Need help on heating my small workshop?

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Forum topic by Hacksaw007 posted 10-19-2013 01:11 PM 7840 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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619 posts in 3637 days

10-19-2013 01:11 PM

I have a small workshop, around 12 by 14 feet, insulated, with a garage door on one end. Setting on a concrete slab. I currently use a kerosene heater but that takes a lot of time to heat, and the cost of kerosene is over $4.50 a gallon. I don’t have a lot of wall space, my shop is very full, and I spray finish in it. The concrete slab is what keeps the shop cold so long. Any cheap ways of heating my shop that are warmer and quicker that what I am doing now. I thought about a mobile home oil furnaces blowing hot air but everything has pros and cons. Any suggestions you have would be great. It gets cold here where we live in central Pennsylvania. Thanks for reading.


-- For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

16 replies so far

View Don W's profile

Don W

19285 posts in 3015 days

#1 posted 10-19-2013 01:18 PM

Are you trying to heat it full time? My shop is 24×40, and sounds like similar construction to yours. Last year I put in a wood stove, but before that I heated with just a kerosene heater. As a matter of fact, it worked well enough that’s why it took so long to get the wood stove in. I could go out and fire it up before coffee, and be good to go when I was ready. I don’t believe I spent much over $60 or $80 on kerosene heating just the days I was out there.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View TravisH's profile


678 posts in 2383 days

#2 posted 10-19-2013 01:24 PM

I don’t see any cheap and quick fix around this unfortunately especially if any flammable products are being sprayed.

You could do the false floor, lay down rigid foam board over the concrete and then the plywood floor. Is the garage door insulated also?

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 2455 days

#3 posted 10-19-2013 01:39 PM

I bought one of these 220v electrics. Instead of hanging it on a wall I welded up a small roll-around cart and would move it to the area of the shop I was working in. I made a 220v extension cord about 20ft long to accommodate the whole shop. My shop was 30’X40’ so this should do your 12X14 no problem

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Natalie 's profile


367 posts in 2414 days

#4 posted 10-19-2013 01:40 PM

Any chance you’d be willing to take everything out of your shop and do something to insulate the floor? I can think of several fairly easy inexpensive solutions that would probably make a huge difference. Not only would the ambient temperature of the room stay warmer, it would take less heat to bring it up to comfort level, and even more significant than that, the cold from the cement won’t be chilling your feet, and the rest of your body to the bone. You will FEEL warmer even if it isn’t.

One way would be to find a farm store where you can buy the kind of rubber floor mats they use for horse stalls. They are very tough, not squishy and not too expensive. The upside is that when you drop your tools they are less likely to break, and the rubber is way easier on the joints. The downside is that things don’t slide on the rubber surface too well.

Another is to build a framework on your floor with 2×2 or 2×4’s and cut slabs of rigid foam insulation to fit in the framework. Then cover the whole mess with 1” plywood. That would raise your floor by about 3 inches but you would have a nice clean surface and it would be easier on the joints than concrete. If you have a high ceiling you could use 4” insulation and make an even bigger difference.

And if you are going to all that trouble and can spend a bit of money there are floor heating mats that are designed to be laid under bathroom tile floors that you could put down, (you’d have to lay tile over that). This would heat up the concrete also and hold the heat well once it’s up to temp, and for efficiency could be kept at low temp 24/7 and raised only when you are out there.

I guess that’s only part one of the solution, you’ll still need a heating source, but seems like you’d be a whole lot warmer in the long run and spend less money on whatever heat source you did use.

-- Natalie - My mind is like a bad neighborhood, I don't like to go there alone.

View firefighterontheside's profile


20434 posts in 2304 days

#5 posted 10-19-2013 01:43 PM

How often do you heat it? The concrete can be a plus just as much as it can be a negative. Once the concrete is warm it will stay that way for a long time. It will be better if you can heat it up and keep it that way. I would use some sort of electric radiant heater that hangs from ceiling. Once it heats up the concrete. The cost will not be great. If you could have a thermostat that you leave at say, 50 deg. And then turn up when you go out there. Electric will definitely be cheaper than kerosene, especially in a small shop. I have a 12 by 24 that I heated with 2 electric space heaters last year. I insulated this year and may only need one heater this year.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View rayn's profile


179 posts in 3666 days

#6 posted 10-19-2013 01:45 PM

I installed a heat pump similar to those in Motels. It is electric and I did not notice a major jump in my electric bill. I have both heat and air and it does an adequate job . Also has a freeze protector that maintains at 41 degrees My shop is my 24X24 garage that is very well insulated.

-- Ray,Iowa

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2558 days

#7 posted 10-19-2013 01:46 PM

I have something similar to Joey, hanging from the ceiling of my basement shop. This replaced a kerosene heater that was a pain, because my wife is very smell-sensitive.

Instead of hardwiring it, I installed a cord and plug that matches my dryer outlet, so I didn’t have to add an extra circuit.

I think I paid ~ $200 for the heater, and $10 for the dryer cord, both at a local Lowes.

View mahdee's profile


4291 posts in 2215 days

#8 posted 10-19-2013 01:59 PM

I don’t heat my shop maily because I use mostly hand tools which keeps me warm once I get going. I have thought about having a boxed in wood stove outside which fans the heat from the box inside the shop.


View Grandpa's profile


3263 posts in 3123 days

#9 posted 10-19-2013 03:25 PM

I use the Kerosene heat. Bullet shaped heater that has a blower in it. I burn diesel in it. Today’s diesel is more refined and it doesn’t burn you eyes like the old stuff. I heat my shop and am able to work in less than half an hour but I am in a warmer climate. I have rubber pads around my work areas. I have 2 overhead garage doors on the north so they don’t seal.

View bbc557ci's profile


596 posts in 2522 days

#10 posted 10-19-2013 03:43 PM

Seems post 3 would be the quickest/cheapest way to go.

I like what Natalie has suggested to. But, if you go thru all the time, labor and $$ to lay 2×4 stapping down over the slab, could you then run coils over the concrete between the strapping to put in some kind of hot water heat runs then secure 3/4 plywood to the strapping? Smallish area so a small boiler would be needed. Maybe you could even use a water heater to heat the coils??

Just thinking out loud…....

-- Bill, central where near the "big apple"

View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 2894 days

#11 posted 10-19-2013 04:09 PM

use a Quartz Overhead Radiant Heater,or even a Kerosene radiant heater,as long as they are radiant ,the reason is they heat the objects in front of it and not the space,space heaters are not as efficient in a garage setting .

I have a slightly bigger (insulated) garage than you and use the two heaters I mentioned to heat it up,when it gets really cold I light up my third heater which is a forced air propane heater for 20 minutes,the trouble with them is the longer they are on the more moisture they create but 20 minutes is a good happy medium I can live with,and the rest of the time I use the radiant heaters.the cost per season is less than $150 for all 3.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View Skylark53's profile


2702 posts in 3508 days

#12 posted 10-19-2013 04:31 PM

My shop is about the same size as yours. This picture shows I use a 220v electric space heater mounted up near the ceiling, about midway of the room. I don’t recall the btus, but it does a really good job for me, keeping the temp at 50F all winter; warmer when I’m there and wish to turn it up. I figure it costs a few bucks a month, but still the most convenient, cleanest, quickest to use, for me.

-- Rick, Tennessee, John 3:16

View cutworm's profile


1075 posts in 3241 days

#13 posted 10-19-2013 04:41 PM

I have one of those dish heaters that sits on top of a propane tank. Propane is pretty cheap now. About 11 bucks to fill a 20lb tank at Costco.

-- Steve - "Never Give Up"

View oldretiredjim's profile


206 posts in 2833 days

#14 posted 10-19-2013 04:44 PM

I have 2 rooms for a shop. 14 X 24 and 12 X 20. Both insulated with R19 in the ceiling and R13 in the walls. Low ceilings. Separated by a window and insulated 32” steel door. My problem is even more complex because we have “no burn days”. About 20 per winter season. When I can burn wood I can heat the whole place with the stove. But on the “no burn days” I needed something else. I tried a propane heater but it was not adequate.

I have found I can heat either room with a 110 Pelonis Cermic Heater. I don’t run the heater full time but for 5 – 10 minute stretches. It makes the place very tolerable for working (I need the wood heater to sit around and drink beer).

These things are very lite and easy to move from one place to another. I do have to plan where I am working and I don’t generate huge quantities of dust when using the electric heater but it is simple, cheap, and clean – and it works. One thing that helps is that I rewired the outbuilding and I have a lot of circuits with dedicated outlets so I don’‘t have to put the heater on a circuit with a 15amp piece of equipment. Turning on a 15amp motor on the same circuit as the heater might throw a breaker. This was my $30 answer to the problem.

View unbob's profile


810 posts in 2351 days

#15 posted 10-19-2013 04:54 PM

I have been using the Cadet Hot One in my 11’ X 17’ insulated garage for several years. I wall mounted it, works great. 220volt. Another happy youboob user here-

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