How Should I Heat My Shop?
Issue: Issue 337
Posted Date: 10/22/2013
What do you recommend to heat a 16' by 40' shop? - Dave Scarberry, West Virginia
Rob Johnstone: Working in a cold shop is no fun, and, of course, if it is too cold, glue and finish will refuse to cure properly. Here where I live in Minnesota, it gets so cold that the only really practical solution is to have an area that is always heated to some degree, in which to store the products that can freeze. Where you are located, a woodburning stove may be a workable solution. They are relatively inexpensive to buy and install, and they can put out a huge amount of heat. With that said, you must, of course, be very careful to keep the stove and other burnable products separated, to avoid burning down the whole building! Another thought that comes to mind is that the better your insulation in the building is, the easier it is to heat and cool (I am guessing it gets hot in West Virginia!). If your building is well insulated, you might get along with an electric heater. You could even combine it with the wood burner: the stove to kick out a bunch of heat in a hurry, the electric heater to keep things from going extremely cold overnight. I hope this helps!
Chris Marshall: Dave, I used to live one state west of you, and I bought a small forced-air propane furnace with a closed combustion chamber to heat my 30 x 40-ft. shop. It produced about 60,000 operating BTU and worked great. It cost about $600 at the time, plus installation. Since the temperature rarely fell below about 30 degrees in the winter, I just turned the furnace on whenever I wanted to warm the building up but kept it off otherwise to save energy. It could warm the shop up to 68 degrees in about a half hour from dead cold. I'm in Virginia now, but I'm debating about using the same system to heat my 23 x 41-ft. garage shop. I'm also toying with the idea of using a pellet stove but haven't researched that carefully yet. Electric heat would be too expensive to operate, and I'd have to upgrade the shop service to support it. So, that's not really an option. You might also investigate the small, wall-mounted radiant heaters that run off of natural gas or propane. A local gas supplier probably carries several options they could show you. I agree with Rob: numb fingers is no fun if you can avoid it.