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In this episode of The Handyguys Podcast, we take a question on garage heaters and have some follow-up thoughts on the CarMD product we discussed in episode 91.
We received a great question from Captain Kent about heating his garage so he can work on his honey do list. It’s excerpted here:
Hi guys! I have a question for you. Last year I purchased a home built in the 80’s and I’m slowly morphing into this Handy-Guy-Do-It-Yourselfer-Inspector-Gadget kind of guy.
I figure my garage being 800 square feet that I can utilize this space in the cold months to do projects out there. In any case, I ripped all the sheet rock off the walls and am about 60% deep in the project of fully insulating the garage. I’m installing Champion windows, a new back door from Lowes, and even insulating the inside of the 20 foot main garage door with a neat Owens Corning garage door insulation kit. I’m doing everything myself accept the walk out door and windows…so far anyway.
I’m a pilot by day and a Handy Guy Podcast Warrior by night. We battle our garages on our days off and then compare notes at 41,000 feet. We decided we are probably both going to go with a hanging natural gas type heater but here comes our question. We thought about just breaking through the wall and piping one of our main house heater ducts into the garage for heat. When the garages are all insulated and sealed up it shouldn’t take a lot of heat to keep them warm, or warm enough to work out there. We were not familiar with any homes that have done this before and figured there must be a good reason for us NOT to do this. We decided to ask you guys if you know of any reason why we would NOT want to simply tap off and route one of our main house ducts into our garages for heat?
Thanks Brian and Paul, keep the podcast coming! I’d be in the poor house if I had to hire somebody to do all the jobs this house needs!
Utilizing house heat
You need to maintain separation between the house and the garage to prevent easy penetration of flames and fumes. The building codes in your area likely prohibit any garage connection to a forced air central system. Of course, the story would be different if the garage were converted into living space. In this case, a critical factor is the size of the current HVAC system. If your house heat is hot water, it might be possible to add a zone from your boiler for in-floor radiant heat.
Permanent installed heat
If you want a permanently installed heat source, the best method is using a ceiling mounted heater. These beasts provide the most heat without interfering with handyguy duties or parking a car. The ceiling mounts provide a choice of gas or electric. Lennox has one that looks nice.
Portable temporary heat
Portable heat will be much less expensive to purchase. You have several options such as portable electric, kerosene or propane. Paul has a portable propane and Brian has a kerosene heater. In Brian’s uninsulated garage, the kerosene heater barely does the trick when its cold out and is useless when its fridged out. Each kind of heater has its pros and cons. We discuss these in the podcast.
We talked about the CarMD scanner for your car back in Episode 91. The scanner is used to read errors in your vehicles computer to help you diagnose problems. When The Handyguys checked out the units, they were impressed but they didn’t have any error codes on their vehicles at the time. Things of changed and now both Brian and Paul both coincidently have their dreaded “check engine” brightly lit. The CarMD scanner read the error code *and* provided likely solutions with cost estimates for repairs! Well done, CarMD, very cool.
8 thoughts on “Garage Heater Options And CarMD Discussion”
Kerosene and propane heaters in enclosed spaces scare me. And opening the garage partway for “venting” seems to defeat the purpose of heating in the first place.
I have a two-car garage (half dedicated to my workshop) and when the time came to decide on heating options I ended up going with a small ceiling mount electric (Dayton G73). It needs 208V/240V but I have a subpanel in my garage (you need one if you have any real tools in there) so running a new line was easy. During winter I set the thermostat to the lowest level (which seems to equate to somewhere around 50 degrees F) all the time so any glue or finishes I have don’t freeze. I turn it up a little if I am actually working out there. I wish the thermostat went a little lower (maybe an external thermostat is in my future) because it can be a little expensive to run but it sure beats stinking myself out or freezing my butt off. I would love to have a natural gas fired permanent unit with proper venting but that is just a little more than I am willing to do for my garage.
I had a small parabolic electric heater but I haven’t used it much since getting the ceiling mount unit. I can still pull it out for spot heating if necessary though.
Thanks for the info Jeff! My garage is so drafty that I don’t worry about kero or unvented propane. If you have an airtight space a CO detector would be a good investment.
You might want to look at CarCheckup (http://www.carcheckup.com) it does the “tell me why my check engine light is on” function that CarMD does, but it also records driver performance and tracks business mileage.
Sounds interesting. maybe we can check it out on a future show.
These are some great tips. My father used to be a building inspector so I’m glad you warned him about the codes regarding opening the living space to the garage. I think that this code is in place in most (if not all) states. But if he decides to go with a kerosene heater then he should definitely have a CO detector in there. I know someone who had to be hospitalized due to overexposure to CO (he was running tools and a Kerosene heater in his basement). It is definitely not a fun thing to go through.
I’ll be sure to send it around to a few friends. Maybe I can entice them with some drinks and they’ll help me install a heater for my own garage. Awesome article, thanks.