Your garage is the perfect place for a workshop. It’s out of the way and since most are only partly finished, you don’t have to worry about making a bit of a mess while you’re working. But whether you’re using your garage as a workspace or are simply running some routine auto maintenance, spending hours out in the garage during the cold winter months can be torture. That’s why installing a garage heater is such a great idea.
These heating units are perfect for keeping your work area warm and toasty all winter long. And while you might be worried about the installation, the fact is that installing a garage heater is fairly simple. But before you go out and buy one, it’s important to understand the options out there so that you can choose the model that’s right for you. In this article, we’ll not only discuss the options that are out there and how to install your garage heater once you decide which one is best for you.
Garage Heating Options
The way you’ll install your heating unit depends on the power source and style of the unit that you ultimately purchase. There are several kinds of garage heaters available on the market, including units that are powered by natural gas and electricity. And in each category, there are a number of styles such as radiant and forced-air models, each using a different mechanism to provide warmth.
Before getting started, please keep in mind that for models like natural gas or hardwired electric garage heaters, you’ll be working with your home’s gas line and electrical system, so some areas require you to hire a professional to make the connections. But since there are several steps that you can handle yourself that will allow you to greatly reduce your installation costs, we’re still going to cover the process for you.
Electric Garage Heaters
Electric garage heaters come in two styles, hardwired and corded models. Corded models are the easiest to install and most of these units can be installed in under an hour. These models are the easiest models to operate and install and since many of them are actually floor units, they’re also portable.
For these models, you just find a space on the floor that doesn’t have a lot of clutter and will allow the heater to push warm air without being blocked by objects and then plug it in. Usually, the best place for any heater is against the back wall of your garage so that faces the garage door. Corded garage heaters also come in ceiling or wall-mounted models.
These units are installed with a mounting bracket. Again, you’ll aim the unit at the area of the greatest heat loss, normally the front door of your garage. The main considerations you need to keep in mind are that the power cord from your heater can reach the electrical outlet and that there aren’t any obstacles within 2-3 ft of the unit. This second consideration will ensure that your unit operates safely and efficiently.
Hardwired electric garage heaters require a few more steps during installation, which makes them a bit more complicated. You will still select the right spot for your unit to be installed and attach it to your ceiling or wall with a mounting bracket. But once in place, you’ll need to connect the unit to your home’s electrical system. You will run a sheathed cable from your circuit breaker box to the heater to do this.
If you want to use a thermostat with the heater, you’ll run the cable from the breaker box to the thermostat and then from the thermostat to the unit. If you want to operate the heater without a separate thermostat, you’ll simply run the sheathed cable directly to the garage heater. Once all the wiring is done, your new garage heater will run off your home’s electric system and you’ll never need to worry about it again.
Natural Gas Garage Heaters
A natural gas garage heater is installed just like you would install an electric model but there are two differences. First, you’ll need to connect the heater to your home’s natural gas line. Second, you’ll need to install a vent that allows the fumes that are generated from the unit to escape the garage through either your roof or wall. When installing a gas-powered garage heater on either the wall or ceiling, you want to pick a spot that is 3” below the ceiling.
You’ll also need to make sure that all objects are at least 3 ft away from the heater for safety reasons. Again, the main consideration in placement is that the unit will be directing heat towards the area with the maximum heat loss, normally the front door of the garage. This will ensure that your unit operates as efficiently as possible.
Use a mounting bracket to install the garage heater and make sure that you allowed enough clearance to make the venting, gas, and electrical connections. These will normally be on either the right or left, though some models allow you to use either side. Now, you’ll use the gas pipe specified in your instruction manual, this will ensure that your heater is receiving the right gas pressure, and making the connections, sealing the connections with pipe compounds.
Secure the piping adequately and then test the line for leaks prior to operation. Once the gas line is connected, you’ll need to make the electrical connections. Some units can simply be plugged in but most models will require hardwiring. If you choose to, you can run sheathed electrical cable to a thermostat and then run the cable to the unit to allow for temperature control.
Once you’ve connected the unit and thermostat to your electrical system, you need to install the ventilation system. Follow the unit’s instructions to connect the appropriately-sized vent ducts to the exhaust of the garage heater with a 90-degree venting elbow and then connect the other end of the vent to a cut-out in either the ceiling or wall of your garage to allow for proper ventilation.
You’ll need a vent cap for the exterior of the venting system and then will seal up the hole you made in your garage’s roof or wall. With all these steps in place, your natural gas heater is installed and ready to provide you with years of efficient and reliable heating.
Garage Heater Installation Costs
How much the installation of your garage heater costs depends on the model you choose. If you opt for an electric model, you’ll have a smaller upfront cost since most of these units are available for somewhere between $100 to $400. And since most of these models can be installed without assistance, you won’t have to shell out for installation costs.
Even if you decide to install the unit yourself but have an electrician make the hardwired connections, you’ll likely only have to pay for a few hours of work so the out-of-pocket expense is minimal. The drawback to these models is that once installed, they will cost more to operate than a gas model simply because you’ll be using electricity to power the unit. This makes them a good choice for a small garage but less than ideal for a large area.
A natural gas garage heater requires more upfront expense. Generally, these models cost between $400 to $800. Most models provide the required venting accessories but if the model that you purchase doesn’t, you can expect to pay about $150 more for these materials. With everything on hand, you can reduce costs by installing the unit yourself.
But if you are using a plumber to make the gas connections and run the ventilation system, you can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $1000 depending on where you live. While the initial expense is higher, the benefit of these units is that once installed, the cost of running the unit is much lower than an electrical model. This means that you’ll end up saving money in the long run.