Heat for a new detached garage?
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    johncanfield's Avatar
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    Question Heat for a new detached garage?

    We are having a 32'by 28' garage built and I'm going to have the walls and underside of the roof spray foamed and the garage doors are going to be insulated. An LP gas line is plumbed to bring into the building. The roof framing is trusses and I wasn't going to have ceiling drywall installed, just open trusses. Might keep the garage a bit cooler in the summer.

    My plan was a hanging forced air LP heater but looking over the crop of hanging heaters I have no idea of which one to choose. Any recommendations? Should I consider an LP radiant heater instead of forced air? Would one be enough (it's a three bay garage.)

    Usually we get into the low teens and even single digits very occasionally, the objective it to just keep the garage in the ~55 degree range.
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    With proper roof and soffit ventilation wouldn’t enclosing the ‘attic’ space, and insulating it actually keep the interior space cooler than not?
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    You first need to calculate the amount of BTU’s you need. There are free online calculators to do this.

    From there you can choose your heating equipment. For a large open area I would think that fan forced unit heaters would be better than radiant heaters - they heat a smaller space more directly.

    Heating BTU Calculator Heaters by BTU
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    I swear by my MrHeater in our small shop. I bought the 45K BTU. It's a little undersized for the space and runs a little longer. I was afraid the bigger one would short cycle and not last as long.

    When first bought it the motherboard went out. They next dayed one to me no problem, did care how long I owned. That was refreshing.
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    I've walked that path... 30x40 spray foam walls & ceiling. Had no electricity so I went with radiant propane hanging above my tractor so it was always thawed out & dry. Only kept garage 40-50 degrees. Well, spray foam seals things too good to get by without a vented furnace. walls sweated, windows frosted etc. I've got a like new Mr Heater radiant I will sell you, but trust me, you don't want it.
    Last year I got power in shop & hung a nat gas furnace and WOW, what a difference!
    I strongly advise a vented heating device. Learn from my mistake please.
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    Quote Originally Posted by balrog006 View Post
    With proper roof and soffit ventilation wouldn’t enclosing the ‘attic’ space, and insulating it actually keep the interior space cooler than not?
    Building science has moved on from the traditional ceiling drywall with batts or blown in insulation (and attic ventilation.) The 1500 sq ft house addition we added last year has spray foamed roof rafters - about five or six inches of open cell foam and no ceiling insulation and no soffit ventilation. Now we have conditioned walk in attic space, its temperature is only five or six degrees warmer (or cooler when heating.) The HVAC ducting doesn't get super heated in the summer or super cold in the winter. The entire house (exterior) is now spray foamed and even the interior walls in the addition. Our bedroom is as quiet as a church on a Monday morning .

    Check out this builder's YouTube channel. He stays on top of the latest and greatest (but he's very discriminating - he's not pushing products, if something is junk, he will say so.)

    Going to be interesting trying to figure out BTU requirements with no ceiling and the garage doors but that's a good idea, I'll give it a shot. And thanks for the Mr. Heater recommendation - with a name like that, how can you go wrong!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr Maphesto View Post
    I've walked that path... 30x40 spray foam walls & ceiling. Had no electricity so I went with radiant propane hanging above my tractor so it was always thawed out & dry. Only kept garage 40-50 degrees. Well, spray foam seals things too good to get by without a vented furnace. walls sweated, windows frosted etc. I've got a like new Mr Heater radiant I will sell you, but trust me, you don't want it.
    Last year I got power in shop & hung a nat gas furnace and WOW, what a difference!
    I strongly advise a vented heating device. Learn from my mistake please.
    We were typing at the same time, missed this. Yes, I'm somewhat familiar with a non-ducted gas furnace and humidity/condensation - been there done that before our total house remodeling last year. We still have that LP 'fireplace' but it's only for emergency heating if we lose power in the winter.

    Do you know what kind of spray foam you had - was it open cell or closed cell? Open cell foam will breathe but closed cell foam will not, it makes a difference.
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    My garage is 28x30 and I got one of those forced air heaters that hangs in the corner, sound like what you are looking at. I'm not sure what one to recommend, there are so many. I keep my garage at about 45 degrees and it will heat it up in just a few minutes to about 65. Mine is LP also and I probably heat that space for about $100 a year.
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    What is your ceiling height? That and distance from the ceiling to equipment may impact radiant. You want a few feet of clearance.

    IR radiant heat can be more efficient like the in floor heat system I went with compared to forced air. Notice I said can be. There are disadvantages to the radiant options. That is the use case where one might want to work in a garage space for the evening once in a while or for the weekend once in a while and the times they are not out there, don't feel the need to maintain 60F or so temps. The problem with the radiant options is they are much slower to react to a call for a change in temp. For instance if I want to go from 40F to 60F in my garage with in floor heat, I expect that to take a day or two in order to get to temp. In comparison, I have a NG forced air hanging heater in the pole barn/workshop that maintains 34-36F all winter. If I need to do an oil change or something out there some evening, I get home, I walk over to the thermostat and slide it up to 60F. By the time I go in get changed from work clothes to get stuff done clothes and get back out there, it is getting warm. If I am out there for a weekend I can get it to temp and maintain that temp quite quickly. Granted the slab is really cold so my feet get cold but I also wear insulated boots to combat this.

    Based on that it sounds like forced air is the best, it is when you want to use it in that manner where there are shorter term uses. Up north you may not want to keep it that warm and are just looking for warm enough to melt off the snow. Keeping it at 60F is very expensive. As soon as you open a garage door you lose all the heat you built up and the furnace has to start over. Even if you maintain 60F, the slab will be warmer but not like with radiant (at least in floor). It might be 60F but more likely it would be closer to 50F if you maintained 60F air temp. Heat rises which is the problem. In the case of my in floor system, I am pumping in glycol at roughly 110F and it is coming back at around 100F. That is maintaining 60F in the garage. That means my slab is around 100F. Walking on it, you can feel the heat through your shoes. IR radiant tubes will heat objects in the same way. However it is limited to line of sight. Meaning if you park a trailer under it, it will heat the trailer more than the slab. It is better to heat the slab because if you open the garage and take the trailer out, the slab where shaded from the IR heat will be colder. By maintaining heat in a slab what I have found is it can be in the 20F range which we have had some mornings here already. I can open the garage doors to pull a vehicle in or out and the heat rushes out. However I close the door and go back in the garage. Within a couple minutes it is back to 60F. Another benefit by heating objects like that is they are warmer to the touch as well as the fact that you are heating the lower part of the garage. Unless you spend most of your time on stilts or on a ladder, who cares if it is a comfortable temp 12' in the air. I am not up there very often. Forced air systems have to heat from the top down. So if you go with one, I would also consider a fan or a few of them of some sort to help push that heat down from the ceiling. I have added fan boxes for my build but I don't really plan on using them much in the winter.

    Bottom line there are pros and cons for the different systems. There are a lot of people out there that love their radiant systems and others that because of their use case, find that they were a waste of money and they go back to a forced air system.

    Also you didn't mention it but here is another thought. You are in TX and it isn't that cold. What do you have for power out there? Have you considered a heat pump? The benefit is that the single unit can not only provide heat for your space but also AC. Just a thought for you. They work fine for heat, maybe more expensive but some power companies allow a price break for power used for heat. They work OK in our area but when temps get really cold. Like -20 or -30F they really don't work well. You are not going to see temps that cold. Really where they start to struggle is around that 0F range. That is unless you go full Geothermal system with a heat pump.


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    Thanks very much for helping me in my quest sennister

    You guys up there in the Minnesota tundra have way different heat requirements than us in more temperate zones. A relative has a second home in Colorado at 9,000' elevation and it has heated floors, absolutely love that (we spent a week there watching it snow a few years ago.)

    I think I have my dilemma figured out. Thanks to the Dr's advice about using vented vs. non-vented I found a forced air vented on a search and talked to the business about my requirements which took into account my location, building size, etc. She said 45k BTU would work well, the calculated BTU need was just under 30k.

    So I found this one (100$ cheaper than the first place) and they have a horizontal duct kit which will eliminate the need for a roof penetration.

    And the heater is made in the USA, I like that.
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