Garages are never usually the warmest part of your house and they tend to be even more cold if they are a stand-alone building. So when winter rolls around, heading into your freezing cold garage to get into your car or shivering whilst spending time in there undertaking necessary work for DIY projects or other hobbies can be a less than an enjoyable experience.
So let’s take a look at ways you can inject more heat into this space and make the garage a warm and therefore much more comfortable place to spend time during the winter.
Perhaps the best place to start with making your garage warm is actually insulating it first. Therefore, when you spend money on heating equipment, your hard-earned money doesn’t go to waste on heat escaping through poorly insulated walls, ceilings and doors.
The best materials are wool or fiberglass-based products which are widely available from most home improvement stores. Focus on adding insulation to the walls and in particular the ceiling because heat primarily travels upwards.
With proper insulation you will immediately notice and effect on the garage’s ability to retain heat, which means you won’t have to spend as much money on bills fuelling your chosen heat source.
2. Eliminating Drafts and Air Gaps
A natural second step after you have added insulation to your walls and ceiling is to pay attention to the cold air that’s entering your garage through drafts and gaps/cracks in windows and doors.
The best place to start is with your garage door. Since these are usually very large, they present many opportunities for cold air to intrude into your garage space. First chick the gap in between the bottom of the door and the floor, is it air tight?
If not, you can purchase some draft excluders to run along the bottom of your door to stop air creeping in underneath. But don’t stop there, look for other areas on your garage door that present similar problems, such as around windows if you have glass windows on your garage doors.
Likewise, if you have any windows as part of the garage itself, check for drafts, cracks and gaps that cold air could be seeping in through. Pay particular attention to the weather stripping and see if it still up to the task. Replacing the weather stripping is straight forward and will provide you with consistent protection against the cold weather.
3. Forced Air Heater
The type of heater we are going to look at first is the forced-air heater. This works by forcibly blowing hot air into your garage which will warm the temperature. You can have one installed that works just for your garage or you can have it attached to a wider duct system running through your house, although this may prove quite expensive to do so.
The issue with using this type of heater is the nature in which it works. Forced-air heaters can be quite forceful when they are blowing out their warmed air. This means you will struggle with this type of heater if you like to use the garage as a space for DIY projects or any other activities.
For instance, if you are working on something fairly intricate like woodworking, the heater would blow dirt and dust around the garage, making processes such as painting, cleaning and staining the wood very difficult.
It may also be a concern when keeping a vehicle in there for the same reasons. If you like to clean, wax and regularly polish your car, bike or truck, then debris from the blower can make this task much more difficult.
4. Convection Heater
Convection heaters come in a range of different formats and work in a different way to the forced-air heaters. These are much more versatile since they can be placed pretty much anywhere (particularly if you choose an electrically operated one).
These heaters work by using air convection currents which circulate through the heating unit and heat up the air around the appliance. The main problem with this type of heater is the fact that it can take quite a considerable amount of time to get a room such as a garage warm as it slowly heats more and more of the available air through convection.
So if you want something to heat your garage rapidly, then this type of heater isn’t going to be for you. Secondly, if you choose an electric rather than gas or oil-based convection heater then they are quite expensive to run as they consume quite a lot of power and have to be left on for long periods of time in order to achieve acceptable levels of warmth.
5. Underfloor Heating
Underfloor heating is very common these days, particularly in rooms with tiled floors such as bathrooms or kitchens. Increasingly however, they are now being installed in garages in towns and cities with colder climates during the winter, as people still need to use their garage regularly and don’t want to have freeze every time they enter.
This method uses plastic pipes filled with water which warms up with your central heating system (if you heating system is water/gas based rather than electric based) just like a traditional radiator.
Having a heated floor is particularly appealing to those who use their garage fairly intensively. For example, using the garage as a workshop for work-at-home tradesmen or hobby mechanics who need to spend a lot of time on the floor working on their back to fix and repair parts on automobiles and other machines.
The main issue is this is quite an undertaking of plumbing work, and depending on the size of your garage space, it could costs thousands of dollars to have an underfloor heating system put in place. There are certainly cheaper ways to solve the problem of warming up your garage this winter.
6. Propane Heater
Probably the best heaters in terms of cost to benefit ratio are propane heaters. They come in a wide range of shapes and sizes and they are relatively cheap to run, whilst still being able to pump out huge amounts of heat.
Depending on which model you buy, you can heat up areas of up to 1500 sq. ft without simultaneously breaking the bank. In many places running your heater on propane is much more economical that electric or any other means, which is a big reason why they are so popular.
What also helps is their mobility, a lot of propane heater come with a set of wheels, so if you have multiple garages or workshops you can simply wheel the heater from location to location and start warming them up instantly.
If you do have multiple spaces that need warming, we recommend the Mr. Heater MH35LP Propane Radiant Heater. It will easily do the job of heating 800 sq. ft without a fuss, leaving you to concentrate on whatever you need to be doing in the garage rather than trying to stay warm.
7. Log Burner
Perhaps more a more traditional form of heating, but still pretty effective is the log burner or wood burning stove. First and foremost, it’s important to note that not all municipalities will allow log burners in your garage, so make sure to check with your local authority what the regulations are.
Once you’ve discovered you are indeed allowed to have one placed in your garage, you will need to take the necessary safety precautions, and likely have it installed by a professional.
These fires are relatively cheap to run as all you need to invest in are logs, and charcoal is you want to get the fire really hot. They will do a great job and heating the area around the fire, however their heat does dissipate quite quickly as you move away from it. It is likely the opposite side of the garage may remain cool if it is a especially large space.
Unfortunately, the issue is you will find that many cities and towns will not allow you to have a log burner in your garage. Secondly, even if you happen to live in an area that allows you to do so, your home insurance company may block installation on the grounds that having one in your garage voids your insurance policy.
So it is wise to do your research before investing in installing a log burner, making sure you have the necessary permissions and that you garage is a good fit for that type of heater.
So there you have it, 7 sure-fire ways to keep your garage warm this winter. It is perhaps best to start with the heat loss prevention measures such as investing in good insulation and doing a thorough assessment of your drafts, cracks and gaps where cold air can seep in and warm air can leak out.
Once you have eliminated those issues and you have a much more airtight space to work with, it is wise to invest in some type of heater. We feel propane heaters provide the best bang for the buck because they are inexpensive to purchase and cheap to run.
If you would like to learn more about propane heaters then why not read our buyer’s guide here.