The garage is the perfect spot for a household workshop. Ample room to work on those big projects and generally unfinished enough that you don’t have to worry about a mess. It’s you’re own home away from home – right in your home! Yet garages can really be very off putting when the temperature starts to drop – especially in winter months. That’s where a reliable garage heater comes in.
This guide is going to cover the basic types of heaters, pros and cons, ‘best-of’ reviews, and most importantly it will answer that burning question – “What’s the best garage heater for me?”. So let’s start things off with the top 5 heaters for your garage! Below are my top 5 garage heater reviews for daily use in your workshop or garage space.
We had to put the Modine ‘Hot Dawg’ at the top. It’s managed to keep a perfect 5 star rating on amazon because it works. This one is seriously powerful, capable of residential and commercial/industrial use.
It offers 2 fuel options – heat up your garage in minutes with its’ natural gas option (also available as a liquid propane unit) and for those longer days you can fuel it with electric! It has tube ventilation attachments in the back (something 95% of other gas heaters don’t) and can easily be wall or ceiling mounted for convenience and optimal air flow.
The Modine ‘Hot Dawg’ is the most powerful and affordable garage heater on the market, so I highly suggest reading the whole review and seriously considering adding this heater to your work shop.
An electric garage heater is a perfect choice for almost any space. It’s more affordable initially over propane or other gas powered heaters and they can easily heat large areas. The main reason people tend to opt for electric forced air garage heaters is for their efficiency, ease of set-up, and that their safe for indoor use.
The best electric shop heater is easily the Fahrenheat FUH54 (seen above). This powerful heater also made it in our top three overall workshop heaters and is our number one pick in the electric category. The review will go in-depth about this heater and what makes it so great. I also suggest you check out the price on Amazon for an up to date pricing and to read through some more user reviews there (and there’s a lot of them!).
This torpedo heater is top of the line when it comes to portable and powerful propane heaters. It has great reviews on amazon, notably for its efficiency and solid build. If you’re working on the go and are looking for powerful directional heat this torpedo heater will do the job. Price-wise it’s also one of the best options on the market – especially if you add the special discount that Amazon prime members get.
This particular heater isn’t recommended for indoor use (unless there is a significant amount of ventilation). The body is very compact for portability, but it will still heat up almost any sized shop or area very quickly.
Another popular choice is the natural gas garage heater. The best garage heater in the natural gas category is the Mr. Heater Blue Flame Vent-Free residential heater. It’s incredibly efficient and burns clean. It gets high marks in our books for it’s small, yet efficient, size and it’s one of the few gas space heaters that can be used indoors. This dual fuel vent-free blue flame heater is cheap and it can run for a long time as it burns very efficiently. I suggest you check the current price and take a look at the review for some in-depth numbers on square footage heating and longevity of the heater itself.
Don’t be fooled by it’s exterior, the Dr. Infrared portable space heater offers a large array of features that put it on the same level as any other garage heater. This electric heater has a design that suits any room of the house and has no external heated parts, making it actually usable in any part of the house.
The Dr. Infrared space heater is a best seller on Amazon due to its affordable price and dual-heat technology. This technology actually allows this single heater to heat up to 1000 square feet! Talk about efficient. I suggest you take a look at the current price and read our full review to see if this little 1500 watt heater fits your needs.
Forced air heaters work by warming the air and blowing it throughout the room. These heaters are a good choice for both large and small garage spaces and are often the most affordable option on the market.
The Dr. Heater DR966 240-volt Hardwired commercial shop heater with thermostat will heat up any space in a relatively fast time as far as electric units go. Expect around 10 – 30 minutes for a 500 to 1000 square foot garage (a 2 door to 3 door garage – time depend on how cold it is initially). If you’re looking for something with a solid build and a better than average efficiency for your workshop this is a top fan heater. Portable as far as go, mount it on the ceiling or wall, and heat your garage with ease. Read my review for more details and I recommend checking the price for an up to date price and some more user reviews.
Back to the Modine ‘Hot Dawg‘. I was tempted to recommend a few other of the best garage heaters here for the sake of variety, but as far as commercial shop heaters go this one just can’t be beat. It’s constructed to industrial level usage, it has the option to heat using either electric or gas (multi fuel), and it comes with a ventilation tubing area in the back (something most don’t come with). The option of gas fuel will heat up any sized space extremely fast compared to electric heat, but for those longer working days you can switch to electric for a more efficient heat maintenance.
There’s not too much more I need to say here that I haven’t gone over in my review. For the serious hobbyist or the commercial shop owner I suggest checking the recent price, taking a look at my review and read a few user reviews on amazon.
Mr. Heater “Big Buddy” Portable Heater
Best Portable Garage Heater
Brand: Mr. Heater Portable ‘Big Buddy’ Propane Heater
Easily the top portable propane garage heater. This propane powered heater is incredibly efficient and effective, heating a space of 600 square feet with ease. It last for weeks (and even over a month according to some user reviews) of continuous usage with a single 20 lbs propane tank. For those who are looking for something more portable than a 20 lbs propane tank, 1 lb propane tanks can run this portable heater continuously for up to a week.
If you’re looking to bring your heater places, either in the house or on the road, a portable garage heater may be your best bet. Portable garage heaters can come with various power sources and various sizes. Many people opt for the portable shop heater because of it’s convenience. Remember, just because it’s portable doesn’t mean it’s not as powerful as fixed garage heaters.
The Mr. Heater ‘Big Buddy‘ is also the only indoor propane heater for the garage I’d recommend. It doesn’t require ventilation due to the various advanced safety features it has (such as an oxygen sensor with auto-shut abilities). So between this and its power (warm your garage in under 10 minutes), this portable propane heater is definitely a top garage heater.
Buying Guide: How to Choose the Right Garage Heater
While it’s nice to think garages are built to be work spaces, they’re generally not built for year round use. Most often they aren’t built to be insulated, consisting of simple brick or timber frames. So if you want to be using your garage in the winter months you’ll likely want to consider investing in a garage heater.
Types of Garage Heaters
Shop heaters come in all shapes and sizes and are powered various ways. Most often a heaters power source is electric, natural gas, propane, or kerosene. Depending on the size of your garage it may be better to get something a bit larger and more robust or a smaller portable heater. For that matter, why not both! You can even get a super powerful portable heater too!
The most common choice among garages and households are electric garage heaters. The main reason to opt for electric heat is;
Convenience – An electric garage heater can be used anywhere with an outlet (and actually in any room of the house too). They are very easy to install and have very few steps – read how to install an electric garage heater. You also won’t have to worry about constantly replacing the fuel like other sorts of heaters.
Safety – Electric heaters for garage spaces are often a good choice for forgetful people. You don’t have to stress about any fuel sources or problems in that regard, and most electric garage heaters have auto-shut off controls for when the room hits the right temperature. There’s no open flame and they don’t have any sort of fuel burning smell.
Efficiency – Contrary to popular belief electric energy actually makes it the most efficient garage heater. All of the electric energy is converted into heat and is able to heat up any small to mid sized room efficiently.
Low Maintenance – There’s not much upkeep in terms of heater maintenance. As long as you’ve purchased a sturdy and well-reviewed electric garage heater you can be sure it will allow a few years of a set-it and forget-it attitude. The most you’ll have to worry about is if the cord is covered and if the vents have built up dust (mostly directed at electric fan heaters).
If you’re looking for a heater with a bit of power behind it, whether that’s because you have a large and drafty space or you want your garage to heat up in 5-minutes, a gas garage heater will probably be a better choice for you.
There’s a few great reasons to opt for a gas garage heater;
They’re Low Cost – You’re going to spend a bit more in the initial purchase, but you save a ton in the long run (assuming it’s not on 24 hours a day). Hydro’s getting expensive nowadays, so you can actually save up to 50% when compared to an electric powered heater.
They’re effective. Large spaces, drafty workshops, cold and frigid days – These are no problem. A Gas garage heater can actually heat up large spaces in 5 to 10 minutes, some heaters a bit more some even a bit less. Gas heaters are the sorts of heaters you’ll find on construction sites because they’re incredibly effective.
They’re Portable. No need for an outlet here. If you plan on moving this shop heater around you may want to get something with a portable fuel source. So as long as you can your fuel around you can bring the heat.
I want to mention that best propane gas heaters are not for indoor use (with the exception of one indoor propane heater and two natural gas wall heaters). A garage is different as it’s less insulated and more ventilated – but make sure it has ventilation. Gas garage heaters are like running a barbecue – there’s carbon monoxide. You wouldn’t barbecue inside for this reason, so make sure if you go for a gas garage heater you only use it in a place you could barbecue in!
The Different Types of Heat
Infrared and Radiant Heat
These types of heaters are perfect for those looking to heat just an area within a larger space, be it a workbench or a patio table. Infrared and radiant heat work much like the sun. Instead of heating the air it uses heat waves that pass through objects and people, giving a much better feeling of warmth. It’s a different method all together, but work very effectively for specific spots.
The advantages of infrared heaters are they heat up almost immediately, no waiting for a whole room or even a garage heater to warm up. You’ll feel the heat right away. There’s no fan so you don’t have to listen to any hums or loud clunky noises. If you plan on doing painting or any sort of stuff loose particles and dust can ruin, best go for a radiant source for your workshop.
The downside here is it only heats things directly in the path of the radiant garage heater. So if you’re behind it or constantly moving around you won’t really feel any heat from it even though you could be in the same room.
Fuels source aside, there’s generally 2 types of garage heater used – Forced air and radiant/infrared heat. The concept of a forced air heater is pretty straight forward, but let me reiterate it again. A forced air heater heats up conductive coils and pushes air through it, effectively heating up the air itself.
Are they effective? They are effective in heating up a whole area, so if you are looking to be using a whole room or workshop and plan on moving around often this may be your best choice.
They are also pretty convenient since they usually have a thermostat allowing you to set the temperature exactly and have it automatically run when needed to keep the space at that temperature.
The downside here is that it takes a while to heat up a room generally, and because it’s just the air it’s heating any open doors or open garage doors will loose a lot of heat very quickly.
How to Install a Garage Ceiling Heater
Ceiling mounted garage heaters are a common choice as it gets it up and out of the way as well as creates good heat circulation. Those of you looking for a ceiling mounted garage heater and in that case will have to do a bit more to install it. It’s not quite as simple as mounting it to your garage ceiling, there’s a few things you need to know when positioning the garage heater in order to circulate heat evenly and efficiently throughout you’re workshop.
A pictures worth a thousand words, so I’m going to do one better. The video below will explain the ins-and-outs of mounting the best garage heater to the ceiling.
The ‘Hot Dawg’ dual fuel garage heater is being installed in the video.
For the rest of your folks who are looking to pick up a smaller/portable/floor garage heater your guide is much simpler – simply read the instructions and turn it on!
Best Way to Heat a Garage
There’s no one answer to this question, first you have to know what you’re looking for for your particular space. It comes down to the size of your space and if there’s ventilation available.
Electric heat is great for hobbyists – low cost and they’re easy to set up. Propane and natural gas are more of a heavy duty fuel capable of heating up the coldest and largest of spaces in minutes. Infrared and radiant heat are great, but work best if you’re in one location. Forced air and fan warm the air in the whole space, so if you plan on moving around a lot this may be a better choice.
Ultimately they can both serve the same purpose, so it’s really dependent on your needs. I highly suggest trying out our best garage heater calculator for an accurate pick, or read through the ultimate garage heater buying guide for a very detailed explanation of your heater options.
With any source of extreme heat there are always precautions you’ll want to take. It’s said that space heater’s are the cause of over 53,000 home fires per year, so whether you’re using electric heat or gas powered heaters, you should read the instructions thoroughly before use. Although I could write a lot on this topic here, I have a more in depth guide to heater safety already on the site.
General Advice and Concerns
I’d like to leave you with a few lesser addressed issues when it comes to the best garage heaters. Say you have the heater all set up and ready to go – great… But is your garage safe?
Most of that is a larger concern for an electric garage heater, but a wet garage isn’t the best environment for electric tools and equipment. Use your best judgement here – if you feel safe properly propping up your heater for the floor or whatever solution you find that’s alright. Just make sure it’s a safe one!
Watch that electricity bill! Anything producing large amounts of heat can really rack up your energy bills if you’re not careful. This is why it’s probably best to look for an energy efficient garage heater or pay attention to how much power it consumes.
Hah – I don’t have an electric heater, I don’t need to watch my hydro bill!
Fuel bills can also be expensive. *Gasp* – That’s right. Consider what fuel you’re using and how much you’ll be using it. Generally it’s not bad, just don’t unnecessarily leave it on at all hours to avoid the extra cost. Also fuel prices can fluctuate, usually it’s nothing drastic but it can happen. Another reminder about fuel-ingesting garage heaters – remember you’re going to have to store that extra fuel somewhere (so have room).
Tips and Advice when Looking for the Best Garage Heater
Now this choice isn’t always as straight forward as you might think. There’s a ton of heaters out there to choose from, each with their own perks and features. You’ll have a few questions to answer before you find the best garage heater for you. Even simple questions like: How fast do you want your garage to heat up?
To best determine the best garage heater for you you’ll need to know the approximate size of your garage. If you choose a garage heater that is too small you’ll find it’s not going to heat up your garage quickly or possibly not enough (you’ll always have the dreaded cold hands!) and on the flip-side, a heater that’s too big you’ll find won’t be very energy efficient.
Whether you’re leaning towards a specific type of heater you’ll want to consider a few things.
Make sure the heater fits your garage. If you’re not sure about this take a look at my garage heater calculator for electric shop heaters to get an accurate estimate of the power you’ll need.
The opposite is also true. A heater that’s too powerful for a small space can be uncomfortably warm. Don’t get a commercial heater if you have a small work space, bigger’s not always better!
There are lots of extra features. Some have added safety features, some are stand alone, some are wall mounted, some are portable – it’s up to you to decide which are most important to you.
If you’ve read this guide top to bottom you should feel pretty confident in purchasing the best garage heater to heat your workshop or garage. Whether it’s propane or electric, infrared or fan heat, stay warm and safe this winter and enjoy your new winter ready room! If you’ve gone over these questions and feel you’re ready to take the plunge, scroll back up and familiarize yourself with our top picks again. I would also suggest reading up on the Amazon reviews and checking the current price.