12 ways to heat your garage safely and reliably in winter.
Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.
Determine Your Heating Needs
How difficult will it be to warm your garage in the heart of winter? How easy is it to get cheap heat in your garage? Consider how cold it gets in your part of the world, the square footage of your space and if you have sufficient insulation. Heat output is measured in BTUs or British Thermal Units. To get to that number you’re going to need to measure your space and think about how warm you need it to be. After you get that number you’re ready to shop for a unit!
Insulate Your Garage
Before you invest in a garage heating system, make sure your garage has plenty of insulation. Insulate garage doors where possible as well as walls and ceilings. You can easily and inexpensively add clear plastic shrink film over windows for added protection against the cold. Once you get a garage heating system installed, you don’t want all of your warm air—not to mention the money you spend on utility bills—seeping out through cracks.
You can use a forced-air unit to heat your cold garage. These heaters range in price and size and are not as pricey as an infrared heat source. Here are some factors to consider: Forced-air heaters work by blasting hot air into the room. They can be professionally installed to tie into your home’s gas or propane line, too. The downside here is if you do a lot of woodworking, for example, the forced air will blow dirt and debris around, which is a major drawback especially when you’re painting, staining and finishing projects.
When considering which is the best space heater for garage, a convection heater is another versatile option for a garage heater. You can choose a unit that’s powered by electricity, natural gas or propane. These heaters operate by air convection currents circulating through the unit and across its heating element, thus heating the air around you. Depending on the type and size of your appliance, the unit could heat pretty quickly, while others take a little longer to warm a room. So, factor in how cold your garage gets and how long you’re willing to wait for it to warm up when you choose a convection heating system.
Ductless Heating and Cooling
There are many reasons to go with a ductless heating and cooling system to heat your garage. Sometimes called split systems, multi-split systems, or split-ductless systems, a ductless system heats or cools with a single unit. They’re an efficient use of energy, thereby saving you money on your utility bill. And ductless systems are eco-friendly since they meet the highest, most efficient energy guidelines. If that wasn’t enough to consider this option, they are easier to install than most HVAC systems.
Warm floors aren’t just for bathrooms anymore! They’re also great for heating garages and perfect for the part-time mechanic. If you find yourself rebuilding that classic car from the ground up, treat your toes, back, neck and more with an in-floor heating system. This is a great addition to any other heat source you have in the room. Check out how to get started with PEX tubing for your radiant heat system and get one step closer to your toasty-warm dream garage.
Add a Propane Heater
Whether the garage is the place where you tinker or you do more serious work, you’ll want to be comfortable in winter. When searching for a heat source you’ll come across many options including a propane appliance. Propane, an affordable heat source, also delivers great warmth. With a propane heater you can go big or small, depending on your needs. With this type of heater you add the fuel to the appliance and begin to instantly warm your space. The unit typically provides an automatic setting or manual ignition. Their affordability and mobility make them a great option for warming up your space.
Electric Ceiling Panels
If you’re looking for a primary way to heat your garage in winter consider the radiant electric ceiling panel. These 1-in.-thick panels mount on the ceiling and can be an energy-efficient option that heats up quickly and cools down just as fast. Plus, if your garage not only needs to function well, but look good, you can’t go wrong with these ceiling-slimming panels.
Consider a Mounted Electric Heater
Bigger than a portable space heater, a wall-mounted electric heater is among the best ways to heat your garage space in winter. Here you’re typically looking at installing a 240-volt hard-wired unit. Another plus—these wall-mounted heaters can be easier to install than a forced-air heating system, so you may not need to call in a professional for help.
Portable Space Heater
A portable space heater—like the kind used to heat up a cold room in your home—is a simple way to augment an existing heat source to better warm your garage on those super-chilly winter days. Depending on how much additional heat you’re looking for, a garage space heater comes in nearly any size to fit any budget. Plus, they’re very portable and readily available. The U.S. Department of Energy’s tips on buying and installing a heater can help you decide what type and size unit is right for your garage, so you can purchase the best space heater for garage.
Install an Infrared Heater
A low-intensity infrared tube heater can be one of the best ways to heat up your garage. (Not the kind that glows red, since that could be a potential fire hazard.) Instead of blowing air like a forced-air unit, a tube heater radiates heat throughout your space. This kind of heater tends to heat objects first, people second. So, you’ll get comfortable, but it may take a little while. Check out these tips on how to install an infrared heater or a forced air unit, so you’ll be ready to go if you choose this type of system.
Wood Burning Stove for Cheap Heat
A wood burning stove is an economical way to heat your garage space in winter, if done safely. Just like you take steps to make your indoor wood-burning fireplace safe, you’ll want to do the same with your garage stove. First, check with your local municipality for the permits that may be required. Then check with your insurance company to make sure installation of a wood stove in the garage for cheap heat will not void your homeowner’s policy. After getting the necessary approvals, you can order a wood stove from your local hardware store. Once installed, don’t forget to periodically clean your chimney and flue or hire a professional. Otherwise, you risk exposure to toxic gases.