5 Best Garage Heaters: The Best There Is

By Jack | Reviews

Aug 18

Hopefully, you aren’t like that weird aunt or uncle that treats their garage like an ad hoc storage unit and don’t fill it with stuff that’s better off thrown away, donated or put in a real storage unit. The garage is part of your home that can be just as if not more useful than the rooms inside. You can work, exercise or even build something for fun in there without having to leave the safety and comfort of your home. Until winter hits, of course.

Once the temperature drops, your poorly insulated garage with its concrete floor turns into a giant icebox. If you want to keep using it during the more frigid times of the year, you're going to need a heater. Fortunately, there are tons of heaters specifically designed for the garage. These heavy-duty heating machines will keep you warm and toasty all year round.

You might think that there wouldn't be very much variation between garage heaters; after all, they all just do one thing. However, differences in construction and function greatly affect the unit's safety, efficiency and durability. Therefore, we have compiled a list of five of the best garage heaters on the market today to give you an idea of where to start and what would be right for you. First, let's over the criteria that we used to select these heaters.

Comparison Table

How We Chose Our Ratings

close-up photo of a heater

There’s a surprising amount of variation and things to think about when it comes to garage heaters. Who knew warming a room up was so complicated? We have divided our criteria into groups and came up with three important categories on which to judge each heater. These categories are, in order of importance to us: safety, efficiency and durability.

Safety

The category we weighted as the most important is safety. A lot can go wrong when you are trying to heat up an enclosed space. Raising the temperature and the processes by which you raise that temperature can be dangerous to anyone inside if the proper precautions are not taken. Some of the dangers include:

  • Fire: The heating element in a garage heater is much less shielded than, say, your average central heating unit. It has to be to maintain portability. However, this greatly increases the risk of a fire starting if the heating goes on unchecked and flammable material is near.
  • Oxygen Deprivation: Some heating units use gas burners to create the heat to warm your garage. Anytime the burning of gas is involved, there is a risk of suffocation as the resulting gas byproduct of the burn is rarely breathable.
  • Heat Damage: This danger is not so life-threatening as the other two, but it can cost a lot of time and money. Should a heater get knocked over or accidentally left on, it could put too much heat on a part of your garage that can't handle it, and somethings could get burned or melted.

To prevent these things from happening, garage heaters have different safety features built in. Obviously, the more safety features, the better so we scored heaters that had more, higher. Some of the most important safety features include: 

  • Emergency shutoff that turns the heater off to prevent overheating
  • Efficient burners and other safety features that reduce changes in breathing air and carbon monoxide levels
  • Tip over sensor that shuts the heater down when it senses it has been knocked over.

Other safety features, big and small contributed to higher scores as well.

Efficiency

With today’s climbing energy costs, consumers are demanding more efficiency from their devices and energy gobbling machines like heaters are at the top of the list. Heat is just a form of energy, so a lot of fuel or electricity is needed to produce it. The less energy that a heater uses while still maintaining high output, the better.

Of course, we didn’t just look at energy consumption. Output is important to take into consideration, too. Some garage heaters need to be bigger and stronger to heat larger garages, so we compared their energy consumption to smaller models to get a good ratio.

Gas powered heaters are usually more efficient than electric heaters, but there are a host of dangers and things to consider when owning and operating a gas heater, so if one is on our list it must have the proper safety features present.

Durability

close-up photo of a room heater

Nobody wants to deal with a broken down appliance after only a short time owning it. That's why we used durability as a grading criterion when selecting our rankings. The longer something will last, the better.

Garage heaters come with features like epoxy coatings, overheat protection, enhanced construction materials and enhanced construction methods. All or at least some of these features combine to prevent wear and damage from the environment or accidents. Of course, if a garage heater is unsafe or does not work well, it doesn’t matter how durable it is, but all other things being equal durable is always better.

The 5 Best Garage Heaters

Ranked here are our top 5 picks for best garage heaters on the market. Number one is our favorite, but since there are so many different kinds of heaters, we tried to get one from each of the major categories. We included gas powered, electrical, plugin, hardwired and all the major output/size categories. Think about the size of your garage and how warm you need it to be in the colder times before making your decision.

Dyna-Glo RMC-FA60DGD Liquid Propane Forced Air Heater

Dyna Glo RMC FA60DGD Liquid Propane Forced Air Heater

This Dyna-Glo garage heater is one of the most powerful and sturdy heaters out there. It uses liquid propane, like a gas grill, to provide strong heat quickly. The heater sucks in cold air with a motor, the propane burning element heats it up, then a powerful fan blows it around to heat up the area.

It has both overheat and tip over sensors and will automatically shut itself off should either of those incidents occur. This Dyna-Glo also employs a low pressure 0.5 PSI system. This propane feed system consistently achieves maximum British Thermal Unit (BTU) outputs, even in particularly frigid environments. It is also safer, as higher PSI levels can cause uneven heating, tank freezing in the extreme cold, and leaks. This heater uses a high-quality nozzle and burner to ensure maximum safety.

As far as durability goes, this garage heater has it everywhere that counts. Its brass nozzle is not only safer but longer lasting than stainless steel. It also has a shielded and bottom-mounted motor to prevent damage and misalignment from bumps and shocks. This thing is built to last.

Propane is not the ideal power source for safety, but the Dyna-Glo is certified safe for indoor and outdoor use. It should be perfectly safe in a ventilated environment, but your garage should probably have a carbon monoxide monitor in it anyway. This unit comes in models that put out 30,000 BTUs all the way up to 300,000 BTUs, so there is size for your garage.


Fahrenheat FUH54 240-volt Garage Heater, 2500-5000-watt

Fahrenheat FUH54 240 volt Garage Heater 2500 5000 watt

Our first electric garage heater comes from Fahrenheat, and it's a good one. This heater can be mounted on your ceiling or wall with its included brackets. It can be hardwired to your building's wiring or, with a little work, modified to plug into a 240v plug. Throw in the built-in thermostat, and you have one convenient and affordable garage heater.

This Fahrenheat model has automatic overheat shutoff protection and is coated with an epoxy finish. This finish prevents corrosion from humid environments and natural oxidation. The louvers are also adjustable so you can aim the heat where you want it to go to prevent melting something you had not intended to be melted.

This small and affordable heater puts out a surprising amount of heat in a relatively short amount of time for an electric model. It is still only suited for small to medium-sized garages, as it is too small to heat a large one by itself effectively. It likely won't be as cheap as a gas heater to operate, but it still runs at good efficiency for its size and type.


Modine HD45AS0111Natural Gas Hot Dawg Garage Heater 45,000 BTU

If you have a large garage or workspace and want it heated quickly and efficiently, you can’t do much better than this Modine model. The Hot Dawg can run on natural gas, propane or even electricity giving you a wide variety of options. We focused mostly on its gas performance to differentiate it from the electric models.

The built-in vent pipe ensures that you won't have problems breathing, and the high-quality materials help with extending its lifespan. Best of all, this unit is highly efficient; up to 85 percent which is much higher than electrical models. To top it all off, it is whisper quiet and neutrally designed and painted to blend in and not be noticed.

The main drawbacks of this model are price and size. It is quite expensive, even for its versatility and its larger size means that it is only suited for larger spaces. Any smaller and you risk overheating or just wasting money on a heater that is too powerful. Still, if you can afford it and fit it in your home, this is probably the best large space heater out there.


Dr. Heater DR966 240-volt Hardwired Shop Garage Commercial Heater

Dr Heater DR966 240 volt Hardwired Shop Garage Commercial Heater

This is another electric garage heater that produces heat with metal coils and a fan to blow the heat out. It is compact and can be mounted on a ceiling or wall with its included brackets. The adjustable settings give good control over the heat output, and it runs pretty quietly.

The unit does not come with an overheat shutoff feature, but the output is not so high to be a danger, and the thermostat control works to maintain the temperature without it going to high. The adjustable louvers give directional control, and the fan evenly heats consistently over time.

We would have liked more safety features, but this unit just doesn’t get that hot. Great for safety but not so great for very cold areas. It is durable and affordable, but is probably best suited to smaller spaces in less than extreme weather,


Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Indoor-Safe Portable Radiant Heater

Mr Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy 4000 9000 BTU Indoor Safe Portable Radiant Heater

This garage heater comes from the previous entry's less educated brother, Mr. Heater. Now, this model is not that powerful; it puts out a maximum of 9,000 BTUs. It also has no fan and must rely on radiating heat. But where this model shines is with portability.

This heater is tiny compared to how much heat it can put out and has a carrying handle for maximum portability. IT runs on small propane cylinders so you'll always have fuel regardless of the wiring situation. It has all the safety features you would expect from a propane heater like overheat and top over shutdown as well as highly efficient burners to prevent toxic gas from accumulating. A great little unit that is cheap and can be taken anywhere for some quick heat.


Buyers Guide

garage with several cars parked in it

When choosing a garage heater, the first thing you need to look at is the size of your workspace or garage. Bigger garages need more BTUs to heat effectively.

  • Small garages (around 250 square ft.): 4-9 thousand BTUs
  • Medium garages (around 500 square ft.): 15-25 thousand BTUs
  • Large garages (around 1000 square ft. and up): 30-60 thousand BTUs

Safety is key in any work environment, so try to incorporate all the safety features we talked about. Also look at things like cool touch or wire guard features that prevent burning by contact. Also, decide if you want to sacrifice some safety for efficiency by going gas powered. Remember, it's only more dangerous if you let it by not taking the right precautions.