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All Northerneres: Heating a Garage in Winter?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Gigantor, Jul 5, 2007.

  1. Gigantor
    Joined: Jul 12, 2006
    Posts: 3,815


    All right, I've FINALLY got my own garage. :) I'm currently in the process of insulating the bejesus out of it (it's just a 2-car shell really, I don't even have power run out there yet!) and I'm racking my brain trying to figure out the best way to heat the garage in the winter.
    I did a search and found a good thread with lots of cool ideas varying in cost and performance: SEE:

    I guess my question is about safety.
    I intend to be warm and toasty all winter long (about 6 months out of the year ) but the idea of open flames in a garage full of flammable materials scares the shit out of me. Most of the methods of heating involved some form of open flame. Call me paranoid, but am I being over-cautious?

    Is there something I'm missing or that I should know? Thanks for your input.:confused:
  2. Shifty Shifterton
    Joined: Oct 1, 2006
    Posts: 4,965

    Shifty Shifterton

    You're being too skeered about the flames, plenty of pro shops are heated with furnaces all day long. My choices would be an old house furnace, or a hanging forced air shop heater. good luck
  3. dickster27
    Joined: Feb 28, 2004
    Posts: 3,105

    from Texas

    Your best bet is to use an overhead gas furnace with a blower. High enough fumes are not as big a worry and you can find them used in the paper or auctions or swap meets for peanuts.
  4. get a through the wall heater. The burner gets its air from the outside. No air in the garage will see flame. I like the condo wall units cause they usually have a/c too! Don
    Register now to get rid of these ads!

  5. They say in floor heating is the cats ass up here. Don,t know the cost but do know guys with it. No flame and warm feet!
  6. Radiant floor heat is the bee's knees if you can swing it. Even overall heat and no flame if you go electric. And like ratmotor said, nice warm feet and back if you're laying on the floor.

    If that's not an option, a hanging shop furnace is nice. If you spill something flammable the fumes are low and you've got time to shut the thing off until you get the spill under control.
  7. INXS
    Joined: Dec 3, 2005
    Posts: 347


    You'll find more info than you can read in one sitting at Ryan's sister site:

    LOts of good information and some very impressive shop pictures.
  8. sawzall
    Joined: Jul 15, 2002
    Posts: 4,662


    I also have a two car garage and a friend who engineers heating and ac systems.

    for starters.. I used alumumized polypropylene? (foam) insulation (1" thick..) which I attached to the bottom of the rafters.. with the shiney side out..

    this makes a great reflective surface for the lights.. and reflects the heat in the garage as well..

    i have a trap door to my second floor made of the same foam.. and I cover the windows in the same type of foam in the winter..

    if I could I would put this stuff on the walls as well..
    sorry I dont have a good pic right now..

    I am currently looking to get new garage doors.. which will be insulated..

    for a heater I have one of these:
    Direct Vent Counterflow Wall Furnace basically it draws air in the top.. heats it, and blows it out along the floor..

    it is an "open flame" but its vented..

    I dont use the heater when i paint.. (which is NEVER)
    and dust is kept to a minimum when its on...

    I dont know if I fully answered your question.. but i am hoping that you get the idea that i think its MOST important to INSULATE..
  9. rat deuce
    Joined: Feb 7, 2007
    Posts: 188

    rat deuce

    I've been using an oil/hot air furnace for the past 25 yrs. I do plenty of custom paint work, never had a problem- and if I run out of oil I can always get 5gallons of kerosene at the gas station to get me through another night.
  10. Well I've been here for 22 years and haven't any problems yet. I have a 55Gal barrell wood stove for heat. My main work space is 35X45 and most of the time I can get by in just my shirt. I've had other Wood stoves that look nice with Cast Iron shells, one was made out of a piece of 1/4" S.S. Pipe 18" in dia and 30" long. Didn't make near the heat of a plain old Oil Drum. They only last about 3 years then you need to replace them. If I'm going to spray paint I build a fire early to warm it up then let it die down, I have a propane heater to use between coats and shut it off while spraying. So far, so good. Most of the time this is a Welding and FAB shop but I do have solvent, acetone and lacquer thinner around. Just think about where it's at and you'll be fine.
    The Wizzard
  11. DIRTYT
    Joined: Oct 22, 2003
    Posts: 3,264

    from Warren,MI

    i keep it old school with my wood stove. But i all so dont paint any thing my self. kinda a pain in the ass but i like the smell haha
  12. SinisterCustom
    Joined: Feb 18, 2004
    Posts: 8,266


    My garage has an older house-type furnace that runs on heating's great...themostat on the wall, turn to @ 60* in the winter....heats up quick....300 or so gallon tank mounted on a slab outside, gets filled @ every 3 years....
    I wouldn't worry too much about fumes....

    OT....I used to paint heavy equipment (large CAT dozers, etc) in the winter in a large tent, using a Master 350,000 BTU space heater to keep the machine and paint warm, WHILE I was painting......of course, paint/lacquer thinner fumes are different than gas.....he he....
    NEVER had a problem, except with the heater losing efficency, due to paint build-up in the cone and ignitor of the heater.....
  13. Flatman
    Joined: Dec 20, 2005
    Posts: 1,975


    I'm using a radiant kerosene heater, but i'm only trying to warm up a single garage. I try not to paint in the winter as it's tough to keep the temp up there high enough. You're already insulating, what kind of doors are you using? They make a BIG difference:D ,

  14. phat rat
    Joined: Mar 18, 2001
    Posts: 4,333

    phat rat

    wood stove for me. My garage is 32X36 insulated and I can wear a t-shirt most of the time in the winter
  15. roddinron
    Joined: May 24, 2006
    Posts: 2,677


    I use an old gas house furnace that i got free from a heating guy who took it out of a house and replaced it with a high efficiency unit. If you go this route, build a stand for it and mount it high, gas fumes spread out low on the floor, that's why garage heaters are mounted high.
  16. HemiRambler
    Joined: Aug 26, 2005
    Posts: 4,144


    If you put a house furnace in the attic you will also keep the flame AWAY from your work area.
  17. I collect free firewood during the summer tree trimming season. Near-free heat all winter long. More often than not, I also pump it into the house for almost-free house heat.

    I used a free fireplace insert with glass doors, made it free standing with a few bits of metal plate, put a barrel on top for chimney-heat reclaiming, which doubles the heat output and the fuel efficiency, and now I have a great looking fireplace that the kids and I like to relax in front of in the evening. You can see the fire and flames while it has the precise air-control and heat control of a well sealed woodburner box. I suppose it is like a double-barrel stove with a lot more class.

    Later on, I dressed it up by adding some large sheets of steel diamond-tread plate as a front panel so it looks more like a fireplace and mantle made by an old fashioned shipbuilder.

    I almost never use the throat-drying gas furnace anymore. Even if wood starts costing more than gas heat, I would not give it up the comfortable wood heat.

    I built a plywood box for three furnace filters, hung it in the garage rafters above the woodburner, put a fan in it, and blow the triple filtered hot air into the house ductwork to bring the heat into the far rooms of the house.
    In the coldest part of the winter, the far away bedrooms are a few degrees cooler than the cozy fireplace/TV/familyroom. Sometimes the people here prefer the slightly cooler bedrooms with a good quilt, and sometimes they prefer the warm couches by the fireplace.
    Anytime I want, I can kick on the gas furnace to even things up, but nobody wants me to do that.

    If I ever move, I'll make sure my next house is set up thay way too.
  18. dutchtreat
    Joined: Jul 7, 2004
    Posts: 304


    The guy that owned the house before we bought it built my garage. He put an older house furnace in it and mounted it up off the floor (on bricks) and has the hot air come down and out under the front of the furnace. Within 5 min I have to get down to my T-shirt to work. He mounted the Thermostat on the far wall so the whole shop is up to temp before it shuts down. With the hot air coming out acrossed the floor like that the floor even warms up a little.
  19. Chopped26
    Joined: May 29, 2006
    Posts: 358


    Wood stove all the way for me . I like fire . Just dont drink to much and fall asleep because when its -20 and the stove burns out you get cold real fast. Not that I ever did that :/
  20. hotrod mike
    Joined: Nov 21, 2006
    Posts: 1,726

    hotrod mike

    I had the same unit as Sawzall when I lived in Virginia. It worked great and didn't take up much space. I had a 2-car block garage. I put insulation everywhere (including foam pellets in the block walls). That heater could run you out of there if you wanted. As mentioned, all the fumes were vented out. It could run on natural gas or propane. I didn't have natural gas at my house so I had it converted to propane. Cast an average of $200-250 a season to run it. Also, mine was on a thermostat as I had a bathroom and pipes to keep warm. I highly recommend a through the wall heater. Empire was the brand name if I recall. Mike
  21. Gigantor
    Joined: Jul 12, 2006
    Posts: 3,815


    Wow - thanks guys. Lots to think about. Cost (of course) is one of the ultimate considerations, but you've all given me a lot to chew on.

    I've got thin steel doors, but the foam core insulation method used on a previous post looks like it would work great for a minimum of cost.

    Again, thanks for the suggestions.
  22. buckeye_01
    Joined: Jun 20, 2005
    Posts: 1,441


    My dad had a 3 car garage at his old house and the above heater was in it. He kept the garage at a bearable 60' in the winter. It really worked good except in the farthest stall from the heater.
  23. Gigantor
    Joined: Jul 12, 2006
    Posts: 3,815


    Sawzall - any idea what initial average purchase cost is involved? And call me dumb, but does this run off propane or oil?
  24. rsg2506
    Joined: Mar 6, 2005
    Posts: 359


    I hung this propane fueled one in my 24 x 30 garage this spring. I picked it up from northern tool. I've heard good things about these units and the customer service folks were very helpful when I called with a few questions. It should keep my garage toasty warm this winter. I still need to hang sheet rock and insulate.

  25. woodstove is the way to go and sometimes can be free. Get to know your local woodstove bussiness real well and try to get something he's pulled out of a house, and then pay good money for the chimney system. 90% of all woodstove problem are improper chimney installations (i'm in the bussiness so i see it all the time). Code requirement are totaly differant for garages then they are for houses, so if you do it yourself ask lots of questions before you put a hole in building. Regardless of what kind of heating system you put in talk with your insurance company first, if you have any kind of coverage on the garage. I had a friend lose his garage and 3 cars and was denied coverage because of a illegal wood stove install.
  26. Ebbsspeed
    Joined: Nov 11, 2005
    Posts: 4,993


    I've got radiant heating in the slab floor of my shop, put it in myself when I built the garage, for about $700. While it's hard to retrofit to an existing shop, radiant heat is the shit! My shop is attached to the house, but there is no access between the two, as I didn't want a door that would let fumes into the house, so I have to walk out the basement door, make a left turn, take four steps and walk in through the shop door. I was concerned with having a flame in the shop, as there is all sorts of stuff in there that could go kablooey if something were to spill or spring a leak, so I just installed a second 40-gallon natural gas water heater in the basement of the house, and plumbed it about 15 feet through the wall into the shop. The thermostat is usually set at around 55-60 in the winter, floor temp is probably about 70 degrees, it's nice for an old fart like me who needs to keep the bones warm........
  27. swazzie
    Joined: Mar 30, 2004
    Posts: 940


    Check out there is alot of info on there . g'luck . swaZZie
  28. mr.chevrolet
    Joined: Jul 19, 2006
    Posts: 6,601


    i built a used oil furnace, from an old elec. hot water tank. got the info from Mother Earth News website. works real well, heats up about a 15 x15 area in my 60 x30 uninsulated garage. just keep my 37 truck project near it. oils free from next door auto repair shop. i'm happy with it.
  29. Play400
    Joined: Nov 29, 2006
    Posts: 47


    I have a Reznor 45000 btu overhead gas furnace with power vent in my 24x26x9 garage. Switched over from 2 220v construction heaters which are way too noisy in my opinion. My furnace is too big, should have put in the 35000 so it would run longer. Works great except for short cycles. Vent thru the wall.

    When I switched electricity was high. Cheaper to go with electric now. Considering installing a electric unit from a mobile home.

    Didn't go with the heated floor because of cost, both installation and operating, and I find it's difficult to keep a constant temp when the weather outside varies alot.
  30. uc4me
    Joined: Feb 3, 2006
    Posts: 516


    I have a detached 24x24 garage with 8 foot ceiling, 6 inches of fiberglass insullation in the walls and 10 inches of blown in cellulose in the attic. I installed a 40K Btu Ceiling mounted natural gas heater, I leave it set at 45 in the winter then pop it up a notch or 2 when I am working out there.
    I have had good luck with the heater (Its a Peerless, bought used on egay, paid about 125 bux plus some gas to go pick it up)

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