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Knowledge Center
Industrial Garage Heater Buying Guide

Garage and Industrial Heater Buying Guide

Garage and industrial heaters are more rugged and powerful than their residential counterparts. Since they're used in poorly-insulated areas without central heating, they're subject to extreme conditions and significant temperature drops. Portable garage heaters are popular since many people use their garage as a workshop, studio, or even a place to hang out. Garage heaters can bring powerful heat to large spaces or provide directed heat at the specific area you're working in.

Industrial heaters are commonly used in large event spaces and warehouses. Some models double as dryers for quickly drying paint, concrete, and light water damage. Using industrial heaters for water damage restoration and new construction drying can increase drying efficiency because the added heat increases the rate of evaporation. Industrial heaters are also used to heat greenhouses or for other agricultural purposes.

Our selection of industrial and garage heaters includes models that can be placed on the floor, wall, tables, or even your ceiling. There are several types of industrial and garage heaters, and they all have safety, convenience, and efficiency features to consider before purchasing.

For quick reference to the sections in this buying guide, use the links below:

Types of Garage and Industrial Heaters

There are 4 main types of garage and industrial heaters, and they're all efficient ways to heat areas with extreme temperature changes:

  • Electric/Fan-Forced: Easy to install and use, electric portable heaters are popular anywhere, including garages. These heaters convert electrical energy into heat and typically use a fan to disperse it around your entire space. Since they need to be plugged into a wall, be sure to check out the power requirements before purchasing yours. Many models come with the standard 110-120-volt plugs, but larger (more industrial) heaters require 220-240 volts.

  • Radiant: Radiant heaters provide simple, spot heating to objects in a room. They work like the sun's rays—warmth is radiated from the unit to objects or people in its path. You have to be near the heater, so they don’t warm entire garages like most electric heaters. They're also efficient and heat more quickly than other types of heaters. Like radiant heaters, they're ideal for people who want to heat specific areas like a work station.

  • Infrared: Similar to radiant heaters, infrared wavelength technology provides targeted warmth to your work area. Since they don’t use a fan, they're known for their silent operation, but can't disperse warm air throughout your space like a fan-forced electric heater. Infrared and radiant heaters are great options for small areas or spaces where heat can be directed to one location.

  • Gas/Diesel: While not recommended in garages or enclosed areas, gas or diesel heaters are common for industrial applications. These powerful heaters tend to take a little longer to warm up, but can heat your space just as efficiently and effectively as other heater types.  Gas heaters are popular for various industrial applications like water damage restoration, new construction drying, and warming large unheated jobsites.  

Power

Industrial heaters use watts and/or British Thermal Units (BTUs) to measure power. The more watts and BTUs offered, the more space your model can heat. It's a good idea to purchase a slightly more powerful heater than suggested  for garages and industrial spaces, since there isn't a central heat source in these areas. Plus, they're subject to extremely cold weather because of a general lack of insulation.

If you're heating a small area or are offering spot heating in your garage, consider a radiant or infrared heater. You can also consider fan-forced heaters that offer around 1500 watts for heating smaller workshop spaces. Heaters with around 4,000-5,000 watts are common for larger garage heating, while gas-fueled industrial heaters are better for large event spaces or industrial jobsites.

A few environmental conditions to consider while looking at heater size and power:

  • Insulated vs. Non-insulated Space: An insulated garage or industrial space means the walls and ceiling are insulated, there are quality windows, and a garage door. Non-insulated spaces require more heat, so consider buying a slightly stronger unit if your space isn't insulated.
  • One- or Two-Car Garages: Are you heating a one- or two-car garage? You'll need a larger heater to warm an entire garage or industrial space. But if you’re only heating a specific part of your garage, like a work space, then consider a radiant heater that offers directed heat to your location.
  • Ceiling Height: Garage and industrial space's ceilings are generally at least 8 feet. Higher ceilings mean more cubic area in your space and will require more BTUs of power to heat the space.  
  • Temperature Rise: If you live in a particularly cold part of the country, you'll need a more powerful heater to warm the same-sized space. Temperature rise is simply the difference between your desired indoor temperature and the outdoor temperature. Look for a heater with enough power to achieve the temperature rise you seek.

Electrical Requirements

Since garage and industrial heaters are generally more powerful than residential heaters, many of them don't use standard 110-120 volt outlets; instead they require 220-240 volts. 120-volt heaters can simply be plugged into most household outlets, while heaters with 240 volts heat larger spaces but won't work with most residential plugs. Fortunately, many industrial spaces and garages are wired for more powerful appliances. Confirm that your garage or other space is wired for your heater's voltage power prior to purchasing.

Check the total amperage rating of your electrical socket before buying an electric heater—you also need to ensure your home is equipped to handle its voltage and amperage requirements. Most heaters use 15 or 20 amps.

Plug-In vs. Hardwired

Most people are familiar with workshop heaters you plug in, but other models can be hardwired into your wall or ceiling. Mounts and instructions for hardwiring your heater make installation as quick as possible. A main power source must be available to hardwire your heater, and cables are used to connect your heater directly to the circuit. All wiring must conform to national and local electrical codes.

Plug-in installation is far less permanent and offers much quicker set-up than hardwired models, so those are suggested for people who don’t plan on using the heater on a regular basis. On the other hand, hardwiring offers secure installation and saves you valuable floor or desk space.

Safety Considerations

In addition to electrical considerations, there are several other safety features to look for when purchasing an industrial or garage heater.

  • Tip-Over Switch: This feature automatically turns off the unit if it ever gets turned over.
  • Overheat Protection: An overheat protection switch turns the heater off if it reaches a certain temperature to avoid overheating.
  • Cool-touch Housing: Some heaters have exterior housing that stays cool-to-the-touch while heating your space.
  • Clearances: Manufacturers provide suggested clearances to walls, ceilings, and combustibles. Be sure to measure them before installing a garage heater.
  • Electrical Requirements: The circuit feeding the heater must be able to carry the amperage and voltage your heater requires.
  • Don't Block Vents: Don’t block vents, exhaust, or any other openings on your heater.
  • Turn Off: Always turn off your heater and unplug it before any cleaning, moving, or maintenance to it.

Features

Garage heaters use thermostats to control their heat output, and most use a manual knob to adjust the amount of heat entering your space. The most common thermostats have low and high heat settings. They keep your space warm without overheating and make operation hassle-free. Thermostats are also good for efficiency because they stop heating once your heat level is reached—as opposed to other heaters that run continuously until they're turned off.

Look for other convenience features including:

  • Adjustable Louvers: Adjustable louvers let you direct heat to a specific location, so point them right at your work station for quick heating.
  • Long Power Cord: Industrial spaces and even garages can be large, and a long power cord makes maneuvering your space more convenient.
  • Carrying Handle: Move your heater around large spaces or place it anywhere you want with an easy-to-use carrying handle.
  • Wheels: More common in large industrial heaters, wheels help you quickly move your heater.

Mountable Option

Garage heaters represent some of the most versatile and rugged heaters on the market today. Several models can be mounted on the wall or ceiling to save floor space and allow the heat to reach you quicker. These models are popular because most can be put on the floor or hung on the wall/ceiling to save space.

Consider This

Purchasing a propane heater for your garage is not suggested. With a number of flammable materials housed in garages (kerosene, paint, wood, etc.), propane heaters can be a serious safety concern. We suggest using the other types of heaters discussed above—electric heaters are the most popular for these spaces.

Still Have Questions?

For more information on specific heaters and other indoor air treatment solutions, review our extensive product listings and other Knowledge Center articles. Not sure what's best for you? Contact our product experts toll free at 1-800-934-9194. We want to help you make your indoor environment healthy and comfortable.

Other Resources

Bestselling Workshop and Garage Heaters
Bestselling Industrial and Commercial Heaters
Portable Heater Safety Tips

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