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The garage is, for many men, a place of refuge. It’s the space they call their own. They fill them with tools, workbenches, even a fridge. The garage is where they retreat from everyday life to focus on their hobbies.
Most garages, though, aren’t connected to the central heating systems in the house, and they can be poorly insulated compared to the rest of the building. That means that, come winter, the garage can turn into a freezer.
But bad weather shouldn’t prevent us from enjoying and using our garages. In fact, when the weather turns nasty, that’s the best time to lock ourselves indoors and dive into our favorite hobby.
You could bundle up in your warmest winter clothes before heading into the garage, but a portable garage heater is a much better option. Their small size makes them more affordable and more convenient than almost any other heating option for your garage space.
But which one should you buy? Is it better to get an electric or gas heater? If you buy gas, do you want it to use propane or natural gas? Is an infrared heater better?
We’re here to help. We’ve curated a list of eight top-rated heaters, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of each one. We’ve also included an expert buying guide to help you decide which one is best for you.
- 1 Portable Garage Heater Reviews
- 1.1 Mr. Heater F232000 MH9X Buddy
- 1.2 Mr. Heater F274830 MH18BRV Big Buddy Grey Indoor-safe Portable RV Heater
- 1.3 1874-5000W 208/240V Heavy Duty Fan Forced Ceiling Mounted Heater
- 1.4 Dr. Heater DR966 240-volt Hardwired Shop Garage Commercial Heater
- 1.5 Dr. Infrared Heater Hardwired Shop and Garage Heater
- 1.6 Dr Infrared Heater DR-988 Garage Shop Heater
- 1.7 NewAir G73 Hardwired Electric Garage Heater
- 1.8 Mr. Heater F260550 Big Maxx MHU50NG Natural Gas Unit Heater
- 2 Portable Garage Heater Comparison Chart
- 3 Portable Garage Heater Buying Guide
- 3.1 What are garage heaters?
- 3.2 How do they work?
- 3.3 Features to look for
- 3.4 Questions to ask yourself
- 3.4.1 Do I want something portable?
- 3.4.2 Does my house have a gas line?
- 3.4.3 How much space am I trying to heat?
- 3.4.4 Do I really want to heat up the whole garage?
- 3.4.5 Why do I need a heater?
- 3.4.6 How warm do I actually want it in there?
- 3.4.7 How cold does my garage get?
- 3.4.8 How much noise am I OK with?
- 3.4.9 How much air movement do I want?
- 3.4.10 How much am I willing to spend?
- 4 Conclusion
Portable Garage Heater Reviews
- Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX
- BTU: 4,000-9,000-BTU
- Heats Up To: 225 square feet.
- Dimensions: 7.7 x 13.4 x 15 in
- Color: Red and Black
- Weight: 9 pounds
- Warranty: Manufacturers
- Mr. Heater F274830 MH18BRV
- BTU: 4,000, 9,000, or 18,000 BTU
- Heats Up To: 450 square feet
- Dimensions: 18.7 x 17.9 x 11.6 in
- Color: Grey
- Weight: 17 pounds
- Warranty: Manufacturers
- Fahrenheat FUH54
- BTU: N/A
- Heats Up To: N/A
- Dimensions: 12.5 x 12.4 x 14 in
- Color: Beige
- Weight: 24 pounds
- Warranty: Manufacturers
- Dr. Heater DR966
- BTU: 20,500 BTU
- Heats Up To: 450 square feet
- Dimensions: 14.5 x 14.5 x 13 in
- Color: Gray
- Weight: 27 lbs
- Warranty: 1 Year parts and labor Warranty.
- Dr Infrared Heater DR-975
- BTU: N/A
- Heats Up To: N/A
- Dimensions: 15 x 19 x 13 in
- Color: White
- Weight: 26 pounds
- Warranty: 1 year parts and labor warranty.
- Dr. Infrared Heater DR-988
- BTU: N/A
- Heats Up To: 600 square feet
- Dimensions: 12 x 12 x 15 in
- Color: Red
- Weight: 11.99 pounds
- Warranty: Manufacturers
Mr. Heater F232000 MH9X Buddy
This top-rated portable propane heater comes with two heat settings. You can set it to 4,000 BTU or 9,000 BTU. The amount of heat you need to generate is dependent on how much space you’re trying to heat. It can throw out a lot of heat, but it’s really best for spaces that are 225 square feet or less, so if your garage is bigger than that this heater may not be ideal.
The real selling point for this unit is that it’s very compact, making it ideal for storage and transportation. The handle folds down and the fuel connection swivels out from the main body, so when it’s not in use it can fit in a small storage space. It has built in low-oxygen and tip-over safety shutoffs, making this little unit safe to use anywhere.
One downside of the low-oxygen sensor is that it may prevent the heater from working at altitudes of 7,000 feet above sea level, or higher. This shouldn’t be a problem for most people, but you live somewhere like Colorado it could be an issue.
This Mr. Heater F232000 MH9X Buddy is designed to connect to a one pound propane tank, so at max BTU it can run for three hours continuously. This is one of the more affordable heaters out there, and the space you’re trying to heat is small enough this unit is a great bargain.
● Two heat settings, 4,000 and 9,000 BTU
● High temperature wire guard
● Low-oxygen and top-over safety shut-off
● Large porcelain coated heating surface
● Ceramic burning tile has shock absorbing insulation for durability
Mr. Heater F274830 MH18BRV Big Buddy Grey Indoor-safe Portable RV Heater
This is the bigger version of the first heater on our list. Like it’s smaller counterpart, it has multiple heat settings, beginning at 4,000 BTU. It can go much higher, though, with a top output of 18,000 BTU. That means it can heat twice as much space as the smaller Buddy, up to 450 square feet.
Other than that, it’s essentially the exact same heater. It still has a low-oxygen and tip-over safety shutoff feature, and will still struggle to operate at altitudes greater than 7,000 feet above sea level.
Also like the Buddy, the Big Buddy works on propane, not natural gas, so be sure you buy the right fuel if you get this heater. The Big Buddy has two fuel connectors, letting you connect it to two one pound propane tanks at once. There’s an optional connector hose that will allow you to use a 20 pound propane cylinder, giving you a much longer run time.
This one is marketed as an RV heater, but it definitely has the power to heat up your garage. It’s a good option if you have a larger garage that you want to heat, but also need a portable heating solution for an RV or a camping trip. The low-oxygen shutoff feature makes it safe to use indoors even though it’s a propane heater.
The Big Buddy is almost twice the cost of the Buddy, but it’s still an affordable option.
● 4,000, 9,000, or 18,000 BTU heating options
● Heats up to 450 square feet
● Single start control knob
● Low-Oxygen and tip-over safety shut-off
● Fan operates on 4 D batters or AC adapter
1874-5000W 208/240V Heavy Duty Fan Forced Ceiling Mounted Heater
Fahrenheat FUH54 is a heavy, industrial type heater. Unlike the previous models, this is not a portable heater. It attached to the ceiling and is fixed in place. It has adjustable louvers on the front of the heater to direct the flow of hot air, but the only move up and down, so the mounting location for this heater should be considered carefully.
This is a seriously powerful heater; it’s all electric, but it throws off more heat the either of the two Mr. Buddy models. The fan won’t kick on until the heating element is up to the set temperature, and then keeps circulating automatically until the element cools down.
A built-in cutout circuit shuts the unit off in the event that it overheats, and prevents it from restarting until it’s sufficiently cooled off. Because this is an electric heater and there’s no open flame, it’s safe to use indoors.
The mounting bracket allows you to mount the heater vertically or horizontally, depending on your heating needs.
This heater is more expensive than the two Mr. Heater units, but it generates more heat and you don’t have to buy propane for it.
● Built-in thermostat has a range of 45-135 degrees Fahrenheit for precise control
● Industrial-grade heater has a lot of power and a long life span
● Electric heating element means you don’t need to buy propane
● The mounting bracket is included, and allows you to mount the heater at any angle you choose.
Dr. Heater DR966 240-volt Hardwired Shop Garage Commercial Heater
This is another ceiling mounted, commercial grade electric garage heater. The Dr Heater only has two settings, High and Low, so it lacks the precise control of the Fahrenheit model. It uses metal sheathed electric heating elements with low sheath temperatures (to preserve longevity) and an 8 inch fan to circulate air over the heating elements.
The Dr Heater’s maximum output is 20,500 BTU, beating out the two portable propane heaters already on our list. It should have no trouble heating spaces larger than 450 square feet, and the powerful fan helps ensure that your garage is heated evenly.
This heater is designed to be hardwired, and there’s no included power cord. It’s meant to be wired directly into your house’s electrical grid. A lot of people simply buy the unit and install a separate thermostat unit on the wall that’s easier to reach than the controls on the front of the heater.
The Dr Heater DR966 is much cheaper than the Fahrenheit, but it also doesn’t have as many features and it doesn’t come with its own power cord.
● Low sheath temperatures on heating elements provide durability
● 8 inch fan gives maximum air flow while minimizing noise
● Motor is totally enclosed and permanently lubricated
● Built-in adjustable thermostat
● Ceiling and wall mounting bracket are included
Dr. Infrared Heater Hardwired Shop and Garage Heater
This is the second heater from Dr Heater. It’s manufactured by the same people who make the Dr Heater listed above, and the biggest functional difference between the two is a more precise thermostat control.
This unit also comes with a remote control so that you don’t have to mount the heater in a location you can easily reach. You can also buy an optional wall mounted thermostat and wire it to the heater, giving you almost as much convenience as the remote but with the added reliability of a control that isn’t battery powered.
Like the previous unit, this is a hardwired heater, meaning you’ll need to do some light electrical work to connect it to wiring in the wall. This heater can’t be plugged into an outlet.
Although the manufacturer’s name is Dr. Infrared Heater Hardwired, you should note that neither of the heaters on this list from them is actually an infrared heater. They both use a large fan to circulate air past steel heating elements. These are standard electric heaters.
● Remote controlled thermostat can set the heater anywhere from 50 to 90 degrees
● Heavy duty, 240V heater
● Large fan minimizes noise
● Mounting bracket will work on walls or ceiling, and is included
● Optional wall thermostat not included
Dr Infrared Heater DR-988 Garage Shop Heater
Three in a row from Dr Infrared Heater, and like the previous two this model is not an infrared heater. This unit is cheaper than the other two, but still a heavy-duty electric heater.
Unlike the other two models from Dr Heater, the Dr Infrared Heater DR-988 cannot be mounted on a wall of ceiling. This heater can heat a space up to 600 square feet in size, and comes with automatic overheat cut-off protection. Also unlike the other two, this heater isn’t hard wired, it comes with a power cord you have to plug in. This makes it easier to set up and allows it to be portable.
While it can’t be mounted, it is a portable heater. You can use it in your garage and also take it with you anywhere you need heat and have access to a 220V plug.
Because this is a portable electric garage heater, it isn’t an ideal choice for camping, like a propane heater would be. It’s only usable if you have a 220V plug and power supply.
It comes with a thermostat that lets you set it for any temperature between 45 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit, and it comes in three different colors: Red, yellow, or grey.
● Heats up to 600 square feet
● Temperature range of 45-95 degrees Fahrenheit
● Industrial grade heater, dependable and sturdy
● Requires a 220V plug in
NewAir G73 Hardwired Electric Garage Heater
This is another hardwired heater. That means that it can’t be plugged into an outlet; it has to be hardwired into your houses electrical grid. Heaters like this take more work to install, but they tend to require less maintenance. If you purchase a hardwired heater, it’s recommended that you have a professional electrician install it for you. That will to your total cost, so bear that in mind when you’re shopping for your heater. They also aren’t portable at all, because they can’t be simply plugged into to any power supply.
The NewAir G73 heater can heat a space up to 500 square feet, and it’s widely considered the best 120V electric garage heater on the market. It generates 17,000 BTUs; that’s less than the Big Buddy portable heater, but it can heat a larger space thanks to its larger fan design.
The NewAir has a built-in thermostat to control the temperature, and is UL certified for safety. It has an automatic overheat shut-off to make sure that it can’t melt down or cause a fire.
The included mounting bracket has a swivel, so even after it’s successfully installed you can reposition to direct the flow of warm air wherever you need it. This model is slightly more expensive than the Dr Infrared heaters, but the difference isn’t huge and the swivel mount is a nice feature.
● Heats up to 500 square feet
● Stainless steel construction
● Automatic overheat shut-off
● Swivel bracket for wall or ceiling mounting included
Mr. Heater F260550 Big Maxx MHU50NG Natural Gas Unit Heater
This high efficiency natural gas garage heater is the first natural gas heater we’ve listed. Mr. Heater F260550 Big Maxx MHU50NG can generate 50,000 BTU per hour, allowing to heat a space up to 1250 square feet. It is by far the most powerful heater we’ve listed here, and the most expensive. Although it’s powerful, it’s also a pretty bare-bones unit. It doesn’t include a thermostat, a remote control, or an oxygen depletion sensor.
What it does include is a natural gas to liquid propane conversion kit, so if you don’t have access to natural gas you can still use this heater. You do still need a power supply for this heater, as it does use an electric fan to circulate the air. A standard, 115v outlet will suffice.
The mounting brackets are included, and this unit only needs a clearance of 1 inch which means you can install it in a position that keeps it out of the way. The thermostat is sold separately, so if you want to use more than just one heat setting, you’ll want to make sure you buy a compatible thermostat.
● 50,000 BTU per hour
● Low profile design
● Minimum 8ft clearance between the heater and the floor
● 1/2 inch gas connection
● Natural gas to Liquid Propane conversion kit included
● Thermostat sold separately
Portable Garage Heater Comparison Chart
|Item||Size||Heats Up To||Dimensions||Weight|
|Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX||4,000-9,000-BTU||225 square feet.||7.7 x 13.4 x 15 in||9 pounds|
|Mr. Heater F274830 MH18BRV||4,000, 9,000, or 18,000 BTU||450 square feet||18.7 x 17.9 x 11.6 in||17 pounds|
|Fahrenheat FUH54||N/A||N/A||12.5 x 12.4 x 14 in||24 pounds|
|Dr. Heater DR966||20,500 BTU||450 square feet||14.5 x 14.5 x 13 in||27 lbs|
|Dr Infrared Heater DR-975||N/A||N/A||15 x 19 x 13 in||26 pounds|
|Dr. Infrared Heater DR-988||N/A||600 square feet||12 x 12 x 15 in||11.99 pounds|
|NewAir G73||17060 BTU||500 sq ft||9 x 9.5 x 14 in||15 pounds|
|Mr. Heater F260550||50,000 BTU||1250 sq. ft.||25 x 18.5 x 17 in||63 pounds|
Portable Garage Heater Buying Guide
We’ve covered the best garage heaters, but you may still have questions. Should buy a portable heater or one that mounts to your wall? Do you want an electric heater or a propane heater? What about natural gas? Are all of these heaters safe? Or, maybe you just want to do a bit more research into how garage heaters work and what the differences between the types of heaters are.
Even though we’ve provided a list of quality options above, we’re also providing this buying guide. You may not want to use any of the heaters we’ve listed. Maybe you want a cheaper option, or you just won’t feel comfortable making a selection until you feel you’ve done your due diligence.
This buying guide is to help you make an informed decision, and to assist you in researching and choosing a garage heater. Whether you choose from the list above or your research leads you in a different direction, we want to help. We’ll provide a basic introduction to garage heaters and how they work, the benefits of the different types of heater, and the kinds of questions you should be asking yourself before purchasing one.
What are garage heaters?
A garage heater is any heater you put in your garage. Manufacturers make heaters specifically designed for use in garages and workshops, like most of the ceiling or wall mounted units we listed above. These heaters are designed to be hardwired in, rather than plugged in, and the usually coming with mounting equipment included. Most of them are electric, but propane and natural gas models exist as well. Generally, heaters designed to be garage heaters are small and not meant to heat a very large space; often, users report that they really only heat the area they’re pointed at.
These heaters typically have a thermostat built in, but they can also be wired into a wall thermostat, allowing you to control them more conveniently. A notable feature of most garage heaters is that they aren’t meant to be left running continuously. They’re really meant to heat up a small space quickly, so that you can leave the heater off when you’re not using the space.
However, you don’t have to limit yourself to heaters that are specifically designed to heat garages. While these are good options, any small heater can work. Some smaller portable heaters may not heat up the entire garage, but they might still be perfectly capable of heating up the area you work in.
So, while there are heaters designed specifically for heating a garage, there’s not really a hard and fast definition of what a garage heater is. It can be anything that you use to heat your garage. The only real defining characteristics that they all seem to share are small size, high efficiency, and very high thermal output to heat the space up as quickly as possible.
How do they work?
How they work depends on what type of heater you buy. You can find electric, propane, natural gas, and infrared models. Each one works differently.
Most of the top-rated garage heaters on the market are electric heaters. It’s easy to see why; electric heaters are efficient, durable and very safe. They also don’t require any additional fuel source, and they tend to be affordable.
Electric heaters use technology very similar to that used by electric stove tops. A conductive metal coil generates heat when a powerful electric current runs through it. The more current that runs through the coil, the hotter the metal gets. Most heaters use steel-sheathed coils, as steel is one of the most durable metals.
To transfer the heat from the coil out into the rest of the garage, an electric fan pulls cool air in through the back of the heater and blows it over the hot coil. The coils heat up the air, and the hot air then spreads throughout the garage.
The fans on electric heaters can generate a lot of noise, but most of the top rated models manage to operate quietly by using larger fans. One of the advantages of this heating method is that the heater is actively distributing the hot air, rather than relying on radiant heat. This means that electric heaters can heat up a room faster than some other styles.
Most electric garage heaters are designed to be hardwired into your homes power grid. This means that there is no power cable to plug in, and to install a unit like this you’ll need to be able to do some electrical work or, better yet, hire a professional to do it for you. It’s a simple job, but if you don’t have experience as an electrician it’s too dangerous for you to try on your own.
That creates an added expense with these heaters, and you’ll need to take that into account when you’re shopping for them. Hardwired electrical heaters are also not portable; once they’ve been installed somewhere, they’re in a fixed location.
Even if they weren’t hardwired, any heater that’s mounted to the wall or ceiling is going to be a hassle to move, so if the heater you’re looking at is designed for mounting, assume that it’s non portable.
Propane heaters are typically smaller and more portable than their electric counterparts. The biggest difference between propane heaters and electric heaters is that propane heaters use an open flame to create radiant heat.
Most of them use the flame to heat a surface made from material that’s designed to absorb and radiate heat. The two models we listed here use porcelain coated ceramic. The burner inside the heater relies on a pilot light. To use these heaters, you have to first attach a propane cylinder, turn on the gas, and light the pilot light. Most models come with a built-in piezoelectric ignition, so that part’s easy. Once the pilot light is lit, you adjust the control knob to light the burner and control the heat output.
The burner applies direct heat to the ceramic tiles, and the tiles radiate heat to warm up your garage. This is more or less how most fireplaces work; the heat is radiated from the fire into the bricks or tiles of the fireplace, and they in turn radiate heat into your house.
Propane heaters have fewer moving parts than electric heaters, but they’re also more complex designs overall, so there doesn’t seem to be much of a reliability advantage with propane heaters like there would normally be in a system with fewer moving parts.
Propane heaters don’t typically require an outside power source; the only thing they need to work is fuel. Depending on how you want to use your heater, this can be an advantage or a disadvantage. It does make propane heaters extremely portable; you can literally take them anywhere, and they’ll be able to work. The downside is that they’re limited by the amount of fuel that you have. The heater will only work as long as you have propane, and the more heat you need to generate the more propane you’ll need to burn, and the less run time your heater will have.
There are also some safety issue with propane heaters. The burner uses up oxygen and produces carbon monoxide, so if you use a propane heater in an enclosed space you run the risk of suffocation or carbon monoxide poisoning. If the heater is knocked over the burner could light other objects, including the propane bottle, creating a massive fire hazard. Finally, the heating tiles get very, very hot. In order to radiate enough heat to be effective they have to store even more heat. Touching the heating surface on a propane heater could cause serious burns.
The two models we listed include safety features to mitigate all of those risks. They have low-oxygen sensors which will shut off the burner and the pilot light if the oxygen level gets too low. They have tip-over sensors that shut the burner and pilot light off if they sense that they heater has been knocked over. Finally, they have guard wires in front of the heating plates to ensure that you can’t accidentally come in to direct contact with the hot tiles.
If you’re looking at other propane heaters, you’ll want to be certain that they have those same safety features before you buy them.
Natural gas heaters are designed to be tied in to your house’s gas line. There are two types of natural gas heaters, forced air and infrared. We’ll be discussing infrared heaters in the next section, so for our purposes in this article when we say “natural gas” we’re referring to forced air heaters.
Natural gas heaters work almost exactly like a traditional furnace. The heating mechanism is more or less the same as in a propane heater, too. The natural gas burner applies direct heat to a heat exchanger. That’s where the similarities to the propane heaters end, though.
While propane heaters rely solely on radiant heat, natural gas heaters take a cue from the electric models and use a fan to pull air across the heat exchanger and blow it into the room, allowing the heater to warm up a much larger space.
Natural gas heaters tend to be larger, more powerful, and more efficient than either propane or electric heaters. They have advantages over both.
Compared to propane heaters, they’re much safer. They vent air to the outside of the house, and use that outside air for combustion, rather than using the air inside your garage. That means there’s no danger of suffocation or carbon monoxide poisoning. Because they’re mounted to the ceiling, there’s no danger of knocking them over and setting other things on fire, and the heat exchangers and burners are all inside the heater, where you can’t accidentally touch them.
Finally, because they use fans to force air over the heat exchangers and then out into the room, they can heat a much larger space and heat up the garage much more quickly than a propane heater. They aren’t portable, though, because they’re mounted and tied in to your gas line. If portability matters to you, a natural gas heater is not the right choice.
Compared to electric heaters, natural gas heaters tend to be much more efficient. They can also heat up a larger space, typically. Most electric heaters require 220 volts, but natural gas heaters usually only require a more standard 115v, because they only use electricity to power the fan, whereas an electric heater needs to power the fan and it’s heating element. Natural gas heaters are usually more expensive though, because they’re bigger, more complicated to manufacture, and heavier to ship.
Both electric and natural gas heaters will blow air around in your garage. Bear that in mind if you do a lot of projects that will generate sawdust- an electric or natural gas heater is going to blow the dust around.
Most of the infrared heaters designed for garage use also burn natural gas. Infrared waves are given off by any object warmer than it’s surroundings. An infrared heater heats your garage in the same way that the sun heats the earth. Infrared energy warms up the floor, your body, and any other objects directly, rather than trying to warm up large volumes of air. Once all those objects are warm, they release heat into the surrounding air. It’s a much more efficient heating method, since it takes less time for you to feel warm and because hot air rises, meaning any heating method relying on air as the medium for transmitting heat will struggle to keep objects and people lower to the ground warm.
For home use, you want to make sure you buy a low intensity tube heater. These still run hot: the temperature of the heating tubes on a low intensity heater will still run at 600-1100 degrees Fahrenheit. These heaters will emit no visible light, unlike the high intensity heaters, which glow bright red but are usually too intense for residential use.
Infrared heaters have a number of advantages; they’re quiet, efficient, easy to use, and they don’t blow the air in your garage around, so if there’s dust or sawdust they won’t disturb it. They’ll also provide faster heat recovery when the doors are opened and closed. The heat from these heaters is directed at the people and objects that need it, so it isn’t lost through rising air.
If this is all sounds too good to be true, that’s because infrared heaters are a lot more expensive than the other varieties. They’re easier to install, use less electricity and gas, and are typically lower maintenance, but the upfront cost is a deterrent to many people. Some people also prefer a heater that moves the air around, as still air can feel stuffy and oppressive.
Features to look for
Make sure your propane heaters come with safety features like low-oxygen and tip-over shutoff. For electric and natural gas, they should always have automatic overheating shutoff that will prevent the heating from turning on until it’s cooled down to a safe temperature.
Heaters can break. A good heater should have at least a one year warranty on it, so that if it breaks for reasons other than user error you’re covered.
If a heater is consistently receiving good reviews on sites like Amazon, it’s probably a quality heater. Just be sure to actually read a lot of the reviews, including the bad ones. You can usually tell pretty quickly if the bad reviews are written by someone who’s bad experience was their own fault, or if there’s a recurring problem with the unit itself. Just as telling are the reasons that people give for a five star review. It may be that it’s a great heater for them, but it won’t meet your needs.
What’s included in the box?
If the heater is designed to be mounted, the mounting gear should be in the box with it. Not every heater comes with a thermostat included, either. Some of them have a default heat setting that you can only change if you buy a thermostat separately. Some of them come with a remote so you can turn the heater on and adjust the temperature from wherever your working. Little details like that matter, and should be factored in to your final decision.
Questions to ask yourself
Do I want something portable?
Although one of the electric heaters we listed is technically portable, it’s still only usable if you have a 220v outlet, so it’s portability is limited. The only truly portable heaters we listed were the propane heaters, and generally speaking that’s true for almost all heaters on the market.
Meanwhile, almost all the electric, natural gas, and infrared heaters are designed to be mounted on the wall and tied into your home’s electrical grid or gas line. Once they’re installed, they don’t get moved.
So, do want to move your heater around? Are you looking for something that will heat up your garage, and that you can also take camping? Or just move between a garage and backyard workshop? If so, a propane heater is you’re only option.
Does my house have a gas line?
Natural gas heaters need to be tied in to your main gas line. Not every house has one, and you don’t want to invest in a pricey natural gas or infrared heater only to find out that you can’t use it.
It’s true that a lot of natural gas heaters come with conversion kits that will allow you use liquid propane instead, but unless your house has a large propane tank that you use for your heating and cooking it’s probably not worth it to try it. In most homes, if you don’t have a gas line, a natural gas heater is not your best choice.
How much space am I trying to heat?
This applies to any of the heaters you might choose. Whether you going with propane, electric or gas, the size of the space you want to heat will determine the specific model of heater you buy.
Remember that we listed two propane heaters from the same manufacturer; the only difference between the two was the size of the space they could heat. The larger model can heat a room 200 square feet larger than what the smaller model can handle.
Natural gas heaters can heat the largest spaces of them all, with the model we listed able to heat 700 square feet easily. Most of the electric heaters can handle a good sized space, but there is some variation there. Be sure you buy a heater that can actually handle your garage.
Do I really want to heat up the whole garage?
It may seem like an odd question, after the last one, but could you get by without heating up the whole space? If you only need to heat a small work area, an electric heater pointed directly at it will get the job done, even if that heater can’t handle heating the entire garage.
Why do I need a heater?
What are you using that space for? Do you do a lot of winter woodworking? If so, you’re better off with an infrared tube heater or a propane heater, because they don’t blow air around and won’t send sawdust flying everywhere.
Do you use your garage as an extra living space? If you do, you need a heater that will efficiently and effectively heat the entire room; a powerful electric heater or natural gas heater works best for that.
How warm do I actually want it in there?
Do you want to just barely fend off the chill or does the garage need to be as warm as the rest of your house? You can get by with a much less powerful heater if you just want to keep the temp above freezing while you’re in there.
How cold does my garage get?
Do you live somewhere like Minnesota or Colorado, with brutally cold winters? Or are you on the East coast, where it’s cold but less so? In other words, how much work is your heater going to have to do to make your garage comfortable? The colder it gets, the more powerful the heater you’ll need.
How much noise am I OK with?
Fans make noise. There’s no way around that. Most heaters use fans to circulate the air. Some are quieter than others. Some people like the white noise generated by a fan, some people hate it, and some people are somewhere in between. How loud of a fan are you ok with?
How much air movement do I want?
An infrared tube heater is fast and efficient, and propane heaters are lightweight and portable, but they don’t move the air at all.
For some people this is a plus, since they do a lot of woodwork and don’t want sawdust flying everywhere. For others, no air movement makes the room feel oppressively stuffy. If that’s you, it might be worth it to sacrifice efficiency or portability for better air circulation.
How much am I willing to spend?
This might be the most important question. What’s your budget for this? How much is having a garage heater worth to you? Propane and electric heaters can vary widely in price, but most of them are relatively affordable.
Most of the electric heaters we listed here were under two hundred dollars, and one of the portable propane heaters was under one hundred at the time this was written.
Natural gas heaters are more expensive, and infrared heaters more expensive still. Remember though that if you buy an electric heater, more than likely you’ll need to hire an electrician to install it, which adds to the cost.
Determining your budget beforehand helps you filter out the heaters that aren’t an option for you, and makes the whole process more simple.
Garage heaters are a useful tool for making your favorite home workspace usable year -round. If you live somewhere with cold winters and you use your garage for hobby work, a home business or even an extra living space, a garage heater is a necessity. Some of you may live somewhere cold enough that a garage heater is necessary just to make sure your car starts in the morning. Learn more about controlling the heat and cold in your home.
The market is full of different heaters, and even though they’re all designed for the same job, they do that job very differently. Hopefully, this buying guide is a useful tool for you in your search for a new heater.
The heaters we listed at the beginning of this article are all excellent choices. Each one has all of the safety features that we recommend, and is highly rated by the people who’ve used them. As long as you understand your heating needs, you can’t go wrong buying any of them.
If, however, you don’t want any of the units we listed here, make sure you’ve read our buying guide thoroughly. If you’ve never bought a garage heater before, there are probably a number of things that you wouldn’t think to consider, such as factoring in the cost of an electrician to install your hardwired electric heater.
As a rule, the cheapest and easiest to use heaters are the portable propane heaters. They’re designed to be used in rougher outdoor conditions, and they should last forever. The most expensive and complex units are the natural gas heaters, but the tradeoff is that they’re also the most efficient and powerful heaters. Electric heaters are somewhere in between. They’re easy to use, but difficult to install. They’re affordable, but not always efficient. They can heat up a small space quickly, but they aren’t portable and they struggle with larger rooms.
It all comes down to your specific needs and your budget. Figure out how much you can spend so you can filter out the units that are too expensive right away. Then determine what you’re going to use your heater for; is it going to always be in the garage, or do you want to be able to move it around? Then, start determining how much space you need to heat, and how warm you want it. Finally, you need to decide what fuel source you want your heater to use, assuming that you haven’t already ruled out all but one.
Once you know all of that, you’re ready to choose your heater. Whether you choose one of the units we listed here, or you went in a different direction, we hope this guide was useful and that you were able to find the perfect heater to fit your needs.