A detached garage can provide a great deal of sheltered space where you can work or pursue hobbies in the wintertime, but only if it is heated. How can you heat your detached garage efficiently, effectively and affordably? In this article, we provide smart tips and sound advice to help you make the most of your garage space during the cold winter months. Read on to learn more.
What You'll Learn Today
- How Will You Use Your Garage?
- Insulation Is King!
- Reinforce Your Garage Windows And Doors
- Don’t Let Cold Rise Through The Floor
- Select The Right Heating System For Your Garage
- Combine Portable Space Heaters For Focused Results
How Will You Use Your Garage?
There are actually a lot of methods to choose from when it comes to heating a detached garage. To determine which method will work best for you, you should begin by evaluating your needs.
If you just want your garage to act as moderately climate controlled storage, you may just need to install some good insulation and make the most use possible of the warmth of the sun.
On the other hand, if you want to spend a significant amount of time in your garage, insulation and solar warmth are both good ideas, but you’ll probably need to add to those ideas significantly.
Insulation Is King!
No matter what kind of heating project you are working on, insulation is an absolute must. Without it, no matter what kind of heat source you choose, you’ll end up wasting heat and money.
Invest in good insulation for the floors, walls and ceilings of your garage (even if it’s finished or with a room above), and be sure include the windows and doors. You will quickly recoup the money you’ve spent on insulation in money saved on heating.
In an unfinished garage, the easiest and most affordable insulation is fiberglass roll. It’s easy to find at any home improvement center or online. You can cut it to size quickly with a utility knife. Once cut to fit, simply use a staple gun to secure it in place.
If your garage has sheetrock already in place but does not have any insulation between the exterior walls and the sheetrock, cellulose insulation is a good choice.
This is an environmentally friendly product made of recycled, shredded newspaper that has been treated so as to be fire retardant. It can be sprayed into the space between the exterior wall and the sheetrock through carefully cut openings, which can then be resealed.
Reinforce Your Garage Windows And Doors
Put weather-stripping around your doors and windows, and insulate your garage door with a ready-made garage door insulation kit.
If you have old-fashioned, single pane windows in your garage, replacing them with modern, double-paned Energy Star windows is a good idea. If you’re not able to do this, at least put some heavy duty clear plastic (greenhouse plastic) over them to help keep the cold out.
Rather than stapling or taping greenhouse plastic over your garage windows, cut the plastic large enough to hang a generously sized double layer over each window.
Place a rod very close to the wall above the window and simply drape the plastic over it in such a way that it hangs right up against the wall.
A little cold may seep in around the edges, but for the most part, this arrangement will keep the cold out. When the weather warms up, just take down the plastic, fold it up and store it. You’ll have it ready to go when cold weather returns.
Don’t Let Cold Rise Through The Floor
If you plan on spending quite a bit of time in your garage, you’ll want to insulate the floor. This can be easily accomplished using rigid foam insulation, which is available in 4’x8’ sheets.
You can choose from thicknesses ranging from half an inch to four inches thick. Once you’ve got your insulation in place, you can cover it with sub-floor. Follow this with vinyl flooring, carpeting or whatever you prefer.
Select The Right Heating System For Your Garage
When it comes time to choose your heating system, you’ll need to consider a number of different factors. Of course, you’ll want the most effective heating method possible; however, you may need to mitigate effectiveness with considerations such as cost and availability.
The type of fuel that is most affordable and most readily available to you will also figure in significantly.
Electric Heat For Your Garage
Ductless Mini Split Systems can be a little costly to install, but they make a very nice choice for heating (and cooling) a detached garage. As the name implies, this unit does not need air ducts. It consists of an exterior air compressor and an interior air handling unit which are connected with a conduit.
This electric powered heating and cooling system can be operated by remote control, so you can crank the heat a bit before you ever leave your house and have your garage nice and toasty when you arrive ready to pursue your work or hobby.
Electric Radiant Heat For Your Garage
If your garage is completely unfinished, you may want to install a radiant (aka: infrared) heating system. This consists of heating units installed inside floors, walls and/or ceilings. The heat radiates out from the heating units keeping the ambient air warm.
This type of system is usually installed in the floor where it does a good job keeping the floor warm for sitting and standing, while also warming the room as heat rises.
It is a very good choice for a detached garage. Even though it’s a bit expensive to install, radiant/infrared heating systems are very inexpensive to run.
You can also purchase freestanding, portable radiant/infrared heating units which work in exactly the same way as an installed system. Heat radiates from the unit just as heat radiates from the sun.
For example, oil filled space heaters are radiant heaters. There are also ceiling mounted radiant heaters which are very popular for garage use. Portable radiant heaters are inexpensive to run, and they are very quiet or even silent.
What’s the best way to heat your workshop or garage?
Combine Portable Space Heaters For Focused Results
Note that oil filled heaters are inexpensive to purchase and to run, and they are silent; however, they will not heat up your space quickly.
If you decide to use oil filled space heaters, it’s best to simply turn them on and leave them on so that heat can accumulate gradually. Be sure to purchase the right sized oil filled heater to suit your needs.
Forced air space heaters are good for warming up a space quickly and keeping it toasty while you are in the vicinity. A forced air space heater might be a good choice in combination with an oil filled space heater.
Use the oil filled continuously to keep the space safely and consistently warmish. Add the forced air heater in your immediate area to provide a zone heating boost while you are present to monitor it.
Propane Heat For Your Garage
If propane is a more affordable fuel option in your area, you may wish to consider using propane heating for your garage. Propane heaters are affordable, easy to install and available in a wide variety of sizes and models to suit any situation.
Just be sure to choose one that is the right type and size for the space you have. Don’t skimp or cut corners. Safety in your garage is just as important as safety in your house. Buy a new unit, and be sure to read and understand the installation instructions and the user manual.
Wood Heat For Your Garage
You might get the same results by using a wood burning stove to boost the heat in the garage while you are present and leaving it up to oil filled heaters to ward off chill when you are away.
If you do plan to use a wood burning option, be sure to check with your insurance company first. You may find that this choice costs too much in insurance premiums to be practical.
Solar Heat For Your Garage
The same solar heating options that apply to homes can apply to garages. Depending upon your climate and local ordinances pertaining to the installation of solar panels, you may be able to heat your garage cheap or free with electricity harvested from the sun.
Of course, there is initial cost involved in installing the system, but as with insulation, you will quickly recoup your expenses in money saved.
No matter what heating method you decide to use, passive solar is always a good idea. Passive solar heating involves installing excellent insulation, along with double paned southern windows and/or skylights to gather and hold as much warmth from the sun as possible.
Adding a passive solar element to any heating system can save you money in the long run. Making smart use of the warmth and light of the sun will reduce your fuel and electricity bills.