LAST UPDATED: July 8, 2019
Best Heaters for the Garage: Space Heater Options for Staying Warm
Keep your garage cozy warm year-round, even when the temps dip outside
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON July 8, 2019
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.
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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 2020
This industrial electric garage heater has two settings on its built-in thermostat: low and high. It has overheat protection, heats up to 600 square feet, and can be used in a garage, basement, workshop, and at a construction site. The intake and discharge grills are finger-proof. It also features built-in cord storage.
It works well out of the box. The heater cycles on and off depending on the temperature knob setting. It doesn't take very long to bring the temperature in a garage from freezing to a comfortable temperature. Setting the thermostat at the lowest possible temperature keeps the edge off in a shop and prevents any freezing.
However, there's no thermostat feedback to show you exactly what temperature you're setting it to. Also, the fan may make a tin can rattle noise that can get annoying. It also requires a 220-volt plugin and cannot be mounted on the ceiling.
If you're looking for a portable heater that will keep your garage warm as you carry out different projects, this is an excellent choice. It is loved by homeowners and can cover up to 225 square feet. It features a control knob that allows you to easily adjust the heat and a swivel regulator for easy hose installation. Mr. Heater designed this garage heater with safety in mind, and it automatically shuts off if it detects low oxygen levels or if it tips over.
This propane radiant heater for garages produces 4,000 to 9,000 BTUs and can be used indoors and outdoors. Its high-temperature wire guard ensures you don't get very close to the heated surface. The heater also has a push-button igniter and two heat settings. Its porcelain-coated heating surface provides even heat distribution.
The handle on top of the heater makes it highly portable. You can even carry it when you go camping.
However, the heater only accommodates a 1-pound propane tank and is not suitable for long-term use. And since the propane tank is not provided, you have to buy one separately. The heater also gets hot when it runs continuously.
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.
If you have a big garage, get this electric heater and heat the space quickly. It is powerful enough to heat large areas like basements and workshops and offers great value for the money. Its thermostat allows you to adjust the temperature between 45 and 135 degrees Fahrenheit. The heater comes with mounting brackets and can be mounted on a wall or the ceiling vertically or horizontally.
A mid-range electric garage heater like this one is a good choice for those who only need to heat their garages occasionally. It is 14 inches wide and 13 inches tall and easily fits in cramped garages (because it is mounted on the ceiling). It also has an adjustable louver on its front that lets you control the direction of the heat effortlessly.
However, it is worth noting that this heater is not a plug-and-play model. It doesn't come with a power cord and must be directly wired to a 240-volt power outlet. It's also not portable, so you have to choose the perfect location for it during installation, and moving it requires a lot of work.
If your house is connected to a natural gas line, get this natural gas heater for your garage or workshop. It will supply the space with clean, efficient heat. Gas is a lot cheaper than electricity, so this heater is a great option if you're looking to save a few bucks. One of its biggest benefits is it continues to emit heat even when there's a power outage. It is 99.9 percent fuel-efficient and is one of the most energy-efficient heaters we've come across in a while.
The CSA-certified heater can heat up to 750 square feet and produces 30,000 BTUs. You can use its control knob to choose one of five radiant heat settings, and it has safety features like the low oxygen shut-off sensor and the adjustable thermostat. It comes with detachable feet so you can place it on the floor, but it can also be mounted on the wall. The manufacturer gives a two-year warranty.
Some people like this garage heater so much they've bought extra units for their homes. But it is not the best option for small spaces like sheds which lack good air circulation. It is a ventless heater and not ideal for garages that lack ventilation to the outdoors. It may create condensation buildup, leading to mold. You also need to hire a professional to connect it to your gas line.
This infrared garage heater makes an appearance on our list because of its convenience and versatility. It only weighs nine pounds, so you can use it to heat different spaces. And despite its small size, it puts out plenty of heat and can heat a 1000-square-foot garage. It produces 5,200 BTUs and features Heat Storm's patented heat exchanger with HMS technology to provide safe heat that does not decrease the humidity or oxygen in a room.
One of the most impressive features of this garage heater is its digital LED display, which shows ambient temperature. You will also appreciate the built-in thermostat that effectively regulates the temperature. The heater comes with a remote control, so you don't have to adjust the temperature manually. Its two power modes allow you to adjust the wattage from 750W to 1500W.
You can use this heater in your garage and get several units for your home. It is equipped with a washable air filter you can remove and clean to make sure it functions optimally.
However, some users have complained that it draws a lot of electricity and significantly increases a power bill. Others say that it is not well-constructed and does not last.
The Big Maxx heater has been popular for years, and there’s a reason why: It is specially designed for cold winters and will ensure you keep working on your project even when it gets freezing. You can use it in your garage, barn, workshop, warehouse, and any other space where warmth is essential. It produces 50,000 BTUs per hour and heats up to 1,250 square feet.
The garage heater runs on natural gas, but you still need to connect it to a standard 115V AC outlet to power the exhaust fans and spark ignition. Mr. Heater also provides a Liquid Propane Conversion Kit that allows you to easily convert it from a natural gas heater to a propane heater. The manufacturer also provides two angle brackets for mounting it on a ceiling.
This heater has a spark ignition with a self-diagnostic control module and can be installed in buildings with low ceilings. Mr. Heater gives a three-year warranty on parts and a 10-year warranty on the heat exchanger.
However, the company does not provide the thermostat, which is vital for heat regulation—you will have to buy it separately. The heater’s motor also gets very hot when it runs continuously.
While kerosene garage heaters are not very popular, they still produce heat fast. And you don't have to worry about the kerosene smell as most produce almost no odor. This kerosene radiant heater produces 70,000 BTUs per hour and covers 1,750 square feet. If you want it to start and run correctly, use white or clear kerosene. If you decide to use diesel or heating oil, the heater may not start correctly or may fail to start at colder temperatures.
You'll find the on/off switch, the temperature knob, and the digital display at the back of the unit. The thermostat works within a 2-degree margin and will ensure your garage stays warm even when you're not there. We love how the heater heats up quickly and isn't very big. And while the front part gets very hot when it's running, the other parts remain cool-to-the-touch.
However, it should be noted that even though the heater runs on kerosene, it must also be connected to electricity. The power cable the manufacturer provides is relatively short—less than a foot—so you have to buy a longer one. The heater also produces a bad smell as it shuts off. And the fuel caps may leak if you fill them to the brim.
- 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 Dr. Infrared Heater Garage Shop 208/240V, 4800/5600W Heater. It works well out of the box and warms up a cold garage in a short period of time.
If you’re looking for something a little cheaper, check out the Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Indoor-Safe Propane Heater. It features all the important safety aspects and works well to heat smaller spaces.