How to Heat a Garage with Propane

An image of Mr. Heater F260560 Big Maxx MHU80NG Natural Gas Unit Heater, one of the best propane heaters for garage

Many property owners typically do not include the garage when setting up the home heating system. So if you use the garage for recreation or as a DIY workspace, you will need a way to keep it toasty during the cold winter, fall, and spring months. 

One way to warm the garage space is by using a space heater. While you can use an electrical option, propane is more economical, and opting for propane heaters can help you keep your electricity bills low.

Read along to learn how to heat a garage with propane. This guide also provides valuable safety tips to follow when heating your garage with propane.  

Also Read:

What are propane heaters for the garage? 

Propane heaters are space heaters that produce heat energy from propane gas to help keep your garage space warm and comfortable. 

These heaters are available in two main types, namely: 

  • Forced-air propane heater
  • Low-intensity infrared heater

You can choose one of these two types of propane heaters when deciding how to warm your garage with propane. 

However, the first thing is understanding how these two heater types compare to determine which type will better serve your needs. 

While both heater types burn propane or natural gas and come in various sizes, they have several differences that set them apart. 

Forced-air propane heater for garage 

As the term suggests, a forced-air heater works by blowing out hot air that warms the room. Once installed into the home’s propane gas line, the propane gas heats elements inside a cylinder within the heater.

A fan then draws air into the cylinder and passes it over the heated elements before blasting it out as warm air.

When the heater is on, it circulates the warm air around your garage space, making it warm and comfortable. 

Incidentally, you must give the heater some time to heat up and circulate the required warmth in the garage. 

The most significant advantage of a forced air propane heater is its price. The gadget is inexpensive, costing nearly half the price of an equivalent infrared heater. 

Unfortunately, the forced air can blow debris and dirt across your garage, making it unsuitable for projects like woodwork that produce wood dust. The blowing mechanism is also a significant downside if you are staining, painting, or finishing a piece in the garage.

Infrared heater for garage 

An infrared heater uses propane gas to create radiant heat in its infrared spectrum. It then heats objects in the room, making the space toasty through radiation. 

When choosing an infrared heater, you must go for a low-intensity option that does not emit a red glow. High-intensity infrared heaters are unsuitable for small spaces like garages. Additionally, these high-intensity infrared heaters may not be approved for residential use.  

These heaters are more expensive than their forced air cousins, that cost relatively less. 

Since these heaters do not blow any air, they are ideal for garages used for projects such as painting, staining, or woodwork that produce sawdust. The heater will work quietly without stirring up anything.

When installing an infrared heater, it must be at least 7 feet from the floor and not less than 4 inches from the ceiling. 

The heater is best installed at the back of your garage, facing the door and angled at 45 degrees.

Differences between infrared and forced-air heater types 

  • Infrared propane heaters operate quietly by heating a tube which then radiates heat into the room. In contrast, forced air heaters produce sound as they use fans to circulate heated air into the room. 
  • The garage will take longer to feel warm when using an infrared propane heater since it first heats objects before the air in the room can feel warm. On the other hand, the garage should feel warm as soon as the forced-air heater blows warm air through it. 
  • The warmth from an infrared heater is more uniform than that from a forced-air heater. However, ensure you keep objects no less than 3 to 4 feet from an infrared heater to avoid overheating. 
  • The room may take longer to get toasty again after opening and closing the garage door when using a forced-air heater than an infrared option.  

How to heat a garage with propane

When you decide to heat your garage with propane, you can choose between convection heaters and radiant models available on the market. 

Also, ensure you insulate your garage before installing a propane heater. Various insulation types are available for garage walls, doors, windows, and ceilings. 

A minimum of 4-inch thick insulation is recommended for the walls and 6 inches for the ceiling. 

After setting up the heating system, you don’t want all that warmth or warm air seeping out through the ceiling or cracks in the walls. That would be an easy way to waste money on lost energy. 

The tools and materials you will need 

If you decide to install the heater yourself, you may need some or all of these supplies. 

  • Heater
  • Wrench 
  • Tape measure
  • Screwdriver 
  • Cordless drill
  • Plumbers tape
  • Propane gas tank or natural gas line
  • Gas line connectors
  • Venting pipe

The procedure for heating a garage with propane 

Once you have assembled the required supplies, follow these steps to set up your propane heater and use it to make your garage space more comfortable.  

Step 1. Determine the right size of heater for your garage

Before purchasing a heater for your garage, consider the amount of space it has to determine the correct heater size for it. 

Installing a small heater for your space will leave you with insufficient warmth in the room. If the heater is too small, it will struggle to get the room to the required temperature. 

On the other hand, if the heater is too large for your garage space, it will waste energy by continuing to heat for extended periods beyond your temperature set point.

So, ensure you stick to a propane heater rated at between 45,000 and 75,000 BTUs per hour for a small garage measuring about 1,000 square feet or less.

For a larger garage above 1,000 square feet, consider a more powerful heater with a rating of 60,000 BTUs per hour or higher. 

Additionally, note that radiant or convection propane heaters are more suitable for smaller garages. Precisely, convection propane heaters heat your garage space evenly at a 360-degree angle. This ensures every inch of your garage space is toasty.

If your garage is large, you may be better off with a bigger forced air heater rated at 40,000 to 300,000 BTUs per hour.

Step 2. Install the heater 

Once you have identified the correct heater size for your garage size, follow the installation instructions that come with the purchase to set it up.

Each propane heater may require a different installation procedure, but all must have a vent. 

The venting kit can come with your purchase, or you might have to buy it separately. In any case, the attached instructions should specify the venting pipe size and length to use on your installation. 

You will need proper ventilation to help reduce any risk associated with monoxide poisoning.

For a forced-air propane heater, you can expect the installation to involve placing the unit in a corner within the garage. Most of these units are installed close to a power outlet because they require electricity to power their blower. 

Ensure you follow the specifications on your owner’s manual for the spacing between the heating unit and the ceiling and sidewalls.

Overall, the procedure should look something like this: 

  • Setting the heater on your garage floor away from other objects facing the direction of the area you want warm.  
  • Attaching the gas input hose to the opening of the propane tank. Once you have inserted the free end of the hose into the propane tank, secure it tightly in place with its connection nut. 
  • Power up the blower by plugging it into the power outlet and turning it on to activate the fan. 
  • Allowing the fan on your new heater to run for 20 to 30 seconds to remove any propane gas in the line.
  • Opening the propane outlet by twisting the gas valve on the cylinder counterclockwise. Giving the valve a full turn should create a hissing sound indicating the propane gas from the tank entering the hose. 
  • Igniting the heater by hitting its ignition button or holding it down for a few seconds, depending on what the model specifies. 

The video below shows how to install propane heater in a garage

Are Propane Heaters Safe for Other Indoor Places?

Propane heaters for garages are clean and safe for indoor use, but you still need to take steps to guarantee safe usage within your garage. This rule applies to all indoor heating appliances regardless of how safe they are designed to be. 

Propane gas, like most fuels, can produce carbon monoxide alongside carbon dioxide when burning. Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that you don’t want to inhale, and high carbon dioxide levels can be dangerous in closed spaces. 

Proper ventilation can help take care of both hazards. This explains why a vent is recommended for any propane heater. 

Indoor safety tips for propane space heaters

Risks associated with propane heaters for garages only occur when the appliance is used improperly. Thankfully, you can follow specific safety guidelines to ensure you use the heater correctly and minimize any possible risks. 

  • Ensure your garage has carbon monoxide detectors installed to monitor the space for this poisonous gas. 
  • Choose an indoor heater with crucial safety features, including a low oxygen sensor, automatic shutoff, overheat protection, and a high-temperature safety guard. Most heaters now have such features to guarantee safe usage in enclosed spaces like the garage. 
  • Go for the right size of propane garage heater for your garage space. The appliance should also have the UL sticker (Underwriter’s Laboratories Inc.) label to confirm its safety certification. 
  • Always read the manufacturer’s guidelines for the installation and use of the product.
  • Never put any object on top of your propane garage heater.
  • Ensure the heater is safely away from any combustible objects like wooden furniture, doors, curtains, and more. If the heater is mounted on the garage wall, ensure you observe all the spacing instructions from the manufacturer. Additionally, ensure the wall is made of a non-combustible material.
  • Always stop the propane space heater the moment you see an orange or yellow flame (for those with a flame). The flame on these propane heaters should always be blue.
  • Always ensure you turn off the heater when leaving the garage. You should never leave the heating appliance unattended. 
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment when removing dust and debris from your indoor propane heater. Dust may accumulate on the grills and the outside of the heater over time.  
  • Get a professional to inspect your vented propane garage heater every year.
  • Never spray the heater with a deodorant, air freshener, hair spray, or aerosol spray cleaner, or use one near the appliance. 
  • Do not put any objects directly in front of your garage space heater. Keep all objects at a safe distance as specified in your user manual. 

Benefits of heating a garage with propane

  1. Propane heaters are an economical way to heat your garage. Propane fuel is highly effective, with some heater models boasting high-efficiency ratings as 96 percent.
  2. Refilling propane tanks is convenient as they are available at gas stations and local hardware stores.
  3. Most propane gas heaters do not rely on electricity to start or run, so you can use them during power outages. 
  4. A single tank of propane can give several hours of uninterrupted heating in your garage, adding to the convenience of using these heaters. 
  5. Propane heaters burn without emitting unpleasant odors associated with alternative fuel types such as paraffin. 

What to Consider when Choosing the best Propane Heater for a Garage

Consider the British Thermal Unit (BTU)

The BTU refers to the energy unit that illustrates how quickly the temperature can be raised in a given space.  The determination of the BTUs is based on the size and ceiling height of your garage. Suppose you have smaller garages of 1000sg. Ft and below, you can settle on a propane heater with ratings from 40,000 to 80,000 BTUs/hr.

On the other hand, if you are working on a large garage or ample space requiring more heat, you must go for a more powerful propane heater with over 60,000BTU’s per hour. Most of these propane heaters are in the forced-air propane heaters category.

Also, a 3-car garage heater can be heated with 50,000 BTUs or work on a sized workshop. However, determining the BTU for your garage is not tiresome. You only need to find the BTU calculator online or purchase one for your garage. Determining the correct propane heater will help you save on costs, as the BTUs required for a given model will also vary with the energy produced and the fuel used.

Consider Safety

Perhaps the most integral element of consideration with propane heaters. Safety should be your priority if you need a heater for your home garage. For instance, if you have set your home for easy access to natural gas, ensure adequate ventilation for a gas heater in the garage. Thus, it would help if you were safely equipped with a gas heater before considering buying one.

More importantly, you must first evaluate your garage’s components and users. In this case, you will ask yourself, is your garage accessible to pets and children? Is there a lot of dust in the garage space? For instance, if your garage will harbor more dust during operations, the electric garage heater will be a formidable option as they require little maintenance compared to the gas heaters.

The gas heaters always require deeper cleaning of the air vents, motor, and burner to eliminate fire hazards like debris and dust.

Noise Levels

Before you decide on the unit you want to purchase, ensure you have evaluated all its specs in detail. You want to work in a comfortable environment and will not want a heater that sounds like a jet engine.

Consider a heater equipped with a hush-puppy quiet operation that would not be irritating or a nuisance to your neighbors.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is it safe to heat a garage with propane?

Propane is a safe, cheap, and highly efficient way to heat a garage space. In addition, propane heaters are easy to install and environmentally friendly as they produce fewer emissions than fuel oil space or electric heaters.

What are the disadvantages of using propane?

Propane heaters produce fewer BTUs per Gallon than other heating options such as oil or electric. As a result, you may be forced to use more propane to get a desirable indoor temperature. However, they are less costly and environmentally friendly.

Final thoughts on heating a garage with propane 

If you are a DIY enthusiast, the cold winter months can restrict your ability to work on essential home improvement activities. Thankfully, a propane garage heater can provide an inexpensive and convenient way to keep your garage workspace toasty and more comfortable. 

We hope that this guide was informational and helpful. Please leave a comment if you have any observations or addition.