How to Heat a Garage
Insulate your garage walls and ceiling. Installing a heater in an uninsulated garage represents a tremendous waste of time and money, as the heat produced will quickly escape outside. Aim for at least an R-value of 19 (the equivalent U-value is 0.053) in both the walls and ceiling. A 6-inch (15 cm) layer of fiberglass batt insulation provides an R-value of 19. In fact, insulating your garage may provide enough comfort for you to forgo installing a heater.
Choose the right heater for your garage. Heating with natural gas is by far the most economical choice, and there are 2 main options for natural gas heaters: forced-air systems and infrared tube heaters. Forced-air heaters blow warm air through a vent, and infrared systems radiate heat from a metal heating element.
- Forced-air heaters are cheaper to install, and don’t have very exacting space requirements. They will stir up air and keep dust airborne, however, so they aren’t a great option if you plan on doing any painting or staining in your garage. Forced-air heaters will also take longer to reheat your garage after the door has been opened and closed.
- Infrared tube heaters are more expensive, and have very specific space allowances. Most will have to be installed at least 7 feet (2.1 m) from the floor, and cannot be placed within 3 feet (0.9 m) of any objects. Infrared heat is more uniform, however, and the units typically cost less to operate. They do not stir up dust, so they are the ideal choice if you use your garage for woodworking projects.
Understand the installation requirements of each heater. Both forced-air and infrared heaters will require a natural gas line, an electrical hookup, and ventilation to the outside. Infrared units are best placed on the back wall of a garage facing towards the garage door and angled down at a 45 degree angle. Forced-air units can be placed nearly anywhere, but are best placed in a corner near an electrical outlet.
Purchase and install a heater. The heater’s installation is best left to a contractor who specializes in HVAC equipment, as the installation requires electrical wiring and duct work installation. A contractor can also help advise you on which model is suited for your garage and the ideal location of the heater. If you are feeling particularly handy, though, install the heater according to the installation specifications included with the product. The tools needed will vary based on the model and the extent of the changes needed to accommodate the installation.
Operate the heater. Once the heater is installed, let it run to enjoy a warm, comfortable garage. Leave the garage door closed as much as possible to avoid losing heat to the outside.