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Heating my garage workshop?

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by Jim Bennett, Jan 7, 2019.

  1. Jim Bennett

    Jim Bennett

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    Hi - I have a three car garage that 2/3 of it sees shared use with my car. The other stall is 100 percent used for my wife’s car. The garage is not insulated. In the summer it gets hot, but I can deal with the 100 degree heat with a big fan. My problem is the winter months. It gets down in the low 30’s at night and maybe the mid 40’s during the day. Those temps make doing any woodworking very un-enjoyable. I can put on a sweater and jacket, but my hands get really cold and, well, it just isn’t fun.

    I’m wondering what others in my situation do to heat their shared garage workshop. I’m concerned about getting some sort of electric heater that would take our electric bill to Jupiter. On the other hand, the propane powered units probably require some sort of venting of the exhaust.

    So, what are my options? Wife said “...wait till spring.” Not a good option.

    Tnx, Jim
     
  2. Dwight R Rutherford

    Dwight R Rutherford

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    I have a similar situation in a three car garage. Also didn’t want to use an electric heater because of the high cost of electricity. I use a propane heater that uses a 20gal propane tank.
    It is a “Mr. Heater Portable Big Buddy Propane Heater”. It has a built in oxygen depletion sensor and will shut off if tipped over. I can heat my three car garage to a comfortable level in about 15-20 minutes. Did buy a Carbon Monoxide alarm.
     
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  3. dbonertz

    dbonertz

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    I did the flip flop. I built a wall with a door between the two car and three car garage. Insulated the third car garage walls and ceiling and I use a 220 electric heater hanging from the ceiling. I keep it set at around 40 degrees when shop is not in use and turn it to around 55 to 60 when in use (perfect working temp IMHO). My electric bill is not dramatically affected. I decided if it was going to be a lot on my electric bill I would put in a gas heater that hangs from the ceiling. For 8 years now I have not found that need. Disclaimer is my third car garage is extra deep 10' wide by 30' deep. It is a nice size space for one person and it keeps the dust and wood chips away from the main house entrance.
     
  4. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    The expense of insulating your garage would be cheap compared to high electric bills. I have an insulated three bay garage and can easily heat it with two 1500 watt Vornado heaters. I run them 24/7 because warming up a cold garage would take all day.
     
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  5. Don Jarvie

    Don Jarvie

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    I would recommend a mini split heat pump. You will get heat and AC.

    I have a electric heater in my detached 2 garage and there is an increase in my bill, but I enjoy going out in the shop so be it. I am going to switch to the mini split this summer mainly for the heat although have AC will be nice.
     
  6. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    Like Bill said, insulating the part of the garage you will use will be the cheaper option. When getting my old shop insulated, I priced the insulation first, then talked to an insulation installer. They put the insulation in, along with a heavy white vynal cover for $50 more than the cost of the insulation from the big box store.... In the garage, you lose a lot of heat through the concrete stem wall and the concrete floor. Even plywood/chip board on the concrete helps a lot. Small electric heater will keep it comfortable, but not really warm...

    robo hippy
     
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  7. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    I have a shop that was supposed to be a one car garage. I built a wall to enclose it. The garage door is uninsulated metal. I plan on building a wall with insulation over it . Just need to get my son and grandson to slow down enough to help. I use two heaters on separate circuits- one circuit requires the heater in the den to be shut off so the breaker doesn't trip. Yesterday the shop was about 69 degrees. I can shut the heaters off and have a comfortable shop for a couple of hours; then fire up one heater.
     
  8. Glenn Lefley

    Glenn Lefley

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    I have one small 12 inch square construction heater 220v on ceiling set to 65 at all times. 3 car garage, with no cars all shop. I insulated. And the electric bill is hardly affected. A little insulation goes a long way for winter and summer.
     
  9. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    Last year we replaced the old uninsulated garage doors with insulated doors that also did a better job of sealing the crack around the sides. That made a world of difference for both heating and cooling.
     
  10. Mark Jundanian

    Mark Jundanian

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    Insulation is the first step. That said I work in a partially insulated basement shop in Chicago. I installed a 220v electric heater which I run when I'm in the shop. Max Temp ranges from as low as 67 on the bitter days to 72 on the warm days. I figure it costs $0.95/hour to run. No idea what affect on the electric bill as we bought an electric car about the same time.
     
  11. Fadi Zeidan

    Fadi Zeidan

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    Amazon sells garage door insulation sheets that are applied using double sided tape. Reviews are good on them and they are affordable. I was thinking of getting them. Search amazon for garage door insulation.
     
  12. Mike Johnson

    Mike Johnson

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    The easiest solution is a wall or ceiling mount radiant type heater. This type of heat will warm objects in the area that the heater is directed towards. This is the type of heat that is used in many auto repair shops where the ceiling height makes it difficult to heat with forced hot air as it will rise and collect at the ceiling and you are left cold working at the floor level. You will have instant warmth standing in front of one of these radiant heaters and your lathe will slowly warm up as the metal will readily absorb the radiant heat coming from the heater. These heaters are available in Natural Gas and Propane. They also make electric radiant heat panels that mount on the wall or ceiling but these cost more to run but would still heat a small area compared to trying to heat a 3-stall garage. Another option is a floor mat that has heat built into it, the farm stores usually carry these for animals, keeping your feet warm goes a long ways towards staying warm and comfortable. They also make heated work clothing that can operate from batteries or a 12VDC power source. Insulating your feet from the concrete floor will also go a long way in staying warm in a garage, you could put an insulated mat on floor which will help keep your feet from coming in contact with the cold concrete.
     
  13. Bobby Smith

    Bobby Smith

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    This is what I use to heat my 20 x 60 shop. I only run kerosene so there's not bad smell. Maybe just a little on startup but after that, nice and clean. This is my new one. I just retired my smaller one after 16 yrs of use. Instant heat!
    Dewalt heater.jpg
     
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  14. Dean Center

    Dean Center

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    I won't get into my experience with a formerly unheated garage shop in Montana, as the advice you've already received is spot on. I have a couple of outside the box suggestions, though.
    #1, put on a stocking cap. It's the single best thing I do while the shop heats up.
    #2, our lathes are massive heat sinks but it's the metal tool handles that are the most uncomfortable tool in the cold. Use wood handles, or plastic covered (like Oneway or Bosch), or put foam/cork tape on the handles. Tennis racquet or bike handlebar tape are readily available options.
    #3, I'm not normally a fan of gloves, but when it's cold, it's painful to turn 'wet' (i.e. frozen) wood. The stretchy carpenter gloves fit snugly and work very well. You have to know yourself and that you won't get the glove caught in your chuck jaws.
    #4, I used to wear sweatshirts with the sleeves cut just below the elbow, which worked well at keeping me warm, but let in the chips big time. This year, early in the winter, Costco had a fleece jacket for sale that had a smooth outside surface and a high, fleece lined collar, and velcro cuffs. One jumped in my cart. It's like an insulated turner smock and they seem to have designed the thing with us in mind. Not sure if they still have any, or if they were even sold in the tropics of Central Cali, but you might take a look.

    With a cap/helmet of any kind, sweatshirt, and non-metal handles, like Dale, I am very comfortable turning at 55-60 degrees. With insulation, ground heat should keep your garage at about 55 in the winter. It won't take much of a heater to bring the temp up to tolerable, although you do have a pretty large volume in that configuration.
     
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  15. Bobby Smith

    Bobby Smith

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    I don't mind turning when it's in the 50's but finishing wood at those temps don't work very well. I also have a halogen light stand with 2 lights on it that sits beside my lathe. It gives off some decent heat while turning also. But I still have to blast the heater in order to get a finish to cure on my work.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2019
  16. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    For dealing with the garage door, I rolled mine up and framed in a door and window. Didn't have to take apart the door and roll up stuff. I did use it for some storage of light weight things, and it made it easier to take things out of the shop without having to open up a huge door and let all the heat out. The cats did like the rolled up door too.....

    robo hippy
     
  17. Jim Bennett

    Jim Bennett

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    Thanks for all the suggestions! I will put the car back in eventually, as all my equipment except for the lathe is on rollers. So framing the entry in is not an option. My first priority will be to insulate the two doors - one double, the other single. Then I’ll see about a heat solution. I’m liking that Mr. Heater Portable Big Buddy idea and may give that a try after the insulating task is done.
     
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  18. Davis Stevenson

    Davis Stevenson

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    I second the above. However, one free thing you can do to make grabbing metal tools more pleasant is to keep them inside. Big tools with a lot of metal that never seem to warm up in the hand (SRG, big scrapers) also don't cool down super quick. Costs nothing to preheat the tools in your house until you get insulation/heating figured out.

    I'm usually fine except for my feet when it's 45-50 here. Insulated boots were a great investment.
     
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  19. Zach LaPerriere

    Zach LaPerriere

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    Disclosure: I've worked outside my whole life, so I might be a bitty nutty on this. A $2 dollar investment in a second-hand heavy down jacket and $10 bucks for second hand insulated coveralls is what keeps me warm in my shop with no walls here in the mild belt of Alaska. Below 20 or when windy, I occasionally warm my hands with a hair dryer.

    Not for most people, but amazing what good clothes will do.
     
  20. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    You would probably melt here in Texas. :) Sometimes I wear a long sleeve shirt in the winter just because my wife says that is what you're supposed to wear. I actually, put on a light jacket a couple times this winter.
     
  21. Zach LaPerriere

    Zach LaPerriere

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    I would probably spontaneously combust! I'm not sure how this Mexico trip will work out in a few weeks.
     
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  22. Emiliano Achaval

    Emiliano Achaval Administrator Staff Member

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    I think my wife would not like her car covered in dust. No matter how hard I try, there is dust everywhere. I'm guessing you turn the occasional bowl and won't be making much of a mess. Maybe that's why the wife told you to wait till the spring, she's tired of her car leaving chips behind on her way out, LOL
    A solution to the heating problem would be to move to Maui...
     
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  23. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Sweater- garment a child puts on when their mother is cold.
     
  24. Dean Center

    Dean Center

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    Zach, I can't believe people let their used Carhartts go for $10. I don't think you could pick them up down here for less than $50, and then they'd be totally threadbare and have petrified cowshit up to the knees.
     
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  25. Go with mini-split. Heat pump technology. No open flames, radiant panels, etc. Not a fire hazard. Heats in winter. Cools in summer. Can't beat it. - John
     
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  26. Donovan Bailey

    Donovan Bailey

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    A great solution. I installed one in my uninsulated 3-car garage last year and I'm able to turn in a T-shirt year around (Virginia). Also, I can't believe how cheap they are to operate. Certainly not as cheap as Zach's "buy a coat" option to install but worth every penny that I put into it.
     
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  27. Dave Hulett

    Dave Hulett

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    wow. a lot of replies to this thread but I'm seeing it for the first time. I lived in Texas and now Hot Springs, AR and winter temps are a little colder than where you are in CA. But here's my solution: I bought an electric heater from Northern Tool for $170. but it puts out 19,000 btus of heat. That's enough to heat a small house. It does require 220v, however. the thermosat isn't very precise so I turn it on in the morning, and off when I close up at night. My shop is a stand alone 24x24, about 2 car garage size with a 9ft insulated ceiling. Today for example, it was about 36 degrees when I got up (7am). First thing I go out and turn it on. then back inside, have some coffee, read the paper, chat with the wife, etc. I head into the shop in 2-3 hours and it's 70 degrees. I usually turn it off when I quit at 5-6pm. Daytime temps here yesterday was around 45. The shop was about 60 when I flipped the switch this morning. When I'm in the shop I know when it turns on and off. I'd estimate that it runs 2 hours (3 at the most) of 8 in the shop. Add that to the 2-3 startup in the morning and I estimate it's running 5-6 hours. Now, the math: 5600 watts consumption. At $0.10/kwhr for power, it costs $0.54/hour to run. So it's costing me about $3.26 day on average.
     
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  28. Dan Hall

    Dan Hall

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    I use a 36,000btu gas fired ceiling hung heater. It's on a thermostat on the wall. I set it for 60 about an hour before I got out to work, then off when I'm done. Three car garage with the one car part walled off. It's all toasty as long as I need it. I've never noticed any big deal gas bill wise. I bought the heater off Craigslist for $125. For cooling I've got the smallest swamp cooler Home Depot sells. I bought it used also and I've calculated that it cost me about $34/month to run 24/7 during the Summer, Swamp coolers won't work in a lot of places (Deep South) but work really well here in the desert.
     
  29. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    I'm getting ready to enclose my garage door with studs and insulation. I looked into taking out the door and enclosing the opening. Cheaper to build the wall (where have I heard that?) than start from scratch. I can heat my shop (former one car garage) in about an hour with two heaters. Summer, I open the vent in the shop and it is cool.
    I didn't go through all the posts but, to me, insulation is a must.
     
  30. Joseph Maiorano

    Joseph Maiorano

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    I heat my dungeon, oops I mean basement shop with a 220 volt electric heater. The heater has a built in fan which circulates the warm air. My air filtration system is also helps circulate the air. I keep it around 60 when I am working in it. When I am not in the shop I turn it off.

    If I had an existing garage for a shop I would replace the garage door with a stud wall and insulate the walls and ceiling. I would also put down sleepers and insulate the floor because I hate standing on cold concrete. The space would be heated with a vented, closed flame, propane heater. I would also have a wood stove to hide my creative opportunities.

    If I were building my shop from scratch, it would be 2x6 construction for more insulation and would have radiant floor heating and of course, a wood stove.
     
  31. Mike Johnson

    Mike Johnson

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    They do make hydronic coils for wood stoves, it would be easy to run tubing in the floor and use a circulating pump controlled by a thermostat to heat the floor via hydronic heat via the wood stove. I helped a client decades ago with a wind turbine generator that produced electricity that went directly into a large electric water heater that was connected to a hydronic heat system in his concrete floor in his shop. His shop was basically the storage system for the energy that the wind turbine generated.
     
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  32. Tom Beatty

    Tom Beatty

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    Bill what model Vornado heaters do you have? I tried one of their least expensive models and did not work very well, but like the way they heat
     
  33. Leo Van Der Loo

    Leo Van Der Loo

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    I have 2 garages, the one on the house has my wife's car in it, (parked in before the snow flies and does not come out till the grass is green again, rather than white :D)

    My other free standing garage is my shop, (no car in there) it is well insulated and has a propane heater hanging in the far corner against the ceiling, works just fine, but I have it set at 35 degrees right now, as it is just too cold and expensive to heat it up for a couple of hours or keep it heated, I'll wait till it get a little less cold ;).

    It has been pretty cold for a while and it is a while before it is spring over here.

    Temperature over here.jpg
     
  34. Lou Jacobs

    Lou Jacobs

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    I agree with the mini-split suggestions. I put one in my uninsulated garage shop (not shared with cars) at the end of the summer. The A/C gave me very pleasant days of turning that would have been too hot and sweaty. In heating season, I just turn it on when I enter the garage, and twenty or so minutes before I leave the shop, (when I can think of it in advance). Heat comes up almost instantly, and the unit has a “follow me” function that blows warm air over me at the lathe. It is not expensive to run, as I’ve seen very little effect on the electric bill. I also have a Salvation Army purchased (closed now for the pandemic) lined windbreaker that I’ve cut the sleeves off of and wear whenever I’m turning. Much cheaper than purpose made turning smocks, and no worries about throwing out when they wear out. Also a baseball cap that lives in the shop. Worn bill forward until I’m wearing the face shield, then reversed.
     
  35. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member Beta Tester

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    Wow! Our low tonight is about 109 degrees higher than yours.

    things being relative 62 for a high on Friday is cold
    We did get a low of 27 a couple weeks ago.

    lots of Quebec and Ontario license plates around town now.
    Stay warm.

    BB2C1912-7FEA-40BE-8B73-C15F6F6DF52C.jpeg
     
  36. stu senator

    stu senator

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    When my northern friends call and they ask about the weather I like to say:

    "Well it got a bit cool today, we had to turn the A/C off"

    Stu
     
  37. Lamar Wright

    Lamar Wright

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    Oh no Al.....Friday night you will need to turn the heat on at a low of 41 degrees! :D We are at a low of 23 degrees and that is before the wind chill factor.........:eek:
     
  38. Kalia Kliban

    Kalia Kliban

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    Wood stove user, here, since I generate huge amounts of wood scraps. I'm working in a partially insulated 2-car garage, roughly 20x25' with 9' ceilings. I'm in Sonoma County, CA, not too far from the coast. It doesn't snow here but does get frosty, and the shop can be miserable if I'm out there for long and don't have the fire going. Insulated floor mats will help a lot to keep your feet from going numb, and I'm sure you've already got some nice wooly socks. The suggestion of a dust-shedding insulated jacket is a good one. Thrift stores are your friend. That said, it's the hands for me that are the problem. If I get too cold my fingers start to cramp, which makes it almost impossible to turn. On cold days if I know I've got a long shop day coming up, I get the fire started and then give it a bit of a head start on taking the chill off, usually doing shop clean-up while I make sure the fire is established. Once it's chugging along, I know it'll get cozy in the shop. Plus, I can burn annoying projects that don't come out right :>)
     
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  39. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    "Plus, I can burn annoying projects that don't come out right :>)"
    I would have a roaring fire!
     
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