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  1. #1
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    Slightly OT: How to you heat your garage workspace?

    Winter finally hit here in Northern Colorado at the same time I'm ramping up for a few winter frame projects.

    My garage is cold but I want it to be warm. This is making me feel very unproductive and sad. I did a quick search this morning of garage heating options but I'm not confident that I know what would work best for me. I'd like to know what other folks use to heat their garage work spaces.

    Pertinent specs:

    1) The climate really isn't that bad (Average Weather for Fort Collins, CO - Temperature and Precipitation) but I really struggle out there on sub-30 deg F days. The garage tends to maintain itself closer to overnight lows than daytime highs.
    2) The space is an attached, but un-insulated one car garage.
    3) I don't need to, or want to continuously heat the space - my roommate parks in the garage in the winter and I can usually only find the time to spend 1-3 hrs working out there at a time.
    4) I rent part of a home with a live-in landlord. This means I'm not willing to invest in anything permanent, like insulation, or an installed gas heater.

    Anybody have success with a particular style or model of electric heater for similar uses? I'm sure propane would work better for quick heating, but I'm willing to sacrifice a little on the heating rate for some efficiency and the convenience of not having to refill propane cylinders on a regular basis.

  2. #2
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    If there is no insulation at all you should just get a parabolic heater and point it at you/your hands/your work area. Nothing electric is going to heat up the whole space very well. Or get tougher!

    _Walt
    Waltworks Custom Bicycles
    Park City, UT USA
    www.waltworks.com
    waltworks.blogspot.com

  3. #3
    RCP Fabrication
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    How big is the space? And almost more importantly, how tall is the ceiling?

  4. #4
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    Walt - thanks for the suggestion. I was skipping over the parabolic heaters because they weren't very high power. I might have to bunt on heating the entire space and settle for my workbench.

    The garage is approximately 14' x 18' with an 8' ceiling. I found some random internet source that claims you need approximately 10 watts per square foot to effectively heat a space. Since my garage is about 250 square feet, a standard 1500 watt coil/forced air space heater would be under powered for the application. Based on this alone, I wasn't looking at the parabolic heaters since the most common models are all 800 watt units, but maybe those would be the best option for focused heating at a work space.

    I'll work on toughening up although it might be a more effective strategy to gain some mass over the holidays.

  5. #5
    RCP Fabrication
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    Fahrenheat 5,000-Watt Unit Heater-FUH54 at The Home Depot

    I would say that is as small as you could go to bring temps up from the 30's to a reasonable level.

  6. #6
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    Mr. Heater - America's Most Popular Portable Heaters
    Get a little buddy heater and a propane tank adapter and it will do you right!
    cheers
    andy walker
    Walker Bicycle Company | | Walker Bicycle Company

  7. #7
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    I use this:

    Name:  8,000-28,000+Double+Tank-Top+Propane+Heater.jpg
Views: 1889
Size:  20.2 KB

    Just aim it at you and your work area and you will be sweating in no time.

  8. #8
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    ^Ok, now you got me thinking of radiant heat.
    Anybody tried the Harbor Freight version, $69 right now
    Tank Top Propane Heater - 30,000 BTU

    Yes the op didn't want propane, so do electric maybe
    Comfort Zone 5,120-BTU Electric Radiant Heater, Gray CZ530WM: Heating, Cooling, & Air Quality : Walmart.com
    cheers
    andy walker

  9. #9
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    The ones I have are the HF versions. They are stupid cheap and work incredibly well.

    --sorry I suppose I skipped over the no propane part.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for all the ideas.

    I kind of knew from my poking around that the propane heaters were best fit for rapid heating and to the size of the space. I was hoping that someone knew of some small portable electric unit that performed far better than others. That 5,000 w electric unit would fit the bill but its kind of pricey and I'd have to upgrade the electrical.

    I asked around among friends and found someone who owns a 1,000 w parabolic heater. He's going to let me borrow it for a test. If it doesn't do the job I think I might pick up a tank mounted single burner propane heater. The output on the single burner is plenty to heat my space. That Mr. Heater Little Buddy is actually the best fit for my needs but I like the simplicity of the tank mounted single burner and it would be much easier to move around and store when not in use.

    Thanks again.

  11. #11
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  12. #12
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    Thanks for starting this thread, Cable. I'm in Golden, and I haven't been able to make myself go out and work in our uninsulated barn the past few days. It's a pre-fab 24x24 corrugated metal Morton building. It would be difficult if not impossible to insulate well. We (my wife and I - she does silversmithing out there) have an overhead forced-air electric heater, as well as individual space heaters, but they don't seem to cut it. Mine is a mica panel model. It's virtually silent, but underpowered for the space.

    Anyway, we have an extra propane tank we're not using...time to check out those propane options! Thanks, everyone.

  13. #13
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    Slightly OT: How to you heat your garage workspace?

    I find that a halogen work lamp puts out a good bit of heat and a lot of light. I wouldn't say I'm warm out there but it's fairly comfortable. Probably should get another light at some point.

  14. #14
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    I know the OP said he couldn't fit insulation, but to everyone else in an un-insulated space, I say this: INSULATE! Even a single layer of cheap fibreglass insulation will trap enough heat to make a big difference over a whole winter. And don't overlook doors and windows (my rented house has new-ish PVC double glazed windows and doors, except the patio door in the kitchen which is aluminium and about 30 years old I reckon; the kitchen is impossible to keep warm in the winter as the heat just pours out that door).

    If you're going to spend any time in your workshop in the winter (less than 5 degrees C/mid 30s F), do yourself a favour and keep it as warm as you can. If you spend a couple of hours every day being really cold, your likelihood of catching a cold, flu, chest infection or pneumonia will skyrocket.

  15. #15
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    Insulated overalls and a propane tank-top heater.
    Jason
    Disclaimer: www.paramountsports.net

  16. #16
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    Years ago, my wife got me a kerosene heater as a Christmas present. It looks like this one:



    Fire it up, let it go for 30 minutes to an hour, then go out in the (two to three car) garage to find that it's pretty warm. Sometimes to the point that I immediately turn the heater off because I can work comfortably. It's also quiet, which is nice. I don't use it a whole lot now, especially since I insulated our garage a few summers back, but I find that one five gallon jug of kerosene can get me through a couple of winters.
    FS: Chinese carbony goodness, trade for a steel frame?

  17. #17
    will rant for food
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    Quote Originally Posted by seat_boy View Post


    ...but I find that one five gallon jug of kerosene can get me through a couple of winters.
    Where do you live (how cold are your winters)?

    I'm going to partition and insulate 1/3 of my garage. I'm not sure what to expect when it is -5 F outside.
    Latitude: 44.93 N

  18. #18
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    I have used both kerosene and propane portable heaters. The kerosene heater does put out good amount of heat but downside is that it is somewhat stinky smelling. My wife is particularly sensitive to the smell and had banned it from use in our cabin. No such problem from propane.

  19. #19
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    Central Ohio. Our winters usually get into the 20s, sometimes down to the single digits.

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Diller View Post
    Where do you live (how cold are your winters)?

    I'm going to partition and insulate 1/3 of my garage. I'm not sure what to expect when it is -5 F outside.
    FS: Chinese carbony goodness, trade for a steel frame?

  20. #20
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    NOAA's forecast for Golden, CO:

    Thursday's high: 11
    Thursday night's low: -7
    Friday's high: 11

    You'll find me in the house on those days.

  21. #21
    will rant for food
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    Quote Originally Posted by golden boy View Post
    NOAA's forecast for Golden, CO:

    Thursday's high: 11
    Thursday night's low: -7
    Friday's high: 11

    You'll find me in the house on those days.
    I feel ya, but I really can't deal with the idea of such conditions realistically sticking around for longer than a week (St Paul). Think I found my data for getting a 300 sq ft space to go from 0 F to 70 F, though.
    Latitude: 44.93 N

  22. #22
    Te mortuo heres tibi sim?
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    Lurker, not builder, but...

    My one car attached had no insulation but for in the single wall. Nice and tall ceiling, single story, nothing up there either.

    Insulated it on the three other walls, sealed lots of gaps around the outer door (which is insulated at least) and the biggest difference was insulating under the roof. Did a lot of sealing around the two leaky window areas as well. Huge difference! Paneled over the sections with some new 3/4" ply and pegboard in a few spots and gained more hanging area as well

    We get from single digits to 30'sF in winter, and a small 1500w heater now gets the space pretty comfy within about fifteen minutes, enough that I don't even need to leave it on constantly.

    Not that it helps the OP, but for anyone in a similar situation, insulating the space is so worth the time, money, and effort!
    Florence Nightingale's Stormtrooper

  23. #23
    Who turned out the lights
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    All of this shop heating talk hit home when a friend of mine posted some pics to his FB page about a solar heat collector that he installed on his "frankenshed". It's essentially a 4'x8' section of corrugated metal. He then bought a small PV collector for $35 and a computer fan to draw air through the system into the shed. Installed in on a south-facing wall, and apparently it pulls in enough heat to keep his detached shed (2+ car size, with insulated walls) at 55 deg. I looked around online a bit and found a few different designs, but I think you can build one about 4'x8' for about $100 or so.

    I may try this in a little while when I'm more mobile (broke my ankle in August, just getting off crutches). Anyway, I think it would be worthwhile to investigate.

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