I am from California where heating in my garage/shop has never been an issue. I recently relocated to Oklahoma (brrr) and have a two-car garage with fair insulation. Basically use my scroll saw, jigsaw, circular saw and soon would like to buy a miter saw, plus my sanders. Not tons of sawdust flying around but definitely some. I am fairly warm-blooded so cold as a rule doesn’t bother me. I just bundle up, but that being said, what would you suggest I use for heating? I am unable to work out there for a long time but would enjoy working a couple of hours comfortably. It really needs to be portable as I do not want to have to hire someone to install. Using an estimate of 500 square feet, what can I reasonably buy for heat? – Claudia Moring
Tim Inman: For quick heat on an occasional basis as you’re suggesting, I would try an oil-filled portable electric radiator. They are cheap, safe and quite efficient.
Chris Marshall: I have two more suggestions for you, Claudia. When I had a two-car garage shop in the Midwest, I used the propane forced-air heater you see in the top photo. It’s easy to light (push button) and has a strong blower that quickly circulates the heat. Mine will run about eight to 10 hours on a 20-lb. propane tank (the type used for barbecue grills), and it produces 35,000 BTU. It warmed my garage up enough in the dead of winter so I could work comfortably in shirtsleeves. The fan and fire is fairly noisy, and you’d need to keep a window or door cracked to ensure a constant source of fresh air. But, these little heaters put out an impressive amount of heat and don’t cost an arm and a leg to buy. The radiant-type propane heaters that mount right on top of a propane tank (below) might also work for your size space, but I’ve never owned one of them to offer feedback.
Here’s another idea. A number of tool companies, including Bosch, DeWALT, Makita and Milwaukee, now sell heated jackets that are powered by a rechargeable tool battery. They provide several zoned areas of warmth inside the jacket shell. If you truly don’t mind some degree of chill while you work, maybe a heated jacket and a small electric heater like Tim suggests could be enough for you. Just a thought…
Other heating options (vented wood or pellet stoves, natural-gas or propane furnaces, electric baseboard heat or hard-wired electric heaters) require installation and possibly an electrical upgrade. But, they probably provide the best all-around heating solution in the long run.