Heated Garage: What Heaters Are Most Efficient?

electric heater in a garage between cars
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When partially heated a garage can be a comfortable space to have a workbench, small shop or hobby area. Since garages are usually uninsulated and drafty, an unheated garage can be extremely uncomfortable and in some cases an unbearable place to be for any length of time.

Rather than insulate the entire space including the garage door and supply the room with central heat, a much more efficient and cost-effective way to provide the area with temporary heat is to use a space heater.

There are many types of space heaters on the market, some more costly and efficient than others. If you are looking for the most efficient, educate yourself on your options before making an informed decision.

Fuel for Space Heaters

The two basic fuels for space heaters are electricity and gas in one form or another. There are wood-burning space heaters, but they are not to be used in an enclosed space.

The types of gas used include natural gas, propane, and kerosene, although the interior use of the latter is extremely rare and is banned in some states. So, space heaters use different types of fuel to produce the same effect, but the distinctions do not end there.

Basic Heater Types

There are two primary types of heater: convection and radiant. Convection heaters work slower to heat a space because they heat the air, not the objects in the room. Radiant heaters do the opposite. They heat objects including people but not the air.

For short term use, radiant heaters are more efficient because they emit heat quicker and do not need to expend a lot of energy heating the surrounding air. The most efficient convection heaters use a heat transfer liquid.

Oil-filled convection heaters reuse internal oil again and again, but they take longer to heat up space. This makes them better for long term use.

What is Best for Your Garage

Most importantly, you should select a space heater that is designed for the size space you have to heat. Space heaters offer sizing guidelines indicating which models work best with a particular amount of square footage.

Space heaters controlled with a thermostat are more efficient than those that do not because it allows you to cut down on wasted heat energy. The most efficient gas heaters are vented, meaning they are connected to the air outside.

Instead of drawing the room air and heating it, vented heaters draw in outside air. Some states ban the use of unvented gas heaters for the risk they pose to health, but they also happen to be inefficient.

Of electric heaters, the best type to use is an unvented radiant heater for short terms or an oil-filled convection heater for longer stays in the garage. Regardless, electric heaters are more costly in terms of kilowatt-hours used.

If you wish to heat your garage, a space heater is a cost-effective way to do so. Make sure, however, that you consider safety above all else followed by efficiency. Measure the space to be heated and factor in the average length of time you will use it. These variables together should give you a good idea of the type of space heater to purchase.