Staying warm in the winter

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Forum topic by Nezzerscape posted 01-16-2016 07:06 PM 1423 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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32 posts in 1710 days

01-16-2016 07:06 PM

I was hoping some might provide me ideas on how best to heat my workshop. My shop is an unattached large 2 car garage (2 car plus extension on the side) about 20×30 (8 ft ceiling). Currently it has a wood burning stove (with blower) that heats it nicely. The challenges I face with this is it takes 30-60 min to get the garage somewhat comfortable (it’s not currently insulated save for 1 in reflective sheet on the ceiling) and of course it is a “fire in a wood shop”.

This came with the house and was worked OK over the years, though has limited my time in the winter months (live in Michigan). The problem is I will be needing to replace the stove (or at least some of its piping) in the next year or two. The garage has a new roof and a separate 100A/ 220v drop from the pole.
I was thinking about going with infrared (electric), but do not know how well that would work especially with the low ceiling. Any thoughts?

In this pic the dark boxy thing toward the upper left is the wood burning stove.

(Note this is a future sketch of what I was thinking about for the lay out)

18 replies so far

View MadMark's profile


979 posts in 2299 days

#1 posted 01-16-2016 07:15 PM

Do what I did – move to Florida ...


-- Madmark - [email protected]

View Jeff2016's profile


115 posts in 1711 days

#2 posted 01-16-2016 07:17 PM

Wish I had some advice, I’m in the same boat, and the same state.
I currently have a small wood burner in mine as well. Maybe not ideal for safety concerns, but functional.
Not sure about the infrared, but tinkered with an electric forced air unit in mine for about a month. Then the electric bill came in.
Thought she was going to sell my tools to cover that one!

-- Proud owner of an electronics free workshop. Please check your cell phone at the door!

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

490 posts in 2527 days

#3 posted 01-16-2016 07:31 PM

My understanding is that infrared heaters are best in spaces where you set the temperature to a certain point and don’t change it. If you are going to let the temperature drop significantly when your not out there you want something that heats the air directly and probably has a fan large enough to circulate the air quickly around the space and warm it up.

View AlaskaGuy's profile (online now)


5973 posts in 3155 days

#4 posted 01-16-2016 07:34 PM

Before you even think about buying a new heater insulate, insulate, insulate. That’s the best money you’ll ever spend when it come to heating.

Where you live what are you options for heating fuels.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View conifur's profile


954 posts in 1998 days

#5 posted 01-16-2016 07:37 PM

Pellet stove, nice, enclosed/safe, no splitting/cutting of wood, can direct vent. First though insulation is your best friend.

-- Knowledge and experience equals Wisdom, Michael Frankowski

View Nezzerscape's profile


32 posts in 1710 days

#6 posted 01-16-2016 09:40 PM

I know about the insulation. I am slowly freeing up space to access my walls. I also want to toss some drywall up. Right now I only have 2 (dual) 8ft florescent fixtures and outlets on 3 of the 4 walls (cannot get to the back wall, pile of rough cut from the floor to the ceiling). My thought is to figure out where things are to go then put stuff in appropriately.

So if I was to put in 4 infrared heaters close to the ceiling (pointing downward), I would want to have the on switched outlets. I would rather run the writing prior dry wall/insulation. I also have a squirrel problem (while I live in a rural area my wife does not my father’s .22 method). Try opening your shop door to see a squirrel cracking black walnuts on your TS or opening up a drawer to find Chip and Dales secret stash. That said I have concerns putting up insulation/bedding without putting up dry wall.

Thoughts on heat?

View WoodNSawdust's profile


1417 posts in 2023 days

#7 posted 01-16-2016 09:49 PM

First I would look at plugging the squirrel problem first. Find the entrance holes and plug them.

Instead of drywall consider either chip board or plywood. Both are more expensive but have the ability to hold a nail where drywall doesn’t.

While you are at it consider adding some 220V outlets. At least run the wire (10-3 w/Ground) to empty boxes. It is much easier to run the wire before insulation and some form of wall board.

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

View TheDane's profile


5846 posts in 4509 days

#8 posted 01-17-2016 12:12 AM

WoodNSawdust is spot on. I sheathed the walls of my shop with OSB and sprayed it with a semi-gloss white enamel … bright as hell, looks good, and if I want to hang something on the wall I just drive a screw wherever it needs to be.

The biggest mistake I made was saving cash by not running enough outlets … all of the money I ‘saved’ I wound up spending plus the trip charge to have an electrician come out and add the service I needed for my new 240-volt tools.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View OSU55's profile


2657 posts in 2836 days

#9 posted 01-17-2016 12:29 AM

Solve the squirrel problem – my rat terrier takes care of them
Insulate the heck out of the building
If natural gas is available, that may be best. Propane is down now, but won’t stay that way – not a good option.

For electric, a heat pump – cool in summer warm in winter. No open flame to worry about. The caveat is it should be left at the same temp. If you are only in your shop 1 or 2 days/week, not a good choice, but if you are in there every day it is. There aren’t any great electrical choices for quick warm up of a cold building that aren’t expensive to operate.

View Nezzerscape's profile


32 posts in 1710 days

#10 posted 01-17-2016 01:44 AM

Well shop is somewhat functional. I managed to make a few cabinets for my kitchen this past summer. But because it is so packed I am not out there that much. I am only out there for a few home projects AKA work, and the yearly Halloween costume:

(Yes the structure is made of wood, it was built like an airplane model)

View clin's profile


1121 posts in 1842 days

#11 posted 01-17-2016 05:26 AM

Insulating should be your first priority. The only reason to consider infrared heating is if you plan to place yourself in the path the the IR heater. That way you heat yourself without having to warm the shop. But in a shop that large, that doesn’t seem very practical.

My guess is if your stove is able to heat the un-insulated space in 60 minutes, it will do it noticeably faster after insulating. However, nothing is going to warm it up really fast if it has cooled to freezing temperatures. It isn’t just a question of heating the air. That’s easy. Air doesn’t hold much heat.

It’s the walls, ceiling, floor (probably a concrete slab) and all the stuff in there that has to warm up too. Remember, just as a radiant heater is radiating warmth, all those cold surfaces are providing a net negative flow of IR heat.

If you can heat with some type of fuel (like natural gas), you could consider keeping it somewhat warm. Like 50 degrees. That would be pretty inexpensive to heat to that level. Or you could at least use a programmable thermostat to set it to turn on early in the morning and have things warmed up for you by the time you want to work in the shop.

If you really aren’t going to be out there that often in the winter For example, one afternoon every two weeks. Then electric heat might not be a bad idea. Electric heaters are much less expensive. And while electric heat is very expensive, if you don’t use it that much, it might be the better choice. But an electric heater large enough to heat that space quickly, is going to be a pretty big unit and require a significant electric circuit.

Or again if out there infrequently, you could run a smallish electric heater on a programmable thermostat to come on some hours before you want to work to take the chill off and fire up the wood stove to get it toasty.

But still, insulate first.

-- Clin

View conifur's profile


954 posts in 1998 days

#12 posted 01-17-2016 06:25 AM

well said!!! Only he knows all those things, and need to apply what was said here. I have read many a thread here about having a wood burner in the shop, I worked in a pulverized coal fueled Power Plant for over 20 years, it is explosive at the right mix to air and a spark. I cant imagine a wood shop that one person works in, running one machine at a time could ever get to that mix in the air. Not to mention most wood burners are not open, they just suck in room air for combustion, it aint an open fire place.
Now if you want to spray Lacquer or Shellac in there good luck.

-- Knowledge and experience equals Wisdom, Michael Frankowski

View conifur's profile


954 posts in 1998 days

#13 posted 01-17-2016 06:32 AM

Infrared does not heat the air, just objects so you will feel cold.

-- Knowledge and experience equals Wisdom, Michael Frankowski

View R_Stad's profile


428 posts in 2689 days

#14 posted 01-17-2016 01:38 PM

I have unattached 2 car garage also. Had this 220 volt heater for several years and very happy with it. On when I’m in there, and off when I’m not. Good luck.

-- Rod - Oregon

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6412 posts in 3339 days

#15 posted 01-17-2016 01:45 PM

Having heated my 24×28 x10 shop for a few years with wood, I’d consider staying with that. Anything electric is going to be ungawdly expensive to run, and as conifur pointed out the infra red heats objects so you may not get the effect you are looking for. Back to the wood stove, it wouldn’t be a good first choice but you’re already set up for it and contributing to the longer times to warm up is the lack of insulation. Even so, at some point I’d consider putting in some source of wouldn’t be electric, but a combustion furnace. I heat my current shop (we moved from the one mentioned earlier) which is 24×32x8, R40 ceiling and R18 walls with LP and last year during t a very cold winter burned a metered 150 gallons of LP. It’s normally closer to 100 gallons a year heating to to 65º when I’m in there; most days for 8 hours, and 50º at night.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

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