Heating and Cooling the Shop

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Forum topic by Glen posted 08-23-2012 12:14 PM 4700 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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118 posts in 4086 days

08-23-2012 12:14 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I am going to be building a 20×30 foot garage workshop and am wondering what is the best way to heat and cool it. I live in Wisconsin so I will need a good heating system. I do not really want a forced air system because of the dust. Would infrared heating be good for a woodworking workshop? I am thinking that
I would have to wait too long for the shop to heat up if I go with an in-floor heating system. Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated.


-- Glen

27 replies so far

View benchbuilder's profile


285 posts in 3460 days

#1 posted 08-23-2012 01:02 PM

Hi Glen, I use two 8000 watt electric heaters, one on each end of the shop, and a fan in the window for summer time, but would like a small ac system for summer time. My shop is 20×22 and the two heaters are more than I need, but wasn’t sure when I installed them. You should insulate very well and if you spend too much on insulation you will get it back in heat savings. I guess it depends on where you live and how high your electric bill is. I seen about a 15 increase per mo with the heaters. but I only keep it at 65 during the winter mos.

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

9813 posts in 3338 days

#2 posted 08-23-2012 01:41 PM

Electric heater to keep it above freezing…

wood stove to warm it up when you’re in it….. and to dispose of your scrap :^)

-- Matt -- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View Moron's profile


5048 posts in 4903 days

#3 posted 08-23-2012 01:56 PM

in floor heating

you leave it on. I heated 3,000 sq ft, 12’ ceilings, overhead door, to 70 degrees in Central Ontario (nasty nasty winter) for around 300 bucks for the entire year.

Too cool it. I put fans in up high, on opposite walls, one blowing out, one sucking in, left it on in the evening and nice and cool all day long.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View AJLastra's profile


87 posts in 3238 days

#4 posted 08-23-2012 02:39 PM


as was mentioned earlier, if you don’t sufficiently insulate the space, its not going to matter what manner you use to heat or cool. I dont have a space as large as yours…............its a detached car and a half garage but it went uninsulated for the past few years. I insulated with R19 in the walls and R30 in the ceiling before last winter. I live in Ohio, and while the winter last year was more mild than usual, it was still plenty cold enough. I was able to use a Coleman propane heater with adequate ventilation in that space and within 30 minutes of turning the unit on, I could work in shirt sleeves. Not sure why you feel in floor heating wouldn’t work. That would be the Ulimate for me! I think you’d be just fine with that heating system. For what its worth, Norm Abram used that system for the New Yankee Workshop in a rather large space. I dont mention that simply because it was Norms shop. I mention it because he had a large shop but it was also insulated. You could use forced air mounted on one side of the ceiling and a good dust filter system on the other like a JDS 750. thats what I do. I leave the JDS on all day and all night. Very quiet and very effective if you use it along with other dust collection in your shop. I hook all the sanding tools up to a tool activated shop vac (Fein Turbo II) There is very little dust.

View NedB's profile


659 posts in 4575 days

#5 posted 08-23-2012 03:43 PM

Check out, look under projects and then passive solar. There are several ways to incorporate passive solar systems into your build and they can greatly reduce your need for conventional heating systems.

-- Ned - 2B1ASK1

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4343 days

#6 posted 08-23-2012 07:38 PM

Hi Glen, I have a fully insulated shop of about 220sg.ft. I use a small electric oil radiator. I leave the heat on all the time as it takes a long time to get it heated enough for comfortable working otherwise. That way I can use the shop whenever my wife allows me to, lol. The heater is thermostat controlled and I keep it to about 18C. I find that my vacuum cleaner exhaust and florescent lighting generate quite a bit of heat too, so the temperature rises while I’m working and the heater is often not on during that time. I don’t really know how economical my setup is, but I can work comfortably in any weather. Good luck on your build.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View stevenhugg's profile


1 post in 2828 days

#7 posted 06-03-2013 04:42 PM

Follow the above mentioned simple maintenance tips and you can prolong the life of your HVAC equipment and improve the air quality inside of your home. Regular maintenance done by professionals can be used to detect small problems before they become big problems and costly HVAC appliance damage.
heating and cooling Toronto


View AlaskaGuy's profile


6398 posts in 3318 days

#8 posted 06-03-2013 05:28 PM

I’ve never understood the concerns of forced air in a shop. I’ve used forced air in my shop for well over 20 and don’t experience the blowing dust that always comes up in these heating threads.

Lots of guys buy in install shop air cleaners in their shop but shy away from forced air heat???

A forced air furnace is basically the same thing except it blows heated air. The air comes though a air filter just like an shop air cleaner.

This is my forced air furnace, very similar to the air cleaner box. (95% efficient)

I spray finish in my shop all the time with the furnace running and get good results. I think it’s an non issue. This is an off the gun finish.

I can’t help with cooling, something I never need here.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View moke's profile


1682 posts in 3785 days

#9 posted 06-03-2013 05:36 PM

I think this is pertinent to this discussion….

I also am in charge of a budget for the saftey center for our town. We have radiant heat in our apparatus bays. They are fairly new, we had forced heat in the old bays…while our bays are double the size, our bill is four times the price of the old center, with vastly increased insulation. Since we installed them at the request of the architiect, I have really done some investigating and found that many others have a similar experience….I might go another way…

-- Mike

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6834 posts in 3502 days

#10 posted 06-03-2013 05:43 PM

The 2 things I would give careful consideration too with the radiant heaters is 1: (to build on what moke said) the operating cost, and 2: the ceiling height. Forced air isn’t the best alternative for a wood shop, but what I’;ve found is that it is a lot less bad than I imagined. With a good DC and an ambient air cleaner, the dust problem is minimal and manageable. Add to that the lower operating cost than some of the alternatives, the ability to bring the temp up fairly quickly, and a reasonable installation cost it still may be worth it for you to consider.

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

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5341 posts in 4970 days

#11 posted 06-06-2013 07:43 PM

#1 suggestion for whatever system you decide…...insulate the shop, insulate the shop, insulate the shop and ceiling.
Wanna know how I REALLY feel?

-- [email protected]

View MT_Stringer's profile


3183 posts in 4240 days

#12 posted 06-06-2013 08:39 PM

Last summer it was 102 in the garage (my shop) here in the Houston, Tx area. Same temp outside. I had previously insulated the outside wall and installed an energy efficient overhead door.

Then, I installed a split system AC w/heat pump and…had 11 inches of blown insulation (R38) put in the ceiling. That made a tremendous difference. No problem maintaining 77 deg in the same heat. Today it is 91 outside, 74 in the shop! :-)

My point is the ceiling insulation made a big difference keeping out the radiant heat from the roof which is a basic shingled roof.

Note: I went with the split system so I could install the outside unit behind our privacy fence and not have to deal with the homeowners assoc. Also, the insulation really helped suppress the sound. I have asked my next door neighbor if the noise bothers them at night and he has repeatedly said he doesn’t hear anything. I like that.

Good luck with your shop. I wish I had that much room. It should work great for you.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View swandog's profile


20 posts in 2981 days

#13 posted 06-18-2013 06:28 PM

I have a radiant tube heater (nat gas) in an attached 3stall garage. (in Mpls) I keep it around 50deg F during the week and then turn it up to 65 on the weekends if I”m fortunate enough to find time to work out there. My ceilings are 12’ so that works good for radiant tube heater. As others have said…insulate,insulate,insulate…if you don’t you’re just heating the outdoors…If I were building I’d do radiant floor heat all the way…insulate the slab really well…that is the way to go.

View ibewjon's profile


2268 posts in 3802 days

#14 posted 05-01-2018 01:33 AM

Radiant floor heat is very effective and efficient IF the correct heat source is uses. A high efficiency condensing boiler is great. An electric water heater is not. If the heat source is not efficient, that is the problem with many systems.

View MagicalMichael's profile


167 posts in 1525 days

#15 posted 05-01-2018 01:58 AM

A lot of this depends on how often you use the shop and on what you already have, since you describe this as a “garage”. If you already have oil or natural gas that is the way to go. If your winter temps never or rarely get below -10F (not the case where I am in VT) then an electric heat pump is probably the low cost option for supply. The delivery system depends on how often you are in the shop. I heat my house (2200 sq ft) with radiant floor and radiators powered by an oil fired on demand water heater, and a wood stove back up. In the long and very cold Vt winter that takes less than 500 gallons of oil to keep the house between 66 & 68. But I am in my shop (550 sq ft) more sporadically so keep it at 60 – 64 with a small, oil fired Toyo space heater. If I were in the shop 4+ hours a day I would definitely go with radiant floor heat.

I never run a power tool without a 1 micron dust collector attached and for the same reason I would never run hot air again – been there, done that, never again. Keeping your lungs clean for a lifetime doesn’t cost much more than a month of emphezema.


-- michael

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