We spent over 3 months researching the best garage heater you can get for the money in 2016. We analyzed efficiency, cost, and customer reviews to find the very best way to heat your garage without breaking the bank. Below you’ll find our results along with valuable information you can use to educate yourself as a consumer.
The Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX is a 4,000 to 9,000 BTU propane infrared garage heater that will heat up to 225 square feet, approximately the size of a one car garage.
It is approved for both indoor and outdoor use so you can use it in your home as well. It is clean burning with almost 100% efficiency.
It has safety features that will shut it off if it gets tipped over, if the pilot light goes out, or if it detects low oxygen levels.
It has a piezoelectric pushbutton pilot light ignition, folding handle, a swivel-out regulator, and will connect to a standard 1 lb disposable propane tank (not included). It is virtually silent, creates no smell, and is actually quite efficient and safe to use in tents and other environments where you wouldn’t want to have an open flame.
Looking to heat up a bigger space? Check out the Mr. Heater Big Buddy. It can handle up to 450 square feet.
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Also See Our Top 10 Infrared Heaters of 2016
How Does Infrared Heat Work?
Infrared heaters work quite a bit differently than traditional heaters do. Instead of heating the air they use infrared light just like the sun does. Anything that is in the path of the infrared light will be gently warmed like standing outside in the sun on a summer day.
The infrared heat begins warming whatever it touches instantly. You won’t have to wait for your heating device to warm up before you can begin to feel the effects. It can be pointed at whatever you’d like to warm up and only warms up whatever is in front of it. That makes this type of heater highly efficient, up to 50% more efficient than electric or open flame heating.
The only real downside is the fact that an infrared heater won’t exactly heat up your entire garage. The second you turn it off the heating effects will instantly disappear. The air won’t be heated so the room will remain ice cold.
You can find infrared heaters that run on electricity, propane, or natural gas.
The Fahrenheat FUH724 is a 240v electric garage heater that operates on 3750-7500 watts of power. This model is meant to be mounted to the ceiling or wall of your garage and hard wired to an electrical circuit capable of handling the load. This is NOT a typical 120v plug in heater.
This very much an industrial style unit. It’s big, powerful, and meant to stand the test of time. It can be connected to a thermostat and used much like an electric furnace would be in your home. This makes it an excellent choice for a large garage that is well insulated.
The large mounting bracket makes installation easy. You can mount this unit to your wall or your ceiling and angle it in whatever direction you like. The built-in louvers give you additional control over the direction that the heat is blown.
Although this unit is quite small compared to a full-blown furnace, it’s surprisingly powerful. It can easily bring a 20×25 foot space up to temp even in the coldest of winters. However, I would only recommend this unit to those with a well-insulated space. If your space is drafty you should consider an infrared model.
Looking for a 120v plugin heater? Check out the Fahrenheat FFH1612.
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Also See Our Top 10 Electric Heaters of 2016
What Types of Electric Heaters are Available?
Electric heaters can come in a number of different forms. They can be radiative, like infrared heaters, they can use convection, using only natural processes to distribute the heat, or they may include a fan that helps to move hot air around your space. They could also be a combination of radiative, convection, or forced air designs.
As you may already know, electric heaters that rely on convection or forced air to heat a space are among some of the most expensive to run. The good thing about them is how effective they can be in a well-insulated space, how easy they are to use, and how versatile they are, as most homes already have the electrical wiring needed to operate them.
Combination electric heaters that use both radiative heat and convection heat are a really great choice for warming up a space that is well enclosed yet not well insulated. You can get the benefits of the instant-on heat from the radiative element while also being able to warm the air in the room making it more comfortable overall.
The Modine HD45AS0111 (Hot Dawg) is 45,000 BTU natural gas garage heater that is certified for residential, commercial, and industrial use. It has a low profile design and comes in a neutral industrial gray color. The field wiring connections and access knockouts make installation fast and easy.
It has an electric ignition and electric blower much like a residential furnace does. You will need both natural gas and 120v electricity run to this unit. You will also need a small diameter vent hole that can be run through the wall or the ceiling for exhaust. Like most natural gas models, this unit can be run on propane as well.
What people like most about this model is how quiet it is when it runs. They also like how much less expensive it is to run than an electric version of the same furnace. It’s also worth mentioning that this is the only natural gas model you will find with a full 10-year manufacturer’s warranty. This unit is top notch quality with a warranty to back it up.
Looking for a smaller, less expensive model that is also vent free? Check out the Mr. Heater 30,000 BTU.
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Is Natural Gas Right for You?
A natural gas heater is a great option if your home already has gas piped in from the utility company. A gas heater will burn clean and is relatively efficient and inexpensive to operate due to the huge commercial availability of the fuel needed to run it.
You can find natural gas heaters that use both convection and forced air to deliver the heat to your space. The type you choose should depend on the size of your space and how many devices you plan on installing. For example, if you had a relatively small space, like a one car garage, you could get away with a small convection model. However, if you had a large space, like 3+ cars, you might want to consider a forced air unit to evenly distribute the heat.
The only real downsides to using natural gas are availability and environmental impact. Not everyone can get natural gas in their home and to have it installed can be extremely expensive. Fracking and other not-so-environmentally-friendly techniques are used to extract the natural gas. Other than that, gas makes an excellent choice to heat almost any space.
The Dyna-Glo RMC-FA40DGD is a 40,000 BTU liquid propane forced air garage heater. This 40,000 BTU model is able to heat up to 1,000 square feet of space. Dyna-Glo also makes other similar models that provide up to 300,000 BTU that will heat up to 7,000 square feet.
While this model does heat using propane, it does require an electrical connection. The rest is that it uses a continuous electrical ignition system that is much safer than a delayed ignition system. You WILL have to plug this one in as well as connect it to a source of propane. However, the safety benefits far outweigh the possible danger of using a delayed ignition system.
This model is equipped with some nice features like a comfort control thermostat, 10 feet of hose to connect to your propane source, and overheat automatic shutoff. It also has a handle on top to make moving it around quick and easy. The height adjustment and forced fan design makes it easy to deliver heat exactly where you need it. Unlike other propane heaters, the RMC-FA40DGD is certified for BOTH indoor AND outdoor use which makes it extremely versatile.
What we really liked about this model is the sturdy, construction grade base. A lot of other models we looked at had flimsy metal or even PLASTIC bases. The base on this unit is solid, keeping out dust and debris, which ultimately extends the life of the product.
Make no mistake, this unit can really perform. It can heat up a three car garage in under 30 minutes and keep it smokin hot for as long as you like. Just make sure you have a 100lb propane tank to hook it up to or a mainline to an outdoor tank. This thing can really suck some juice if you let it.
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Are Propane Heaters a Good Choice?
Propane garage heaters are a really great alternative to costly electric heaters. They heat up quickly, they’re efficient, and the fuel is relatively inexpensive. You can find LP heaters in a variety of shapes and sizes so there’s no doubt you’ll be able to find one to fit your space.
The only real downside is the fact that you have to refill you tanks when they get empty. This can be kind of annoying if you plan on heating your garage every day of the winter. On the other hand, if you only plan on using your garage occasionally, propane can be a really good option.
This model is constructed with heavy gauge 3/16ths inch steel and is completely lined with firebrick to help radiate the heat. It has a cast iron feed door that has a large 14.5″ x 8″ air-tight ceramic glass window that will allow you to enjoy the flames and see when it’s time to add more fuel easily. The adjustable legs make it easy to get this puppy level even if your garage floor isn’t exactly even.
The engineering behind this wood stove is the most impressive part. The carefully positioned air inlets above and below the wood allow for the most efficient burn possible. The burn is so efficient that this stove actually meets the EPA guidelines in the State of Washington at 4.22/grams per hour. The stove itself can put off 68,000 BTUs of heat and is up to 75% efficient.
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Would I Recommend a Wood Stove?
I would definitely recommend using a wood stove to anyone who has an abundant source of fuel like a large wooded lot. Free firewood is also fairly easy to come by if you keep your eyes peeled or have a friend with a wooded lot and a chainsaw. You can even buy cords of wood for less than you might pay for another fuel source if you’re clever enough.
Of course, the main downside is that if you have limited access to wood you could potentially run out of fuel. It’s not like you can just run out to the store and pick up a cord of word, at least not where I come from. Lighting the fire can also be a somewhat smokey process that some people would be less than keen to perform.