Heating a shop area in a detached garage - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 11-01-2019, 05:20 PM Thread Starter
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Heating a shop area in a detached garage

I have my shop set up in about half of a two-car garage. I was considering installing curtains so I could more easily heat the shop area with a kerosene heater. The garage has a second floor and the rafters are open, so I'd probably need to address that too. I didn't want to insulate and drywall the building because I like all of the space I have in the rafters for stuff. I can set up the curtain without too much trouble and then probably lay a heavy clear plastic across the rafters to reduce the amount of heat that escapes. Before I commit or do something that eventually reveals itself as stupid (often the same thing), I figured I'd poll the masses for ideas. The table saw is a temporary (Hitachi) one...I'll add a more versatile saw later. I had to sell my saw, joiner, drill press and dust collection before I moved last year. Thanks in advance for any thoughts you might have.
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post #2 of 24 Old 11-01-2019, 06:20 PM
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First you need to flip your shop over LOL


Unless you are buying kerosene in large quantities, it would probably be cheaper to heat with electricity, I have seen the prices they get at some places and per BTU it is pretty high, plus you still get the jet engine tail pipe smell


I imagine they have improved them since the first ones I ever saw in Korea in the mid 70's but you could always smell a little of the exhaust


But if you don't have enough power for electric that too could be a problem

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post #3 of 24 Old 11-01-2019, 07:03 PM
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There are many options to consider. Here are two more.
I have wood heat when I am not too lazy to build a fire. I bought a torpedo heater ($300 from HD) last winter and use it to warm the area quickly while the stove gets a good fire going - except I have kinda gotten out of the habit of building a fire.
5 gallons of diesel will last a month pretty easily. When it runs, it is only for a minute or two. Warms the area VERY quickly!
My shop is not a shared area - just a detached 24 X 40.
Yes, you can smell the diesel for a brief moment when it first starts and yes, it is a little noisy. But it is easy and very effective.

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post #4 of 24 Old 11-01-2019, 09:41 PM
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Insulating the walls is the first thing I would do. That will not cost you any space.



Plastic over the rafters would a temp fix. If you floor over that space you will gain usable storage space.


George
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post #5 of 24 Old 11-01-2019, 10:40 PM
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Warm air rises .....

Plastic/Visqueen off the ceiling as George suggests will retain a lot of the heat. Insulating the walls, R13 or greater will be the next step. Sealing off cracks in the doors by pressing them closed will help. I use wedges in between the track and the door sections. I you don't need to open the garage door, seal it off on the outside with plastic/Visqueen. Then, if it faces South, open the garage door during the day... free solar heat!



I heat both with electric and Propane. The electric maintains a 45 degree minimum, but I fire up the propane when I want it really warm.
Electric is expensive here in Michigan, so I'm frugal with it.


The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #6 of 24 Old 11-04-2019, 04:07 PM
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best thing would be to remove all the stuff you have in the floor joist area, insulate and sheetrock the ceiling and walls
close off the stairs with a wall and door, under stairs makes an excellent compressor room
if you want a good clean heater, pick up a used furnace off craigslist, i paid $200 for an 80% 80k btu furnace 15 yrs ago
i keep my shop at 55f all winter, turn up the heat when i'm out there, shop is fully insulated and sheetrocked

i had a plastic ceiling in my automotive bay for a while, when i set up for spray painting a car
didn't last long before getting saggy (laying on lights) and dirty
i still have a plastic curtain wall between my auto bay and storage bay, it keeps from heating the extra 12x30 space

pic is from storage area, looking into auto bay and then into my wood shop, plastic wall is rolled up for the summer
6 foot door into shop is opened in winter to heat auto bay, doesn't stay warm for long with door closed
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post #7 of 24 Old 11-04-2019, 10:26 PM
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My unheated basement shop has a 4' wide swing out door that leaked like a sieve you could feel the breeze. My old school solution was to tape plastic bags to the door edges, close the door and then use that expanding foam spray all around the frame. Let it cure, trim off the excess, open the door, remove the bags. Now it is an air tight fit, it still gets a little chilly when it is really cold, but nothing a sweat shirt can't handle. 100% improvement for me at little cost.
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post #8 of 24 Old 11-04-2019, 10:38 PM
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Using a kerosene heater will put a lot of moisture in your shop. I would not want that in my shop. I use an electric heater.

Don in Murfreesboro, TN.
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post #9 of 24 Old 11-05-2019, 04:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hawkeye10 View Post
Using a kerosene heater will put a lot of moisture in your shop. I would not want that in my shop. I use an electric heater.

Actually any fossil fuel puts out a gallon of water for ever gallon of fuel burnt

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post #10 of 24 Old 11-05-2019, 05:02 PM
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I'm on the same path. Just got a kerosene heater, but need to get rid of it... kinda smells, even with an additive + now I'm finding out it creates moisture... definitely don't want that on my purple heart boards :)
How about heating with propane gas? the one you screw on the top of the tank? anyone using those ?
I'll be trying to heat the garage only few hours over the weekend, nothing major.
Just found a nice article about insulating a garage, here - https://www.thespruce.com/types-of-g...lation-1398128
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post #11 of 24 Old 11-05-2019, 05:57 PM
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any unvented fuel heater will expel moisture into the air, i had a propane turbo heater that was the worst
propane is probably the cleanest fuel to use, burning propane makes heat, CO2 and water vapor
they all burn my eyes after while :)

i also have the emergency top of the tank style 'mr heater', it's not as bad cuz it puts out less heat

check out craigslist for old house propane furnaces, the 80% or better furnaces use pvc exhaust pipe
natural gas is cheaper if you have it available
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post #12 of 24 Old 11-05-2019, 06:13 PM
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Several years ago, I closed off what was a one car garage and put up OSB board. The wife put heavy plastic over the garage door which helped. This spring I built a wall, insulated it and painted it. So far, here in SE TN, the temperature hasn't gone below 62 degrees. Can't open the vents in the garage or den as it starves air from upstairs. Electric would be the way to go, IMHO. If you could run a 220 line, that would be better for a heater. Natural gas is second here, if you have it but be prepared to shell out some $$$ as not all plumbers are certified for gas lines. 20 years ago, it was going to cost me $4K to convert everything to NG.

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post #13 of 24 Old 11-06-2019, 12:45 PM
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My issue with electric, other than the elevated cost as someone has mentioned, is recovery time. I often have long periods when I cannot get into the shop, so when I find a couple hours I dash out and practice the hobby. Nothing electric can heat my space fast enough. I also have a fairly drafty space due to its age and construction, so I have a rather rapid air change and therefore lose a fair of heat. Nothing electric can keep up with the air changes.

The kerosene "bullet" heater has been my temporary solution for over fifteen years. After the initial starting burst of combustion, any kerosene smell rapidly departs. I have a very large area to heat with a domed roof, and the bullet can make it toasty in 10-15 minutes. The space will stay at pretty good temperature for between 45 to 90 minutes depending on ambient and wind, so I only cycle it occasionally. One caveat however- It is noisy. I often wear a headset and listen to satellite radio or the ball game on TV while it's running.

Moisture has never been a problem simply because the air never saturates to condensation, and that is because I never heat for long periods of time. None of my tools or material will absorb water to a negative extent in a short amount of time. I have a 55,000 BTU heater (rather large) and it goes through about thirty gallons of kero per winter season.

I have always had plans to install a natural gas line to my building for the convenience of not having to deal with buying kerosene and servicing the unit. But until then (and it's been fifteen years of wishing) the bullet does serve me well.

Another $000,000,000.02 worth of advice,
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post #14 of 24 Old 11-06-2019, 02:35 PM
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My double car garage shop. I use a propane torpedo heater you can buy from the local Menards or Lowes. Buy a couple of 20 pound propane tanks and you have lots of heat for those really cold days. Cost about 7 dollars for 8 hours out in the garage. I do have to shut the torpedo off every 30 minutes or so as I will get to hot in there. If I am working at a fixed location I also use some of the 1500 wat lights they produce radiant heat as well as light. I have led for lights so only use these now for heat.

If I was out there every week I would go with a small natural gas furnace and a thermostat and blower setup. Electricity for heat is expensive. I have used Electric heat for my shop and a kerosene heater but that thing gives me a headache fast. Seal up those leaks and insulate. If you have wood available a small wood burner is nice.
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post #15 of 24 Old 11-06-2019, 09:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pineknot_86 View Post
Several years ago, I closed off what was a one car garage and put up OSB board. The wife put heavy plastic over the garage door which helped. This spring I built a wall, insulated it and painted it. So far, here in SE TN, the temperature hasn't gone below 62 degrees. Can't open the vents in the garage or den as it starves air from upstairs. Electric would be the way to go, IMHO. If you could run a 220 line, that would be better for a heater. Natural gas is second here, if you have it but be prepared to shell out some $$$ as not all plumbers are certified for gas lines. 20 years ago, it was going to cost me $4K to convert everything to NG.

You have not gotten below 62 degrees in East Tenn.? Wow/ I have already seen 36 degrees here in the Florida Panhandle at fort Walton Beach.


George
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post #16 of 24 Old 11-06-2019, 10:17 PM
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If it gets really cold, I do have a wood fired boiler tied into our furnace and it can keep the basement nice and toasty. We went 25+ years using no oil for heat and hot water, when I installed a new oil furnace the electronic settings are too complex so I have to turn the furnace off so it doesn't come on as it shares the same flue, before I would just dial the thermostat down so it wouldn't kick in. Now it is there in case of an emergency, we can still heat the house and have hot water if we lose power by opening the backflow valves and let gravity handle it.
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post #17 of 24 Old 11-06-2019, 10:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shop_Rat View Post
...I also have a fairly drafty space due to its age and construction, ...
...any kerosene smell rapidly departs...
Moisture has never been a problem...
drafty places are ideal for kerosene bullet heaters cuz 1) they put out a lot of heat 2) you don't smell them with constant air changes 3) moisture isn't a problem for the same reason
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post #18 of 24 Old 11-07-2019, 05:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by _Ogre View Post
any unvented fuel heater will expel moisture into the air, i had a propane turbo heater that was the worst
propane is probably the cleanest fuel to use, burning propane makes heat, CO2 and water vapor
they all burn my eyes after while :)

i also have the emergency top of the tank style 'mr heater', it's not as bad cuz it puts out less heat

check out craigslist for old house propane furnaces, the 80% or better furnaces use pvc exhaust pipe
natural gas is cheaper if you have it available

Actually it is 90% or better use PVC, wouldn't want somebody to install an 80 with it or they would have a molten pile of PVC LOL


But also beware condensing furnaces (90+) have pretty complicated controls and probably an ECM (electrically commutated motor) both of those can be quite pricey if they cause problems. The ECMs are the biggest problem, I installed a Carrier 98% furnace when we built our house about 15 years ago, since it was their ultra top of the line it also uses propitiatory parts, the ECM has failed 3 times in the 15 years, luckily it was only a thermistor (that I couldn't get from Carrier) but Digikey fixed me up with them, my cost for the module if I couldn't have found the thermistor was over $400 (I am/was a Carrier dealer) the thermistor was a dime if I had to replace the whole motor it was $1200, it was something I over looked when I bought the unit scratched and dent LOL

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post #19 of 24 Old 11-07-2019, 09:53 PM
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use a lamp

see mitt_ens post
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post #20 of 24 Old 11-08-2019, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by GeorgeC View Post
You have not gotten below 62 degrees in East Tenn.? Wow/ I have already seen 36 degrees here in the Florida Panhandle at fort Walton Beach.


George
That 62 was in the shop. It will get down to 18-20 next week. That will be the real test for the shop. Have had morning temps lower that than but only one or two days. I fired up a small electric heater when the shop was at 62 and within a few minutes the shop was up to 68.
IMHO, anyone born and raised in the South should live up north one winter to see what cold is really like. Cincinnati, OH- January, 1982- minus 41 with wind chill minus 61.
Edit- Just remembered, a friend worked at the Miami airport. A guy came running in and declared, "You have got to see this!" Tom went outside and it was snowing at the Miami airport! However, when it got about four feet from the ground, it melted.

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