Best Garage Heaters to Stay Warm in Winter

Traditionally, the garage has been a place to store junk (and sometimes a car or two). This role has changed significantly in recent years, with the space doubling as a workshop, mechanic shop, gym, or additional living space. Concerns over weather in increasingly hostile winters make environmental control that much more important regardless of your garage’s main purpose.

As your home heating system is typically not set up to handle even an incorporated garage, you may wish to invest in a dedicated heater. The following are some of the best garage heaters out there and cover a wide range of garage sizes and functions.

Our 7 Favorite Garage Heaters

 ProductFuel TypeBTUsHeat Area
best-garage-heaterMr. Heater Big MaxxNatural Gas50,0001250 sq. ft.
garage-heater-reviewsFahrenheat FUH724240V25,600750 sq. ft.
240v-garage-heaterFahrenheat FUH54240V17,065500 sq. ft.
best-propane-shop-heaterDyna-Glo DeluxPropaneup to 300,000up to 7000 sq. ft.
workshop-heaterDr. Heater DR966240V20,500600 sq. ft.
powerful-120v-heaterPresto Heat Dish120V3,415200 sq. ft.
mr-heater-buddy-reviewMr. Heater Portable BuddyPropane9,000225 sq. ft.

Garage Heater Reviews

One of the best ways to heat a garage is to use one of these units. They’re some of the best on the market and range from powerful blowers to precise temperature control. Depending upon your garage size and fuel type (120V, 240V, natural gas, or propane), each of these units is a potential winner.

#1 – Mr. Heater Big Maxx F260550 Natural Gas Garage Heater

best-garage-heaterThis compact heater can easily warm a 3-car garage without costing a fortune. Its powered exhaust is designed for either horizontal or vertical venting, and the included remote makes it easy to change your settings. While fairly compact, it’s quite a beast as far as heat output in concerned.

The 50,000 BTU Big Maxx is designed to run off of natural gas, you can use the accompanying liquid propane conversion kit to increase your options. Note that the unit requires a minimum 8-foot ground clearance, but only one inch of ceiling clearance.

The fact that the Big Max can heat up to 1,250 square feet makes it an excellent space heater for large room use.  The unit can heat large spaces quickly and maintains good temperature stability in even uninsulated garages. Unlike similar models, the Big Max is relatively quiet, adding yet another reason to it being the best natural gas garage heater in its class.

Several consumers have received this heater damaged due to packaging that could definitely be improved upon. In many cases, the damage was only been a few dings to the outer shell. However, in more extreme instances, the internals were affected, causing a normally quiet heater to vibrate or generate a lot of noise.

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#2 – Fahrenheat FUH724 240V Garage Heater

garage-heater-reviewsThis 7,500 watt, 240V ceiling-mounted electric heater is designed to allow angling over a 90-degree arc between vertical and horizontal. A durable epoxy coating helps protect the cabinet from corrosion. In the event of overheating, the Fahrenheat FUH724 is designed to automatically shut off for improved safety until its internal temperature returns to normal levels.

Designed to handle smaller one or two bay insulated garages (up to about 750 square feet), this unit puts out over 25,000 BTUs of heat and can quickly bring up the temperature of a medium size garage to comfortable working conditions. The small size might make it seem like a poor choice, but the internal thermostat maintains the temperature you set with ease, making it highly efficient compared to many larger models.

There have been some concerns over the wiring in some units. Some users have reported bad wires upon delivery, while others have reported experiencing electrical arcs. As these issues aren’t very common, it could have been a matter of defective units slipping through QC.

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#3 – Fahrenheat FUH54 Electric Garage Heater

240v-garage-heaterThe little brother of the FUH724, this 240-volt electric heater uses between 2500 and 5000 watts to put out about 17,000 BTUs of heat. Its single pole thermostat can be adjusted from 45-135 degree Fahrenheit. The louvers on the FUH54 allow you to direct the flow of heat, while the ceiling mount makes horizontal or vertical mounting a snap.

This Fahrenheat model covers up to 500 sq. ft. and is popular for those with smaller garages or if only needing to heat up a section of a garage. While it will eventually heat a larger area, it won’t be as efficient at that as a larger model.

The blower on the fan only starts once it reaches the desired temperature. This function not only saves money, but the lower running temperatures make it an incredibly safe garage heater that won’t burn out any time soon.

Some users have reported vibrations or rattling coming from the unit. In many cases, the boxes appeared to have either broken open during transit or were repackages, suggesting that these customers have received refurbished units. Note also that this unit was designed to be hardwired, so it lacks some features typical of plug-and-play models.

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#4 – Dyna-Glo Delux RMC-FA60DGD Propane Forced Air Heater

best-propane-shop-heaterThis powerful forced-air unit is arguably the best propane heater for a garage or workshop in its class. The most popular selling model puts out between 30,000 and 60,000 BTUs of continuous heat, you can keep a 1,350 square foot shop or garage toasty warm. Larger versions (up to 300,000 BTUs!) are also available for large garages or commercial applications.

A 10-foot hose and regulator are included, while the unit is designed to keep a very low psi for optimum BTU output in even frigid weather. Safety isn’t overlooked, and this unit has an auto-shutoff to prevent overheating.

For such a small unit, this heater can really pack a punch! Its size and portable nature make it the perfect choice for a wide range of environments. It’s one of best indoor heaters for large rooms, but can also be use to heat a structure when vacationing in a small cabin or similar rustic facility.

Quality control is the biggest issue with this heater. While the vast majority function without a hitch, the odd defect can slip through, such as a faulty thermocouple. As with any tool or device, always be sure to test the unit upon arrival to ensure you didn’t get a flawed one.

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#5 – Dr. Heater DR966 Infrared Shop Heater

workshop-heaterThis hardwired 240-volt heater is perfect for a garage-based workshop and is designed to be mounted on either the wall or ceiling. An 8-inch fan distributes heated air with minimum noise, while the five adjustable louvers let you focus that air where it’s needed most.

Once installed, this unit and its 20,500 BTUs can quickly warm up a room to the point you can dress for summer while working in the garage. Its two heat settings are enough to cover most garages (up to 600 sq. ft.), and the low setting will work fine for all but the largest spaces.

Also, note that you can save money by setting the unit up to focus air on a specific workspace, allowing you to be nice and warm even if you kept the unit off when not present.

Many of the complaints regarding this model seem to stem from a single internal wire. When this wire is loose, it has a major effect on the amount of heat produced by the unit, but is very easy to repair. In the event you notice poor heat production in your post-purchase testing, check for this loose wire before sending in for a replacement.

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#6 – Presto Heat Dish Plus 120V Parabolic Electric Heater

powerful-120v-heaterDon’t let its fan-like appearance fool you, this may well be the most powerful 120v heater for its size! This is due primarily to the computer-designed parabolic reflector, which bounces off heat in the same way the parabolic design of a satellite dish reflects radio waves.

As a result, this 1,000 watt unit can put out almost as much heat as a 4,500 watt model, while costing about as much to operate as a 500 watt unit. Despite its appearance, this is also one of the safest heaters out there, with a built-in shutoff designed to activate when the unit is tipped.

It’s not intended to heat large areas (maximum of about 200 sq. ft.) but instead, the Presto Heat Dish Plus is great for quickly heating a working area of a garage or workshop. This means you won’t be paying for heat you’re not using. Another plus is that it’s the only true plug and play model on this list; simply plug it into any standard 120v outlet.

This unit is designed to keep very precise temperature control, leaving many to keep it on high just to avoid the frequent turning on and off. This may seem like an issue, but it actually helps make the 07924 one of the most efficient heat dishes on the market. In terms of power and efficiency, there’s next to no competition out there!

While this is an excellent unit for your garage or workspace, the wire grill can be dangerous when within reach of children. This is a common issue with most wire-framed heaters, although many modern units include an additional safety guard that this model lacks. If you plan to use this in a living space, be sure to put it somewhere stable and well out-of-reach from smaller hands.

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#7 – Mr. Heater Portable Buddy F232000 Propane Radiant Heater

mr-heater-buddy-reviewBecause we couldn’t leave this list at just one propane heater, here’s one of our favorite portable models. This little baby is perfect for both camping and indoor use, providing between 4,000 and 9,000 BTUs of heat to cover up to 225 square feet of space.

But wait, you say, why include such a small heater in an article about garages? Well the answer is simple: Mobile, radiant efficiency.

Why spend a fortune on fuel when you can take your heat with you under the car or place it by your work station? Designed to shut off automatically when tipped or the sensor detects low oxygen levels, your Buddy will easily earn its name.

Thanks to a fast heat-up time and powerful output, this unit can heat a small area in mere minutes, making it a perfect solution for those cold winters when you’re working on the car or in your shop. It doesn’t require a lot of fuel due to its output, so you can easily get away with a 20lb tank for occasional usage.

The Portable Buddy can put out so much heat in a short amount of time that it can prove problematic in extremely small spaces. Also note that a large number of consumers who’ve bought multiple units found that one worked perfect for them while another proved defective or less efficient.

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FAQs

Just because your garage isn’t a common living space doesn’t mean you won’t need to carefully consider what model you get . A variety of factors, including size, location, and power source can all have an effect on what’s best for your garage. The following common questions address these key issues.

What Size Heater Do I Need?

Sizing a heater is extremely simple but requires a few simple calculations. These calculations will allow you to choose a heater size that’s ideal for your requirements. You will need to know the area, the temperature rise, and the required BTUs.

Area

Begin by measuring the length and width of your garage, multiplying the numbers for the square footage. For example, a space measuring 10 feet by 20 feet will be 200 square feet. Next, multiply that number by the ceiling height to get the garage’s space in cubic feet. Thus, if our example garage had a 10-foot ceiling, the full space to heat would be 2,000 cubic feet.

  • Example: 10′ x 20′ x 10′ = 2,000 cubic feet

Temperature Rise

Next, you want to calculate the temperature rise. This figure represents the amount of degrees you expect to heat the garage on the worst day. Find out the lowest common winter temperature (we’ll say 20 degrees for our example) and subtract that from the temperature you wish to maintain. If we want out garage to remain at 60 degrees, then the temperature rise will be 40 degrees (60-20).

  • Example: 60° – 20° = 40° temperature rise

BTUs

The final step is to discover the amount of BTUs (British Thermal Units) needed. For this, you will need to add a variable that represents how well insulated your garage is. This variable should be .5 for fully insulated, 1 for average insulation, 1.5 for poor insulation, and 5 for no insulation. Calculating the BTU means dividing what you have by 1.6, so the formula is: (insulation x area x temperature rise) / 1.6. For the example below, we’ll assume a garage with “poor insulation” and use the area and temperature values from above.

  • Example: (1.5 x 2000 x 40) ÷ 1.6 = 75,000 BTUs

Note that it’s possible to get more than one heater and space them out to get the total BTU requirement. However, you must have a total BTU output that meets or exceeds the calculated figure to maintain your desired temperature. By adding 10 percent to the BTU result (multiply by .10 and add to the original total), you can come up with a good upper BTU requirement for those extra-cold days (our sample garage would thus want a BTU range of 75,000 to 82,500 BTUs).

Where Should I Mount My Garage Heater?

While there are some free-standing heaters available, the vast majority are designed to be mounted to either the wall or ceiling. When mounting in either of these spots, the most efficient location is along the back wall, facing the garage doors.

Conversely, you may wish to aim the air towards your workspace when choosing to use the heater only sporadically for the fastest warm-up time. In any case, be sure to keep no objects within three feet of the heater to minimize fire risk and to keep the path clear in front of forced air units to allow them to operate more efficiently.

What is the Safest Type of Heater?

Safety is the number one concern when dealing with heaters, but there’s no simple one-stop solution. The best heaters will all include safety features such as an auto shut-off or anti-tipping shut-off. Electric heaters should always be properly grounded and use the appropriate voltage. Propane or gas heaters, meanwhile, should have ventilation to protect against fumes and be spaced a safe distance from their fuel.

Another safety consideration is the external temperature or exposure to heating elements. Wire-framed heaters are notorious for becoming a burn risk to children or small animals and must therefore be kept out of reach. Many safer wall or ceiling mounted units have insulated casings which keep the exterior shell cooler during operation, but some parts can still be hot to the touch.

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