Choosing the best portable heater for heating a garage or other room requires finding a happy medium between cost, convenience, and heat output. This article will show you how to do a quick conversion to compare gas and electric heaters. It will also tell you how to calculate if a potential heater will put out the heat needed to heat your garage.
To do an apples to apples comparison between gas heaters and electric heaters, use this conversion: 1 kilowatt hour equals 3415.3 BTUs. That is a handy conversion to have on hand the next time you go shopping for a heater. Gas heater manufacturers usually don't label the heat output in watts.
In order to determine how much heat output you'll need to heat a garage or similarly sized room, you need to figure out how many watts per square foot you'll need. Electric baseboard heaters are traditionally rated at 10 watts per square foot. If you use this same rule of thumb, then a 1500 watt heater will be adequate for a 150 square foot room â not very big.
In many parts of the country, electricity prices are high enough to make heating with gas more desirable. However, many other states have low electricity prices and make electric heating a viable option. Electric heaters are very desirable too for their high convenience factor. All they need for installation is a standard AC wall receptacle.
Using our math at the beginning of the article, we chose 1500 watts for a reason. It is difficult to find portable electrical heaters for much more power output than 1500 watts. The reason for this is that more power than this runs the risk of tripping a breaker in a standard home.
Most people remember the old, portable propane space heaters that were notorious for emitting carbon monoxide. Ventless gas heaters today burn at 100% efficiency. They emit only carbon dioxide and water vapor and can safely be used indoors. However, the water vapor can be a problem if your garage is not adequately vented or if you run the heater too often.
A few types of ventless heater that are on the market use alcohol, butane, or propane. There are also ventless fireplaces that run on natural gas if you want to go to the trouble to install the plumbing. While alcohol and butane can be expensive fuels to use, propane is often the most cost effective fuel to use to heat your garage in winter.
Photo courtesy of Taylor Burnes