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post #1 of 66 (permalink) Old 12-01-2007, 11:17 AM Thread Starter
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Default heating the shop

Ok so right now it's not just a shop. It's also my garage.

I have a 2 and a half car garage where my woodworking stuff is. It gets REALLY cold out there in winter (I live near Niagara Falls, NY, US). Basically all my woodworking comes to a screeching halt until spring temps warm things up a bit. I am trying to figure out if it would be economically feasible to change that... even just a little. Any recommendations for how to heat the space so I can work out there? I can back my van out and have the entire space it occupies as "safe space" for a heater. Concrete floor with no combustibles within 6 feet in any direction. I've looked at propane heaters and wondered how long they'd run on a 20 pound cylinder and if they'd heat that space up to a usable temp. And I'm not sure how big a heater I'd need. I have to figure out, I think, how much BTU output I need to heat the space.

I'm not talking about constant heating (although that would be wonderful), I'm talking about going out there, starting a heater, finding something to do while the garage warms up a bit and then doing some work for an hour or 4 and then shutting down.

Anyone got any experience with this scenario?

Now... next year might be different. We've pretty much decided that next summer is the last year for the pool. Then it's gone. I already have a concrete patio next to the garage. It's about 10x26. My wife told me that we need to put an addition on the garage so I have a workshop that's not trying to carve space out of the storage of junk that accumulates in a garage (garden tractor, snow blower, lawn mower, all the garden tools and out of season summer patio furniture, etc). Now I know that 10x26 is kind of a bowling alley of a shop space, but I'll take it. And the fact that SHE brought it up means I don't have to wish for it forever
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post #2 of 66 (permalink) Old 12-01-2007, 12:23 PM
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The fastest way to bring up the temp in your garage is a torpedo type heater. A 55,000 BTU unit will bring the temp of your size shop up to 60 from 10 outside temps in about 15 minutes. This type of heater needs outside air for the intake or you will reduce the oxygen and have watering eyes in no time flat. I placed mine by an entry door and left it open about 6". Once you hit 60 turn off the torpedo. Now is the time to use a catalytic propane heater which warms objects, not the air. This will keep you comfortable. Another alternative is a kerosene heater. The large round convection heaters will keep the temp comfy all day for about $3, by far the best route short of an installed furnace. If you can find a radiant style even better, less than $2 a day. This is from experience with my own garage, about the same size as yours. Adding insulation to the inside of your garage door will greatly reduce the heat loss.
Remember that heating the cold shop and then letting it cool on a regular basis will produce a good amount of condensation on metal objects so a coating of WD-40 is in order to prevent rust.

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Last edited by Mike; 12-01-2007 at 12:36 PM.
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post #3 of 66 (permalink) Old 12-01-2007, 12:37 PM
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I had a Kerosene heater myself and it would warm the room in no time but the fumes would go throughout the house and gave me a heck of a headache. I sold it .. didn't work for my shop but might for someone else.

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post #4 of 66 (permalink) Old 12-01-2007, 01:11 PM
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I've got a propane tank top infared, it works pretty well, but you've got to keep a door cracked.... so if it's a windy winter day it is not so effective. I also have a small quartz infrared heater (electric) that I'll use if I can't keep the door open or just for small jobs. It heats you, so you feel the effect pretty well.

If you're using a propane heater, make sure it has an ODS cut-out. I got mine from Harbor Freight a few years back, and it's been a solid performer.

Another cheap fix, floor mats and thick socks help keep the concrete from chilling you as well!

If I ever get around to it, I've been looking to install a u-tube infrared heater (like the one's over the cashier at the home center). I've got 10 ft ceilings in the garage, and that will not be in the way. I like the u-tube type since that will have all the combustion effectively outside the shop. I'm hoping that since my garage is under the bedrooms, some of the heat will help warm up the upstairs as well!

another tip, see if the Mrs. will allow you a tiny bit of space in the laundry room to keep your glue. Some glues don't like the real cold temperatures, as lifted from the titebond site:

Titebond II Premium Wood Glue is not for continuous submersion or for use below the waterline. Not for structural or load bearing applications. Do not use when temperature, glue or materials are below 55F. Freezing may not affect the function of the product but may cause it to thicken. Agitation should restore product to original form. Because of variances in the surfaces of treated lumber, it is a good idea to test for adhesion. Read MSDS before use. KEEP FROM FREEZING. KEEP OUT OF THE REACH OF CHILDREN.

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Last edited by kp91; 12-01-2007 at 01:19 PM.
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post #5 of 66 (permalink) Old 12-01-2007, 01:47 PM Thread Starter
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yeah I have some plastic milk crates that I use for collecting all my "don't want this to freeze" stuff and I bring them in the house for the winter. Nothing freezes in my garage. Not sure exactly why, but when I pull my car in, the snow melts off and sometimes I have to sweep teh water out the garage door.... where of course it promptly freezes...

But it gets all my tools and equipment so cold that my hands get too cold to work on anything just from handling the tools! That patio I mentioned is probably inch and a half to 2 inches below the level of the garage floor. I'm going to take a serious look at installing radiant floor heat when I put on the addition. But for now... I just wanna warm it up for like... a day here and there. Or half a day.... maybe once a week or once every OTHER week.
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post #6 of 66 (permalink) Old 12-01-2007, 01:59 PM
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Torpedo heaters work the fastest. The one I have burns both diesel fuel and or kerosene. Problem with kerosene is, the price gets expensive after a short time.

I would suggest possibly looking at a small pellet stove.


Just my $0.02 worth.

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post #7 of 66 (permalink) Old 12-01-2007, 02:33 PM
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DANGER ,DANGER ,Will Robson , any open flame htg. in the garage or shop you are just asking for it.. in all the ways you can think of...the saw dust will ignite just like a bomb not to say anything about removing the air from the shop and relpacing it with a deadly gas.

I can't think of quicker way to put rust on ALL your tools than running one in your shop..the tools in the tool box with have rust on all of the tools not to say anything about the power tools, I found out the hard way that they are not cheap to run...you can clean the tops up but not inside the tools the norm.

If you want to get heck of a headache run one for about hour...just b/4 you pass out and hit the ground...

Elec.wall htg.work well in the shop they will keep the chill off some are 110 volt and some are the big ones at 220 volt...but they are not to cheap to run but it's cheaper than replacing the shop or making a call to 911... I want to talk with you and not about you. be safe and not sorry... ..... >>>>


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post #8 of 66 (permalink) Old 12-08-2007, 06:10 PM Thread Starter
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Ok well... I bought a 55,000BTU propane powered mini torpedo. I also have an electric quartz radiant heater. The propane mini torpedo was only $139 at The Tractor Store. I bought an extra 20# cylinder as well. The torpedo will run for about 8 hours on high from a 20# tank. If I warm up the garage with the torpedo first, and then shut it down and use the electric radiant heater to keep the chill off while working, this might work out.

If I need a boost from the torpedo from time to time, then I'll have to consider what operation I'm doing and how much dust will be in the air. Might have to make better use of my dust control. I don't always run it.

I have those interlocking cushioned mats in my work area and I REALLY can't spend more than a couple hours on my feet at a time anyways. Trying to work out there in winter is going to force me into some better habits as far as planning and cleaning. If I kept the propane heater running on high, AND if I cut the run time estimate to 6 hours instead of 8, then it'll cost me about $2 an hour to run it. (I can fill a 20# cylinder for $12).

The other morning when I went out to go to work, the outside air temp was 22 degrees. The garage inside was 34. Even in the dead of winter, snow MELTS off my van after I pull it in and the water on the floor from the melt has never frozen in the 13 years we've been here. However... water in a water bottle HAS frozen. So I'm guessing the concrete might not cold soak but the air gets below freezing at least sometimes.

When I put on the addition for the shop, I might plan on electric heat. I know there's 220 out there because the guy that lived here before used to restore old farm tractors out there and had an arc welder out there. I'll have an electrician take a look at the electric system from the mains to the sub panel and let a pro tell me if it could handle the load. If I just keep the shop at 40 or 50 degrees when I'm not out there then it MIGHT not be terrible on the electric bill. Might also be a good enough reason to make the walls from 2x6 instead of 2x4 and get more insulation in there. The mice will love it! I wonder if I'd be better off with the sprayed on, expanding foam stuff.... I wonder if mice don't like that.

ANYWAYS.... I'm rambling as usual. For now.... and with a careful eye towards dust, I think I can pop the temp up with the torpedo and maintain some level of working comfort with the electric quartz heater. I won't always be using dust-making power tools. I'd like to be able to go out there and sit and work on carving, or do things with hand tools. I also have plans around here somewhere for a "dust detector". It works kinda like a smoke detector and just measures stuff suspended in the air... like smoke... or dust. If that alarm goes off I could make sure the propane heater ain't running.
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post #9 of 66 (permalink) Old 12-08-2007, 06:23 PM Thread Starter
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OH... so again I guess I'm asking... anyone else live in an area where it gets really cold AND has a shop that isn't inside or attached to their house AND heats it for the winter?

I know one older guy that has a woodshop and he has heated it with a wood stove for probably the last 50 years without an issue. BUT... he grew UP with wood stoves. I didn't.

So I'm still interested in hearing about how anyone is heating a small, detached workshop. You guys are my biggest source of information for this stuff. And I am REALLY liking working in wood again and I HATE that I have to stop for about 6 months of the year because it's too cold to work out there.
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post #10 of 66 (permalink) Old 12-08-2007, 08:06 PM
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When you put the addition on that you mentioned, check out the price of in-floor hot water heating. I've not idea of the cost, or even if it's allowed in your area, but I've always thought that was the route I would take if I ever built another shop or garage. A friend of mine built a double car garage a few years back and he installed plastic piping before he poured the floor. He uses a household hot water heater to heat the water, and a small pump to circulate it thru the floor. He keeps it about 50F in there and it's nice to work in .

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