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What Is The Best Way To Heat A Garage For Comfort And Efficiency?

Should You Heat Your Garage In The Winter?

Ductless unit mounted in unfinished interior space

Your garage is a large open space that many people use, not just for cars, but as extra workspace, especially for big projects. Some people even opt to convert this space into a “Man Cave” or “She Shed”- at least part of the time. If you’re thinking about getting more use out of your garage in any of these ways- one of the first things you may want to consider is how to heat the space so you can use it all winter long.

Start with some insulation

One thing to consider even before considering the best way to heat the space is adding additional insulation in the walls of the garage and garage doors, to help retain any heating or cooling you might add to the space. You can get insulation and put it behind panels on the walls and get insulation for your garage doors. This will help retain heat, and if your garage is attached to your home, it can even help prevent drafts and keep your home warmer as well. That will make any heating option you choose work better and cost less to keep the space warm.

Space Considerations

When thinking about heating options, one of the first things you’ll need to do is consider how large the space is and how cold it gets in your area of the Country. Here in the Philadelphia area, Winters will see temperatures in the 20’s regularly, or colder- so you’ll have to consider how much heat you’ll need to bring the space up to a temperature at least in the 60’s to be comfortable.

Options for Heating Your Garage

After insulation, what are the next best ways to make your garage more than a garage, but a flexible space for your home?

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Five Options: How To Heat A Garage (Pros & Cons)

  1. Space Heater
  2. Convection Heater
  3. Wood Or Pellet Stove
  4. In-Floor Radiant Heating
  5. Ductless Mini Split

Space Heater

Portable Electric radiator

Space heaters are usually operated by electricity, although some can have other fuels. Given the enclosed nature of the space, the safest space heaters are those that look like portable radiators, filled usually with water or oil. These heaters usually range from between 600- 1500 watts per hour, with a higher number of watts creating more heat. Using more watts means using more electricity, and you can quickly calculate how much these heaters will affect your electric bill by multiplying the rate you are paying by the wattage. In this example, if you are paying $0.10 per kw, a 1500-watt heater will cost about $0.15 an hour to run.

Propane and kerosene heaters would need to be properly vented, and are not great options in a closed environment like a garage. Forced air portable space heaters are cheap and convenient, but they also can be easily tipped over, which can make them a potential hazard if you have small children or pets in the space.

Pros: Inexpensive, portable

Cons: Inefficient, power-hungry, can be a serious fire hazard

Convection Heater

A Convection heater is another great option for heating garages. These units can be powered by electricity, natural gas, or propane and work by air convection currents, that circulate through the unit and across its heating element, thus heating the air around you. The size of the unit will determine how fast it will heat the space, so consider how cold it gets and how long you are willing to wait for it to warm up when choosing this type of system.

Pros: Uniform heating, low noise

Cons: heat dissipates quickly, no air filters, so prone to dust accumulation

Wood Or Pellet Stove

A wood or pellet stove is another good option people use for heating spaces like garages. These systems often look like small fireplaces and have to be properly vented to the outside to be safe. They require feeding of wood or pellets to work, so you will have to consider where to store the fuel for when it\\\’s in use. The systems also require some insulation on the floor and can get quite hot, which may be an issue with small children or pets. They can also take up a good amount of space in the room, which may make this less attractive if you are going to use the garage for many purposes, including your cars.

Pros: Good for warming a space, heat lasts a long time

Cons: Takes up space, requires professional installation, can be a fire hazard, requires proper venting

In-Floor Radiant Heating

Radiant floor heating puts a heating element in the floor, and is usually best done when you are initially laying the concrete for the floor of a garage. It provides a consistent warm heat from the ground up and is very comfortable. It’s quiet and doesn’t involve moving air currents, so it is essentially dust free, which can be important, especially of you are using your garage for projects like finishing furniture and keeping the area dust-free is important. You’ll want to make sure it’s installed correctly and will take the weight of vehicles or other equipment you might be using.

Pros: warm heat, lasts a long time, low energy costs, no allergens circulating in the air

Cons: fairly expensive. Difficult to repair, as elements are embedded in concrete or another solid flooring.

Ductless Mini Split

Home office space and bookshelf

Ductless mini-split units are great options for a garage space. The units consist of two main parts- an outdoor condenser unit attached to an indoor, usually wall-mounted head or cassette. These units can provide both heating and cooling, and distribute the air evenly throughout a space, eliminating hot and cold spots. Ductless is highly efficient, up to 70% more efficient than electric baseboard heating. Because ductless systems can be wall-mounted, they allow you to maximize your use of the space, and can be turned on and off as needed. This can be a great option if you plan on using your garage as a flex space for projects throughout the year, and will help you beat the heat in the summer as well as winter.

Pros: Permanent solution that can provide both heating and cooling to the garage; rapidly brings the room to a comfort level and keeps it there; very efficient and inexpensive to run, mounts on the wall out of the way. Controls temp and humidity. Has a filtration system. Very safe.

Cons: Needs professional installation, more expensive than portable space heaters.

Read More: How To Heat A Large Room With High Ceilings

Our Recommendation

As you can see, there are many options to heat your garage, to turn “just the garage” into a space where you can work on hobbies, and projects, or even use it as a retreat from the rest of your home. In order to choose the best option, you will need to consider how you are going to use the space, the expense involved in both installation and in operating the system, and whether there are any maintenance or storage issues involved.

The best overall system that will give you maximum use of your garage space while providing the comfort you need to make this space usable year-round is a ductless mini-split system. Unlike the other systems, ductless mini splits can provide you with both heating and cooling, making your garage space a haven no matter what the weather is.

How Mini Splits Work

As we stated above, mini splits have 2 main components- an outdoor condenser unit and an indoor cassette or head, usually mounted on the wall. The head contains sensors that monitor the area for both temperature and humidity and can adjust and hold the comfort level for a long time. The high-efficiency inverter systems take heat from the outside air- even in temperatures as low as -13F- and reverse this process in the summer, to provide cool air as well.

Read More: How Ductless Works

More Benefits

Heating And Cooling

Mini-split heat pump systems can provide both heating and cooling in the same system, and deliver heated or cooled air evenly throughout a space, eliminating hot and cool spots. Some systems even come with motion sensors and will adjust into active vs. standby mode, to help save additional energy.

Easy Installation

Installation of mini split systems can be done quickly, and less invasively than other systems. With no ductwork being required, there is less wear and tear of your home, with an easier installation! 

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Mini Split Installation In Abington, PA

If you have hard-to-heat areas like a garage, three-season room, attics, basements, or other spaces where you need additional comfort, the experts here at Synergy 3 are here to help. Here in Abington and surrounding communities, we often install Bryant ductless mini split systems to help homeowners get the most out of their homes. 

If you’d like to start using your garage space more often and are thinking about how to make it a great place to get your projects done this winter, give us a call here at Synergy 3 and we’ll help you design the perfect system for your needs!