DIY Garage Heating
What You Should Know Before Getting Started
Do you need an HVAC system for your garage, shop or warehouse? If your current system is outdated you want to install a new system where there isn't one or if you just want a little extra supplemental heat. Here is some basic information to get you started.
HVAC is the industrial term for heating and cooling systems. Overtime there have been considerable advances in HVAC system design. This has produced many furnaces, electric heaters, air conditioners and humidifiers. They can save energy, improve air quality, and create an ideal indoor temperature.
These advances can help save on energy and create a more comfortable environment. You no longer have to worry about paying high utility bills just because you want to provide a little extra heating and cooling to your garage space.
Why Air Flow Matters
When shopping for an HVAC system for your home, pay attention to how the duct work is connected. Duct leaks can affect the air moving through the system and make it difficult for your heating or cooling unit to function at its capacity.
Keep in mind that some garage and shop heaters can only be used in areas that are well-ventilated and have adequate air flow. This is because some units use gas as a fuel source and using them in an enclosed space makes it not only hard to breathe but it creates the risk of igniting a fire.
If you're looking to replace a furnace or other HVAC system, look for one with a high efficiency rating. Many furnaces have energy efficiency ratings of 92 to 94 percent, which is a much higher figure than the 78 to 80 percent efficiency models common 10 years ago. There also are furnaces with advanced HVAC controls, such as built in humidifiers and air cleaners to improve the air moving through the home.
Many of these products fall under the government's Energy Star rating system, meaning they meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency. How you use energy is also worthy of consideration. Do you perform routine maintenance or do raise your thermostat during warmer months and lower it during the winter to save energy?
Before thinking about heating, consider some of the steps you can take to ensure you won't need as much energy to heat your garage. Have you tried the following:
- Fixing air leaks
- Double panning windows
- Insulating doors and walls
If you've taken these steps, you've instantly reduced your short and long term energy costs. But considering what area you live in and what you use your garage for, you may require additional heat.
Types of Heaters
Shop & Utility
Garage heaters are specifically designed to meet special needs for those harder-to-heat spaces like shops, utility rooms and workspaces. These types of heaters are extremely safe and provide blasts of warm air onto the body. They usually function as spot heaters that keep your work area feeling nice and warm. Some models include a built-in thermostat so you can set it to your exact preference.
They can heat areas up to 500 square feet.
Propane heaters use pressurized gas to warm up places in a structure that is not insulated. They are often portable so they do not have to be in one place all the time. They are also freestanding, which means they do not have to be wired permanently to a source of gas. If you are looking for a portable heater that you can hide when not in use, then a propane heater might be for you.
Because it's freestanding, a propane heater does not need electricity for it to light up. They are usually lit with a match and it has a portable tank of gas attached to it. They are normally used to warm up lawns and patios or outside areas whenever needed, like when hosting special celebrations.
Propane heaters are best suited for large areas that are over 500 square feet.
Infrared heaters make excellent choices for commercial and industrial areas because they provide instant heat to people working in the immediate area. Additionally, they are very energy efficient. They use less power to create the same amount of warmth provided by many other types of heaters.
They are great for warming areas between 150 to 1,000 square feet.
Kerosene heaters are sturdy, safe, and can rapidly warm up large areas. However, these portable and lightweight heaters are geared towards spaces with ample ventilation such as warehouses and factories, as well as outdoor areas such as farms.
They're very similar to propane heaters, just using a different type of fuel. Kerosene is an efficient heat source. When used properly, it's a safe and cost effective alternative to propane.
This type of heater can warm areas of up to 4,000 square feet.
What to Consider Before Buying a Heater
The primary thing you need to do before buying a heater for your garage is determine what size you need. You'll need to measure the area you want heated. The size heater you will need is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs). You can calculate that by using the following area formula and also knowing what your desired temperature rise is.
- Area (cubic feet) - Length x Width x Height
- Temperature Rise Needed = Desired Temperature - Starting Temperature
- BTUs = (Area x 133) x (Temperature Rise Needed)
Now that you've determined what size you need you can start to browse the selection of heaters. If you require a higher BTU unit then look for a kerosene of propane option. Otherwise, if your space is smaller take a look at the garage and infrared heaters.