Heating the shop

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Review by Craftsman on the lake posted 04-07-2009 11:29 PM 11044 views 4 times favorited 23 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Heating the shop No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

5 year update:
After about 5 years this heater is still working, still heating my shop up to shirt temperatures quickly and costing me about $100/yr to run when I use it often. Needs blowing out with air each season but still starting and running well.

Summer is arriving. But, winter will be back. If you live in a cool climate I’d like to share my experiences with shop heat with you. I see a lot of people in blogs who say that they’d like to work but it’s too cold or they just have to wait for warmer weather. I found my cold weather answer.

Not a tool but an important shop item just the same. I’ve been in my shop 2-4 days a week this winter. The winter has been cold in maine. Last year when I was renovating I decided to heat the shop and looked around for some cost effective way to do it. I came across this vent free, procom 28,000 btu heater at northern tools. They had a sale, which they do often and got it for $150 but it’s usually more than that. My shop is also a separate building away from the house and well insulated. Temperatures in Maine vary but most of the winter was about 20 degrees F during the day.

This heater comes in 6 varieties, Vented or non-vented, blue flame or radiant, and LP or propane.

I’m sure the radiant or blue flame would work just as well as they have a heat rating and have to live up to that number. I chose the blue flame. Here in Maine we have bottled propane gas but LP is more of a city thing. And I didn’t want the work of installing or need a vent because I’m not planning on sleeping in the shop and the gas used gives off no soot or smoke.. think gas stove in your house. No venting needed.

This little heater, along with the built in fan I purchased that goes into it really heated my 25×25 foot shop nicely. After about 30 minutes I was working in my shirtsleeves and often just turned it off for periods of time. The little pilot light can be left on but I would just restart it each day instead of leaving it on. It never failed to start and the stove can be lighted with a match if need be.

The thing hangs on a wall with included hooks and it’s hanging right on sheetrock. No need for any combustible distances. I started out not allowing stuff to get to close to it but you can touch it anywhere on the case and it doesn’t burn. 28,000 btu’s is enough for a small house. So for a shop situation like mine and maybe yours, this might be a relatively inexpensive option. Running cost? Gas isn’t a common heating thing in Maine except for gas fireplaces. Most people have electric cooking ranges in rural Maine. But I managed to heat my shop lots of days all winter for around $200 with a 30gal gas bottle. I did have it connected professionally by the gas guy. That wasn’t cheap! But now that it’s done I’m plenty pleased with this heater’s performance. I’ve included a link to Northern tool for these heaters. They are available other places too. Just google procom heater

Northern tool, procom heater page

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

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Craftsman on the lake

3331 posts in 4205 days

23 comments so far

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Jack Barnhill

366 posts in 4133 days

#1 posted 04-07-2009 11:41 PM

Thanks for the review, Daniel. It doesn’t get too cold in So Cal but there are some mornings when it would be nice to take the chill off.


-- Best regards, Jack -- I may not be good, but I'm slow --

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Jack Barnhill

366 posts in 4133 days

#2 posted 04-07-2009 11:45 PM

I just saw on the web site that these units are not for sale in California. Oh well.

-- Best regards, Jack -- I may not be good, but I'm slow --

View Karson's profile


35223 posts in 5168 days

#3 posted 04-08-2009 01:11 AM

Nice job on the review. I’m glad that you were able to heat the shop and get those extra days working.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Brad_Nailor's profile


2545 posts in 4724 days

#4 posted 04-08-2009 02:09 AM

Wow thanks for the review! I have been using a small, old electric heater for my 1 car garage shop. This looks like it will blow that thing away, and I just have to hook it up to my spare propane cylinder for my grill! And the 10,000 BTU model is on sale right now for for $99.00…that should be enough for a 1 car garage?


View spanky46's profile


995 posts in 4158 days

#5 posted 04-08-2009 03:46 AM

Its what I have used the last two winters and it works great! Mine has 3 infrared banks! If its real cold (20’s or below) I start it on 2 banks but always turn it down to 1 after an hour! I never use three banks. I tied mine into my natural gas line so no bottles needed! I love mine.

-- spanky46 -- Never enough clamps...Never enough tools...Never enough time.

View DocK16's profile


1198 posts in 4854 days

#6 posted 04-08-2009 04:47 AM

I too use a ventless propane heater in my shop and find it one of the most cost effective and efficient means of heating my shop. I have a small fan on the wall above the wall mounted propane unit (25,000 BTU) but it’s stiill a struggle to get my 30×36 shop up to a comfortable working temp. On days when the temp is below freezing it may take 3 hours to get the shop to 70 degrees and my shop is well insulated. I use a second tank mounted propane heater to bring get to a comfortable working temp then then use the wall mounted unit to keep the temp level but it is running at full open. I use 2 100 lb tanks which last most of the winter. They are connected by a 3/8 copper line running to the building. Check you local codes as most require your storage tank to be a specified disatance from your building. I’ve explored wood and pellet burners and electric heat and for this area I still believe propane is the best option. I figure I will spend about $200 on heat this past winter. Daniel is right they are clean burning (no soot) but there is some degree of fumes from the ventless model.

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Craftsman on the lake

3331 posts in 4205 days

#7 posted 04-08-2009 01:20 PM

The hottest place using this heater is above the heater. Some days I put a box fan on a shelf above the heater and blow the rising air across the room. I really don’t need to do this but I want to get to work fast without going in for coffee waiting for the room to heat up. When it’s zero degrees F out it does take a bit longer to get warmed up. The fan really makes a difference in the overall shop comfort. But, I only use it in those extreme times.

Brad: I had mine hooked up professionally for two reasons. One, is that the regulator in the heater didn’t fit a bbq propane bottle but needed standard pressure fittings and it said 11 lbs pressure or the heater could be damages. The gas guys have that equipment to check those pressures. Second, I didn’t want my gas $$ leaking off into the air because I might not have had an unseeable leak someplace. But, I’ll admit, connecting it cost more than the heater.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View hootr's profile


183 posts in 4114 days

#8 posted 04-08-2009 02:53 PM

good review, i’ve had one in my shop for about 5 years with no problems
also put one in the house for supplemental heat, about a year ago last dec. we had a major ice event that left us without electricity for over a week, the procom carried us thru that
i had to replace the thermocouple on one last fall and found it at lowes, take the old one to compare, it not the same as generic ones

-- Ron, Missouri

View PurpLev's profile


8572 posts in 4416 days

#9 posted 04-08-2009 05:49 PM

great review! very informative and helpful.

I might look into one of these once we get our own place where we can have it properly installed. right now it’s a bit freezing working in the winter in Boston to say the least even with a small electric heater.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

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Craftsman on the lake

3331 posts in 4205 days

#10 posted 04-08-2009 06:22 PM

someone mentioned fumes. I’ve never noticed fumes except on these occasions. An exceptional amount of dust in the air. You can see the flames turn yellow as the dust is being burned by the flame, and non-waterbased finishes. The fumes burn and produce a smell. I use water based finishes or save my finishing for summer or finish at the end of my day and then leave the shop and turn off the heater.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View Brad_Nailor's profile


2545 posts in 4724 days

#11 posted 04-09-2009 12:16 AM

Interesting…I do have natural gas piped in my house, thats what is firing my furnace…and the pipe is very close to the garage. I bet it would cost at least double the price of the heater to have it piped to the NG line but would probably be worth it.
Purp..I live about 2 hours south of you in CT and it gets really cold here as well. The little electric heater I have makes it bearable on the not so cold days but when its really cold I just don’t work in there….maybe this heater could change that!


View Jim's profile


120 posts in 4765 days

#12 posted 04-09-2009 12:59 AM

I bought 2 of them on sale from northern. 1-10,000 BTU propane for the shop and a 30,000 BTU for the house in case we loose power in the winter. I have had to use the house heater 1 time. My shop heater was used alot this winter and I went through a BBQ tank of propane. It will make condensation form on the windows and it will tend to stink a alittle. I am looking for a 220 electric one for the shop for next year.

-- Jim in Cushing Oklahoma

View araldite's profile


188 posts in 4171 days

#13 posted 04-09-2009 04:36 AM

One problem I’ve heard of with gas heaters, and not everybody has this problem, is that because water is given off when gas burns, it can condense on cold cast iron surfaces like table saws and cause flash rusting. This can happen when the tools are very cold and the room starts heating up but the cast iron stays cold longer and acts like a condenser pulling the moisture out of the air. If you notice this you’ll have to keep those surfaces waxed and protected.

-- Failure is the road to success if you learn to learn from your mistakes - Vince, Greenville, SC

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1092 posts in 4162 days

#14 posted 04-09-2009 06:28 AM

I’ve been heating our large, 200 year old, timber framed house with nothing but ventless radiant NG heaters for years. I prefer the radiant to the blue flame.
The heaters are great for most areas, but in the shop they can pose a problem with finishes. Any solvents or other chemicals that escape from curing finishes will be burned in the heater and can be converted to some nasty smelling stuff. The worst is things like WD-40 spray. Spray enamels are bad, too. Oil based varnishes stink, too. I wonder if those by products are dangerous?
So for those reasons (and at the urgent request from my wife who’s quite sensitive to those things), in the shop I use a ceiling-hung NG furnace that uses a powered exhaust to vent all combustion by products outside. It has a high efficiency heat exchanger so what goes out is fairly cool, keeping the furnace’s efficiency fairly high, but not nearly as good as the ventless type.
Because the cost of fuel escalated this past winter, and it’s been an unusually nasty season, I haven’t used the heat much since November.

-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

View firecaster's profile


574 posts in 4186 days

#15 posted 04-10-2009 05:09 PM

I’ll check into these for next year.
I would like to point out though, that anything that burns produces CO. Gas stoves are unvented but I’ve sent people to the hospital with CO poisoning when they used their stoves for heat.

If your shop is well insulated and sealed tight you need to allow for some fresh air. The owners manual should have talked about this. You may want to buy a CO monitor for your shop especially if you’re seeing yellow flames.

-- Father of two sons. Both Eagle Scouts.

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