It’s wintertime, which means you’ve probably got the furnace running to keep your rooms heated. But you also need to make sure that your garage stays warm and comfy. Even if it isn’t the most frequently occupied part of your home, it stores some really valuable assets. Like your car, power tools, etc. Extremely low temperatures will have an adverse effect on the performance of your car battery, and it is recommended to keep vehicle batteries at around 80°F for maximum efficiency.
Frozen water within the battery can permanently damage cells. The same is true for lithium ion batteries used in your drill drivers or cordless chainsaws. Even though their internal chemistry is entirely different from that of a car battery, really low temperatures (under 40°F) will negatively impact their capacity to hold charge. Maybe you’re a DIYer/ handyman and have a workshop set up within your garage. Which means you’re definitely going to need some heating in there, so you don’t freeze your fingers off while working on the next winter project. It certainly isn’t desirable or practical to wear full winter clothing with gloves whenever you want to handle some tools.
Fast Heating — Best Electric Garage Heater : NewAir G73
Helpful Tip: If you’re going to use a fan forced heater, make sure that your garage is properly sealed to prevent heat from escaping. We recommend insulating your garage doors and windows beforehand.
But, why garage heaters? Couldn’t you just use a regular space heater? Garage heating has a very unique set of requirements, which is why you can’t just use the heater that warms your bedroom to keep a 2- car garage comfortable during freezing weather. A lot of garages aren’t very well insulated to begin with. Unless we’re talking about an attached garage constructed with winter conditions in mind, it is likely to have far less insulation than your home. And since garages aren’t considered part of the living space, builders typically don’t install heating vents in garages. Which means, you won’t be able to use your central heating system (HVAC) to keep your garage warm. Plus, it is very likely that you don’t want to heat the entire garage. Maybe you just want spot heating for your workbench and tools. A garage heater has to be powerful, and versatile.
Interesting Fact: Contrary to what most people think, garage heaters can also be used in farmhouses, basements, and construction sites.
In this article, we’re going to discuss electric garage heaters. Electric heaters have certain advantages over their natural gas/ propane counterparts. Benefits include lower upfront cost, and no inherent ventilation requirements (since electric heaters produce zero harmful exhaust fumes). You probably still need ventilation in your garage, especially if you have a workshop in there, although you won’t have to install any additional ventilation specifically for the heater, like you would with a gas powered model.
Some electric garage heaters are plug and play, which means you can power them with a simple 120V wall outlet. Others will require hard-wiring. Generally speaking, installing an electric garage heater is easier (and cheaper) when compared to installing a gas powered heater. But electric heaters also have their weakness, which we shall discuss in more detail later on. We’re going to start by reviewing some of the best electric garage heaters on the market right now, each with its own unique pros and cons.
Please note, specifications alone won’t be enough to make a good purchase decision, you need to judge if the heater meets your specific requirements. Ask questions like — is this heater the correct size for my garage? Will I need to invest in 240V wiring and a professional installation? Does it use convection or radiation? Convection will heat up your entire garage, whereas radiation (infrared) is designed to heat people and the surfaces of objects (it won’t heat the air within your garage). Before we get into the reviews, here are some important details for you to consider.
Hardwiring Your Electric Garage Heater
Since 240V garage heaters are often used in workshops and large garages, they draw a lot more power than 120V residential space heaters. And that’s why these units are hardwired. Hard-wiring means the appliance isn’t connected via a plug, instead it has a dedicated circuit. If you’re using a thermostat with the heater, you’ll have to run a cable from the breaker box to the thermostat and then from the thermostat to the heater.
A sheathed cable designed to support 240V and high current draw will connect your heater to the breaker box. Always read the owner’s manual thoroughly. It should contain detailed information on how to wire your electric heater. Some garages don’t have 240V wiring installed to begin with, so you will most certainly have to hire a professional. If you thought permit inspectors were ruthless, think again. The kinds of fire hazards that you’ll invite by using the wrong wiring and breakers have the potential to burn down your entire shop or garage. Not only do licensed technicians have the knowledge and experience, but they will also source the necessary permits. If your shop or garage has wood framed walls and ceilings, installation of new wiring can be done quickly without causing much collateral damage. If there are brick walls, the electrician will use conduits that attach to the surface of the wall.
Warning: Doing electrical work without the appropriate permits or inspections will result in hefty fines, and you might have to tear out all the new wiring you installed.
A standard 120V wall outlet is typically designed to supply up to 15 amps of current. A large electric garage heater could easily draw over 20 amps, and it is recommended that you have at least 30A breakers for the biggest models. Read the information plate on your electric heater to get an idea of how many volts and amps it needs. Hooking up a 240V heater to a 120V supply may permanently damage circuits. If you have a jointer, dust collectors, welders, etc. in the shop, chances are you already have 20/ 30 amp breakers and 240V wiring installed.
How to know the difference between 120V and 240V outlets? Simple- the 240V outlets are physically larger, at around 4.5” x 4.5”. Older 240V outlets have a single 3- prong Y shaped opening, newer ones come with a 4- prong opening (one of which is ground). To be sure, test the AC voltage across your garage outlets by using a digital multi-meter.
Note: Adding more circuits to your garage might justify the need for a larger panel, such as a 100amp or 200amp service. Ask your electrician about these potential costs upfront, otherwise you might get a “shockingly” expensive bill after the job is done.
Reviews | Best Electric Garage Heater
Rugged 240V : Best Value Electric Garage Heater
- Heats areas up to 500 sq. ft.
- 5,000-watt heater at 240-volt and 26.1 amps creates ample heat to warm a garage, basement and warehouse or construction addition
- Dial heater controls provide easy operation; built-in thermostat adjusts from 45 degrees to 135 degrees Fahrenheit,
- All motors and contactor coils are line voltage or operate on internal step down transformers so a separate fan and motor control power source is not needed.
- Steel fins are copper brazed to low watt density, steel-sheathed tubular heating elements.
- Element is finished with aluminized paint for corrosion resistance.
- A high-limit cutout automatically shuts off current in event of overheating and reactivates the heater when temperature returns to normal.
- Epoxy paint finish. Excellent corrosion resistance.
- Includes ceiling-mount bracket that allows the heater to be used in four indexed positions — straight out (horizontal), straight down (downflow), and two intermediate positions, as well as any positions in between.
- Easy to install and service. remove one screw and bottom control box cover swings down on hinges for full access to controls and wiring.
- Built-in thermostat – dial up or down for precise heating comfort with single-pole built-in thermostat. temperature range 45ºF to 135ºF.u
- Automatic fan control – all heaters are equipped with an automatic fan delay control that delays fan action until the heating element is warm, and continues fan action until the heating element has cooled after the heating cycle.
Ideal for: Factories, garages, stores, warehouses, workshops, etc.
“Extremely compact industrial grade electric heater for your garage, basement, or workshop. The ceiling bracket allows for different mounting positions, so you can customize this heater for all sorts of applications.”
The FUH54 from Fahrenheat is an interesting little fellow, at first glance you wouldn’t expect too much because it’s so small and basic. But they say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and this electric heater is proof of that. It uses fan forced convection to propagate 5000 watts of heat across your garage or workshop, and has adjustable metal louvers on the front so you can choose where you want the heat to be directed. It uses a built-in thermostat, so you don’t have to hook up an external thermostat. This will save you some money on installation and wiring costs. Automatic fan control keeps noise levels low until the heating element is warm enough, so the heater doesn’t make any more noise than is necessary. And once it has reached the target temperature, heating coils will turn off to save on power consumption while the fan keeps spinning to distribute heat across the room.
The FUH54 is built tough, and is protected by an epoxy paintjob which provides excellent resistance against corrosion. The internal heating elements are also corrosion resistant, thanks to aluminized paint. You can use the FUH54 in basements where humidity levels are high, and in workshops or warehouses that are near the ocean. For safety, the FUH54 has an overheat protection system which will turn off heating if upper temperature thresholds are reached. Like all modern garage heaters, this unit doesn’t require any separate motor or fan control. You will notice that the built- in thermostat has a wide range, going from 45°F all the way up to 135°F.
Moving on to installation, the FUH54 comes with a ceiling bracket. You can mount it in any of the following 4 positions- straight out (horizontal), straight down (downflow), and two intermediate positions. You can gain full access to controls and wiring by removing just one screw that holds the bottom control box in place. The FUH54 can be mounted to the wall or ceiling, and minimum recommended mounting height is 6 feet above ground. The 1350rpm fan throws air up to 16 feet away, so you can mount it at the far end of your workshop or garage and still feel the warm air flowing out from the front of this heater.
We recommend the Fahrenheat FUH54 for 2- car garages up to 500 sq. feet in area. Keep in mind the fact that you’ll have to hardwire this unit, since it runs on 240V power and can draw up to 26.1amps. If you’re going with a DIY installation, make sure you have 10- gauge wire and a two pole 30amp breaker. Unless you are trained or familiar with home AC wiring, don’t try installing it yourself as you could end up with a serious accident in your home. Hire a pro who will do it for you properly. Safety should be your top priority.
Dyna-Glo EG7500DGP / 750 sq.ft.
7500W — Best Affordable electric garage heater for large spaces.
- 2 heat settings with temperature limiting control
- BTUS: 21,331 low, 25,589 high
- Fully enclosed motor
- Adjustable angles for horizontal and vertical air flow with safety lock
- Ships fully assembled
- Hard wire installation
- Easy access front panel control knob
- Sturdy, rugged construction
- Overheat auto shut-off protection
- Heats up to 750 sq. ft.
“Excellent performer for medium sized garages that require fast heating on the cheap, the EG7500DGP can alternate between two different heating modes depending on how cold it is”
Ideal for: Farmhouses, office buildings, garages, shops, etc.
What makes this 7500W electric heater so amazing is the fact that you can currently purchase it for slightly cheaper than even the 5000W Fahrenheat FUH54. Despite being priced similarly to a smaller heater, Dyna- Glo offers you increased heating capacity with this unit which makes it one of the most value for money garage heating options on the market. But this power does come with certain tradeoffs. For instance, the built- in thermostat is extremely crude and you’ve got no way of knowing what temperature it’s operating at. There is no degree scale, so you can’t tell the heater to turn on at a specific temperature point. You can connect an external thermostat to the EG7500DGP, but it has to be a 240V line voltage double pole wall model.
If you’ve got a small single car garage, you probably don’t need a 240V garage heater like this. But we can’t say for sure, because you might run into single digit temperatures where you live. And a smaller garage heater won’t get the job done in such extreme conditions. Especially if you need to stay within your garage or workshop for long periods of time. Most of the time, a 7500W heater like this will be perfect for 2 or even 3- car garages (up to 750 sq. feet) in areas that experience average temps of around 30 to 40°F during winter. It uses fan forced convection for heating, which means it can cover a much larger area compared to infrared models.
Installation is fairly simple, as long you’ve got the appropriate 240V circuits installed in your garage. The EG7500DGP comes with a mounting bracket preinstalled, and you can lock it into various positions ranging from horizontal to vertical. Build quality is excellent, and you’re pretty much guaranteed a long lifespan for this heater since it uses a fully enclosed motor and commercial grade heating elements. The unit ships fully assembled, and all controls are located on the front for easy access. Overheat auto shutoff ensures safety in case you leave it on for too long, and the adjustable louvers help you direct airflow with precision.
Dr. Heater DR218 / 1500W or 3000W
Best electric heater for your greenhouse (splash proof) or garage.
Note : Also available as a more powerful 220V 3000W version — Dr. Heater DR218-3000W
- 1,500 or 3000 Watt electric heater
- IPX4 structure and is protected against water splashing
- Light weight and portable
- Heavy duty ball bearing motor
“If you want a portable 120V electric heater for your small greenhouse, this is it. It will keep your plants from freezing during winter nights and early mornings”
Ideal for: Greenhouses, spot heating in workshops and garages, construction sites, basements, etc.
Marketed as a portable greenhouse heater, the Dr. Heater DR218 comes in two variants- a 1500 watt model that uses regular 120V power, and a 3000W model which runs on 240V power. Both versions look exactly the same, and don’t differ in physical dimensions either. The best way to differentiate between the two is by looking at their control panels. Model DR218- 1500 has only one heat setting, while the more powerful DR218- 3000 has two heating modes (low and high). You can also inspect the information panels on the side of these heaters to check out their voltage and current requirements. The larger 3000W version can draw between 15 to 20 amps of current, so make sure you’ve got the appropriate wiring and breakers installed in your garage before you purchase this model.
DR218 : 3000 Watt / 220V
Thermostat and fan speed controls are separate, which is pretty interesting. There is no temperature scale though, so the thermostat has to be tuned manually. To set your desired ambient temperature, you start the DR218 with its thermostat set to maximum heat (knob turned all the way clockwise). Once the ambient temperature within your greenhouse or garage is just where you want it to be, you start turning the thermostat knob counterclockwise until the unit turns off by itself. The internal thermostat has been calibrated to turn on the heating element when temperatures fall below this point, and turn off heat after the desired temperature has been reached.
On both DR218 versions, the built- in thermostat has a temperature range of 32°F to 104°F. But the highest setting on the DR218- 1500’s thermostat equates to a midway setting on the DR218- 3000’s thermostat. So you can heat up your greenhouse or garage much faster with the larger 3000 watt model. It doesn’t have to be hardwired, as Dr. Heater recommends you use the DR218- 3000 with the included cord and plug that fits into a standard 240V NEMA 6-20R receptacle. Make sure your 240V outlet is properly grounded.
For safety, the DR218 packs overheat auto shutoff and a special cool touch cabinet that won’t burn your fingers even if the internal heating elements are really hot. The cabinet itself is made from premium steel, and all components of this heater are assembled in the USA. You get a nice wraparound metal handle which also acts as a stand for the heater. This wraparound handle/ stand will protect your DR218 if it ever tips over by accident. There is no tip over shutoff, but that feature is more of a requirement in heaters that use combustible fuel such as kerosene or propane. With an electric heater like this, you have very little to worry about if it ever falls on its side. IPX4 protection ensures that a light splash of water won’t ruin your electric heater. But you shouldn’t take this heater into your bathroom, as that could result in a nasty electrical accident. As for how much area you can heat with one of these, it’s 150 sq. Ft for the 1500W version and 300 sq. Ft for the 3000W version (rough estimates).
120V for small spaces. The more powerful G56 can heat up to 560 sq.ft.
Extremely portable spot heater.
“The NewAir NGH160GA00 combines low weight with a super compact cylindrical design to deliver amazing infrared spot heating for when you’re cleaning out your garage or working on a project in the shop. It keeps you warm without heating the surrounding air, and is a must- have for DIYers”
Ideal for: Heating single car garages, spot heating in woodworking shops, construction sites, etc.
We discussed earlier about the benefits of infrared or radiant heating, how it delivers the heat directly to your body instead of heating up the surrounding air. Radiant heating can be focused on a small area unlike a convection heater which just spreads the heat around everywhere. That makes ceramic heaters such as the NewAir NGH160GA00 extremely good for keeping yourself warm while you’re cleaning the car on a chilly day. You consume much less power than you normally would with a convection based fan forced heater, and you stay perfectly warm even with a garage that isn’t super well insulated.
The direct heat energy from a radiant heater won’t leak out if your doors or windows are open, it is absorbed by your body and clothes. Yes, the heat energy that is conducted into the air coming in contact with your body and any heated objects will run outside if you don’t seal your garage. So you will lose some efficiency, but not nearly the same amount as you would with a purely convection based heater.
The NGH160GA00 is what some people call a “combination heater”, since it uses both radiant heating as well as convection. What makes it stand out from the rest of the bunch is the fact that it’s super easy to transport and setup. You can pickup this little 4lb heater and throw it in the back of your car, drive to the jobsite or campsite and hook it up to any 120V outlet. And if you don’t feel like turning on the main 240V electric garage heater which consumes 5000+ watts of power, you can use this NewAir unit instead to heat up the exact spot within your shop or garage that you need to use. It is mounted on a simple base which lets the cylindrical heater pivot up or down, so you can focus the heat exactly where you need it.
Noise levels are under 50 decibels, which means this heater makes as much noise as a refrigerator or AC unit. You won’t even hear it in the background while you’re working on a project. And the fan speed can be adjusted if you don’t want to blow sawdust and debris all over the place. Max airflow is a mighty 200CFM, so this little guy can raise up quite the storm if you let it.
Don’t let combustible materials such as paper, wooden furniture, pillows, curtains, etc. get within 3 feet of the heater. It generates focused heat, so the closer an object is the more heat energy it will receive. It has 3 modes of operation- fan only, half heat, and full heat. At full heat, it can warm a 160 sq. Ft area. Controls are located next to the top handle, and they consist of two knobs. One is for turning the fan and heat on/ off, the other knob controls an internal thermostat.
Dr. Infrared Heater DR-988
Simple but well- built 5600W portable heater
“Designed with contractors and shop owners in mind, the DR988 uses a sturdy steel construction coupled with powerful heating which makes it a compact and rugged heater for commercial applications”
Ideal for: Shops, garages, basements, warehouses, construction sites, etc.
Despite its name, the DR988 isn’t what we would call a “true” infrared heater. It functions much like a traditional forced fan style electric heater where a fan is pulling cold air in through the back and pushing it through heated electric coils. Hot air comes out at the front, and that is what heats up your garage. In contrast, infrared light transfers heat directly into objects through electromagnetic radiation.
Some research we did on this heater suggests that its coils might emit a small amount of infrared light once they are heated up. But any contributions made by that to heating would be insignificant. Infrared vs standard heating aside, we can all agree on one thing- the DR988 performs like a champ. It is designed to heat large spaces of up to 1000 sq. Ft and above, which may seem a little odd considering the fact that this is a 5600W heater and not some gigantic 8000W+ unit.
The key to its performance is the extremely powerful fan which generates a lot of airflow, much more than what you’d get on similarly sized 240V heaters. It is one of the best electric garage heaters out there and is built like a tank, with all steel construction (assembled in USA). The top handle lets you carry it around between places, so you can transfer it from the garage to the basement within minutes.
It is perfect for jobsites, since hot air from the DR988 is thrown up to 25 feet away. This heater functions by spreading warm air across a really large space, instead of focusing a bunch of hot air into a small area. Your shop/ garage will be evenly heated, so there won’t be any hot or cold spots. We recommend the Dr. Heater DR988 for 3- car garages, and areas up to 1000 sq. Ft. It will require a 240V NEMA 6- 30R receptacle, and can draw up to 20 amps of current. Make sure your garage has a dedicated 240V 30A circuit for this heater. The DR988 is designed to be used as a floor model so it can’t be mounted on walls or ceilings unless you design your own mounting mechanism (no wall mounting brackets are provided).
Indeed, this little red powerhouse is truly one of the best electric garage heaters you can buy. From the mouth of NewAir, they describe it as :
“…industrial electric garage heater is perfect for warming any construction site, garage, basement, and workshop with its specially designed heating element and features an impressive portable design…”Dr. Heater USA
NewAir G73 : 5000W
Safe and reliable heating for your workshop or garage, from a company you can trust.
Ideal for : 5000W electric heater for garages up to 500 sq.ft.
- Heavy-duty exterior is meant to withstand tough working conditions.
- Mounting bracket is for safe placement away from busy work areas.
- Hardwiring system eliminates maintenance problems typical of propane heaters.
- UL certification and overheating protection guarantees you electrical safety and a unit you can trust.
- Adjustable louvers and tilt head give you control of where you direct your heat.
- Product Dimensions: 8.90″D x 9.10″W x 11.25″H
- Hardwired to Your 30 Amp Breaker
“NewAir has managed to pack some serious heating performance into a package that’s barely larger than a postbox. It boasts an all steel construction, and gives you a ton of options in terms of installation. Auto shutoff guarantees safety.”
Ideal for: Workshops and garages, basements, jobsites, “Man Caves”, etc.
NewAir claims that their intelligent thermostat design makes the G73 one of the safest and most long- lasting electric garage heaters that money can buy. The way it works is simple — you set your desired temperature on the thermostat which is located behind the heater. It reaches the set temperature, and shuts off the heating elements. This makes sure that power consumption stays low, while also reducing stress on internal components.
Lifespan is increased, and your garage stays at the exact same temperature all day long no matter how cold it gets outside. And that’s not all, the G73 also has auto shutoff in case temperatures go beyond tolerance limits. This will prevent your heater from burning up and taking the garage with it.
VIDEO | See How to Install the NewAir G73
Even though NewAir claims that this 5000W heater is intended for 500 sq. Ft garages, we’ve seen people install it in shops that are larger than 800 sq. Ft and the heater works perfectly fine. It all depends on how much insulation your garage has, and quickly you want the heat. NewAir likes to under promise and over deliver, so it’s reasonable to believe that this heater is capable of handling spaces larger than 500 square feet.
The G73 will draw around 20 amps of current from a 240V connection, and it has to be hardwired. This heater can be mounted to your wall or ceiling, and the mounting bracket is designed to let you pivot or tilt the heater. You can gain even more control over the direction of airflow by adjusting the front louvers.
Tech Specs : NewAir G73
KING KB ECO2S Series
KB2405-1/ KB2407-1/ KB2410-1: Best performing electric garage heater
“Constructed from premium materials and equipped with advanced electronics, the KING KB series heaters have a distinct advantage over the competition in both performance and efficiency. If you want the absolute best, here it is.”
Ideal for: Medium to large sized garages, workshops, high rise buildings, stores, fire room vaults, etc.
King Electric KB2405-1-B2-ECO: Offers 5,000-watts of heating power to warm up 500 square feet.
King Models Overview :
- King KB2407-1-B2 ECO: 7,500W / heats up to 750 sq.ft.
- King KB2410-1-B2-ECO: 10,000-watt / up to 1,000 sq.ft.
- King KB2412-1-B2-ECO: 12,000W / up to 1,200 sq.ft.
- King KB2415-1-B2-ECO: 15,000W / up to 1,500 sq.ft.
Common Features :
- Smart ECO2S Energy-Saving Design
- 2-Stage Heating: Automatically Uses Lowest Wattage Needed
- Remote Control Included & Wall Holder
- Summer Fan Only & Timer Modes
- Built-In Fan Delay To Dissipate Heat
- High Mass Steel Fin Heat Exchanger
- Patented Smart Limit Protection
- Permanent Lubricated Unit Bearing Motor
- Universal Wall/Ceiling Bracket Included
- Proudly Made in the USA
- 5-Year Warranty
The King KB series of electric heaters are available in 3 different lineups — the basic KB, KB ECO2S (what we’re reviewing), and KB Platinum. Heaters of different sizes within the same lineup share features, varying only in heating performance. The original KB series heaters don’t have LED displays or remote controls. But they share all the core components like high mass steel fin heat exchangers and permanently lubricated motors.
Best Heavy Duty 5000W Electric Garage Heater
A universal wall/ ceiling bracket is also included, which makes installation super easy no matter how tall or low your garage ceiling is. All KB series heaters include a thermal overload protection system which turns off the motor and heating elements when operating temperature limits are exceeded. And they all use 20 gauge electrogalvanized steel for the cabinet, which is extremely corrosion resistant. Rust protection is enhanced even further by applying a baked enamel finish.
Heat is generated in KB series heaters by a spiral fin element which uses a coil of copper brazed with spiral fins. This unique spiral design puts the entirety of the heating element within the air stream generated by the fan. Performance is maximized by ensuring that no heat energy is wasted. Talking of the fan, it too is optimized for performance. The fan uses aluminum blades to reduce weight, and is mounted directly to the motor for max efficiency. The rear screen is made from heavy gauge steel and prevents any foreign objects from making contact with the fan.
ECO2S models add some features to the basic KB lineup. One of those features is an infrared remote control, this lets you change thermostat settings or turn the heater ON/ OFF from a distance. As a result, you can mount KING KB ECO2S heaters at heights of over 8 feet from the ground. This level of versatility in installation and positioning is simply not possible with most other heaters since they have controls located on the heater body itself.
Another neat little addition to ECO2S models is the LED display. It displays information like temperature, mode setting, etc. and has a power ON/ OFF indicator. You can switch between normal and ECO mode, depending on how cold it is. ECO mode will consume far less power, and run quieter. Both the ECO2S and Platinum models feature a fan- only mode for summer season, along with a fan delay which keeps the fan running for a while even after the heating element has turned off. This dissipates residual heat from the unit until the heating elements have to turn on again. You can even set a timer on the thermostat, if you own an ECO2S or Platinum KB heater.
The KB2405-1-B2-ECO is a 5000W model, and dual voltage capable (208/ 240V). When operated in 208V mode, dual voltage heaters will draw 13% less current and 25% less wattage. Next, we have the KB2407-1-B2-ECO, which is a 7500W model, also dual voltage. And then there’s the KB2410-1-B2-ECO, a 10,000W model. If all of this sounds confusing, you aren’t wrong. King isn’t doing us any favors with their incredibly convoluted naming scheme and bloated lineup of heaters that share features but carry different names.
Check out the ECO2S page to learn more about specifications such as current draw, air throw distance, CFM, etc. There is basically zero difference between ECO2S and Platinum models in terms of features, except for the lack of a designated ECO mode in the Platinum units. All other features are shared between the two. Another distinction is in the sizing range — Platinum series models go all the way up to 40kW, while ECO2S maxes out at 15kW. Most homeowners won’t need anymore than 10kW for their 3 car garage or basement, which is why we didn’t review the larger units. And in case you do need more wattage, just use our sizing formula to determine the ideal heater size for your garage. Remember that features are the same across a lineup, only difference is the heat output.
Selecting The Best Garage Heater
Four main factors should be considered before you choose a garage heater. Here they are-
Heater location: If you think about it, there are specific locations in the garage that you spend the most time in. This is especially true if your garage contains a workshop or hobby area (gym, lounging space, etc.). So why waste energy trying to heat the entire garage if you only use certain parts of it? Electric garage heaters can consume a lot of energy, and that’s going to reflect in the power bills. If you want the workbench and tools to stay warm, focus the heat around that area. A radiant heater would work perfectly for such conditions.
Next, would you rather have the heater on the floor or mounted to the ceiling? Mounting to the ceiling involves a more complicated installation process, but it is also a safer option. Especially if you have kids and pets entering your garage. For garages with low ceilings, you should consider wall- mounting. If there isn’t enough headroom, your garage heater may end up providing a bit too much heat when you’re working near the unit.
Installation Type: This one is going to depend on the wattage of your electric garage heater. Some of the lower end models will work with a simple 120V supply, which means you can plug them into a regular outlet. Others might need hard-wiring. The nice thing about hard-wiring is that your electric heater will have its own switch and circuit, so you don’t have to worry about blowing a fuse while using other electrical tools such as angle grinders or table saws. But unless you’re an experienced DIYer, you’ll probably have to hire a professional technician. Because when you make insurance or warranty claims, they will want to know how you installed the unit (if you took all necessary safety precautions and followed local building code).
Safety Features: Electric garage heaters are naturally safer than propane/ natural gas heaters. It’s just how they are designed, since there is no combustible fuel to be burned and no toxic fumes are being released. There is no risk of CO poisoning, and you won’t have to install special venting just for your heater. If you store spray paints or gas in the garage, a propane heater with an open flame might be a bad idea since it doesn’t play well with other flammable substances nearby. With portable garage heaters, make sure they have a tip- over switch so they will automatically shut off if you accidentally knock them over. A heater with overheat protection will ensure that the heating elements and internal parts don’t degrade over time, since you might leave it on for extended periods.
Sizing: A quick and dirty way to size your electric garage heater is taking the floor area and multiplying it by 10 to get wattage. For example, a 400 sq. Ft garage will require a 4000W heater (minimum). It is a good idea to be slightly over the estimate, rather than under it. Our calculation assumes an 8’ ceiling height, and medium insulation.
Take into account lowest seasonal temperature, and think about what the ideal internal temperature for your garage would be. If the external temperature is 10°F and you want to keep your garage at a comfy 70°, your heater has to be capable of increasing the temperature by at least 60°F. Yes, the initial temperature within your garage won’t always be the same as external temperature due to factors such as insulation. But we are making a worst case estimate here.
Do You Need A Garage Heater?
Cheaper Alternatives :
We’ve told you a lot about which garage heater you should buy and why, but does any of that even matter if you live in a place that doesn’t get all that cold? Down south it might get a little chilly in the winter, but nothing that some good insulation and a little infrared spot heater can’t handle. You can also keep the temps from dropping too low by installing a sealed- combustion space heater. These heaters run on kerosene or natural gas, they suck in cold air from outside and spit hot air into the garage (exhausts go outside). You’ll need to turn them on at least 30 minutes before starting any work, and just one should be enough for a small garage.
Another way to heat your garage on the cheap is to install some electric radiant ceiling panels. These little panels can be retrofitted onto your existing garage ceiling. They consist of a radiative heating element packed inside a high- density fiberglass insulation board. The effect is similar to how the sun in the sky heats up everything on the ground, through infrared radiation. You can install these panels right above your gym equipment or workbench for some instant comfort during harsh winters.
Finally, before you even install any heating in your garage, you should make sure it isn’t leaking too much heat. Use the proper type of insulation, blown- in is the best option if you plan on using the space for extended periods of time. For the ceiling you can use plywood, drywall, or any other type of paneling. And don’t forget the floor. Concrete flooring is common in garages, and it gets cold pretty fast. The effects of any heating within your garage will be diminished by all this loss of heat energy taking place through the floor itself. Wooden flooring is ideal for retaining heat, but we understand that it isn’t always the most practical option. Carpet tiles and rugs should do a nice job of sealing away the cold concrete. If possible, install a steel door with foam core insulation. If you still feel drafts of cold air entering the garage, plug in the sides and bottom with some weather stripping.
Sizing Your Garage Heater
Earlier, we discussed a quick and simple method for getting a rough estimate on heater wattage. But what if you wish to be a bit more precise? It is very hard to be 100 percent accurate because of variables like where you live, and the type of insulation/ materials used in the construction of your garage. But here’s a formula that gives you a more realistic estimate. For this calculation, we’re going to need some data.
The first one will be desired rise in temperature, i.e. difference between your preferred (warm) temperature and the baseline (cold) temperature. You can take a thermometer and measure temperatures at different parts of the garage, then calculate an average internal temperature. Say it is 15°F, and you feel comfortable at 60°F. This gives us a Temperature Rise of (60 – 15)°F = 45°F.
Next, we need to calculate the volume of your garage. Say your garage floor is 22ft wide x 30ft long, and the ceiling is 8 ft tall. This gives us a volume of (22 x 30 x 8) cubic feet = 5280 cubic feet.
Finally, we get to the part where you might have to do some research. The degree of insulation, which is determined from “R” value. Walls in extremely cold climates should have an R- value of 25 to 30, whereas walls in warmer climates usually have a much lower R- value (around 13 to 15). Check out the recommend R-value for your locality via this link. To get degree of insulation, you will divide the R- value of your garage walls with the average R- value for your region. This will tell us how far above or below the national average you are. But if all that’s too complicated and time consuming for you, we have a cheat. Simply substitute a rating of 5 for no insulation, 1.5 for weak insulation, 1 for average insulation, and 0.5 for strong insulation. Now that we have our data, it’s time to plug everything into the formula-
Your heater’s BTU/h rating should be (Insulation rating x Garage Volume x Temperature Rise)/ 1.6, we chose an average insulation rating which is 1.
So our hypothetical garage will need (1 x 5280 x 45)/1.6 = 148,500 BTU/h, which can be converted into watts by multiplying it with 0.29, giving us 43kW.
Note: You don’t need to go out and buy a heater that has the exact same rating as what you got from this equation. There is no single garage heater that outputs over 43000 watts of heat, so you can get by with a much smaller option. But remember that it will take longer to heat your garage. You could purchase multiple heaters, or invest some money into insulation which will lower the wattage requirement drastically. We also considered the entire garage volume in this equation; you might only want to heat a specific section of your garage.
What is a BTU? It stands for British Thermal Unit, and is defined as the amount of heat energy required to raise the temperature of 1lb of water by 1°F. One watt is 3.41BTU/hr., note the “per hour” since BTU by itself is a measure of energy and energy by time gives us power (power = rate of doing work, or in this case the rate of heat transfer).
Gas vs Electric Heating
Which Is Heater Right For You?
Natural gas heaters cost more upfront, but are cheaper to operate in the long run. That’s because natural gas is cheaper than electricity. Installation for a gas heater is slightly more complicated, since you’ll have to supply it with ventilation. The ventilation serves two purposes- it brings in fresh air for the heater to breathe, and also discharges all toxic fumes left behind from the combustion process.
The ventilation can be gravity assisted, i.e. fumes are lighter than air which is why they will rise up and escape from a vertical chimney style vent. Or, you can use the more reliable method which is fan assisted ventilation that uses an electric fan to pull out all the toxic exhaust. All pipes and fittings must be sealed adequately, and tested for leaks prior to operation. There are some gas powered garage heaters which use batteries for ignition, so they can function even during a power outage. Unless you have a home backup generator, your electric garage heater isn’t going to be of much help during a power cut.
Electric garage heaters cost less initially, and the installation process is fairly straightforward. There are no toxic fumes to worry about, so you won’t need a vent specifically for your electric heater. And while electric units require maintenance every now and then, the chances of something detrimental happening to your family because of a malfunction is far less. With a gas heater, you even have to install CO detectors. Poorly maintained gas heaters can release toxic fumes into the household, which becomes a much bigger concern if the garage is attached. While electricity tends to cost more than natural gas or propane in the vast majority of the country, it is a proven fact that electric heaters tend to have longer lifespans when compared to their gas counterparts.
|Electric Advantages||Electric Disadvantages|
|Higher lifespan compared to gas||Higher cost of operation|
|Lower upfront cost||Takes a while for the filament to heat up, so you have to turn on the heater beforehand|
|Zero toxic fumes, doesn’t require special ventilation||Won’t function during a power outage unless you’ve got a backup generator|
|Gas Advantages||Gas Disadvantages|
|More economical in the long run, since natural gas and propane are cheaper than electricity||Higher upfront cost per unit|
|Instant heating||Requires ventilation, and you should install a CO detector|
|Models that use batteries for ignition will work during power outages||Lower lifespan and requires more frequent maintenance|
Convection vs Radiating Heater
Convection is the process of transferring heat through a fluid medium, which in the case of a heater is the air inside your garage. Powered by both electricity and combustible fuels, convective heaters come in two configurations — natural convection, and fan forced. Natural convection models are fanless, and less efficient at propagating. Fan forced convection heaters have a fan located next to the heating element which pushes out the hot air at a high speed, so it covers a wider area and warms up the entire garage much faster.
Radiation doesn’t require a medium for heat transfer, since it relies on photons of light to transmit energy. Radiation is basically electromagnetic waves, like light. Light comes in various wavelengths, and the type of light that radiative heaters use is infrared. It isn’t visible to the human eye, and infuses heat energy into objects at a subatomic level. Radiation doesn’t heat up the air directly, instead it heats up the surface of any object in its path. And radiation based heat energy can be focused, unlike convective heat which floats around the entire room. Infrared heaters are very good at spot heating for this exact reason, they only heat up you and your workspace while consuming much less energy than a large convection based garage heater.
Forced fan radiant heaters use both radiation and convection. A heat exchanger captures light energy generated by an infrared lamp, and then a fan located behind the heat exchanger pulls in cool air from the back of the heater. This cool air heats up as it passes over the heat exchanger (usually made of copper), and exits from the front of the heater to warm the garage or workshop. So the heat source is radiative, but the transfer is done via convection.
Forced fan convection heaters are perfect for large garages, since they propagate heat across a wide area much faster than radiative heaters. Fanless radiant heaters don’t cover as much space, but are perfect for woodworking shops since they won’t blow any sawdust around and don’t mess with humidity levels. Radiant heaters can also be used on jobsites, since they direct the heat energy at you instead of the surrounding air. So even if chilly winds are blowing, it won’t matter as you’ll stay perfectly warm.
What are the weaknesses of radiant heaters? Firstly, they aren’t very good for heating large spaces. Secondly, the heat they provide is unique in the sense that it will vanish shortly after you turn off the heater. You can’t turn off the infrared heater during an extended stay in your garage and expect to feel warm. They don’t directly heat the air, and even the objects they heat are only absorbing radiation energy at a surface level.