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pilotshop's picture

Due to the seasons falling temperatures my garage workshop is rapidly becoming too cold to work in for any length of time. It is a two car sized garage- what should I look for in a portable heater? I would prefer something that can double in use in the house during possible winter power outs and something that is realatively safe in the dust that my dust collection system doesn't catch. I am not looking to wear shorts in the winter, but rather bring the space to a workable temperature. Any suggestions?

bmwz3coupe's picture

(post #73890, reply #1 of 10)

If you have access to Natural Gas use a vented heater.  Sawdust is not a problem since the combustion air it uses is taken in from outside the building. This is permanet wall mounted heater that I use. The one I use requires no electricity to work.

hammer1's picture

(post #73890, reply #2 of 10)

I think the days of the unvented portable gas and kerosene heaters are gone. The K-1 heaters would be fine for a garage workshop but I wouldn't want them in my house. Normal dust won't be a problem but flammables like gasoline fumes would be, heater or not. The top choices seem to be Toyo for oil and Rinnai for gas. Gas is cleaner and you don't have to worry about contaminents in the fuel, condensation or leaky tanks. The owner of the site below isn't shy about expressing his opinions. If you spend a lot of time in the shop, you need some decent heat. You won't be able to carry one into the house during a power outage.

Beat it to fit / Paint it to match

Beat it to fit / Paint it to match

WillGeorge's picture

(post #73890, reply #9 of 10)

Yep.. DIRECT vented.. The ONLY way to go..

I tried a ventless one about three years ago.. I threw it out.. To much moisture for a shop... Heat was OK though...

Have a great day.. Life is wonderful even if you are having a bad day!

jackplane's picture

(post #73890, reply #3 of 10)

short of a wood stove which I think is best, kerosene heaters work very well but are loud. They also need ventilation. But for quick cheap heat they are hard to beat.


Expert since 10 am.

GDH2's picture

(post #73890, reply #4 of 10)

Whoa! "Loud" makes me think you are talking kerosene torpedo heaters which are (I am quite sure) terrible for an enclosed space - the warnings are quite strong (and quite accurate).

I love wood stoves - I have one going 4 feet from me that I use every day in my house. But they definitely require lots of attention, they take a long time to heat the shop, they take a lot of space, etc. I have an extra wood stove, but I've never considered installing it in my 2-car garage.

There are kerosene heaters (Alladin is the best known) that can work quite well as space heaters. They are typically 16" square and about 24" high with a cage and a metal top (a very toasty surface!). They have a circular glass chimney surrounding a wick which can be adjusted up/down. I used one daily on cold days in my auto repair shop in Boston for 8 years.

  • They are not supposed to be used in houses, but people can and do providing they allow for the following:
    • They should be lit outside or with the door open - they emit some smoke for the first 2-3 minutes until the glass chimney heats up
    • You need to trim the wick occassionally
  • No noise, no odor, no smoke (after the first 2-3 minutes)
  • It used about 2 gallons a day
  • They have effective safety valves - kick it hard or tilt it and the glass chimney assembly drops (I'd just tilt it to shut it off at day's end)
  • I stumbled accross a good web site, and he advocates replacing the wick once or twic a year, but I found they last several years. BUT, he was using his in his house, and I only use it in the garage (or, in days of yore, in the office/parts room/customer area)

PS - But installed heaters (gas, propane, electric, whatever) are much easier to use and take less space. And the best is radiant heat (some day, when I build a real shop...)

Doug, The Wood Loon, Acton, MA
jackplane's picture

(post #73890, reply #7 of 10)

I agree mostly but, radiant floor heating for a shop?

With that kind of expense, 10-15,000$ most woodworkers would rather lay out cash for new tools. Unless one is experienced enough to build it oneself.


Expert since 10 am.

WillGeorge's picture

(post #73890, reply #10 of 10)

kerosene torpedo heaters remind me of my old Army Tank engine mufflers...

Have a great day.. Life is wonderful even if you are having a bad day!

DCarr10760's picture

(post #73890, reply #5 of 10)


I'm in the same situation.  I've heard about the Hot Dawg heater, a direct venting propane or natural gas heater.

Has anybody heard about this or used one?

(Don't mean to hijack the thread)

David C

iliumconst's picture

(post #73890, reply #6 of 10)

Yes, I have one of these and think it is the cats meow.

My shop is 18' x 22' with 5" thick wood frame and cellulose insulation.

Temps are around 20 degrees and it runs 5 minutes 4 times a day to heat it to 60 degrees.

It is quite running and doesn't create a tornado when the fan is running. Mine is a 45,000 btu.

CharlesW's picture

(post #73890, reply #8 of 10)

I have the 75000 btu Hotdawg in a 26 x 32 garage/shop.  This is winter #3 using it.  Because of the elevation here (just under 7000') the unit must be derated, if memory serves, by 30-40%. 

I am very pleased w/ the performance.  Runs more than the previous posters unit (1 to 3 times/hr), but temps here may be a little more extreme and still need insulation in a few places.  The best part is that it is ceiling mounted and vented through the wall.  No floor space lost.  Shop is comfortable within a half hour of startup.  I usually maintain 60-65F, but can easily go higher if needed.  I was surprised at how little increase there was on my gas bill and I run it anywhere from 4 to 12 hours most every day.

I also apologize for the hijack.