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A cartoonish digital rendering of neighborhood homes with cold garages in the snow.

How To Heat A Garage

Intermediate barometer Intermediate
Duration clock 2-4 Hours
Whether you love using your garage as your hobby spot or it's your favorite hangout space to watch the game, you shouldn't need to abandon it in the winter when the temperature starts to drop. We'll show you how to heat a garage based on the fuel that makes the most sense, and Abt's experts can help professionally install the best heater for your home.
A garage with two reznor gas heaters hanging from the ceiling. Tools hang from the walls and sit along the walls
It's no secret that Abt is in Chicagoland, and winters here can get pretty cold. That doesn't mean our homes do, thanks to proper HVAC work and smart planning. But garages often fall by the wayside and aren't included in a home's ducted system, even when they're attached. Whether yours is large enough for three cars or small enough for just one, we don't always use these spaces for car storage. Lots of people use garages as a personal workshop or to store food in refrigerators and freezers, and that shouldn't stop when temperatures drop.

Why Heat Your Garage?

There's no need to abandon a finished, insulated garage just because of a chilly day or night. Instead, upgrade your workshop, hangout space, or storage area to stand up to extreme temperatures. Learn how to heat a garage with our article; there are a couple of different ways to warm up (and even cool) the entire space. The use of something like a space heater is rarely the answer in a large yet enclosed space like this one, too. Instead, your home needs specialist HVAC equipment, like a gas forced or electric heater or a mini split system. We carry both Reznor and Mitsubishi heaters, and our team of specialists can help put them to good work in your space. Before we go any further, it's important to note that if you want to keep this space warm, it's important to have it insulated. Otherwise, the warmth and installation you invest in doesn't work. You'll have too much cold coming in to counteract the heat, and in the end it will be a waste of energy. Insulation is key before you can choose how you heat your garage.
Before you go any further, it's important to consider what you're looking for when it comes to power. How do you know how much energy you need? Heat and cooling energy is generally measured in BTUs, or British Thermal Units. You'll see the same abbreviation on air conditioners, describing how well they can cool a space. To find out how many BTUs you need to heat your garage, multiply the size of your garage in cubic feet by 0.133. The last step is to multiply that number by the desired temperature rise. The final formula? Cubic feet of garage x 0.133 x temperature rise. You'll need to do a bit of rounding, but with this calculation, you can be sure you'll find the right heater for your space.

Gas-Forced Heat

How to heat a garage with gas-forced heat: Using gas-forced heat is a great way to get that too-cold space heated, and to help it stay warm for a while. This is one of the most efficient ways to heat. With this method, HVAC specialists install a gas-fired vented fan system with the right power level for your garage. Gas-forced heat for many Reznor devices can run on either natural gas or propane, making these appliances flexible with fuel sources. It's the most affordable full-garage heating option as well. Unlike warmth from other sources, gas-forced heat tends to linger, especially in a well-insulated space. But there are other options too if your home doesn't use natural gas or propane to heat, and thus doesn't have a gas line. To control your system, you'll need to use a basic thermostat. No smart thermostats here.
A ductless mini split from the interior of a home

Electric Heat: Ductless Mini Splits

How to heat a garage with electric heat: The sibling to gas-forced heat mentioned above, this version is powered by electricity. Measured in voltage instead of BTUs, it's a good option if you need to keep your space warm but have no gas line. Whether you love working on that classic car or call this space your workshop, warming it up is still a must if you love being in your garage. Electric heat can come from a number of sources, like the popular ductless mini split.
Ductless mini split systems are a great way to warm and even cool your space: these singular HVAC systems can do both. They're designed to control the temperature in a single room, making it perfect for this job. One side of the system stays outside, while the other is installed indoors on the wall, either higher up near the ceiling or low to the ground. As the name suggests, there is no ductwork involved. Instead, the interior unit is connected to the outdoor component via a line set. In the winter, the outdoor portion pulls in and heats air, and in the summer you'll have cool air coming in instead. They're very energy efficient, too, meaning that you'll be able to keep your woodworking shop or hangout warmer for less. And with an easy installation process, this is a great choice for many. The biggest issue for many might be sticker shock: many ductless mini splits have a high price tag. But when compared to the benefits and energy savings over the long term, it's easy to see why they're popular.

Space Heaters

How to heat a garage with space heaters: This is one of the easiest, most budget-friendly and...least effective methods for warming up a garage. While space heaters can be effective in some settings, they're only designed to heat a small area, and that warmth can quickly dissolve (especially in cold weather). That being said, if you don't spend a lot of time in the garage and only need to heat up yourself or another person, some space heaters could be the solution you're looking for. Look for mighty models designed to keep the whole room warm, or even a pick designed for the garage. Generally, these "garage space heaters" aren't really made to keep a whole room warm, instead bringing heat where you need it depending on where they're positioned. No matter which model you choose, always practice safe habits to keep burns away. While some models have sensors that can detect when temperatures get too high, many do not.

Which Method Is Right For You?

If you're not sure which heating method is right for your space, keep in mind that much of it is determined by the way you heat your home. If your home's HVAC heat runs on gas, a gas-forced heater is likely the best pick for your needs. But if you use electricity, something like a ductless mini split is a better choice. And if you need something on a smaller budget or that requires zero installation, a space heater can be a stopgap measure until you get something proper installed. For expert advice and installation help in figuring out how to heat a garage, reach out to our HVAC service department at 847-544-2251.