Starting a workshop...Need suggestions on heating and cooling it.

  • Advertise with us

« back to Focus on the Workspace forum

Forum topic by thechipcarver posted 02-14-2019 05:04 PM 1766 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View thechipcarver's profile


229 posts in 2554 days

02-14-2019 05:04 PM

Hey Guys,

I need some advice on heating and cooling a new workshop.

It’s going to be 10’x16’ with 8’ ceiling hieght. Right now it’s a blank canvas. It has no power or walls, stripped down to the studs.

There will be two scroll saws working in there. Possibly sanding/finishing area with dust collection.

I have looked up heaters and my main concern is the sawdust causing a fire hazard. I would like to store wood in it so it has to be climate controlled, even when I’m not in it.

Any advice?

-- While teaching a class, a gentlemen once asked me: "When chip carving an intricate design, what do you do when you are almost finished and the wood breaks off?" I replied "Cover the kids ears."

19 replies so far

View jimintx's profile


934 posts in 2561 days

#1 posted 02-14-2019 05:39 PM

I think it partly depends on the geographic location, and I don’t see that you gave us that anywhere.

First I would install insulation for every surface of the shop space.

I heat my 21×21 shop in Houston with an electric space heater, a standard 1500 watt device that sits on the floor. I have two of them and use them both on the one or two times a year that the outside temps call for it. I usually store them in the attic space above for most of the year, about 9 months worth

For AC, i put a window AC unit in a wall, mounted up higher, near the ceiling. It does a good job.

I keep a couple of tower style oscillating fans sitting around the floor, available to circulate the air at almost any temperature.

Good luck, a new shop of any type is really fun to mess around with!

-- Jim, Houston, TX

View thechipcarver's profile


229 posts in 2554 days

#2 posted 02-14-2019 05:43 PM

Sorry, I forgot. I’m in Indiana.

-- While teaching a class, a gentlemen once asked me: "When chip carving an intricate design, what do you do when you are almost finished and the wood breaks off?" I replied "Cover the kids ears."

View LesB's profile


2799 posts in 4419 days

#3 posted 02-14-2019 06:48 PM

If you insulate it well cooling may not be a problem but you might have to open windows at night. An electric heater might be all you would need. The 220v wall mounted units do a good job. If you have natural gas or propane you could look at a space heaters using that.

Finally the best choice would be one of those new single room heat pumps. It would accomplish both and be the most efficient. They cost as little as $500, and when the outside temps get below around 25 degrees you could use an electric backup. Some heat pump systems come with electric backup built in.

-- Les B, Oregon

View them700project's profile


291 posts in 1995 days

#4 posted 02-14-2019 06:59 PM

1 ton heat pump

View them700project's profile


291 posts in 1995 days

#5 posted 02-14-2019 07:00 PM

1 ton heat pump

- them700project

View bigJohninvegas's profile


896 posts in 2438 days

#6 posted 02-14-2019 07:24 PM

I have a 3 car garage woodshop. Just shy of 600 sqft. I installed a DIY Mr. Cool ductless mini split system last summer.
So far it is performing great. I am in Las Vegas, Nv. super hot summer, and it keeps the shop around 78, and I have not let it run all winter. Not so cold here, But today I’m today work with it being raining out. And the shop was at 58 degrees. about an hour of heat and I was up to 68.
For smaller shop like yours, This little through the wall heat pump may be the better option.

-- John

View jimintx's profile


934 posts in 2561 days

#7 posted 02-14-2019 08:29 PM

One of my two infrared heaters is like this one offered at H Depot, at about the same price I paid, circa $145-ish. It came with little casters on it.

I keep it sitting next to my table saw, and i set my bin for small cut-offs on top of it. Thus it serves a year round purpose as a mobile cart for the cut-off bin. The thermostat works well, so i seldom turn it off until i know we won’t have any more cold days (and we are close to that already!). I just leave it at 67-68 deg F.

-- Jim, Houston, TX

View CaptainKlutz's profile


4015 posts in 2470 days

#8 posted 02-14-2019 11:12 PM

+1 Use a mini-split heat pump HVAC system if you want true indoor comfort.

All of the other options; either hotel style integrated HVAC pack, separate heat/cool systems, or apt style HVAC furnace mounted outside the wall in a closet; will use a lot more wall space. The mini-split will be more much compact. Lived in Indiana for 10 years. If located in northern half, might need to consider addition of oil filler space heater for harsher weeks in dead of winter. Insulating the walls/doors will mean difference between working comfortable or always too cold/hot.

A small space like that only needs 6-7K BTU HVAC for regular room in Indiana. If you plan to keep some limited temp control running most of time, might be able to downsize the mini-split to smaller 9K BTU mini-split unit. Otherwise, would use 1 ton or 12K BTU unit to enable heat/cold after being idle for long time.

Don’t worry about dust. Filters are easy to clean, and quick blast of air through the unit occasionally keeps it squeaky clean. If end up sanding a lot in the room without vacuum system on sander, would add a small room air filter to help remove dust.

In a space that small, mini-split could be considered overkill by some?
I personally would have windows open and window fans running in summer, and portable oil filled heater for winter. Also, neither one of these devices care if floor is covered with 2 inches of saw dust. :)


-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View Mainboom's profile


92 posts in 733 days

#9 posted 02-14-2019 11:34 PM

if that is the building your getting. insulate it get the roof good you will lose heat out that metal roof. and just get a 220v electric heater. I have a 24×30 garage I heat with a profusion 25000 btu electric heater. my loft is cut off somewhat I still lose some heat but I can keep it at 55 in my garage. so you should be able to get it to 80 in yours.

btw I do not always run my heat and I have lumber stored in my garage. and nothing is warped or twisted. I live in Illinois. I don’t think you need to run the heater all the time. electric heaters can be expensive. honestly you could get with a small infared heater in that building I bet and iw would run off 110v and be way cheaper.

-- CRANE OPERATORS START EARLY because iron workers need their heros ready when they wake up

View clin's profile


1127 posts in 1972 days

#10 posted 02-15-2019 06:13 AM

Sealing and insulating is the first thing you should consider. It’s a very small space. If you insulate it well, even a 1,200 W, 120 V space heater would be enough to keep it warm. Similarly, you probably can’t buy an AC unit that is anything other than way too big. Unless you bought some sort of industrial unit designed to cool small equipment enclosures.

Being a small space, I would look at installing the absolute best insulation possible because being so small, it won’t cost very much. While fiberglass batts would be very inexpensive, consider spray foam. Aside from great insulation, it will also seal really well.

That of course is another thing is to make sure it is tightly sealed including all the doors and windows.

Your picture looks like a garden shed. If so, I suspect it may only have single pane windows. If so, those of course aren’t good. You might loose as much heat through one window as all the walls combined.

Also, don’t forget about the floor. it appears to be set on skids or similar for a shed placed on the ground. The problem with trying to insulate the floor or enclose the space under the floor is you’ll trap moisture and promote mold and rot.

For a home with a crawl space, I think best practices are to seal and insulate crawl spaces and then heat and cool them as part of the house. But this of course is not a house, just a small workspace.

Obviously you can try to make it as optimum as possible, or again being a small space, just do some basic insulation, and then use brute force and install a heating and cooling unit that is 10X larger than really needed and you’ll likely be happy.

I like the idea of a thru-wall unit like John linked. Though probably the smallest thing you could buy is still much bigger than you would need. But, oversized just means it will be less efficient than it could be, but being a small space lower efficiency won’t increase your operating cost very much.

In any case, make sure any sort of heat pump is rated to heat in the winters you get in your area.

-- Clin

View Hermit's profile


247 posts in 2301 days

#11 posted 02-15-2019 12:38 PM

You’ll get various ideas for heat/cool. I use a through wall a/c with heat. Works perfectly for 440 sq ft. Shop. In my opinion, you’ll get cooked/froze out with most systems in that small of a shop.

With that said, in that small environment, I urge you to not skip on dust control. Capture what you can at the source and run an air cleaner or two continuously when in there, especially when scrolling. I do a lot of scrolling now and there’s a lot 0f very fine dust floating around from it. A good mask is also necessary.

Insulation is a must.

-- I'm like the farmer's duck. If it don't rain, I'll walk.

View Tony1212's profile


491 posts in 2711 days

#12 posted 02-15-2019 02:05 PM

You don’t really specify where in Indiana you are. Up near Chicago, I have a 220V heater from Menards to heat my 3 car garage. It is expensive to run, but not nearly as expensive as a mini-split (the gas line is on the opposite side of the house). But that’s only because I use it 2 or 3 days a week. I’m not sure why you would need 24/7 climate control, but if you do, a mini-split might be the cheapest in the long run (especially if the gas line is nearby).

In the summer I use a window unit AC that I picked up in a garage sale for $20. A mini-split would take care of that, too. But since I’m in the garage, I open the garage door and the man-door with a box fan for a cross breeze. Unless it’s in the 90’s. Too hot for me.

I keep all of my glue and finishes in the house during the winter.

-- Tony, SW Chicago Suburbs

View mnguy's profile


306 posts in 4374 days

#13 posted 02-15-2019 02:23 PM

For the floor, you could consider rigid foam panels on top of the existing floor and then lay plywood over that. Readily available and inexpensive in thicknesses up to 2”. Your door other internal restrictions might not allow it, but it would be an easy way to keep the floor a bit warmer without trapping moisture, etc. by trying to insulate under the existing floor.

View ibewjon's profile


2226 posts in 3769 days

#14 posted 02-15-2019 02:52 PM

The rough number for ac is 600 square feet needs one ton. A one ton heat pump will heat and cool the space but it oversized. It will never run long enough to take out the humidity, and it will be cool and sticky. I don’t remember the size of my LG heat pump, but I think it is about 3/4 ton and it is almost too big for my 450’, well insulated shop. It will heat efficiently down to 14 below, but would be pricey for your small space. I needed my backup 4000 watt electric heater a couple weeks ago. Go with an electric heater and a window AC if you need it. Insulation is the key. I would add 1” or more pink or blue foam on the floor, and put another layer of osb on top for a floor to keep the feet warm. I am about 60 miles south of Chicago. I have a concrete floor, but I keep the shop at 60 all winter, so the floor stays above 50.

View bigJohninvegas's profile


896 posts in 2438 days

#15 posted 02-15-2019 04:15 PM

Ibewjon is right. A minisplit works fine for me, but the shop you are looking at is to small. It is important to get the right size unit. Like he said, it needs to run/cycle long enough to remove the humidity to work right.
I have seen some small shops/sheds with small window units, mounted in the wall work really well.
And good insulation is a must.
Is there a window on the wall opposite the double door? A small window unit without cutting a hole in you brand new shop may be a good start.
Like you mentioned about fire concerns.
I would not consider any sort of portable heat unit where you want to leave it unattended. I have used portable space heaters before I did the minisplit. But I would go out and turn it on, and leave a half hour our so before returning to work in the shop. Never leaving it to keep the shop warm 24/7.
With window or through the wall system. Everything that would start a fire is outside.
It does.seem like a one ton unit is pretty standard, did see the 9000 btu. So little smaller than 12000 btu or one ton.
We all talk about proper insulation, and typically with a larger shop you can’t insulate enough. But something to consider with a smaller shop. If a 1 ton is still to big. Maybe be careful not over insulate.
I intended to have a professional install on my shop, and had two A/C company’s give me a quote on my minisplit. They both wanted 6k for a system I did myself for 2k. I simply could not believe what they wanted or could afford that price.
But, having them out for a price quote. I did learn what size unit, and where to locate it in my shop. And in your case maybe how much insulation you need.

-- John

showing 1 through 15 of 19 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics