January 5, 2021

Heater options make your garage a winter hit

Many homeowners find their unfinished garages are valuable spaces for work, play or rest and relaxation. During hotter months, the windowless rooms can provide respite from the indoor malaise fueled by the summer sun.

But in the winter, cold-weather days can make your favorite "extra room" frigid and uncomfortable.

Don’t let it spoil your fun. A seasonal space heater can be an inexpensive alternative to a large-scale drywall and insulation project.

An electric heater keeps your garage warm and toasty. Set them up for use in any wired garage or with an extension cord running to the closest outlet.

While electric garage heaters all basically function the same way, they fall into three main types: fan-forced, infrared (radiant), and ceramic.

As you probably guessed, fan-forced heaters have a fan in the back that pushes hot air from an electric heating element out into the garage or workshop to warm up the ambient air. Generally, they are the least expensive option, but often take a while to warm up.

Infrared heaters warm up the fastest, but unlike typical space heaters, the heat generated doesn’t raise the air temperature inside the room. Instead, it heats up the people and objects in the room.

The downside is, when the heater is switched off, the temperature of the objects and people in the garage drops quickly. Also, the more items and people you have in your garage, the less effective the infrared heater will be.

Last up are ceramic heaters, which work like fan-forced heaters with one significant difference: A ceramic heating element. While they take a long time to heat up, they're generally better suited for larger spaces.

If you only use part of your garage as living space, you may be able to get by with a smaller heater. A good rule to follow is 10 watts of output per 1 square foot of space.

Ideal for the coldest climates, "smart" heaters keep your garage warm and toasty without wasting unnecessary energy. The newest models monitor the garage’s ambient temperature. Just like your home thermostat, they can be programmed to turn on when the temperature is too low and off when the temperature is too high.

Electric garage heaters can be dangerous if not properly installed and utilized. Fortunately, many manufacturers have begun adding safety features designed to make the product as accident-proof as possible, including turn-off tip-over mechanisms, overheating protections, and cool-touch features.