Garage Heaters - choose the best garage heater

Garage heater – Choose the best garage heater

Selecting an optimal garage heater is crucial for ensuring comfortable and versatile use of this essential space within a home, in this article we will review and pounder the pro and cons of each system.

Installing heating systems in garages has become a regular undertaking for many homeowners. However, selecting the most suitable heater for a residential garage can be challenging, given the multitude of available choices. Today, garages are more than mere storage spaces or parking spots, serving as laundry rooms, workshops, recreational areas, and even dedicated spots for pets. In some instances, individuals even transform their garages into appealing living spaces

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Infrared garage heaters

The minimal required BTUs for infrared garage heaters are slightly lower, with 30,000 BTUs capable of heating a two-car garage and a suggested 50,000 BTUs for a three-car garage. Infrared heaters emit radiant heat instead of utilizing a traditional blower fan, and they come in various styles, including infrared and tube heaters, often spotted in locations such as city bus stops and large warehouses. Unlike convection heaters, radiant heaters are effective for heating specific areas rather than enclosed spaces.

If you intend to work on projects in your garage, especially involving wood or paints, an infrared heater may prove to be the ideal option as it doesn’t raise dust or keep it airborne, which is often a concern during various DIY activities like painting, re-upholstery, staining, and sawing, known for generating sawdust.

However, an infrared heater might not provide immediate warmth since it heats objects first rather than the air. Nevertheless, once the concrete floor is warmed, the uniform and consistent heating of infrared heat can offer greater comfort, unlike the dissipation of heat associated with blower fan heaters. With forced-air heat, the ceiling is warmer than the floor, and reheating the space after opening and closing the garage door takes longer. Installation also differs significantly, with a recommended distance of three to four feet kept from surrounding objects for safety. Infrared heaters should be installed at least 7 ft. above the floor and hang down at least 4 in. from the ceiling, ensuring that no objects are placed too closely underneath. Typically, infrared garage heaters are installed at the back of the garage, directed toward the garage door and aimed downward at a 45-degree angle. They can also be placed between car bays if the garage door opener rail permits and there are no tall vehicles such as trucks or SUVs. Infrared heaters are available in a diverse range of sizes, including smaller personal propane heaters and infrared electric heaters.

Forced air garage heaters

Conventional forced-air garage heaters provide rapid heating akin to a typical furnace, catering to various outdoor heating requirements. These heaters are ideal for enclosed spaces, resembling home-based forced-air heating systems. They are user-friendly and easy to install, equipped with an adjustable thermostat for setting heating levels and louvers for directing heat. They serve as an effective means of warming an entire garage.

Commonly used forced-air garage heaters include both permanent and portable gas-fired models (requiring venting), with certain versions featuring convenient electronic ignition, a fuel shutoff mechanism, adjustable thermostat, and automatic overheat shutoff. Additionally, electric forced-air garage heaters are a prevalent alternative, particularly suitable for homes lacking direct access to natural gas. However, bear in mind that the operational cost of an electric heater is notably higher than that of a natural gas forced-air garage heater.

Forced-air garage heaters can be positioned in a corner near a gas line and an electrical outlet. The required BTUs (energy units) depend on factors such as garage size, climate zone, and preferred temperature settings for maintaining comfort. A general guideline for forced-air garage heaters is 45,000 BTUs for heating a two car garage, and 60,000 BTUs for a three-car garage.

Portable electric garage heaters

Portable electric garage heaters demand minimal maintenance, and the emergence of competitively priced newer models has significantly reduced the former high cost associated with electric heaters. The enhanced efficiency rating, in comparison to the expensive nature of natural gas, has notably amplified the preference for electric heating over other options.

Electric garage heaters offer numerous advantages that position them as an excellent choice for garage heating, including automatic shut-off features. Most electric heater units are equipped with tip-over protection and an automatic shutdown mechanism if the unit tilts off its base or falls over, effectively preventing potential hazards and fires. This safety attribute proves critical, especially when handling flammable materials or in the presence of pets or children. Furthermore, these heaters provide protection against carbon monoxide poisoning, eliminating concerns related to potential gas leaks that often go unnoticed by humans in the case of natural gas furnaces. With no emissions produced, electric garage heaters are an environmentally conscious choice for eco-minded households.

Kerosene heaters

Although not specifically tailored for garage use, kerosene heaters present an attractive, cost-effective option for heating garages. It’s important to keep in mind a few key points:

  • Kerosene heaters come with indoor or outdoor use ratings. 
  • Larger kerosene heaters are generally intended for outdoor use. 
  • Utilizing an 80,000 to 200,000 BTU heater in an enclosed garage could pose significant risks due to the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning and fire hazards.

Alternatively, there exists a diverse array of indoor-specific kerosene heaters that may serve as a suitable solution. Similar to any portable heater, it is crucial to ensure that the heater is not placed too close to flammable surfaces, preventing overheating and potential fires. Additionally, verifying the presence of necessary safety features, including a tip-over mechanism that instantly shuts off the burner if the unit falls, is essential.


In conclusion, the diverse array of garage heaters on the market presents homeowners with a multitude of options to suit their specific heating needs and preferences. From traditional forced-air heaters to efficient infrared models and the cost-effective kerosene alternatives, each type offers unique advantages and considerations. Forced-air heaters provide widespread warmth, while infrared heaters offer targeted heating and minimal dust disturbance, making them ideal for specific projects. Electric garage heaters, known for their safety features and environmental friendliness, have emerged as a popular choice for many households, aided by various incentive programs and utility company benefits. Kerosene heaters, although not primarily designed for indoor use, can serve as a budget-friendly option, provided that safety precautions are strictly observed. Ultimately, selecting the most suitable garage heater entails a careful assessment of one’s specific requirements, safety concerns, and budget constraints, ensuring optimal comfort and functionality within the garage space.

Want to transform your garage in a cosy area, read our article about Garage door maintenance.

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