If you find yourself spending hours in your garage, be it working on your car, using it as a workshop, or finishing up a DIY project, then you how chilly of a place it can become when the temperatures drop.
You shouldn’t let a bit of cold stop you from working on your projects and enjoying your work area, though!
While your garage may not be a part of your house’s heating system, and the insulation might not be top-notch, the best garage heater can still turn it into a comfortable, functional, and well-heated space during the winter months!
In a Hurry? The Winner after 41 Hours of Research:
How I Picked:
512 Reviews Compared
36 Hours Of Research
63 Popular Products Considered
Last Updated: June 20, 2020
By James Ruhle: This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information regarding best garage heaters available for those who are interested in having a warm garage during cold season. The best 5 available have changed, and information has been added to assist individuals in finding the best garage heaters currently available on the market. The FAQ has also been updated.
Dr. Heater DR966
600 square feet
3000 – 6000 watts
Fan-forced garage heater
ISILER Space Heater
108 square feet
Fan-forced garage heater
Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy
225 square feet
Top 7 Garage Heaters Reviewed
A reliable heater goes a long way in heating your garage and making it a more comfortable place. The tricky part is picking the right heater – one that’s safe, durable, delivers heat efficiently and is wallet-friendly.
I’ve rounded up my favorite heaters below, so take your pick!
1. Dr. Heater DR966 - Editor’s Choice
Our Rating: 90/100
If you need electric heaters, then look no further – it doesn’t get much better than the Dr. Heater DR966 commercial-grade electric heater.
It’s powerful but quiet, so it delivers all the heat without the annoying rattling noise that’s often an issue with comparable fan-forced electric heaters. Whether you choose to use it in your workshop, garage, shed, or basement, I’m positive that you’ll be happy with its heating performance.
Here’s what makes it one of the best electric heaters on the market!
Design and Features
The all-metal construction, topped off by grey epoxy paint, has a practical industrial vibe – and I mean that in a good way – and it’s built to last.
The front cover features stamped steel, complete with fully-adjustable louvers, and straightforward controls – and you can’t miss the massive fan hidden behind it, either.
The secret to its efficient heat distribution and quiet operation is inside the housing – the spiral steel-sheath heating elements and the thermally-protected, permanently lubricated ball bearing motor.
Also, it weighs 27 pounds, but it’s not like you’ll be carrying it around:
It’s a fixed electric heater that requires the hard-wired installation and comes with mounting brackets.
You’ll need the help of a certified electrician to ensure proper and safe installation, even if you could technically pull it off yourself.
Performance and Safety
Surprisingly, an eight-inch fan of this electric heater produces so little noise, to the point of being nearly silent. The constant, steady flow of heat still makes its way through the air – and into every corner of your garage.
You direct the heat using the five-way adjustable louvers so that the warm air goes where you need it most. The built-in variable thermometer, with two heat settings, lets you set the temperature inside the garage, too.
It delivers from 3000 to 6000 watts of power, depending on the heat setting, which is well over 20,000 BTU – enough for a large workspace area of up to 600 square feet.
Also, this electric heater is both UL- and C-UL certified. And while it doesn’t have an automatic overheating protection switch, it comes with a visual alarm – a blinking light will go off whenever there’s a risk of overheating.
Our Rating: 88/100
If you’re particularly interested in portable propane heaters, then the Mr. Heater F232000 propane heater – or Buddy, as I prefer to call it – might be worth considering:
Mr. Heater is a compact and portable gas garage heater that’s perfectly safe for indoor use and has a 225-square-foot coverage area – and the price is right, too!
Design and Features
First off, I love the black and red color combo. Aside from a few other electric heaters, there aren’t many colorful options out there – but this one pulls off a smart, retro look!
Mr. Heater is approved for both indoor and outdoor use, which means that you’re getting more than a garage heater here:
It’s perfect for camping, fishing trips, as well as chilly nights on your porch or patio.
Besides the versatility and an easy-to-start lighting mechanism, the heavy-duty Mr. Heater boasts a portable and relatively lightweight design, weighing a mere 9 pounds. It comes fitted with a fold-down handle, too, which makes it super easy to carry around when needed.
Also, it has a swivel fuel connection that connects to either a disposable cylinder or, with a few quick modifications, a remote gas supply.
Performance and Safety
Despite its minimalist footprint, Mr. Heater packs a mighty punch and is capable of heating an area of up to 225 square feet quickly and effectively.
Mr. Heater doesn’t come with a thermostat, so you only have two heat settings. The lower setting of 4,000 BTU should give you around six hours of runtime, which is pretty impressive. If you push it to a maximum of 9,000 BTU, you should still get about 3 hours out of a single propane tank!
You’re probably wondering how safe Mr. Heater is, considering that it’s a gas garage heater:
It’s equipped with a heavy-duty wire guard to prevent accidental burns, and more importantly, an integrated automatic shut-off system.
The auto shut-off feature kicks in whenever it detects that Mr. Heater was tipped over, picked up, or even knocked hard enough, or if the pilot light goes out for some reason. The best part is that a low oxygen sensor’s built-in, too, and shuts off automatically when it detects a drop in oxygen levels!
3. ISILER Space Heater - Best Budget Pick
Our Rating: 89/100
If you have a relatively tight budget, you’re probably worried that you won’t be able to afford a reliable – and most importantly, safe – heaters.
But as this ISILER Space Heater goes to show, there are some outstanding heater options in the budget-friendly price range, too!
If money is tight, this wonderfully compact “personal” fan-forced heater should be your top choice, whether you plan on using it in your garage or inside your home on those unusually cold days.
Design and Features
I was instantly impressed by how small, and lightweight this garage heater is. Honestly, I didn’t expect it to be this compact!
I mean, it weighs a mere 2.6 pounds and measures 7 inches at its widest. If that’s not compact and portable enough for you, then I don’t know what is!
It comes with an integrated carrying handle which makes transporting the heater even more convenient. Also, I like how stable the triangular stand feels, whether you placed the heater on the floor or a table.
Despite being crazy lightweight and oh-so-tiny, the all-yellow housing – which, by the way, looks phenomenal – feels surprisingly durable, too. More importantly, the heater is constructed out of fire-retardant materials and utilizes PTC ceramic heating elements that don’t produce flames or consume oxygen.
Performance and Safety
As far as the output of this compact electric heater goes, it would be best if you keep your expectations in check. There’s no way that a heater this small would be able to warm up a large, spacious area – but that doesn’t mean that it won’t deliver a noticeable temperature rise!
The ceramic heating element inside this electric garage heater packs 1500 watts of power, spreading forced air throughout a space of up to 108 square feet. Even more so, it can warm up a small room in a matter of seconds!
The heater comes with a self-regulating thermostat with a temperature range of 41 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, it shuts off automatically when the internal temperature exceeds the set limit to prevent overheating.
And while I’m on the subject of safety, it’s worth noting that it’s UL- and ETL-certified, as well.
Our Rating: 87/100
What’s interesting about this particular heater is that, even though it’s called Dr. Infrared Heater, it’s a hybrid. Yes, the primary sources of heat here are the infrared rays produced by the heating element – but it also comes with a built-in fan that blows the hot air out into the room.
So, you mostly get the best of both worlds with the Dr. Infrared Heater:
You get heating where you need it the most, while the rest of your garage, basement, or workshop still benefits from some warm air circulation!
Design and Features
You’re looking at a hybrid heater here, meaning that it boasts a dual heating system that warms up the area evenly and quickly. Besides the infrared heating element, it also features a fan located directly behind it to help move the air out into the room.
This garage heater combines all the benefits of infrared or radiant heaters with those of forced air that moves through the room.
The heater does have a distinctly practical and industrial vibe to it, but I was still pleasantly surprised by how sturdy, and heavy-duty its steel housing feels. The quality of construction is impeccable!
It doesn’t compromise on portability, though, as it weighs a little over 9 pounds and comes with a built-in carrying handle.
Performance and Safety
The industrial vibe of this uniquely designed semi-outdoor heater is backed up by impressive clean heat output and 5600-watt power. It boasts a maximum coverage area of 600 square feet, which ensures plenty of heat in medium-sized, semi-outdoor spaces, such as garages, basements, or workshops.
It comes with an integrated thermostat with heat settings that go from low to high and a 45 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit temperature range. The best part is that it regulates the room’s temperature on its own!
It doesn’t lack essential safety features, either, and has “finger-proof” steel grills covering both the intake and the outlet points.
Furthermore, it has a built-in safety switch that prevents both accidental overheating and serves as tip-over protection – if anything goes wrong, the heater shuts off automatically. Also, it’s both UL and C-UL tested and certified.
Our Rating: 86/100
If you have a relatively small garage and you’re struggling to find enough space as is, getting a free-standing garage heater – like the ones I showed you so far – might not be the best route for you.
Instead, you should focus on saving as much floor space as possible by opting for ceiling-mounted heaters, such as the Comfort Zone CZ220.
It’s a fan-forced, electric garage heater with durable construction and a space-saving design that mounts on the wall or ceiling of your garage!
Design and Features
I’ll go ahead and say that I don’t consider this a particularly good-looking garage heater – but I do love its overall construction!
It’s a surprisingly rugged electric garage heater since it’s constructed out of heavy-gauge steel. It can handle temperature fluctuations rather well, which makes it suitable for extended use in harsh environments and poorly insulated areas.
A significant advantage is that you can mount it on the wall or ceiling to save up on floor space – and, you know, prevent tripping.
Also, it comes fitted with adjustable louvers – and has a variable mounting angle – so that you can direct the forced air and heat exactly where you need it.
The hard-wired installation is going to be a bit tricky, though, so you should hire a professional to do it.
Performance and Safety
I already mentioned that targeted heating is an option with this fan-forced electric garage heater, thanks to the included louvers and several different mounting angles. So, the efficiency of this heater – or its ability to direct heat where you need it most – isn’t something to worry about here.
It’s backed by 5000 watts of power, producing a heat output of roughly 17,000 BTU, which should be enough to keep a two-car garage warm. It features a built-in thermostat, too, with three different heat levels.
It comes with a safety sensor that prevents overheating by shutting the garage heater off automatically whenever it reaches an unsafe internal temperature. Also – and I consider this a safety feature – it has a power indicator light so that you can tell whether it’s in use or not at all times.
6. NewAir G73 Hardwired Electric Garage Heater - Not That Good
Our Rating: 80/100
The NewAir G73 lets out enough heat to keep your garage nice and toasty, and mounts on walls to help you save precious floor space. Also, it has an incredibly sturdy construction, which is a plus for any appliance used in the workplace, where the conditions are often less than ideal.
What seems to be the issue, then?
All these things I’ve mentioned are correct – if you don’t get a faulty unit, that is.
Quality control is an evident problem with this heater. And at this price point – it’s the most expensive heater on my list, by the way – you shouldn’t have to worry whether it will work out of the box or not.
Design and Features
The boxy design of the heater has a strong industrial vibe, but the construction quality and materials used are outstanding by all accounts.
The shell is a stainless steel one, finished off with powder coating to ensure that the heater resists corrosion for years to come.
It’s a compact unit, and it weighs only 15 pounds, but I’m not sure how important this is, considering that it’s a fixed garage heater. On that note, it requires hard-wired installation, too.
That can be a plus, as it cuts down on maintenance compared to an average propane heater. The downside is that it adds the costs of hiring a certified electrician to install it.
Performance and Safety
The sealed-off motor and the heating element inside this heater pack 5000 watts of power, rather than gas, which makes it a safe choice. It produces as much as 17,000 BTU, which should be enough for a 500 square feet area, even with little to no insulation.
Plus, the fan is there to ensure faster, forced air convection, as well as equal heat distribution throughout your garage.
It has a built-in single-pole thermometer for automatic temperature control, as well as four adjustable louvers and an easy-tilt head. You can choose the perfect working temperature and direct the heat where you want it.
The heater is ETL-certified, and thanks to the auto shut-off function, overheating isn’t a concern, either.
Buyer's Guide: How To Pick The Best Heater for Garage?
I know that it all seems way too complicated right now, but before you give in to frustration, be sure to check out my garage heater buyer’s guide. I took the time to explain everything in detail – and I’m positive that it’s going to help you make an informed purchase a whole lot easier!
Three Common Types of Garage Heaters
Before the nitty-gritty details, let’s narrow down your choice to one of the following three types of garage heaters, first!
Fan-Forced Garage Heaters
The fan-forced garage heaters are, by far, the most popular and easiest to install out of the three types listed here.
These heaters rely on electricity to power the heating element and utilize a built-in fan to draw in cold air from your garage. The air then moves past the heating element, which heats it, and releases it back into the room.
Fan-forced garage heaters are known for producing a great deal of comfortable, slow-paced, gradual heating, while also being able to heat the air in small-sized rooms relatively quickly.
On the other hand, these heaters are also notoriously loud and not nearly as efficient as the other options.
Infrared or Radiant Garage Heaters
The garage heaters that rely on infrared technology don’t blow the heat throughout the room. Instead, they radiate the heat, directing it towards nearby objects and people. If you think about it, they work in a somewhat similar way as the sun.
They produce a rather pleasant and comfortable heat without making any noise, which is always a plus.
Keep in mind that, with infrared technology, maintaining proper distance is everything:
You’ll reap the most benefits and get the optimal temperature if you stay relatively close to the heater because of its directional heat rays. At the same time, you should pay close attention to the placement and ensure that it maintains a safe distance from nearby objects to prevent overheating.
Kerosene, Diesel, or Natural Gas Garage Heaters
Powered by fuel instead of electricity – be it natural gas, kerosene, or diesel – these garage heaters are the most portable out of the bunch because they don’t need an electricity supply to work. They rely on an extremely controlled flame within the unit that heats the air before releasing it into the room.
A propane heater, for example, can be a perfect choice for those who live in remote areas, experience frequent power outages, as well as those who choose to live “off the grid.”
Besides being extremely mobile and not requiring any electricity, they’re also known for their outstanding performance and the ability to keep large areas well heated for extended periods.
However, a gas heater can become potentially dangerous when used in enclosed spaces with inadequate ventilation.
Heating Output: Watts and BTU Explained
When you decide on the type of the heater that’s best suited for your garage, the next crucial factor to consider should be the unit’s power rating. Now, when it comes to garage heaters, the heating power can be expressed in two different ways:
- Watts, which is typically used to measure the heating output of an electric garage heater.
- BTU, or the British Thermal Unit, which commonly refers to the heating power of kerosene and gas heaters.
When you start shopping for a garage heater, you’ll notice that the power rating is expressed in either one of the two measurements. You can always calculate one based on the other, as 1 watt equals 3.41 BTU if you’d like to know the exact heat output ratings of a particular unit.
Higher wattage and BTU of a particular heater indicate a more powerful unit overall – and a higher capability of warming up larger spaces. However, keep in mind that these output ratings only refer to the best possible conditions.
You’re advised to factor in things like poor insulation and draught, though, and get a heater with a bit more power to be on the safe side. Also, be sure to consider the height of your garage’s ceiling here:
If they are particularly tall, then a more powerful heater is the way to go, despite what you may need based on square footage alone.
Size and Coverage Area
If you end up buying a heater that’s too small, it won’t be able to heat your garage effectively, and it will have to run continuously to keep up with the demands of a larger area. If, on the other hand, you get a unit that’s too large, it will be an overkill and waste unnecessary energy.
Either way, you’ll be throwing your money out the window.
There’s more to sizing the heater than the actual temperature-raising aspect of its performance; you need a highly efficient solution, as well. You’ll be using this appliance for years to come, and running it for hours on most days. The costs will add up over the years – and a smart choice can even save you money in the long run.
So, how do you pick the optimal garage heater size with the right coverage area?
Well, luckily for you, most manufacturers made it super easy to figure this one out – they often list not only the heater’s output power but the average room size that they can heat successfully, too. A good rule of thumb would be getting 10 watts of power for each square foot of available space.
So, measure your garage, calculate its square footage, and you’ll be good to go!
Fixed or Portable Design
Whether you get a free-standing or wall-mounted garage heater will mostly be a matter of preference and specific application. Both types of garage heaters have unique advantages and disadvantages; going with a fixed or portable unit is about figuring out which style you need and prefer.
Free-standing garage heating units come with the advantage of being portable. You can move it around the garage or pick the heater up and take it to a different location when needed.
The downside is that they do take up floor space. Plus, there’s always a risk of tripping on the power cord or knocking the entire thing over by accident.
If portability isn’t that important to you, and you don’t plan on moving the heater, then you should consider getting a fixed gas garage heater or a hard-wired electric heater instead.
A mounted heater typically sits higher up on the wall or ceiling of your garage, so that it doesn't take up floor space. Tripping hazard isn’t something to worry about here, either.
However, once you install a fixed garage heater, moving it is no longer an option – at least not a quick and easy one.
So, do you want it to have a permanent spot in your garage, or would you prefer something portable that you can pick up and move quickly?
It’s as simple as that.
The best garage heater must include safety features and meet specific safety standards – there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. It would help if you were positive that it wouldn’t turn into a fire hazard or otherwise put your health and well-being at risk.
One way to ensure this is by picking a unit that meets the safety standards of and is certified by UL, CSA, and ETL.
Furthermore, several built-in safety features are considered must-haves in garage heaters:
- Tip-Over Switch – As much as you try to be careful, things still get knocked over while you’re working in the garage. It happens all the time, and there’s not much you can do about it. However, tipping your heater over while it’s on can turn into a dangerous situation, especially if it goes unnoticed.
That’s where a tip-over switch could help. The mechanism kicks in as soon as it detects that the heater has been knocked over, and turns it off automatically.
- Overheat Protection – When your garage heater is left running for prolonged amounts of time, it’s more likely to overheat. The safety-oriented feature, commonly known as overheat protection, can prevent this problem and turn the heater off when it starts overheating. That way, it protects both you and the heater’s internal components from reaching extremely high temperatures.
- Cool-Touch – If you’ll have the garage heater sitting on the floor or a table, the last thing that you need is the unit that gets too hot to the touch. It becomes even more dangerous if you have kids or pets running around because the hot surface of the heater can lead to burns and other injuries.
Cool-touch heaters, on the other hand, are a much safer option, especially if you’ll have the unit sitting on the floor, where it’s more likely to be touched by accident.
Additional Features and User-Friendly Controls
Once you’ve decided on the type, adequate power, and size of your heater, and made sure that it comes with the must-have safety features, your next move should be taking a closer look at what else it offers.
As with most other household appliances, your garage heater can also come with a few additional features. Some will come in handy and make it a whole lot easier to use, while others won’t be much more than a gimmick – or one more thing that could go wrong down the line.
I’ve put together a list of extra features that make a genuine difference in the overall user experience, to help you avoid the trap of paying more for features you don’t need:
- Thermostat Control – Some heater will have no more than the basic On/Off or High/Low heat settings, and that’s perfectly fine if you only need it to turn on and heat your garage. However, if you don’t want to bother with doing this manually whenever the temperature rises or drops again, then you could benefit from the addition of thermostat control.
A feature like this will allow you to choose the desired room temperature for your garage, and then help maintain these heat levels consistently and efficiently on its own.
- Adjustable Louvers – A garage heater with adjustable louvers makes it possible to control the direction of the heat so that it heats the exact area of the garage that you need. When the heat is going where you want it to go, it warms up your garage more effectively, too.
This feature is particularly important if you’re buying a fixed heater, and you won’t be able to adjust its direction by rotating the entire unit.
- Carrying Handle – If you’re going with a portable garage heating unit, carrying handles will pretty much be a must-have feature for your heater.
Everything’s more portable when it has a built-in handle, including garage heaters. You’ll be able to pick the heater up and move it to a more convenient location with ease – and that’s always a plus convenience-wise.
- Power Cord Length – Most people forget to check whether they’re getting a long enough power cord with their heater garage unit, even though it can be a factor that determines where and how they’ll be able to place their new garage heater.
Using an extension cord for high power output heaters isn’t such a good idea safety-wise. That’s why I recommend that you check if the power cord length fits your needs, and works with the particular placement of power outlets in your garage.
Garage Heater – Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What type of heater is best for a garage?
A: Okay, this one’s a bit tricky to answer, because it depends on several factors, including garage size and how often you use it.
For example, if you only need to heat a specific spot, like your workbench, portable electric or infrared heaters would do the job. If, however, you need more than localized heating, ceiling-mounted, natural gas heaters would be a much better heating solution.
Q: What size heater do I need for a garage?
A: There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here. Instead, you need to take a moment to calculate the square footage of your garage. One rule to follow here is to get 10 watts of power for every square foot of space in your garage.
If you’re up for doing some math, here’s a formula that could help you get an estimate of what BTU ratings you need for optimal heating performance:
Insulation x Volume x Temperature Rise/1.6 = BTU/h
Multiply the insulation value – for example, “1” for average, “0.5” for above average, and “1.5” for below-average – with the volume, or cubic footage, of your garage and the temperature rise you want to achieve. Then, divide that by 1.6, and you’ll get a rough recommendation of BTU/h ratings for your garage.
Q: What is the most efficient way to heat a garage?
A: I’d like to answer this question from a different perspective and focus on what you can do to help make your heating unit more efficient.
Fixed heaters are typically more efficient than portable ones, even more so if they use gas. Infrared heaters are a solid choice, too, as they provide quick heat recovery.
You should pick the spot for your heater – away from anything flammable, in an area where it won’t get tipped over by accident, yet close enough for you to feel the heat.
Lastly, use the thermostat to your advantage to maintain steady room temperature without wasting energy – and don’t leave the heater running when you’re not in the garage!
Q: What's the cheapest way to heat a garage?
A: The cheapest way to heat your garage would be to use a gas garage heater. You can go with a natural gas heater that will connect to the existing gas line in your home, or choose a liquid propane heater like Mr. Heater if you want a portable gas heater. The choice is yours – and you’ll get a cheap heating solution either way.
Also, taking the time to insulate your garage correctly – as you did with the rest of your home – should improve the heater’s efficiency and save you money in the long run.
After It's All Said and Done, I Recommend:
When it’s freezing outside, but there's still work to be done – whether it’s a DIY project that needs a final touch or it’s your car that needs some TLC – it helps to have some extra help keeping your garage nice and warm.
Garages, unfortunately, tend to be poorly insulated and are often left out of your home’s central heating system.
The best garage heaters can deliver enough BTUs to heat things and help keep your workspace comfortable, though – and the Dr. Heater DR966 should be your top choice for the job!