Northeast Iowa - Heating a detached shop?

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Forum topic by RobertStix posted 05-31-2013 03:29 PM 3282 views 1 time favorited 36 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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19 posts in 3293 days

05-31-2013 03:29 PM

Topic tags/keywords: heat shop new shop question

I’m building a new shop because my wife wants to put our addition into part of my current shop’s footprint. That’s cool, I can build the shop I want rather than retrofitting a garden-shed, which is what I have now.

December hit 10 below and stayed there for a while. I need to heat the shop at least four months and up to six months of the year, and de-humidify in the summer.

Last winter I used a portable electric/oil which was good, I also used an electric/fan heater that did the job, but both made nasty spikes in the electric bill when they were in use, in addition to always being underfoot and drawing precious amps.

Those of you in colder climates, how do you heat your detached/outbuilding shops?

Thanx – Rob

-- "I wear eye protection when using power tools because my blood stings my eyes and because I can't read braille."

36 replies so far

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1325 posts in 3406 days

#1 posted 05-31-2013 03:58 PM

Wood stove. I heat 26×30 with a side kick. It has a thermostat controlled blower. I use2-3 cords of wood. I live in northern Indiana

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

7481 posts in 3951 days

#2 posted 05-31-2013 04:23 PM

I’m in NW Ohio, and I used a wood stove for several years (24×28 shop) and really, really liked it. There’s something magic about the crackling of the fire while you’re woodworking. That said, my shop also had a gas furnace (LP) and the wood stove with it’s clearances took up more floor space than I could spare. Eventually I just used the furnace, setting the ‘stat at 50ยบ at night. We moved, the current shop is 24×32, and I carefully insulated it a lot more than my last one. I still have my wood stove, but didn’t hook it up, just another gas furnace: a 45K BTU ceiling hung job. A year ago I burned 100 gallons of LP, this year 150 gallons (I put a meter on it to track the cost). This shop has R19 walls, a 16’ OH door, and R40 ceilings.

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

View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 3904 days

#3 posted 05-31-2013 04:24 PM

You can spend a lot for a an efficient system like,gas fired garage heaters,or better still natural gas,my garage/shop is a hobby shop and I don’t have to spend long periods of time there and can’t justify the expense of putting a NG line from the house to the detached garage.
What I use is mainly Kerosene radiant heaters(2 Of them),and to get the initial chill out of the shop I use a portable propane/electric heater for 10-15 minutes ,I also bought an overhead electric heater from LV ,they are great to warm up your head/upper body(runs for an hour),the kerosene heaters are on a low bench warming up my legs,it all works out well,$100 or so a month to heat the place up,of course I only spend 3-4 hours a day 4 day a week.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 4429 days

#4 posted 05-31-2013 05:08 PM

Don’t know your location relative to town, neighbors, zoning restrictions, etc. but an outdoor wood furnace that heats water and pumps it through hot water tubing embedded in the concrete floor (which must be poured over rigid foam insulation) works great for heating. These furnaces can burn stumps, pallets, scrap and green wood and are thermostatically controlled with a combustion air blower. A friend of mine has one and heats his shop, cabin, swimming pool and all his hot water needs. Loves it. In Tennessee there are times when it may sit and smolder for 2 or 3 days then, when the thermostat demands heat, the blower kicks on and in minutes the thing is heating at full bore. Folks in town don’t have such good luck due to the smoke output, but outside town they are great.

I’m building a new 23’ x 23’ shop in town this fall, depends on selling the farm for the timing, and I think I’m settled on heating the floor with a gas water heater and cooling/dehumidifying with a 14000 btu window type air conditioner; wall mounted. The equipment to do this will cost less than $1000 and I can install it myself.

Obviously I’m not in the frigid zone you are in, but we have had as much as a week or two in negative temps (below zero). Coldest temp I can remember here is -13 degrees F. We just don’t have that every year and not for months on end. Of course, the other side of the equation is we can have weeks of 110 degrees F and >90% humidity to go with it. We all have our challenges.

View moke's profile


3577 posts in 4234 days

#5 posted 05-31-2013 05:10 PM

I got a forced air “house furnace” from a heating/cooling place. It was one that someone was replacing but was still good shape. I gave the guy $50.00 for it and then had the HV/AC place make me a plenim and a short run, that I can hang from the ceiling. As long as it works well, the installation is a breeze. I have about 300.00 total in it. It heats my 28×36 garage/shop to a constant 45 degrees for about 25.00 for a month. That includes when I kick it up to 70 when I am out there. ( and the occasional night or two a winter when I leave the garage door open) Now I might add that my shop is very well insulated…it is awesome but, someday the furnace will die and I will have to get another “left over”, you just have to realize that from the start. Oh I might add, I built a angle iron frame to raise it off the floor about a foot….I really don’t know why, the hv/ac guy said to for saftey.
I am in Cedar Rapids, so I realize all about Iowa winters….

-- Mike

View 1yeldud1's profile


301 posts in 4500 days

#6 posted 05-31-2013 05:22 PM

Mine is similar to “moke” – I have a detached 28 by 28 garage with 2 insulated garage doors – 2 double insulated windows and a walk thru door. I have 4 inches of fiberglass in the walls and have 6 inches in the ceiling. I have just under 8 foot ceilings. i had a new furnace and air conditioner installed in my house and had the contractor install my 5 year old gar furnace in my shop. It is a high efficiency using plastic pipe for intake and exhaust thru the side walls. It is a down draft furnace so we had to make a pedistal for it to set on and I made a filter adapter to set on top of it. I have about 350.00 in getting it installed. Last year I went to the garage almost every night for 3 to 4 hours. I would turn the thermostat to 70 degrees and go eat supper – toasty warm 20 minutes later – My utility bills for gas and electric ran between 22 dollars to 36 dollars a month – should have done this 25 years ago !

View WillieIV's profile


11 posts in 3815 days

#7 posted 05-31-2013 05:37 PM

I’m in Southwest IA and in a similar situation. My shop is 24×32 with 10’ ceilings. 2×6 walls with R19 and 18 inches of cellulose in the ceiling. Right now, my shop is staying 65 degrees. I installed a NewAir G73 and had absolutely no problems heating the shop this winter. This summer I’m trying to decide what to install for cooling. I’ve looked at mini splits etc. Just need to make a decision but want to make the right one. Looking forward to other’s comments on the subject.


View Sandblastguy's profile


42 posts in 3569 days

#8 posted 05-31-2013 05:38 PM

I am in Ontario just north of Toronto and I heat my 25×50 shop for at least six months of the year. I put in floor heating in when I built it and haven’t regretted it for one minute. It’s at 68 degrees night and day. I work in it every day. It has a large window on the south side and after you run a few machines in the morning the furnace rarely comes on , especially if the sun is shining. I use propane to heat the boiler but you can use electric hot water heaters. I wish I had the same system in my house. I would think my winters are comparable to crank49 and Mikes.

-- Sandblastguy Orangeville On. Creating Art From Nature

View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 3904 days

#9 posted 05-31-2013 05:40 PM

I have a question for those of you who use a gas furnace in the shop,is there a problem with saw dust getting blow around when the furnace kicks in? how about the furnace itself,does the dust get in to fan/blower, or orifices ?I have heard the best kind of heating for dusty environment is radiant(no moving parts) ,mainly to eliminate blowing dust around,but also the NG type is expensive but very low cost in operation and maintenance.
A bigger version of this:

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View TheDane's profile


6056 posts in 5121 days

#10 posted 05-31-2013 05:40 PM

I know what your winters are like … I was born and raised in NW Iowa. Winters here in NE Wisconsin aren’t exactly a walk in the park, either.

My shop, technically, is not detached … it is the 3rd stall in a 3 car garage … however the 2 stalls for the cars are between the house and the shop.

When we built the shop last year, we insulated the attic in the entire garage space (there we zero insulation up there when we moved in) to R39, replaced the cheap box store roll-up doors with steel, insulated doors that shut tight, built and insulated walls to separate the shop from the garage, installed a 100-amp subpanel, and hung a Hot Dawg 30,000 BTU gas heater. The thermostat on the Hot Dawg was set to bottom out at 42 degrees … I would crank it up to 64 in the morning and be comfortable all day.

My highest monthly combined gas and electric bill (for the house and the shop) this past winter was $216.

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

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

7481 posts in 3951 days

#11 posted 05-31-2013 05:45 PM

I was worried about the dust being blown around by forced air, and to be honest I’d rather have something that didn’t move the air. That said, it hasn’t been a problem for me. In the last shop I’d run the ambient air cleaner for a while to clear the air of dust. I don’t have one in the current shop, so I’m a little more careful about prepping for finish. The problem for me was balancing the cost of a radiant system of some kind with the much cheaper forced air type of heat.

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

View TheDane's profile


6056 posts in 5121 days

#12 posted 05-31-2013 05:52 PM

Fred … Good point. I run the air cleaner (Rikon 3-speed) most of the time in the shop, It not only cleans the air, but recirculates the heated air from the Hot Dawg. A week or so back, I got up on a ladder and blew the Hot Dawg out with compressed air … there was hardly any dust built up in it after a full winter’s use (October through mid-May).

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

View johnstoneb's profile


3220 posts in 3631 days

#13 posted 05-31-2013 09:34 PM

I’m using a wood pellet stove for mine, 16”x24 R13 in walls, R19 in ceiling and metal insulated garage door.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View LakeLover's profile


283 posts in 3397 days

#14 posted 05-31-2013 10:29 PM

Radient heat floor. Is heated from the one , NG boiler that does the house also.

I used to have a NG heater in the last shop. It was a ceiling hung unit and it did blow dust around.

Not having a combustion unit in the shop sure reduces headachs with finishing solutions and it is a dry heat. Less problems with wet wood.

Big south windows, with designed overhangs to reduce summer heating and max winter heating. There is not way in hell anyone here would get away with using a wood stove in a wood shop. Even putting in a wood burning fireplace doubles my insurance.

As far as the outside boiler units I have heard good things about them, but I also talked to 2 different people and they had to have a 135 foot seperation between the wood firing unit and the shop/barn. That seems a bit strange to me, but insurance rules.

I have R40 ceilings, R19 walls, 1 insulated garage door ( not used often ). 2 walk in doors. No AC but I did frame in a place, for a window unit. Insulation of your building will save long term $ and the comfort and noise reduction are bonus.

I live an hour north of Montana, Canada border and we get all sort of cold winters, like this last one that never seemed to end…......
One other suggestion min 9 foot ceilings, 10 is better. Also if you can put a dust collection port for your table saw under the floor.

I can give you lots of good build tips when the time comes.

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

3896 posts in 4896 days

#15 posted 05-31-2013 10:41 PM

I have one of those small gas heaters that mount on a wall. It’s about 2 ft on a side andabout 10” thick. We use propane here in the northeast for such things. my shop is 25×25 and it heats it well. We usually don’t go below zero here in Maine though. I’d think the best thing you can do is over do the insulation when you build the place.

Expensive but I’m all into pellet stoves. We heat the house with one but the stove can cost in excess of 2 grand.

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

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