Your garage is your safe space, your sanctuary. You don’t have to compromise during the winter with a jacket and gloves, you can simply learn how to heat your garage!
From DIY projects to the fanciest radiant flooring options, you’ll find the price breakdown and pros/cons of each option below.
Learn how to heat a garage with 15 different methods below.
1) Build Your Own
Avg. Cost: Free | Effectiveness: 1/10
Any DIYers in the house? All you’re going to need is a terracotta pot, a few candles, and some time. A few tiny candles won’t practically heat a full-sized garage but it might be worth a shot if you have to adhere to a budget.
2) Oil Filled Space Heaters
Avg. Cost: $130 | Effectiveness: 5/10
While oil-filled space heaters are cheap, they are less efficient than a 240v electric heater and generate less heat as they are capped at 1500W of power.
They are quoted to heat up to around 300 sq. ft at most which means most 2 car garage won’t be adequately heated with an oil-filled space heater.
3) Kerosene Heaters
Avg. Cost: $225| Effectiveness: 6/10
You’ll be able to heat your garage well with a kerosene heater. The issue with kerosene is that it isn’t as prevalent as natural gas or propane and can be hard to find. It’s also pricy unless you plan on purchasing kerosene in bulk.
You’ll need to properly ventilate and monitor the CO2 levels in your garage. Opening the garage door for ventilation lets in cold air, defeating the purpose of a kerosene heater. Average costing kerosene heaters are capable of heating a garage with affordable units going up to 23,500-80,000 British Thermal Units but come with plenty of drawbacks.
4) Wood Burning Stove
Avg. Cost: $250|Effectiveness: 0/10
Can you put a wood stove in your garage? Yes, but maybe not. It depends on where you live and the regulations that the local municipality has laid out. For most states, the answer is no. If you’re not sure, call your local fire department and insurance company to get the go-ahead if you’d like to use a wood stove.
The reason why they’re illegal in most states is because solid fuel sources are the largest source of fine particulate matter that can damage your body, home, and the environment. You’ll also have to deal with smoke which can be damaging to your lungs and garage walls without the proper setup.
5) Space Heaters
Avg. Cost: $275|Effectiveness: 6.5/10
Infrared heaters work by converting electricity into radiant heat. Modern units have barriers around the coils to ensure safety around children and pets. They can be a great choice if you have a one-car garage and don’t need a constant source of heat.
You’ll run into issues when you want to heat a 2 car garage or more as most units available are limited by their 1500W capability. You’ll be spending more on your electric bill to do the same job as plenty of other heaters on this list. A 1500W infrared heater running 24 hours a day at $.10/kWh will cost $108 for the month.
6) Propane Heater
Avg. Cost: $300|Effectiveness: 7.5/10
Propane burns clean, leaving no odor behind like low-quality kerosene. Most forced-air units still require electricity but only use a minimal amount to power the fan to circulate the hot air. You’ll be perfectly capable of heating a garage of moderate size with an average-priced propane heater.
However, propane doesn’t come without risks. It’s advised to maintain proper ventilation if you’re using a propane heater without an oxygen depletion sensor. Even with one, it’s always smart to invest in a CO2 detector to make sure you and your home are safe. Propane is also more expensive than natural gas.
7) Solar Air Heaters
Avg. Cost: $330|Effectiveness: 4/10
The price quoted is not from a typical solar setup but from solar air heaters which need to be facing south to hit the sunlight. No open flame, electricity, or battery is used making them entirely self-sufficient. Units I found were capable of heating a 125sq.ft space enough to prevent damage from mold or mildew.
The main issue with these is that while they do save you money, you need a window facing directly south to capture direct sunlight. A proper solar setup can cost upwards of $5000 which likely isn’t worth it to solely heat a garage. People have made their own solar thermal heaters out of soda cans, might be worth a look if you’re handy.
8) Insulating Your Garage
Avg. Cost: $390|Effectiveness: 10/10
Insulating your garage before purchasing any type of heater is your safest bet. Trying to heat a garage without insulation will only lead to heat escaping and an increased cost of gas/electricity. You’ll be able to increase the temperature in your garage by at least 5 degrees to 20 degrees if you insulate your garage properly.
Insulation keeps heat/cold air in allowing you to save on your electric or gas bill. You’ll be able to also cool your garage much easier as well for dual benefit. The only problem with insulating your garage will be the cost. Doing it yourself is an option if you don’t mind learning a few things. When it comes to heating your garage, insulating your garage should be your #1 priority.
Your garage in winter months will be much more enjoyable when the heat doesn’t escape in the blink of an eye.
9) 240v Electric Heater
Avg. Cost: $475|Effectiveness: 8.5/10
240v electric heaters will heat your garage to a nice and cozy perfection. You won’t have to worry about any open flames and you can hang them easily on your ceiling or wall and enjoy the comfort of a warm garage. A problem many will face is installing the 240v heater may require assistance if you aren’t aware of how to wire a 240v unit. Also, the electric bill can add up. They use forced air systems to circulate the air, so no worries about the heat staying in one place.
To give you an idea of the electricity cost, I’m using a 5000W heater running for 24 hours at $.13/kWh. That’s $374.4 tacked on your electric bill, and it might be more depending on where you live. You won’t be in your garage 24/7, but if you’re a bit careless the electric bill can add up quite quickly. 240v heaters are a great option if you don’t mind spending a bit more for the convenience factor.
10) Gas Heater
Avg. Cost: $600|Effectiveness: 8.5/10
Gas heaters are one of the cheapest options you’ll have long-term to heat your house or garage. You’ll find that while the initial cost of purchasing a gas heater is higher, you will save over the long run on electricity. Gas heaters are not more efficient than electric(in terms of energy turned into heat), but they are capable of heating your garage faster than electric.
If your home doesn’t have a gas line built into it, setting up one will be costly. You’ll also have to monitor the carbon monoxide level inside of your garage. Gas heaters are also noisier than electric, so if you prefer the quiet then be sure to avoid gas. Gas heaters require professional maintenance over the years which will add to the overall cost.
11) Insulate Your Attic
Avg. Cost: $1900|Effectiveness: 6/10
Insulating the attic above the garage will be costly. It doesn’t make sense to insulate your garage attic unless you plan to heat or cool your garage for extended periods of time. If you decide to make your garage a livable space, then the energy costs will pay back the cost of insulating your attic.
Before you insulate your attic, make sure you insulate your garage and garage door properly before investing in insulating your attic.
12) Pellet Stove
Avg. Cost: $2045|Effectiveness: 3/10
I love the aesthetic of a pellet stove. They run into the same issues as a wood smoker though, it may be illegal where you live to install one in your garage. You’ll have to call your fire department and find out if pellet stoves are legal where you live.
Pellet stoves are a controlled and consistent heat. They’re even cheaper to run than wood and the installation is affordable. You’ll not have to maintain them a ton and they’re easy to install. The startup cost is high and you’ll still need to use electricity to run a pellet stove. Not a feasible option for most garages.
13) House Furnace
Avg. Cost: $3817|Effectiveness: 3/10
Heating your garage with your already existing house furnace may be a viable option. If you don’t already have a house furnace, the cost of purchase and installation Is quite pricy. You’ll also need to call your insurance and local municipality to make sure that it’s legal to vent your furnace and garage together.
Attaching a duct to your garage can be dangerous and present carbon monoxide inside the home. It’ll also take away heat from your home, making your house less warm overall. You’re likely not going to want to choose this option as there are better options for the price.
14) Ductless Mini-Split Healing and Cooling
Avg Cost: $5000|Effectiveness: 9.5/10
Heating and cooling in one unit, does it get any better? You’ll have to insulate your garage before purchasing a Ductless Mini-Split to ensure that the hot(or cold) air isn’t going anywhere. Having such a high initial start-up cost, you’ll want to get your money’s worth.
Yes, it’s pricy. Yes, you may have to call for professional help to install the unit. But you won’t have to buy an air-conditioner. Your garage can be turned into a livable space quite easily which increases the value of your home. You get what you pay for in the end.
15) Radiant Flooring
Avg Cost: $6000 for 400 sq.ft garage|Effectiveness: 3/10
If you’d like to spend a ton of money for very little benefit, radiant flooring is for you. Radiant flooring is not meant to be a primary source of heat, only supplemental. Considering this fact, it makes for the entire operation to leave you with something to be desired.
You’ll have to call up an electrician, pay up around $10-20sq/ft and then worry about finding the right system to be installed on a garage floor. You’ll also have difficulty parking your car inside the garage. After all, is said and done, you’ll need to pay the electric bill, which won’t be pretty. I wouldn’t recommend radiant flooring in a garage setting.