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Garage heating options

Living the Country Life Radio Program

Listen to this extended radio story about garage heating options. (MP3 download)

Sure, your garage is a place to keep your vehicles, but chances are it's much more than that. It's a workshop, a storage facility, a craft and hobby center, and maybe even a place for the kids to ride their bikes in the winter. But if you don't have a good heat source, it's not very useful.

Radio interview source: Scott Workman, president, Infrared Products Supply

Electric heaters are common, but there are other options, too. One of the most popular is an infrared unit. It's a tube that's about ten feet long.

Scott Workman is an expert on garage heating, and says with an infrared heater, you feel like you're standing in the sun when you're under it.

"It is designed to radiate rather than blow heat. The principle of infrared is another term for radiant. You can heat surfaces and objects within the space and then your air becomes warm indirectly," Workman says. "The nice thing about a radiant heater versus forced air is they are quieter so they're highly desirable in a garage."

Radiant tube heaters have good energy efficiency, and because it's not forced air, even a non-insulated garage gets warm quickly. These units are more expensive initially, but it pays for itself within a short period of time.

Electric heaters can work well in garage workshop areas, but they draw a lot of amps and usually require a dedicated circuit from the electrical panel. Some older smaller garages may have panels that are too small to expand and unable to accommodate the power requirements of a high-amp heater.

If your garage is hooked to a gas line and there's a place to install a flue, you could use a gas heater. These are usually the most efficient units to have because they heat up quickly, and are often cheaper to run than electric models. Workman says there are more options to choose from when you're looking at gas, but most people like them simple.

"One is a little high-intensity heater. It's a 25,000 BTU heater that comes with a mounting bracket, and thermostat and thermostat wire. It's a millvolt control so it doesn't require any power from an external power source from your control panel," Workman says. "It's self-energized. So you attach the thermostat wire to the valve, and just get the gas to it and you're in business."

Whatever gas model you get, be sure to mount it on the wall or ceiling. Don't sit it on the floor. Gas vapors tend to hover at ground level, and if anything flammable spills, you're in for an explosive surprise.

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