To most people, a garage is simply a room where their car sleeps and nothing else. For others, it’s a haven for not only their vehicle but for their woodworking tools, entertainment system, and the perfect getaway for when the kids get rowdy or when guests come over. During the wintertime, without proper insulation, your wood projects, car repairs, or billiard tables may have to wait until the warmer months come by, but who knows how long that is?
If your garage is just as cold as it is outside when it rains or snows, you may want to consider picking up a propane heater for your garage. However, finding the right propane heater for your garage can be a challenge in and of itself. Perhaps you’ve already looked into heating options for your garage and came across kerosene heaters or electric space heaters. Well, how do you know whether propane heaters are the best option, and which model should you get? Keep reading this article to get the answer to these questions and much, much more.
Do I Need a Propane Heater?
Propane heaters are not the only appliance to keep your garage warm during the harsh, cold months. Popular alternatives include kerosene heaters and electric space heaters which could actually be more efficient. But there are several things to consider.
First of all, propane heaters are energy-efficient. They use much less fuel than kerosene heaters so you end up spending quite a lot less on fuel than you would with kerosene. This means you can spend more time in your garage, finishing carpentry projects or tending to your vehicle, without needing to worry as much about fuel costs.
Secondly, propane heaters provide considerably more heat than electric space heaters. It takes much less time for a propane heater to heat your entire garage than a space heater thoroughly, so hiding from the in-laws when they come to town can be done without freezing your butt off waiting for your garage to warm up.
Thirdly, propane heaters are not tied down by power cords and outlets. Portability and maneuverability of propane heaters are not things you need to worry about.
So would your garage benefit from a propane heater? Alas, it depends on your unique situation. What we can tell you is that propane heaters are generally much safer than kerosene and more effective than electric space heaters.
Propane Heater Buying Guide
If you feel that your garage would benefit from a propane heater, then you may run into a number of different challenges in finding the right model for your garage. Don’t worry, reader, we’re here to help. In this section, we’ll go over the most important factors to take into account when shopping for the best garage propane heater.
Carbon Monoxide Production
The first thing you need to be aware of is whether the propane heater is built for indoor use or out. Outdoor propane heaters produce carbon monoxide. The last time we checked, humans aren’t that fond of carbon monoxide, and certain models can produce a ton of the stuff in a limited amount of time since they consume more fuel than their indoor counterparts.
Indoor models produce harmless levels of carbon monoxide, making them the correct choice to use in enclosed spaces like garages. Once again, check and double-check that you’re getting the right type of propane heater.
Heat Output and Coverage Area
The heat output of a propane heater is measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units) which equals the amount of energy needed to increase the temperature of a pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. Basically, the higher the BTU rating of a propane heater, the more effective it is at warming up a room. Some models have a variable BTU dial or pre-sets that let you increase or decrease the unit’s heat output. The BTU range of indoor-safe propane heaters typically can be as low 4,000 BTU and as high as 125,000 BTU.
The coverage area refers to how large of a room the unit can maintain at a constant temperature. In general, high-BTU models can cover more space than low-BTU units, so you may need to measure the area of your garage or any sections that you wish to heat.
The ignition system is the mechanism that gets a propane heater started. There are two alternatives to choose from: automatic and manual ignition.
Automatic ignition systems turn on with a push of a button. It’s the hassle-free option if you don’t feel like putting your fingers within range of flowing propane and risk burning your fingers. Even though they are easier to use, automatic ignition systems wear down over time, and eventually you’ll need to go at it the old manual way until you get the system fully repaired. It could be months or years before the system wears down, depending on how often you use your propane heater.
Manual ignition requires touching the flow of propane with a flame from a stick match or a lighter. It’s relatively safe to do as long as you know what you’re doing and take have fire-proof gloves on. You don’t need to worry about any systems failing over time so maintenance is not a problem.
We mentioned earlier that propane heaters are portable. This is mostly true, unless you get a wall-, ceiling-, or floor-mounted model. These attach to any of the mentioned surfaces with screws and cannot be moved to different areas of your garage easily. This won’t be a problem if you have a small garage or wish to heat one part of the garage only.
There are portable models that can be lifted to and fro. Perhaps you’d like to take your propane heater to a friend’s garage to chillax. This is where this model excels over its mounted counterparts.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether you want a mounted model or a portable one. They both generally work the same – by burning propane.
Propane heaters are a great heat-management tool to have in your garage. When it rains or snows, the temperature in your garage may fall well below comfortable, especially if your garage, doors, and windows are not properly insulated. Even with insulation installed, cold air may still find its way in your garage. To make your garage as toasty as possible, make sure that you get an indoor-safe model and a heater that can adequately heat the entire area of your garage.