Ever been working in a garage so cold you could see your breath? I know the feeling. No project should be left abandoned because of cold temperatures, especially when we can do something about it!
So what’s the best way to heat an uninsulated garage? Use propane heaters for high powered, silent and odorless heat. Opt for a radiant style for a small-medium garage, or a torpedo style for a larger space.For an electric option use infrared heating as it’s more durable. An oil-filled model is the best-suited traditional type.
That’s the summary, anyway. But there’s obviously a lot more detail than that!
Let’s Consider Our Options
The best way to kick things off is to take a look at the various types of heaters you could use for your garage. These are:
1. Propane Heaters.
Provided your garage is ventilated, propane is an ideal heater for an uninsulated space. It’s powerful, silent, odorless, easy to get a hold of, and easy to place. Not to mention a great back-up heater in-case of a blackout. The downsides are of course needing ventilation and gas.
The two recommended propane types: Forced Air and Convection
Want to know more about propane? Check out our more in-depth article on garage propane heaters.
2. Kerosene Heaters.
Similar to propane, only harder to get a hold of and not quite as clean of a fuel-type. Also typically more expensive. Not much reason to take this over propane.
Moving on to electric heaters..
3. Infrared Heaters.
Infrared heaters are ideal for uninsulated and drafty spaces. They heat objects and not air. The benefits? All the heat doesn’t disappear when a cold wind blows. Instead, the warm objects stay warm. This is useful if you’ve got a specific area you want to heat. An infrared heater will let you heat up the actual objects (and yourself) in that area. However, they’re not so great if you want to heat an entire full-sized garage.
Now the two infrared types – Tower and Wall-Mounted
Note: I’ve written a full, free guide to infrared heater safety and how they work. If you’re curious, just click the link.
4. Ceramic Space Heaters.
By this type, I mean all general electric heaters that get hot and use a fan to blow that hot air around. These are terrible for an uninsulated space. Their heat is limited to the air, which can easily get blown away by a cold draft. Not to mention you’ll easily lose it due to the lack of insulation. I needed to include them in this quick run-down because they’re so popular, but please. Don’t waste your money (or electricity bills) on these!
5. Oil-Filled Heaters.
Lastly, oil-filled heaters are an okay choice for an insulated garage. They are similar to ceramic space heaters, but are much more energy-efficient and have longer-lasting heat. This means they aren’t as badly affected by their heat being lost to no insulation or a cold draft. These should only be considered for a small space.
If you are able to ventilate it properly, a propane heater is the ideal choice for an uninsulated garage. You just can’t beat the raw heating power of propane, or how easy it is to get a hold of. We’ll dive into the best ‘type’ of propane heater below, but for me this type wins outright.
If you don’t have good ventilation or just want to use electric, then there’s two options. Infrared is a good choice if you’re going to be working in one area. Say, at a workbench or desk. The heat is direct and long-lasting, meaning you can create a comfortably warm area.
Electric heaters which heat the air come in last place. Simply because they’re not powerful enough to overcome the lack of insulation. If you must go for one, I’d recommend an oil-filled model for their long-lasting heat and great energy efficiency. Don’t even go near a standard electric heater – it’ll just give you underwhelming warm air while racking up your electric bill.
Now we have an idea of what heater type would work best, we need to figure out…
What Size of Heater Do You Need?
Heater size, or power, is defined by the amount of BTU they can produce.
BTU stands for British Thermal Unit. It’s defined as:
The amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit
In plain English, that means a heater producing 1,000 BTU will heat 1,000 lbs of water by one degree Fahrenheit per hour. (Which is still a lot of heat!)
So how much power do you need?
Thankfully, this is easy to find out – just follow the steps below. (I’ve written an example in grey to help).
1. Take the cubic feet of your garage (length x breadth x height).
(say 25x25x12 = 7,500 cubic feet)
2. Estimate the coldest outside temperature, and think of your ideal room temperature
(say 30°F and 70°F)
3. Subtract the cold temperature from your goal temperature
(70°F-30°F = 40°F)
4. Multiply that by your cubic feet
(40 x 7,500 = 300,000)
5. Then Multiply by 0.133 (or 0.2394 if you used Celsius)
(300,000 x 0.133 = 40,000 BTU for a 25′ x 25′ garage with a 12′ high ceiling)
Heater Types in Detail
Having covered type and size, let’s look at each option individually. For each type, I’ve gone into detail about why you should consider each one, and have given my own personal recommendation of a quality heater example.
Best Propane Heaters for Uninsulated Garage
As you may have realized from the section above, an uninsulated garage needs a lot of heat. And that’s what propane heaters do best.
There’s almost no other heater type that will give you as much heat per unit of fuel than propane. Not only do they pack so much power, but they’re completely silent and odorless. It’s like having a tiny fire-breathing dragon that doesn’t make a sound.
They’re also great as back-up heaters in an emergency. Get stuck in a black-out? No problem! Just use the garage propane heater until the power’s back. Just make sure to use them safely – especially if you’re moving them indoors. Always ensure a propane heater is properly ventilating out into the open air.
Type 1: Propane Convection Heaters
Okay, on to the heaters themselves. There’s two types of propane heaters that are well-suited to garages. The first convection or ‘Radiant’ heaters.
These heaters are small but man do they pack some firepower. They produce heat in all directions, so they’re ideal to be placed right in the center of your garage.
Granted, the garage can’t be too large or the heat will dissipate, but the heat will be more than enough for any standard 1-2 car garages.
For this type, my top recommendation is the range of heaters by Mr Heater.
You want reliable, proven, powerful heat that will do the job well and last for years. This is one such model.
As one of the longest-serving manufacturers of propane heaters, this range has been top of the market for years. It includes all safety features (automatic shut-off due to overheating or tipping over), comes with the regulator and a 10ft hose to go along with it.
It’s an easy recommendation especially because they offer a full range of heater capacities:
- 25,000 BTU
- 30-80,000 BTU
- and 75-200,000 BTU (just in-case you want to heat up an entire warehouse)
The easiest place to check them out is Amazon – just follow the link below to see the whole range.
Type 2: Propane Forced-Air (Torpedo) Heaters
Second up is, in my opinion, one of the coolest looking appliances on the planet.
These are forced air heaters, or otherwise known as ‘torpedos’. They look like they belong on a fighter jet, not in a garage!
To put it simply, these heaters are the same as the convection ones above. They just direct all of that intense heat in one direction.
They’re perfect for large 3+ car garages, where heating the whole space would be too expensive. Instead, these heaters will make sure that an area of the garage will be toasty, rather than paying the cost to heat the whole space.
For a recommendation, I personally love DeWalt’s Forced Air models.
Having only recently branched out into heaters like these, DeWalt are taking the market by storm. You can tell they’ve kept the same high standards of material and build quality as they’re known for in their tools. The metal around the heater is finished with a powdered coat – guaranteeing excellent resistance to even the harshest elements.
The simple controls (two dials on the yellow bottom) are super simple to start up and then control the heat. The standard tip-over and shut-off safety features are of course included for peace of mind.
DeWalt’s produced a full range of these heaters – ranging from 65,000 BTU all the way to a massive 150,000 BTU heat output.
Best Infrared Heaters for Uninsulated Garages
The reason infrared heaters are great for an insulate garage is because of the way they produce heat. By heating objects instead of air, the heat is much longer lasting and won’t get ruined by a cold breeze or a lack of insulation.
Interested in how they work, and how safe they? Check out my guide to infrared heater safety and how they work.
That said, they’re not perfect. While they can heat a targetted area (whatever is in front of them), they’re not nearly as powerful as a propane or kerosene heater. Instead of power, your heat is more focused.
You need to have a small area that you use and stick to. Rather than heating the whole garage, you can heat a small area. For a fraction of the cost. I’ve done a lot of research into the cheapest and most efficient electric heaters to run, and infrared almost always comes out on top.
Why? Because they use much less power to heat an equivalent sized space. By using infrared radiation and not just spreading heat, it’s much more efficient. Although they’re limited to focusing on a small area, infrared heaters are some of the most capable and cheap-to-run – if used effectively.
Type 1: Wall-Mounted Infrared Garage Heaters
For a garage, a wall-mounted heater is likely your best option. One of the downsides to infrared is that the heater will only heat up what’s in front of it. By mounting the heater high on the wall, you can take maximum advantage by targetting the infrared heat on as many objects as possible.
One great option are these models by HeatStorm. Not only do they look fantastic, they come in a range of power sizes to suit your space. There’s even a WiFi-enabled model that you can turn on 10 minutes before you’re even in the garage.
While they’re a little more expensive than standard tower heaters – having it on the wall also saves a ton of space, and means it will last longer. There’s much less chance of knocking something over if it’s on the wall!
Type 2: Tower Heaters
Second up are basic tower heaters. These are just like any standard space heater – plug it in, place it in the middle of the room, and hey presto – you’re warm.
They’re not quite as well suited to garages that double as workshops. If you’ve got large workbenches or other big objects in the way, it’s hard to find an unblocked angle to place the heater at. Have a mostly empty garage, or plenty of space though? No worries – place the heater where you want it.
Tower heaters are cheaper than their wall counterparts and are a good back-up or quick solution if you only need a bit of a heat boost. That said, I wouldn’t recommend them if you tend to get freezing cold winters!
Best Oil-Filled Heaters for Uninsulated Garages
My last recommendation is for oil-filled heaters. I’d only recommend these as a last resort. Like any electric air heater, the heat relies on still, insulated air that will hang around. This isn’t the case in an uninsulated garage. For that reason, don’t expect much efficiency from any electric space heater.
However, sometimes we just don’t have good options. Maybe you can’t use gas, and don’t like the idea of an infrared. In that case – an Oil-Filled heater is the best of the rest.
The reason is because of its efficiency. Oil filled heaters are the best for warming large spaces due to their efficiency. They take a while to get hot, but once there, take much less energy to maintain that heat (unlike ceramic heaters). This means they won’t be *as* effected by an uninsulated space and will save you a bit more money in the long run.
Made for standard rooms, oil-filled heaters do come with a range of benefits. Mostly, great thermostats that will save you energy by turning down the power as soon as the right temperature is achieved. As well as other easy-to-use controls.
My top recommendation after looking at dozens of Oil-Filled Heaters (see my comparison between Oil-Filled and Electric Heaters) is this PELONIS model.
In short – it looks fantastic, has the easiest but clearest controls, AND it comes with a remote control. It’s about as powerful as you can ask from a heater like this, and will stand up to heating a smaller uninsulated garage well. That said – just like with infrared – don’t expect these to heat a massive garage
I hope this guide has helped clear things up on how to heat your uninsulated garage. Being able to use your garage in winter can be a real life-changer. Especially when you don’t need to wear 7 layers to do it!
If you’re able to ventilate them, I can’t recommend getting a propane heater for your garage enough. The heating power they offer is insane, and being able to grab a cheap propane tank from just about any supermarket or gas station makes things so easy.
Otherwise, hopefully, the discussion on infrared and electric heaters above has given you some food for thought!
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Thank you for reading, and have a great day.