Having a warm and comfortable garage space during the cold winter months is important for many homeowners. An inefficient, drafty garage can make your DIY projects unpleasant or even dangerous. A good electric garage heater can completely transform your garage into a usable space year-round.
When shopping for the best electric garage heater, there are several key factors to consider:
- Garage size – Calculate the square footage to determine the required heating output (BTUs).
- Placement – Wall-mounted or ceiling-mounted? Freestanding? Consider your garage layout.
- Safety features – Look for tip-over protection, auto shut-off, and overheat protection.
- Efficiency – Seek energy-efficient models to save on energy costs.
- Special features – Some heaters offer built-in fans, thermostats, or WiFi control.
With the right electric heater, your garage can go from freezing to toasty warm in no time. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the buying process step-by-step to help you select the perfect garage heater. Let’s get started!
Calculate Your Garage’s Heating Requirements
The first step is calculating the right heating output in British Thermal Units (BTUs) needed for your garage space. The general guideline is to have 10-12 BTUs per square foot for an insulated garage or 12-15 BTUs for an uninsulated garage.
To determine your garage’s square footage:
- Measure the length and width and multiply them together. This gives you the total square footage.
- If you have high ceilings, multiply the square footage by the height to get the cubic square footage.
- Factor in windows, doors, and any other exterior access points that cause heat loss. You may need to increase BTUs to offset the drafts.
You can use online BTU calculators to help estimate the ideal heating output. Input your garage’s dimensions and insulation status to get your required BTUs. Undersizing a garage heater is a common mistake, so aim slightly higher.
Garage Heater Types and Placement
Once you know the required BTUs, you can start exploring heater types and placement options:
Freestanding Portable Heaters
- Free standing on the garage floor or workbench. Easy to move around.
- Choose safety features like tip-over auto shut-off.
- Can point heat directionally towards your workspace.
- Requires an available electrical outlet.
- Attach to garage wall or ceiling. Direct heating is focused below.
- Good for heating consistently in one area.
- Install permanently with an included mounting bracket.
- Hardwired directly into the electrical system.
- Mount flush on the ceiling pointing downwards.
- Heats the full garage space efficiently.
- Permanent installation but no floor space taken.
- Requires professional wiring into electrical.
Consider your garage layout, work areas, access to power outlets, and installation requirements as you choose heater placement. A ceiling-mounted heater can warm the full space while a freestanding unit can direct heat right where you need it.
Top Electric Garage Heater Features
Look for these important features when selecting the best electric garage heater:
Garage heaters can pose fire and electrical risks if low quality or improperly used. Seek these safety standards:
- Tip-over auto shut-off (freestanding models)
- Overheat protection
- Cool touch exterior
- Built-in 24/7 timer with auto shut-off
- ETL/UL certified
Power and Efficiency
- 240V hardwired heaters provide more power than 120V plug-in models.
- Look for high-efficiency ratings to save on energy costs.
- Seek models with adjustable thermostats to control temperature.
- Built-in fans help circulate warm air around the garage.
- WiFi/remote control allows adjusting from a smartphone.
- Mounting hooks to hang the heater out of the way.
- Portability for use in basements, sheds, and patios too.
Stick with reputable brands like Dr. Infrared, Modine, NewAir, or Fahrenheit. Read reviews and look for good warranties.
5 Best Electric Garage Heaters
With so many models on the market, here are 5 top-rated electric heaters perfect for garage use:
1. Dr. Infrared Heater DR-988 Garage Shop Heater
- 240V hardwired with 5600-9000W power range
- Auto shut-off, tip-over protection
- Cool surfaces for safe use around kids/pets
- Adjustable thermostat 55°-95°F
- 80,000 BTU heating capacity
This heavy-duty garage heater from Dr. Infrared is the top choice for large spaces up to 900 square feet. It safely and powerfully warms any workshop or garage quickly.
2. Fahrenheat FUH54 240-volt Garage Heater
- 240V single-stage heater
- 2500-5000W power output
- Durable stainless steel design
- Wall mount with adjustable bracket
- Automatic shut-off timer
- 23-foot cord for installation flexibility
Fahrenheit’s industrial-style garage heater delivers robust heating for large areas. The adjustable mounting bracket lets you direct warmth right where you need it.
3. Heat Storm HS-1500-PHX Infrared Space Heater
-120V plug-in with 5200 BTU heating capacity
- Infrared heat keeps warm air close to the skin
- Wall-mountable with remote control
- Runs up to 18 hours on low setting
- Lifetime manufacturer’s warranty
This innovative infrared heater by Heat Storm can be mounted to walls or sit on the floor. The advanced IR tech gently heats people and objects, not just the air.
4. Comfort Zone 240V 25,000 BTU Ceiling Mount Garage Heater
- 35,000 BTU output
- Ceiling flush mount installation
- Heats up to 1250 square feet
- Expandable with booster fans
- Adjustable louvers direct heat
This robust ceiling garage heater from Comfort Zone can be mounted directly to drywall or drop-down with the ceiling. It quietly and evenly warms large garages up to 64°F warmer than outside.
5. Cadet 05534 24-Volt, 5000-Watt 240-Volt Fan-Forced Ceiling Mounted Garage Heater
- 240V hardwired ceiling mount
- Oil-filled radiator for even heating
- Built-in 1500 CFM circulation fan
- Thermostat included
- 25-foot power cord
Cadet’s ceiling heater uses an oil-filled radiator and powerful fan to quickly and evenly heat garages up to 500 square feet. The adjustable thermostat maintains consistent temps.
Proper installation is crucial for an efficient and safe garage heater. Follow these tips:
- Read all installation instructions before starting.
- Hardwired models require professional help to connect wiring and circuit breakers.
- Allow ample clearance from walls, garage doors, windows, and flammable substances.
- Adjust angle to direct heat downwards towards work areas.
- Anchor securely to ceiling studs or wall framing.
- Keep extension cords and wiring away from walking paths.
- Test auto shut-off safety features before first use.
Use and Maintenance
Once installed, just a bit of regular maintenance keeps your electric garage heater running optimally:
- Clean dust and debris from the exterior to prevent overheating.
- Vacuum air intake vents to increase airflow.
- Check that thermostat and auto timers work properly.
- Replace air filters as needed per instructions.
- Keep combustible objects, liquids, and vapors away.
- Fix any loose electrical connections.
- If hardwired, have an electrician inspect the wiring annually.
Following the manufacturer’s use and care guidelines keeps the heater heating effectively for years.
Electric Garage Heater Safety Tips
While extremely useful, electric garage heaters also come with risks that require safe operation:
- Never leave portable heaters unattended or running overnight.
- Maintain 36 inches of clearance from objects, walls, and people.
- Plug into wall outlets with appropriate wattage ratings.
- Keep away from water and extremely damp locations.
- Check for frayed or damaged cords; don’t use extension cords.
- Turn off and unplug when not in use for long periods.
- Mount or place on flat, stable surfaces that won’t tip.
- Never use near open flames, combustible chemicals, or vapors.
- Install hardwired models away from sprinklers.
- Keep children and pets away from portable heaters.
With some common sense precautions, your electric garage heater can safely keep you toasty without worries.
Choosing the right electric heater is the first step to transforming your cold garage into a warm and welcoming space. Determining adequate heating requirements, selecting safe and durable models, proper installation, and regular maintenance give you an efficient garage heating solution. Just be sure to make operational safety a top priority.
With this guide’s advice, you can shop for the best electric garage heater with confidence. Soon you’ll be enjoying comfortable temperatures for working on projects, maintaining your vehicles, or pursuing hobbies any time of year. A cozy garage awaits!
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are electric or propane garage heaters better?
Electric heaters are usually safer and more energy-efficient than propane heaters. However, propane can provide greater heating power for large uninsulated spaces.
2. How long should a garage heater run?
Most are intended for intermittent use when occupied, and not running 24/7. Use an auto shut-off timer and limit sessions to 2-3 hours.
3. What size breaker is needed for a 240V garage heater?
Check the heater specs, but typically 30-60 amp breakers are required to handle high wattages from 9000-35000W output.
4. Can you mount a garage heater to drywall?
Yes, use included mounting brackets. But ensure it hits wood studs or install a mounting backing plate first for better support.
5. How close can you place objects next to a garage heater?
Maintain 36 inches minimum clearance on all sides and overhead. Keep any combustibles at least 6 feet away at all times.