Best Heaters for the Garage: Space Heater Options for Staying Warm
Keep your garage cozy warm year-round, even when the temps dip outside
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Working in a garage is a favorite past-time of many. If you live somewhere with a cooler climate, you may find temps dropping a little too low for comfort during the winter months. This is where a space heater comes in handy. In our guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about choosing the best heaters for garages.
- Best OverallMr. Heater MH9BX Portable Propane HeaterSummarySummaryConstructed from high-quality materials, this Mr. Heater unit is a powerful beast that can heat up to 225 square feet very effectively.ProsProsClean burning, energy-efficient, portable, and a three hour run time. Plus, awesome safety features, including an auto shut-off switch if tipped over or overheating looms.ConsConsIt doesn’t work well in altitudes above 7,000 feet, making it the less-than-ideal choice for taking into the mountains.
- Best ValueOpolar 1500W Ceramic Space HeaterSummarySummaryA consumer favorite, this Opolar ceramic space heater does a great job at an affordable price. A great pick if you’re trying to save some money.ProsProsAll the important safety features are included: ceramic body to protect from the direct heat and safety shut-off if overheated or tipped. 1000 to 1500 watt output.ConsConsNot the quietest model on the market and not as durable as more expensive models.
- Honorable MentionDr. Infrared 1500 Watt HeaterSummarySummaryA powerful infrared heating unit with the capacity to heat up an entire 1,000 square foot room. A great choice if you’ve got a larger area, or you just want every nook and cranny of a smaller space to be warm.ProsProsDual heating system with infrared and quartz tubing. Built-in safety features, including a shut-off timer, tip-over protection, and auto shut-off in case of overheating. Lets you adjust the temp between 50 and 86 degrees.ConsConsA powerful fan inside this compact unit makes it a little bit noisier than other units.
Benefits of Garage Heaters
- Prevent mildew and mold. A garage heater will help warm up and dry out the air in your car garage, helping to prevent mildew and mold from forming in the first place.
- Save on costly repairs. With a space heater, you’re preventing damage to your garage from mildew and mold, which will help save you money in the long run. If you don’t have damage, you don’t need to spend money to repair it.
- Better property values. In turn, your property values will get a boost, thanks to a well-maintained garage space. That will help if you’re ever in the market to sell your house.
- Feel warm. Probably one of the top benefits, you’ll actually get to feel warm and toasty while working in the garage instead of being constantly nippy. That’ll also translate into better productivity.
Types of Garage Heaters
Best suited for smaller rooms, fan-forced portable heaters work by pushing air past a heated electrical element. That offers a soft, comfortable, and gradual heat that’s ideal for spaces that don’t need to be heated up quickly.
A great choice for heating up people and objects, but not so much for heating air. Powered by infrared radiation, they provide lots of heat quickly. If you want to warm your own space when working instead of a whole room, this might be the choice for you.
Similar to a fan-forced heater, ceramic heaters work by pushing air past a heating element. Instead of being an electrical one, however, these use ceramic heating elements, making them great for heating larger rooms.
As the name suggests, propane/natural gas heaters work by producing a small, controlled flame. They’re ideal for heating up small spaces and have the added benefit of being supremely portable.
Garage Heater Pricing
- Under $30: You’ll find a small number of space heaters in this range, some of which will be much more qualitative than others. Most will be fan-forced heaters, but you’ll also find others with different power sources. The important thing to watch out for here is quality, as anything poorly made is simply a fire hazard.
- $30-$100: Infrared, ceramic, fan-forced, and propane heaters can all be found in this price class. Many of them will be of excellent quality, with some being better than others. In general, the more you invest, the higher quality the casing and the heating element.
- Over $100: If you’re looking for something large and powerful, this is the range you’ll find it in. All types of shop heaters are available at this price point, many of which are powerful enough to heat an entire garage.
It’s critical to look out for safety features on your new space heater. You’ll want one that features overheating protection, as well as tip-over protection. Both of these will work to keep the unit from starting a fire.
Ask yourself, how much space am I trying to heat? Do you want the whole garage to be warm, or do you just want to heat up your immediate workspace? That will affect how much output your heater will need to produce. In general, electric heaters have a ten-to-one ratio of watts to square footage heated.
This one ties into safety as well. You want a space heater that’s made to be high quality, which will help prevent any dangerous occurrences, such as fires. Look for a well-made, heat-resistant casing, as well as solid workmanship on the heating element and on the electrical wiring.
- Cost: If you’re going to be using your electric garage heater a lot, it makes sense to invest some cash upfront in a unit that will last you a long time. On the other hand, if you’ll only be using it occasionally, it makes sense to spend a little less.
- Size: Some garages are small, making the accompanying workspace even smaller. If this sounds like your situation, we recommend a more compact model to save on space.
- Controls: A number of higher-quality models come with a remote control to make adjusting the heater quick and simple. Most other models have dials or buttons on the casing itself to adjust the heat.
Best Heater for Garage Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Heater for Garage Overall: Mr. Heater MH9BX Portable Propane Heater
Our top pick is this Mr. Heater unit that’s constructed from quality steel, nickel, and plastic. A 4,000- to 9,000-BTU radiant heater, it has enough power to heat up spaces as large as 225 square feet and can be used both indoors and outdoors. That makes it ideal as a garage heater or to take along on camping trips in colder climes. It’s a clean-burning, nearly 100-percent energy-efficient unit, too, so you can rest easy while using it.
It also includes a number of important safety features, like an auto shut-off if tipped over, if the pilot light goes out, or if the unit detects low oxygen levels. The fuel consumption rate is about 0.044 gallons per hour at 4,000 BTUs of output and 0.099 gallons per hour at 9,000 BTU. For convenience, the unit features a fold-down handle and a swivel-out regulator. At max BTU, it features a run time of about three hours.
The only bad thing we have to say about this unit is that it doesn’t work well in altitudes above 7,000 feet, making it a less-than-ideal choice for camping needs in the mountains. If you’re just looking to heat up your garage, though, this might be the choice for you.
Best Value Heater for Garage: Opolar 1500W Ceramic Space Heater
A consumer favorite, this Opolar 1500-watt ceramic heater is our best value pick, combining a quality heating unit with a great price. Equipped with an adjustable auto thermostat, the unit is able to maintain consistent power and heat, which saves energy in the long run. Suited best for indoor purposes, this model features a ceramic body that resists shock and extreme heat to protect you from unexpected mishaps.
It also features a number of important safety features, including an auto shut-off in case it is tipped over or overheats. A portable but powerful unit, it can easily heat up your garage with its 70-degree auto-oscillating feature, keeping you and your surroundings cozy warm. It also features a robust handlebar so it’s easy to move around and store. Finally, the power output can be controlled as well, in the range of 1000 to 1500 watts.
This unit works well for its intended purposes but does come with two drawbacks to keep in mind. One, it’s not the quietest heater on the market, so it’s not the perfect pick if you’re sensitive to extra noise while you work. And two, being that it’s a budget heater, it isn’t as durable as other, more expensive units. That being said, it’s still a great value.
Best Heater for Garage Honorable Mention: Dr. Heater Infrared 1500 Watt Heater
As an infrared heater, this model has the capability of heating up a large room. The built-in auto energy saving mode has two settings (high and low) to do just that. It features tip-over and overheating protection, both of which are two important safety features. It also features a 12-hour automatic shut-off timer.
As a dual heating system with infrared and quartz tubing, this model has about 1500 watts of power. Even though this sounds a little low, it can easily heat up a room, making it the perfect choice for large spaces and small garages alike. An electronic thermostat lets you quickly and easily adjust the heating to the exact temperature you want, anywhere between 50 and 86 degrees. Remote control makes the user experience even better.
Because the unit is so powerful, it does tend to be a little on the noisier side. The fan inside it forces air past an infrared heating element. As the fan spins, noise is produced, and because this unit features a powerful fan, it can get a little loud. If a bit of extra noise doesn’t bother you in the garage, they could be the right unit for you.
- Make sure that any and all gas bottles, fuel sources, or other highly flammable liquids are kept well away from the heater. If you can, keep them in a separate room to prevent accidental ignition.
- Keep your heater out of the way of foot traffic and other movements to prevent the heater from being knocked over.
- Many heaters can be wall- or ceiling-mounted, keeping them both out of your workspace and out of your foot space.
- Frequently check and maintain your heater to ensure it’s in proper working condition. A damaged heater can quickly cause a fire or other safety hazard.
- If you have a gas-fueled heater, make sure that the burner nozzles are regularly inspected. These can quickly malfunction, thereby becoming a safety hazard.
- Keep in mind that gas-fueled heaters require proper ventilation and exhaust venting. Make sure that yours is set up properly and that the exhaust piping doesn’t get expelled near any windows or HVAC intakes.
Q: Are space heaters safe?
A: Space heaters must meet a number of consumer safety standards to be sold, making them safe. Issues arise, however, when space heaters are improperly used. If a space heater is operated near flammable items or left unattended, they can still cause a fire. That’s especially the case for wall-mounted units, as these can overheat more quickly.
Q: Are space heaters energy efficient?
A: When compared to an HVAC system, electrical heaters are not as energy efficient. However, when you’re just heating up one small room, such as a garage, they do work quite nicely and are efficient.
Q: Are propane heaters a good choice?
A: They definitely can be a good choice. If you have a large garage, they might not be powerful enough to heat it all, though, as liquid propane tanks do quickly empty out in many cases. That being said, their heat output is good, they typically feature shut-off features just like all other heaters, and they have an adjustable thermostat. Mounting brackets are also standard on many models
Q: My space heater smells like it’s burning; should I be worried?
A: Probably nothing to worry about. Many new space heaters emit a burning smell when first used, but this usually goes away after a few uses. Likewise, older heaters that haven’t been used in a while tend to have dust collected on the heating element, which may cause it to smell burnt.
Q: How can I tell if my space heater meets safety standards?
A: Labeling from UL (Underwriters Laboratory) indicates that heaters are safely constructed and safe to use. If you look for this kind of certification, you’ll know that your heater meets safety standards. Keep in mind that high wattage units, damaged power cords, and improperly installed heaters can quickly mess with even the highest safety standards.
Our top pick is the Mr. Heater MH9BX Portable Propane Heater. It features a powerful output and solid design.
If you’re looking for something a little cheaper, check out the Opolar 1500W Ceramic Space Heater. It features all the important safety aspects and works well to heat smaller spaces.
What are your thoughts on our picks? Have any favorites of your own? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!