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What is the Best Way to Heat a Garage?


Most residential garages are unconditioned – meaning there is no heat or air conditioning installed in the garage. Some people may want a little heat over their workbench, in which case a single electric heater may be appropriate. But nowadays the garage/workshop/gym has become so popular that people are interested in effective and efficient means of heating their entire residential garage during the cold months. In this article we will discuss residential garage certified electric and gas-fired radiant heaters and compare them to the traditional “Hot Dawg” type forced air (hot air) unit heaters.


Here are links to residentially certified heater options:

Unit Heaters (gas fired, hot air) – UH Series only

Radiant Tube Heaters (gas-fired, infrared radiant) – scroll down to LD3 Series and LS3 Series

Electric Radiant Heaters (electric, infrared radiant) – DSS Series only


Hot Air vs. Radiant Heat

If you are looking to keep your thermostat slightly above freezing and don’t plan on spending a lot of time in the garage, then a hot air unit heater may work just fine. If your space is also well insulated and the ceiling height is less than 10 feet, we may recommend a hot air unit heater in this scenario.

If you plan on spending some time in the garage, there are two downsides to consider with hot air units in your residential garage application – they are noisy, and they aren’t as comfortable as radiant heat. There may be other disadvantages to hot air – if you are grinding, welding, or doing woodwork the hot air unit will blow particles all over the space. Or, if you are standing in one spot for a long time, while the air is warm the floor may be pretty cold, causing cold feet and toes.


Design Considerations

Our main concern in placement of radiant heater(s) is to avoid any obstacles overhead – for example: ceiling fans, lights, overhead door tracks, and anything else that might be in the ceiling space. We’ll also ask about items that are tall or stacked high in the space like SUVs/trucks or stacks of boxes.

You will also be advised to strictly adhere to the “clearances to combustibles” for the specific unit you select. These “clearances” vary by unit – nothing combustible can be within a set number of inches from the unit. Combustible items include anything that can catch fire or melt, for example: wood, drywall, rubber, cardboard, etc. Our employees will walk you through confirming the clearances so that your installation will be 100% safe.


Electric vs. Gas-Fired

If you choose to go with infrared radiant heat rather than hot air, you will then need to decide whether to go gas-fired (propane or natural gas) or electric. There could be rebates through your electric provider for electric radiant heaters, or you may have done the math and figured that electric is cheaper than gas. Or, you may want to use “clean energy” to heat the space if you have solar panels. Regardless, there are a few considerations when deciding to go electric. 

The first consideration when going electric is the “electrical infrastructure” at the location – in other words, what are your voltage options and how many amps are available on your electric panel? Our residential garage certified electric radiant heaters come in 120V or 240V options, so we’ll need to know what voltage options are available to you at your house. Most houses have both available, but you’ll want to confirm. Secondly, what is the amp space available at your electric panel? We need to make sure we can provide enoug heat for the space without blowing circuits. These two questions will help us determine if electric heaters are a possibility for you.

Another item to consider is that a typical residential garage can be heated by a single gas-fired radiant tube heater, whereas you may need multiple electric radiant heaters to achieve the same amount of heat. More units equals more labor, and the equipment cost can sometimes get expensive too depending on how many electric units are required. We can design and price two equipment options, electric and gas-fired, if you would like to compare.


Strategic Use for Max Efficiency

A residential garage thermostat will typically be set to about 40-50 degrees when no one is utilizing the space. This offers freeze protection of any liquid items in the garage, keeps the cars from getting too cold, and makes it easy to turn the thermostat up 5 or 10 degrees should you choose to go out in the garage for a while to do some work or hang out.

A lot of our customers really enjoy our WiFi thermostat options, which enable you to control the heater(s) from your cell phone. You can “pre-heat” the space remotely by increasing the setpoint temperature on an app from your smartphone, so that when you go out to your garage in 15-20 minutes it will be perfectly comfortable for you.



Residential garages have become multi-use spaces that people use beyond just car storage. Having an upgraded, efficient, comfortable heating solution will not only save you money over time but will also encourage you to spend more time in the garage for projects, workouts, hangouts, and more. Our employees are here to help you with:

  • Determining how much heat you’ll need in your space.
  • Analyzing your space to identify the best location(s) for heaters.
    • We can do this using photos, videos, video conferencing, or if you are near a Great Lakes Radiant office we’ll be happy to meet you at the space in person!
  • Going over “Clearances to Combustibles” for the selected units to make sure they’ll work for your space.
  • Any other Services you might need

Give us a call, email, or fill out our Project Details form so we can start working on a radiant heat solution for your residential garage!


Phone: (888) 501-0252