Some garages are attached to the house and connected to the home’s HVAC system. If yours isn’t one of them, you know just how cold a garage can get in the winter. Fortunately, there is no need to steer clear of your garage in the winter months. Garage space heaters come in a variety of sizes and types to fit the needs of different homeowners. But not all garage heaters are the same. Here we will help you find the best space heater for your garage.

How garage heaters work

Garage heaters, like all portable heaters, work on one of two basic principles: convection or radiation. Convective garage heaters use a fan to blow warm air from the heater into the surrounding area. Radiative garage heaters emit infrared radiation that is then absorbed by your body in the same way that you absorb the sun’s rays. Direct radiative heaters bounce the radiation off a series of metal plates or mirrors to create a focused heat path. Indirect radiative heaters generate radiation that is then blown into the room through convection.

Convective heaters take a few minutes to warm up, but they can heat a larger area than radiative heaters. However, they don’t work as well in areas with little insulation. Since radiative heaters warm you, rather than your surroundings, they are a better solution for uninsulated spaces, especially if you only need to heat a small area such as the space around your workbench.

Garage heaters may be fueled by electricity, natural gas or propane. Electric garage heaters are relatively inexpensive to purchase and do not require any special installation (though more powerful models require a 240-volt outlet). You can place an electric heater wherever you like, and there is virtually no maintenance required. However, electric heaters tend to be less efficient than natural gas or propane, and electricity is relatively expensive in many parts of the country.

Natural gas garage heaters are typically more expensive to purchase and require professional installation, but they are more cost-efficient to operate than electric heaters. They are typically more efficient, but they must be professionally serviced once a year to avoid residue buildup that could lead to toxic fumes. Also, their average useful life is about half that of an electric garage heater.

Though it may not be the first thing that comes to mind for enclosed heating, a propane garage heater does come with some advantages. Propane offers twice the heating power of natural gas, and a portable propane heater can be placed anywhere in your garage. Propane heaters are also relatively inexpensive.

However, there are some safety guidelines you must always follow. Choose a model with safety features such as a low oxygen sensor and a tip-over shutoff, and install a carbon monoxide detector in the garage (as well as the house, if you have an attached garage). Never leave the propane heater unattended, and keep it far away from anything combustible, including fumes from paint or gasoline.

The best garage heaters

Best electric garage heater: Dr. Infrared Heater DR-988

With 4.2 stars on Amazon.com, this portable heater packs a punch, with a thermostat that can be set at 45 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s filled with safety features including overheating protection and finger-proof front and back grills. This bright red case plugs into any 220-volt outlet and features cord storage for easy portability.

Cost

Features

  • 600-square-foot heating capacity
  • 5,600 watts
  • Electric
  • 12x12x15 inches, 18 lbs.

Warranty Info

This heater features a 3-year limited warranty.

Best natural gas garage heater: Modine Hot Dawg HD45A

The best gas garage heater is the 45,000 BTU Modine Hot Dawg HD45A, with 4 stars on HomeDepot.com. It can comfortably heat large two-car garages, yet the low-profile compact design doesn’t take up much room.

Cost

  • $667.95 at Home Depot
  • Professional installation is required, and pricing will vary according to your geographic location, the size of your garage and the difficulty of installation.

Features

  • 1,000- to 1,500-square-foot heating capacity, depending on climate zone
  • 45,000 BTUs
  • Natural gas
  • 12.2×26.8×22 inches, 60 lbs.

Warranty Info

This heater has a 10-year warranty on the heat exchanger and a one-to-five-year warranty on the remaining parts.

Best propane garage heater: Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy

With 4.6 stars on Amazon.com, this convenient, portable heater features an oxygen depletion sensor, tip-over protection and a fold-down carrying handle. It can run for three hours on maximum heat with a one-pound propane cylinder (not included). A Piezo igniter makes it easy to light. Note that this heater may not work properly at elevations above 7,000 feet.

Cost

  • $79.99
  • No installation required

Features

  • 225-square-feet heating capacity
  • 9,000 BTUs
  • Propane
  • 7.7×13.4×15 inches, 9 lbs.

Warranty Info

This unit has a one-year manufacturer warranty.

Fahrenheat FUH54

With 4.6 stars on HomeDepot.com, the Fahrenheat FUH54 is an excellent electric garage heater. It has a built-in ceiling mounting bracket and overheat protection, along with adjustable louvers and a thermostat with settings of 45 to 135 F. The only significant drawback is that it must be hardwired rather than plugged in, which requires an electrician.

Cost

  • $233.48 at Home Depot
  • This unit must be hardwired by a qualified electrician. Pricing varies by geographic location.

Features

  • 500-square-foot heating capacity
  • 5,000 watts
  • Electric
  • 13x14x18 inches, 24 lbs.

Warranty Info

This unit has a one-year manufacturer warranty.

Cadet RCP402S

The bright red Cadet RCP402S earned 4 stars on Amazon.com. It features an overheating shutoff and a high-low switch for temperature control, as well as a fan-only mode for summer air circulation. With a six-foot cord, this model can be plugged into any 240-volt outlet.

Cost

Features

Warranty Info

This unit has a limited five-year warranty.

How we chose the best garage heaters

We made our selections based on a combination of factors, including type, heating capacity, portability and pricing, as well as customer reviews. We provided a range of sizes and styles for homeowners with different needs.

FAQs

  • What type of heater is best for a garage? Each type of heater is designed to meet different needs. For a large garage, natural gas may be the way to go. For smaller spaces, both propane and electric garage heaters offer real value. They are also best for those who desire portability.
  • What is the most efficient way to heat a garage? Natural gas is the most efficient for large spaces, but the additional cost of installation and inability to move the heater makes it unnecessary for smaller spaces. Propane is highly efficient for small garages, but electric heaters are the easiest for those who already have a 240-volt outlet.

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