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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-13-2009, 03:52 PM Thread Starter
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Hi all,

we just moved to a new house and I ended up with a pretty big garage. Plan to use half or more of it as my shop. That is plenty of room.

Two questions:
1. I am in Iowa. Winter is cold here. Can get -20 sometimes. Need a way to heat the garage. It is about 22X24 with 10 feet ceiling. It is too expensive to run gas pipe to the garage. So I am left with electric or propane heating. What experience did you have? Any model you can recommend?

2. I plan to add some windows to the side of the garage. I am trying to keep the project as small as possible and finish it as fast as possible so I can get back to wood working instead of working on the garage remodeling for months! I am thinking using some glass blocks since I wont' open these "windows" I am just looking for a way to get some natural light. Suggestions?

Thank you very much,

Kevin
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-13-2009, 04:43 PM
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Check out Dan's garage build, "Garage Overall for Shop" you will find it under "show and tell", or mine also in Show and Tell Moving shop from garage to basement. I think his is better done and is more in line with what you want to do. It is no small task and will take time if done well. For a garage shop where you live you will need to insulate, and then use either sheetrock or as Dan did use plywood. One thing I can assure you is you will receive plenty of encouragement from folks on the forum. One thing I do suggest is to have everything mobile so you can put up the cars if need be.

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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-13-2009, 08:09 PM
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I live in Anchorage and we typically get -20F for a week or two a year, so I have a feel for what you speak.

I've attached a PDF with some "talking numbers" on heat loss. I say "talking numbers" because, despite my BS in Mechanical Eng., it's not the discipline of engineering I practice. I encourage you to go to a professional engineer to refine these numbers or go to a web site and calculate them yourself, this is just so we can talk "size of the breadbox" stuff.

All calculations are based upon assumptions. This calculation assumes R-11 insulation in the walls (4" fiberglass), R-19 in the roof (6"), concrete floors and 10 sq. ft. of windows. Windows lose a lot of heat, although they are nice to have. Also, this allows for one air change per hour. That is a rule of thumb for fairly well-constructed existing construction. Based upon that, with a -20F outside and 65F inside, the building would lose ~27,000 BTU/hr steady-state. If it was -20F inside and you wanted to warm up metal tools in a reasonable amount of time, you'd need more for a while.

You talk of electricity and propane. Electricity may well be the best solution if it is just temoporary (i.e. you're renting), as the initial investment is minimized though the hourly electric bill, when it was -20F outside, would be about 9 kwh. At $0.12/kwh, this would be about $1.00 per hour, although if the initial cost could be as low as the price of 6 portable heaters (~$20 each, less on sale). In order to do this though, you will need lots of power available in your shop. This would take 6 each 20A breakers with wiring, as each heater will require its own breaker. If you need to run a subpanel to make this work, your price goes up.

If you own the home, the best bet will be to set yourself up to eventually use natural gas, though it is not necessary right at first. I'd look for a direct-fired, exhausted, garage heater. T oget 30,000 BTU's I'd go with a 40,000 or 50,000BTU input furnace, as some of the heat goes up the chimney. They are available that can be made to run off of propane or natural gas (change of jets). This would permit you to get up and running on propane and then swap over if the price of propane becomes an issue. You can either operate off of a 100# tank or get your local propane delivery service to rent you a larger one. A 100# tank should last somewhere around 25 - 40 hours of burner-on time. You will need to check on propane prices, they vary widely by location.

What you *don't* want is a non-vented heater at those kind of temperatures combined with that size of burner. When propane is combusted, the result of perfect combustion is CO2 and H2O (water vapor). The last thing you want is warm water vapor condensing on your cold tools.

As you might guess, garage / shop heating is a popular topic here in Alaska. :-)

There are some here who heat their shop with a wood stove. It's nice dry heat, if you have the time to spend cutting and stacking your own wood. It also has disadvantages when you are finishing and you need to keep the place warm for an extended time for the finish to cure. If you have to buy your firewood, all bets are off.

Just my $0.02...

Jim
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-14-2009, 12:25 AM
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Dust collection is a real concern if you are running any kind of open flame or exposed element heating. I am working in my garage in Ontario Canada and it gets pretty frosty out there in the winter. So far I have been able to get away with a small electric heater but on really cold days I just stay out of the shop. But I have to run the small heater pretty much all day in the winter to be able to work out there comfortably by late afternoon. I didn't see a huge bump in the electric bill but I do miss a lot of shop days in the winter
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-14-2009, 01:27 AM
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Some tax breaks & incentives out there both federal & some states.
Check into your area & if the garage is attached to the house you may be eligible for some of them.

Gas piping is pretty easy (plastic below ground & iron pipe above ground) & cheap & the new space heater furnaces are efficient & easy installs.

Call & get some bids, even if you don't use them, you get some ideas of which way to go. Maybe even "DIY".

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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-14-2009, 08:15 AM
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Hi Sweaty,
Welcome to the forum. This gentleman, ken's pens has a variety of heaters and is a woodworker so may be able to offer a solution.
You state that installing gas pipe to the garage is too expensive and I would assume that your logistics regarding the meter or other considerations have led you to believe that. Natural gas is the most efficient fuel, though, and the energy cost difference between a natural gas appliance and any other appliance (excepting DIY wood) will pay for the pipe installation pretty quick. Glass block vs. windows follows the same metric. In fact, I would be surprised if the glass block and installation isn't more expensive that a good insulated glass window. Another light source that most folks don't consider is a light tube. They can really light up a dark space:Online Store.
FWIW, I heat my detached garage/shop with wood. I've been heating with wood for many years. I am fortunate that I can secure firewood for next to nothing and am still able to cut it and throw the stuff around. I know it's not for everyone but works for me. Once you have a heated garage, it's hard going back, though. The missus really likes jumping in her warm car, also.
Good luck on the garage/shop!

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Last edited by westend; 07-14-2009 at 08:21 AM.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-14-2009, 09:01 AM Thread Starter
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Default Thank you all!

Thank you all for your input! I am truly grateful!

I never considered the option of heating the garage with a wood stove. Here is my situation: we bought the house so I can do whatever I want with it. It sits on over half an acre of wooded land. It is not big but it sure has a lot of trees. I have neighbors who just cut their trees and heat their house with it. This is one option that I will further investigate.

Then I think I need to get some bids from some plumbers on running the gas pipe into the garage.

Propane heating is a good short term solution.

Right now, I just cannot wait to get back to wood working and all these prep work I have to do to make the shop ready is eating away valuable work time so I might just end up doing something stupid and costly just to pass this winter and revisit the issue coming spring.

Again, thanks to all replies. I will carefully consider each option.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-14-2009, 09:51 AM
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Hi sweaty

Put your own pipe in ,it will pay you in the long run,you can rent the dich witch machine ,once the pipe is in the ground you have the hard part over then have a lic.plumber hook it up...you can do it if you want to ,just pull the permit and pickup a code book .. it's a duck soup job...the new gas pipe they have now days makes it easy..


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Quote:
Originally Posted by sweaty View Post
Thank you all for your input! I am truly grateful!

I never considered the option of heating the garage with a wood stove. Here is my situation: we bought the house so I can do whatever I want with it. It sits on over half an acre of wooded land. It is not big but it sure has a lot of trees. I have neighbors who just cut their trees and heat their house with it. This is one option that I will further investigate.

Then I think I need to get some bids from some plumbers on running the gas pipe into the garage.

Propane heating is a good short term solution.

Right now, I just cannot wait to get back to wood working and all these prep work I have to do to make the shop ready is eating away valuable work time so I might just end up doing something stupid and costly just to pass this winter and revisit the issue coming spring.

Again, thanks to all replies. I will carefully consider each option.



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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-14-2009, 04:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CanuckGal View Post
Dust collection is a real concern if you are running any kind of open flame or exposed element heating. I am working in my garage in Ontario Canada and it gets pretty frosty out there in the winter. So far I have been able to get away with a small electric heater but on really cold days I just stay out of the shop. But I have to run the small heater pretty much all day in the winter to be able to work out there comfortably by late afternoon. I didn't see a huge bump in the electric bill but I do miss a lot of shop days in the winter
Deb,

If you have plenty of breakers in your shop, consider running several heaters at the same time for a bit to warm the place up, then switch to one.

I had a little 12x16 storage shed that I insulated (4") and ran power to in the 80's, my first "shop". I had 4 portable 1500 watt heaters in there that I could turn on and off individually. At -20F I could turn them on and in 10 minutes I was down to a flannel shirt, 20 minutes my tee and by 30 the iron tools were fairly warm. Then I'd turn 3 to fan-only, one to low (500 watt) and let the thermostat turn on and off as necessary. That 6kw for 30 minutes cost me about $0.30, but it was worth it for the shop time.

That said, there was one time I went off and left the heat on in the shop and didn't go back for a month in the cold of winter. We don't want to *talk* about the electric bill. Funny thing though, my wife wanted to talk about it! :-)

Jim

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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-14-2009, 08:32 PM
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I use a couple 1500 watt fan heaters in my garage. About an hour on the cold days (0) gets it to the 50s. If colder out, I'll kick a 3rd heater on.

If the garage is attached, you may be able to connect it to the house system. You'll have to check local codes, as it may be illegal. You will also need to have fire dampers in any ducts leading to the house. I did some extensive research on this last year, and found a wealth of help at ICC Bulletin Board.
This specific thread:
ICC Bulletin Board: Heating garage from residence system

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