<VV> Garage Heating

JVHRoberts at aol.com JVHRoberts at aol.com
Sun Oct 23 12:32:12 EDT 2005

You forgot heat pumps!! These are VERY safe, efficient, and you get AC at  
the same time.
As you said, DO follow all codes, and if in doubt, hire a pro. 
In a message dated 10/23/2005 11:36:48 AM Eastern Standard Time,  
dreamwoodck at yahoo.com writes:

Jim,  Hank and crew,

I can offer some advice on heating a garage. I'm  part
of the way along on mine after exploring lots of
options.  To  stave off the shitstorm, I'll tell you
I'm not a pro, but an experienced  handyman who's done
a lot of homework. I'm putting this out as  general,
basic  ideas to help youse guys narrow down your
IN ALL CASES, check and follow your local building
codes. I really  don't want to read about a VV member
who pinched a nickel and burned  himself up. Not to
mention the cars.
You have two basic components, a  heat source and the
way to keep it in. If you don't want to insulate,  you
are burning money as a heat source. 
Also, check to make sure your  electrical service is up
to the demands of the new additional system.  To
provide the power for the lights, outlets, heat etc.,
it is probably  worth mounting a subpanel in the
garage. Will you run a welder out  there?

I'll send you to a how-to book for insulation because
of the  several options and techniques, but basically
you need both proper  insulation AND ventilation. You
can actually cook your roof if you do it  wrong. 
Hank's right about insulating the ceiling, as your
wall  insulation won't do any good if the heat can just
rise up out of the  workspace. This is almost as bad as
no insulation at all. If you want to  use the attic as
work space, insulate the roof instead.
Heat systems  have come a long way in recent years. 
Some options:
Forced air: this is  what you may have in your house. A
95% efficient gas-fired one is a few  bucks more that
the 88-90% ones, but will pay for the difference over
a  few years. Good choice if you want full-time heat.
It will bring up the air  temperature quickly and cycle
less as other things in the room if you run  it only
when you work.  Economical for large spaces.   Requires
20A for the blower motor, low voltage for  the
transformer,  duct work, and an underground gas line.  
Electrical baseboard: heats baseboards along the
walls, used to be  expensive to operate, but with
today's rising gas prices??? Check in your  area.  Very
clean and quiet; requires 220 underground service to  a
detached shop.
Hot water system:  much better than the old days.  Same
principle as the electric baseboards. Requires 220 or
gas feed,  depending on the system.
In-the floor:  uses either electrical wiring  or hot
water pumped through tubing in the poured floor. Can
be added to  an old floor, but it is a pain and more
expensive than if you do it right  the first time.  The
slab warms up and the heat rises to warm the  room. 
Takes some time to warm up from very cold, best if the
heat is  full time. You gain thermal efficiency in that
the slab radiates warmth  after the system shuts off.
This is a favorite of people adding additions  to a
house because it completely eliminates ductwork.
Requires space  only for the heat plant.
Overhead infrared radiant:  the higher you  can get the
units, the better. Pretty useless under an 8- or
10-foot  ceiling. Requires some clear space around it.
These are long tubes mounted  on the ceiling that
radiate heat on line-of-sight to objects in the  room.
They heat the objects, including you and the floor,
and not the  air.  You can feel warm in a cold room!
Expensive, but efficient,  quiet and truly an
industrial quality installation. This also requires  a
gas line installation, and what you have to go through
to get the gas  to the individual heaters might be a
consideration. I worked in a massive  repair shop where
these were 25 feet up and about 30 feet apart.  If
considering this, study the brochures from the
manufacturers to make  the best decision.
Industrial-style gas space heaters: we've all  seen
these permanently-mounted heaters in garages. They
hang from the  ceiling and burn the gas in a
radiator-style framework and circulate the  hot air to
the room. They require good ventilation and some
headroom as  well.

Space heaters: the next two don't need fresh-air
sources  because there's no combustion. Electric,
oil-filled radiators work well in  smaller room-size
areas. They take a little time to warm, but they  are
great once the room warms up. They have thermostats. 
Electric  "milk-house" heaters are small and good for
putting fast heat in a small  area, like blowing heat
under the car, but can be expensive to  run.
European-style chimney heaters are efficient but you
need GOOD  ventilation because they burn kerosene. 
They put out a lot of heat and are  compact and
portable. 1-2 can heat a large space. I'd buy a  carbon
monoxide detector if I used it in a fairly airtight
For  a massive heat blast, buy or rent a gas or
kerosene-fired space heater.  This takes up a lot of
space as you want some room around the inlet  and
DEFINITELY behind the outlet. It looks like a small
jet  engine.  Good only for temporary heat outdoors or
in a very large  space, since it uses LOTS of air. If
this was my primary heat source, I'd  run it for a
short while to warm the space, shut it down, then run
it  again when it gets chilly again.

A lot of your decision will depend on  how much heat
you'll need. Do you want to work without freezing one
day  a week, or do you want to work in your underwear
24-7 in all areas of the  shop?

Chuck Kubin

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