Heated Garage: Gas vs Electric Heaters

Having a heated garage provides a comfortable environment in which to have a shop or hobby room. Since garages are usually uninsulated as well as very drafty, during the winter months they can get extremely frigid. Trying to do woodwork or anything else in an unheated garage becomes unpleasant very quickly. Thankfully, you do not need to spend the time and money fully insulating the garage and piping your home’s central heating system to it. By using a space heater of one kind or another, you can heat the space effectively only when you need to. It can be a very cost effective means of heating, too.

How to Heat Your Garage

Space heaters are made for various size areas. The bigger the space, the more powerful the heater must be to heat it. The primary means of supplying energy to a space heater are with electricity, natural gas or propane. Diesel and kerosene heaters are available as well but not as widely used. Essentially, you can use an electric heater or a gas heater. Before deciding which to purchase, compare them in terms of heat capacity, efficiency, installation, portability, fixed and revolving costs. The two basic types of space heater are convection and radiant heaters.

Convection and Radiant Heaters

Space heaters are either convection heaters or radiant heaters. Convection heaters work by heating the air which then rise in a space and heats people and objects in the room. Radiant heaters do not heat the air; rather, they heat the objects in the room. Radiant heaters are more efficient over shorter periods of time as convection heaters take more time to heat a room, some more than others.

Electric Heaters

Electric heaters are powered by 110v electricity and should be plugged into a wall outlet directly as opposed to using an extension cord. They can be either radiant or convection heaters. Convection heaters use a metal or ceramic heating element to generate heat and a fan blower to push it into the room. Radiant space heaters use electricity to heat either water or oil which then radiates into the area. They are rated in terms of heat capacity, usually in watts, but that can be converted to BTUs easily enough. When you purchase a space heater, it will indicate the size of the space it is capable of heating.

Gas Heaters

Gas heaters for a garage can either be propane powered or natural gas powered. Kerosene and diesel heaters are available as well, although they are rarely used. Propane is a relatively inexpensive fossil fuel that is stored in a tank and connected to the heating element. This type of gas heater is entirely portable, although the room must be ventilated should there be a gas leak. Natural gas heaters are the most efficient, with the highest energy output in relation to the energy that is spent powering the heater. Natural gas space heaters are basically mini furnaces. They are equipped with an oxygen depleting sensor or ODS that automatically shuts them off when too little oxygen is detected in a room. Their biggest disadvantage is that they require a gas line, thus they are not that portable.

Electric vs. Gas

In terms of portability, propane heaters are the best, as they can be moved anywhere in a space and taken with you when you travel. Heat capacity varies depending on the model. Given enough time to heat up, electric-powered, oil-filled heaters are very efficient and can heat a space effectively. It depends upon the size of the heater as to how much output it can produce. Natural gas heaters are more energy efficient than electric heaters and cost less in terms of energy usage. Electric heaters will raise your electric bill more than gas heaters will raise your gas bill. Purchase prices of heaters are comparable depending on the model you purchase.

Evaluate the heating needs in your garage by determining the size of the space you wish to heat, the kind of energy efficiency you want and if you have a preference of heater types. Both electric and gas heaters provide an effective means to heat a garage. Consider your options and determine which type has benefits that outweigh its costs.