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Last fall we purchased 4.6 acres in NE Ohio to build our final dream home. It was far less acreage than I wanted but it included a nice 60x60' pole barn built in 1998. Also, we own 56 acres about 125 miles away that's perfect for outdoor liesure. The new home should be complete late summer or early fall of this year. Considering that I'll be 60 this year, having less acreage to mow is probably a good thing (that's how I'm rationalizing it).

In the meantime, I'm day dreaming about my new "man cave" barn. I've attached a link to some photos and there's also a short video my wife took shortly after we purchased the lot. All of the stuff seen in the barn belonged to someone who rented it from the developer and is now gone.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/rod330/sets/72157648737238003/

It has a dedicated water well, hot water tank, concrete in the main area and electric (including 220). It has a small second floor loft, two large slider doors, two smaller slider doors on a section that appears to be an "add on" and two man doors. The add-on segment of the barn currently has a dirt floor but we're pouring concrete in that space in the spring. Finally, there's a very large asphalt pad in front and four outdoor yard hydrants that I'll probably deactivate.

The barn needs a little ceiling insulation TLC and new gutters which we've included in the budget. I've got a couple of large portable fans for the summer but now I'm agonizing over generating a little heat in the barn for winters. We won't have any critters in the barn (except uninvited guests) but plan to keep my motorized toys, trailer and workshop tools there. I don't plan to spend much time in the barn in sub zero temperatures but would like the option to warm up a working space to get out of the house to tinker around for a few hours. Also, I don't want to have condensation or rust problems. I have engine block heaters for the motorized toys.

Now, there's no natural gas but I could put in a dedicated propane tank if needed. I'm OK burning wood too. Lately I've been reading about infrared radiant ceiling tube heaters. Does anyone have a recommendation on these or other cost effective options? Thanks in advance for your feedback.
 

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I'll be retrofitting a barn for heat next fall. Insulation is done. The difference between you and I is that I'll have nat gas to mine. I plan on having tubes to keep the temp just above freezing, and then use a big wood stove I bought used to keep things warm for working out there.

-J.
 

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My buddy next door has those IR heaters in his insulated pole barn shop.
They work well and give you good heat. I'm not sure how efficient they are though. I don't think he leaves his on. Only when he goes out to work.
 

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Nice looking building ,,a few things I see from the photos and video

If you are serious and wanting to heat the building,, you need insulation in the walls and ceiling.. or you will just be throwing away your money.

The other thing I see is the sliding doors. Had those on my building.. Of it looked so nice.. Pain in the A_ _ .. Especially if you are wanting to pull in the tractor ,,,off the seat back on the tractor.. Slide the door open to leave then after getting outside , off the tractor then off the seat , shut the door , back on the tractor. You stated you didn't want outside critters in the building.

I got rid of mine , went with overhead garage doors with garage door opener. click a button

Just my 2 cents.
 

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I find in my shop, which is a little less than half the size of your shed, that not heating it all the time lets the concrete floor get cold. The floor never warms up. The little time I actually spend in the shop in the winter doesn't justify heating it all the time.
 

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What I did - a 100 year old carriage house that is 20'x60' - is section off the back for a work shop of sorts. I then insulated that section (20'x15') and heat only that section for tinkering in the winter. I don't keep it heated all the time (can't afford that!) but I can warm it up quickly with a kerosene heater.

Just a though to maybe put up a couple partitions with a ceiling in one back corner?
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Thanks for all of the great feedback!

Gene, I think you raised two great points-- every dollar spent on insulation and sealing up the building will pay future dividends in keeping heating costs under control. Also, those sliding doors are a PITA and impossible to properly seal.

Since the top priority is to get the new house built, any barn improvements beyond the ceiling insulation, gutters and concrete floor will have to be a future expense.

Coaltrain, I like the suggestion of partitioning off a smaller section to heat. The newer addition where we'll pour concrete may be the best option. Replacing one of the smaller sliding doors with an overhead garage door would not be as costly as replacing one of the main slider doors-- providing my 3720 cab will fit- probably need an 8' door minimum door needed for that.
 

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Have you considered a Kerosene heater? They had this 23,000 BTU heater on sale at Amazon for $99, so I snapped it up. The 1.8 gal tank will heat your space for 7-8 hours, easy to start & shut off. If you have K1 kerosene available in your area, it makes a good deal. This heater will also heat up 1500 sq-ft indoors in an emergency if you lose power. The kerosene heater does have a little smell when you shut it off, but I usually set it outside on the porch if indoors -- in the garage it keeps everything toasty, and when I shut off, I just leave so I don't worry about the smell. All in all, at just over $100, a very efficient, low cost solution for your pole barn.

We also have a Jotul wood stove in the house - an old wood stove would do nicely in your barn, but they heat up more slowly and are not easily started/stopped when you want. There's also the fact that the Jotul stove is going to run you $3-$5K + installation.... :gizmo:

Kerosene heater.png Jotul Oslo.jpg
 

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Your 3720 will fit in an 8' door, but not by much.

I replaced my front sliders with an overhead with opener - the convenience and the sealing is fantastic. Not cheap - about 3500$ all said and done for a 10'x12'.

I too cordoned off the front 2/3 of our barn for a 'workspace'. It's been sprayfoamed, has T&G on it now, and stained soon. The NG will be brought over there next fall for a hot water heater and the tube heaters, and the wood stove installed soon I hope.

-J.
 

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Have you considered a Kerosene heater? They had this 23,000 BTU heater on sale at Amazon for $99, so I snapped it up. The 1.8 gal tank will heat your space for 7-8 hours, easy to start & shut off. If you have K1 kerosene available in your area, it makes a good deal. This heater will also heat up 1500 sq-ft indoors in an emergency if you lose power. The kerosene heater does have a little smell when you shut it off, but I usually set it outside on the porch if indoors -- in the garage it keeps everything toasty, and when I shut off, I just leave so I don't worry about the smell. All in all, at just over $100, a very efficient, low cost solution for your pole barn.

We also have a Jotul wood stove in the house - an old wood stove would do nicely in your barn, but they heat up more slowly and are not easily started/stopped when you want. There's also the fact that the Jotul stove is going to run you $3-$5K + installation.... :gizmo:

View attachment 41109 View attachment 41110
I have one of those kerosene heaters (looks identical) that we used while building our house. I have it in my little shop now and with only 400 sg ft to heat, it works really well and did a good job keeping the house warm while we were building
 

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I was given one of those kerosine heaters and use it outside only. The death by carbon monoxide thing is a negative. It is recommended by the manufacturer that you crack open a door or window while using one for that reason. I have woodstoves installed in both of my shops but I have timber to burn and a mill that keeps me supplied with slash to burn. Insulation and wall coverings make it easy to heat and stay heated.
 

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I was given one of those kerosine heaters and use it outside only. The death by carbon monoxide thing is a negative. It is recommended by the manufacturer that you crack open a door or window while using one for that reason. I have woodstoves installed in both of my shops but I have timber to burn and a mill that keeps me supplied with slash to burn. Insulation and wall coverings make it easy to heat and stay heated.
CO production from a kerosene heater is virtually zero (especially with today's K1, ultrapure fuel) if you follow instructions and pay attention to operate it properly - burning wood or coal produces far more because of uncontroled burn and incomplete combustion. I'm sort of assuming that a pole barn isn't exactly airtight, anyway. That said, any heating system can be dangerous if it is in poor repair or used improperly. The manufacturer warns of using in a very enclosed space more because of oxygen depletion than carbon monoxide - but again, most rooms and buildings aren't that well sealed.

I'm still inclined to say that for getting the heat you need - and only occasionally mind you - a hundred buck kerosene heater is worth looking into.
 

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How cold does it get where you are and how warm do you want it in the shop and for how long?

Radiant heaters work well for heating large areas as they don't heat the whole area but whatever they are pointed at. So you can have one or two heaters over your work area and be just fine. However move away from that area and it will be cold. Its a good way to heat just a portion of a shop without heating the whole thing. Downside is that there are lots of could spots, anything under a bench, in the bottom of a tool box, working underneath a car are all going to be cold. Radiant is also good because you have almost instant heat in the area its pointed at. Its also not as affected by lack of insulation.

Forced air heats the whole shop, air and all. Its expensive and hard to heat of the insulation isn't good. If you want the whole shop at room temp then this is way to go. Downside is it takes a long time to heat up if the shop is large and the heater has been off. Also since hot air rises, it can easily be 20-30 degres higher at the ceiling than at the floor. Circulation fans help with this and can save you money.

In floor heat is my favorite but has to be done when the concrete is poured. It also has to be on all the time but you can turn it down low. I like it because the floor is always dry and warm, great if you are working under a car. Also the recovery is very quick. When you open the door at -20 and bring a car in the temp is back up within 3-4min. I had a 24X24 garage with it and it was great.

The tents I work out of in northern Alberta for mechanical repairs use a combination of radiant and forced air to keep the shop temps warm.
 

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Have you considered a Kerosene heater? They had this 23,000 BTU heater on sale at Amazon for $99, so I snapped it up. The 1.8 gal tank will heat your space for 7-8 hours, easy to start & shut off. If you have K1 kerosene available in your area, it makes a good deal. This heater will also heat up 1500 sq-ft indoors in an emergency if you lose power. The kerosene heater does have a little smell when you shut it off, but I usually set it outside on the porch if indoors -- in the garage it keeps everything toasty, and when I shut off, I just leave so I don't worry about the smell. All in all, at just over $100, a very efficient, low cost solution for your pole barn.

We also have a Jotul wood stove in the house - an old wood stove would do nicely in your barn, but they heat up more slowly and are not easily started/stopped when you want. There's also the fact that the Jotul stove is going to run you $3-$5K + installation.... :gizmo:

View attachment 41109 View attachment 41110
That's nearly the same as the one I use for my partitioned off shop area (20'x15'). It works OK to heat the place up if it is 25° or above in an hour or so but does nothing with winters like this when the low's are below zero every morning. So I run the forced air torpedo kerosene heater in there for 20 minutes or so then this heater will maintain the heat.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
How cold does it get where you are and how warm do you want it in the shop and for how long?

Radiant heaters work well for heating large areas as they don't heat the whole area but whatever they are pointed at. So you can have one or two heaters over your work area and be just fine. However move away from that area and it will be cold. Its a good way to heat just a portion of a shop without heating the whole thing. Downside is that there are lots of could spots, anything under a bench, in the bottom of a tool box, working underneath a car are all going to be cold. Radiant is also good because you have almost instant heat in the area its pointed at. Its also not as affected by lack of insulation.

Forced air heats the whole shop, air and all. Its expensive and hard to heat of the insulation isn't good. If you want the whole shop at room temp then this is way to go. Downside is it takes a long time to heat up if the shop is large and the heater has been off. Also since hot air rises, it can easily be 20-30 degres higher at the ceiling than at the floor. Circulation fans help with this and can save you money.

In floor heat is my favorite but has to be done when the concrete is poured. It also has to be on all the time but you can turn it down low. I like it because the floor is always dry and warm, great if you are working under a car. Also the recovery is very quick. When you open the door at -20 and bring a car in the temp is back up within 3-4min. I had a 24X24 garage with it and it was great.

The tents I work out of in northern Alberta for mechanical repairs use a combination of radiant and forced air to keep the shop temps warm.
Y'all have given me a lot to think about and I do have to balance long and short-term expenses since the new house is the first priority (according to the boss). Now I'm really intrigued with the idea of sealing off the newer barn section and adding radiant floor heat when the new concrete is poured. Assuming I have a full 8' clearance under the loft after the concrete is poured, I can replace the two small slider doors with two rollup garage doors for a "drive in, drive straight out" capability. I could build my workshop where the horse stalls are currently located and have plenty of room for the ATVs and snowmobiles to remain warm too. After all, the renter had a CUT and ATVs in this area as seen in the photos. The main part of the barn would then remain as-is with the exception of new ceiling insulation.

According to weather data, the average low temp in January is 17 and the average high is 32. Of course, November through March are the months where heat would be needed. I'm not going to live in the barn but I can see myself spending 2- 3 hours a day for 3 or 4 days each winter week....so maybe 8 to 12 hours a week...not much time, really. But, how can you really put a price on "getting out of the house" during the middle of a dreary winter day in Ohio?
 

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You could buy a taylor stove outdoor boiler wood heater to heat the underfloor radiant heater. That works if you have an adequate wood source.
 

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According to weather data, the average low temp in January is 17 and the average high is 32. Of course, November through March are the months where heat would be needed. I'm not going to live in the barn but I can see myself spending 2- 3 hours a day for 3 or 4 days each winter week....so maybe 8 to 12 hours a week...not much time, really. But, how can you really put a price on "getting out of the house" during the middle of a dreary winter day in Ohio?
That's been my plan all along also. Since being home all the time now I really need to get out to the barn a few times a week for an hour or so to help stave off the cabin fever in the winter. I can't afford to heat even my smaller section I made constantly but as long as I can warm it up within an hour or so is just fine. And when I am out there doing stuff I don't need it to be 70° as I seem to stay warm just being busy. This winter has been extreme however and I've had a hard time warming it up when it's below zero. I have a whole list of projects lined up already when the temp moderates a bit (someday......).

I was working with a 100 year old carriage house, but when my father-in-law was helping me run new electric line and fixtures, he made a really nice interior door that goes between the main section of the barn and the shop. It works as a man door but has the ability to open an adjoining door to make it wide enough to get my tractor back there. Years ago I rebuilt a 332 diesel L&G tractor so some more of that type of project was in my plans to have access enough to get a tractor back there. Made sure it was big enough to get my 2520 through also.

If I have to work on one of our vehicles in the winter in the main section I just run the kerosene torpedo heater - takes enough of the chill off for a quick repair if needed.

There really is a lot in what you say about getting out of the house and in the barn a couple times a week in the winter.

I know it's not much to look at but I would be lost without my "barn" - one of the big reasons we bought this place.

There already was a nice man door with porch and all (seen to the right) at the back of the barn - I think this was the office for the carriage repair business:

IMGK4237.JPG

Inside the shop area (20'x15') - notice the kerosene heater glowing at the back wall:

IMGK4229.JPG

Inside the main section (20'x45')

IMGK4232.JPG
 

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Discussion Starter #18
That's been my plan all along also. Since being home all the time now I really need to get out to the barn a few times a week for an hour or so to help stave off the cabin fever in the winter. I can't afford to heat even my smaller section I made constantly but as long as I can warm it up within an hour or so is just fine. And when I am out there doing stuff I don't need it to be 70° as I seem to stay warm just being busy. This winter has been extreme however and I've had a hard time warming it up when it's below zero. I have a whole list of projects lined up already when the temp moderates a bit (someday......).

I was working with a 100 year old carriage house, but when my father-in-law was helping me run new electric line and fixtures, he made a really nice interior door that goes between the main section of the barn and the shop. It works as a man door but has the ability to open an adjoining door to make it wide enough to get my tractor back there. Years ago I rebuilt a 332 diesel L&G tractor so some more of that type of project was in my plans to have access enough to get a tractor back there. Made sure it was big enough to get my 2520 through also.

If I have to work on one of our vehicles in the winter in the main section I just run the kerosene torpedo heater - takes enough of the chill off for a quick repair if needed.

There really is a lot in what you say about getting out of the house and in the barn a couple times a week in the winter.

I know it's not much to look at but I would be lost without my "barn" - one of the big reasons we bought this place.

There already was a nice man door with porch and all (seen to the right) at the back of the barn - I think this was the office for the carriage repair business:

View attachment 41127

Inside the shop area (20'x15') - notice the kerosene heater glowing at the back wall:

View attachment 41128

Inside the main section (20'x45')

View attachment 41129
Stan, that's a great looking barn and workshop area- well done! It's natural to become grumpy and restless on those dreary winter days impacted by lake effect clouds, snow and drizzle. Anything you can do to stay active makes it a much better day.
I was struck by the exterior siding material on your barn. We have the exact same material (and color) on a much smaller outbuilding on our property in NW Pennsylvania!
 

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