Keeping Your AC System Cleaner

Heating Options For Your Garage Or Shop

by Yolanda White

Your garage or shop may be a favorite weekend retreat in the warm months, but winter can make it challenging to work in the space. Attached garages can be quickly added to your home's central heating system, but detached garages and shops require a different solution. Fortunately, you have several options to safely heat the space so you can enjoy working on projects year around.

Option #1: Space Heaters

Space heaters are the least optimal solution for heating your shop. They can pose a major fire and safety hazard, and most are very efficient at supplying consistent heat.

If you do opt for a space heater, select a forced air model that is made for garage or shop use. These have sturdier bases and housing than residential units, so they are less likely to tip over or suffer damage. Don't leave the unit running unattended, and never place anything near the heater.

Option #2: Radiant Heat

Chances are you aren't going to install radiant flooring in your shop, but there are other radiant options. Baseboard heaters are an inexpensive option, but they do require some caution. Most models are electric – you can hardwire them into the garage or simply plug them in. Heat then radiates out, gently warming the room.

Radiant forms of heat only work well if the shop is well insulated with minimal air leaks. You must also keep an eye on safety – do not place items against the heaters and make sure no flammable items come near the heaters. Baseboard heaters are not a good option if your shop is prone to a lot of sawdust.

Option #3: Mini-Split Ductless

Mini-split, or ductless, systems offer many of the benefits of central heating, but you won't need to install a furnace or duct system. Instead, an air handling unit, or register, is installed inside the garage. The heat pump is placed outside. Warm air is then forced into the room so it can circulate.

A major benefit of this system is that it draws on outside air to heat the garage interior. This means that it won't recirculate air that may contain sawdust or chemical fumes. It's also simple to retrofit this system into any type of shop space. You can even choose a dual system, and enjoy AC in the summer.

Option #4: Forced Air Heater

The forced air heater is an inexpensive alternative to a mini-split system. These ceiling mounted units come in electric varieties, or you can choose a gas-fired model. They are louder than some of the other heating options, but they can warm even a poorly insulated space quickly. They circulate the air in the garage, which means they will circulate any chemicals, fumes, or sawdust floating around.

Whichever heating source you choose, it's a good idea to have the garage inspected by an HVAC contractor first. They can help you locate any safety concerns when it comes to heater placement, as well as help you determine the best option for both your heating needs and the primary way you use your garage or shop. You will also want to insulate and weather seal your garage so you get the most benefit from the heating system you choose. Contact a company like Fred's Plumbing & Heating Services for more information.