8 Best Garage Heaters

Whether you use your garage for storage, vehicle parking or a DIY workshop, the right garage heater can make all the difference.

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Big heavy industrial electric fan heater in double car garage interior. Two vehicles parked for winter storage in dry warm heating parking for cold winter seasonKyryl Gorlov/Getty Images

Buying a Garage Heater

If you live in a cold climate, installing the right garage heater can transform your garage from icebox cold to a comfortable DIY refuge.

Whether you’re trying to keep the garage toasty-warm or merely prevent stored items from freezing, let heat output be your guide. Heat output is measured in British thermal units (Btus); choose a unit sized for your garage. Sizing can be complicated, but this overview article on HVAC sizing is a good starting point.

In addition, factor in the following conditions:

  • Garage size determines the overall heating power required, as well as whether you’ll need a blower on the heater.
  • Garage use. Will you be spending long hours at a workbench, or do you only need enough warmth to prevent the vehicle batteries from dying?
  • Garage finish level. Is the garage fully insulated with drywall installed? Or is it uninsulated and drafty?
  • Power source. Garage heaters may be powered by propane, kerosene, natural gas or electricity (120V and 240V).
  • Cost is more than the number on the price tag. Factor in fuel, installation and maintenance.
  • Energy efficiency will largely determine the operating cost of the furnace.
  • Sound/noise level can be a bigger factor than you might guess, especially for attached garages. How loud is the heater, and how often does it kick on?
  • Installation. Garage heaters range from small mobile units to wall- or ceiling-mounted units fed by natural gas lines. Consider whether you’re comfortable with installing a garage heater on your own. If not, figure installation costs into your overall budget.
  • Safety is the most important consideration. Is your garage filled with flammable material and wood dust? Is it so cramped you’ll be bumping into a heater that can be tipped over? Do kids or pets play there? Most heaters are safe if used properly, but consider the right fit for your situation.
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Newair Heater Via Homedepot.com

Best Garage Heater for Single-Car Garages or Temperate Winters

If you’re only heating a small area or simply taking the chill out of the air, go with a mid-sized electric heater. The NewAir G73 is a wall- or ceiling-mounted electrical unit (240V) good for about 500 square feet. The manufacturer rates it at 17,060 Btus, perfect for a single-car garage. The built-in fan helps circulate air and raise the temperature faster.

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Hot Dawg Garage Ceiling Heater Via Homedepot.com

Best Garage Heater for Two-Car Garages or Cold Winters

If you have a larger garage or need to raise the temperature significantly, consider a heater with a larger blower and more Btus. This gas-powered Hot Dawg ceiling heater from Modine combines operating value, ease of use and reliability.

With an output of 45,000 Btus, it warms most garages while conserving valuable floor space. This heater won’t have you playing outlet Tetris while operating corded power tools. Connect it to a programmable thermostat to maintain a cooler temperature overnight, and kick on only when you’re in the garage. Downsides include noise, cost and complex installation.

Note: If you install it in a space that’s too small, the higher Btus mean this heater will cycle on and off frequently, shortening its lifespan.

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Engine Heater Hot Pad garage heaterVia Napaonline.com

Best Garage Heater for Warming Car Engines

Why heat a whole garage if you don’t need to? If you just want to keep your car engine warm enough to start easily, go with an engine heater. Get one specifically for your vehicle, or buy a universal heating mat. The latter is good for diesel engines or vehicles that aren’t driven regularly during the winter.

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Heat Storm Heater Via Amazon.com

Best Smart Home Garage Heater

If you love controlling your devices remotely, take a look at this smaller size Heat Storm infrared heater. Not sure if you turned off the heat before heading up to bed? Just check the app on your phone. Want to preheat your workspace before starting work on your latest project? Open the app and you’re good to go.

The Heat Storm is a wall-mounted heater, keeping it out of the way, and the 120V plug means easy installation. The manufacturer doesn’t specify the Btus. But judging from the wattage, this smart heater should be OK for insulated garages that need just enough warmth to take the edge off.

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Sengoku Heater Via Amazon.com

Best Mobile Garage Heater

In some cases, you only need to heat a small area of the garage at any time. The Sengoku HeatMate packs 10,000 Btus into a small package, putting out enough warmth to keep your workspace comfortable without busting your budget.

This kerosene-powered portable heater includes an auto-off feature and a push-button start. According to the manufacturer, it can run 14 hours without a fuel refill. At 22 lbs, it can be easily moved but isn’t so light that it tips over easily.

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Heatstorm Heater Via Homedepot.com

Best Overall Garage Heater

The Heat Storm 600-watt garage heater produces up to 20,000 Btus, good for most garages. The big brother of the Heat Storm model featured earlier, it puts out significantly more heat, warming up to 1,000 square feet.

It’s WiFi enabled, allowing it to be monitored and controlled from an app. Unlike the smaller Heat Storm model, this one runs on 240V service and needs to be hardwired to a dedicated circuit.

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Pelonis garage Heater Via Homedepot.com

Best Value Garage Heater

If your primary concern is budget, then the Pelonis 1,500-watt heater might be the right choice for you. The least expensive heater on this list, it runs on 120V power and gives off approximately 5,000 Btus. That’s not enough to heat a garage, but enough to keep you warm at a work bench.

This radiator-style heater is oil-filled, making for a steady, even heat without an open flame. (The oil isn’t used to generate heat; the heater is a closed system that should never need to be topped off.)

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Dyna Glo Forced Heat garage heaterVia Amazon.com

Best Heater for an Open-Air Garage

If you work with running engines or products that give off fumes, you probably leave the garage door open. If that’s the case, almost all of the heaters we’ve discussed won’t work. For an open-air environment, you’ll need serious air movement and high Btus.

The Dyna-Glo 180,000 Btu forced-air heater runs on kerosene (recommended) or diesel fuel and can heat a whopping 4,000 square feet. It’s not for enclosed or smaller spaces — it’s noisy, requires significant ventilation and creates moisture that will condense on your tools. But with an open overhead door, all the negatives drop away, and you’re left with a much warmer work environment.

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Dan Stout
Ohio-based freelance writer and author Dan Stout is a former residential remodeler, commercial site supervisor and maintenance manager. He’s worked on nearly all aspects of building and DIY including project planning and permitting, plumbing, basic electric, drywall, carpentry, tiling, painting and more. He also publishes noir fantasy thrillers, including The Carter Series, from Penguin imprint DAW Books.