Heating Your Workshop

Heating Your Workshop


(bright jazz music) – Well today I wanna talk a little bit about heating solutions. Now, you probably know that I haven’t needed
heat for a long time. I lived in Arizona, and before
that Southern California. So when I got to Colorado, I
had my work cut out for me. I really had to do a lot of research to find out what the current options are and which option is best for me in this particular situation. But I learned a lot in the process, and I thought it might be fun to share some of that
information with you, because there’s a lot of options. First up is forced air
heaters that run on gas, either natural gas, propane,
kerosene, or diesel. These are pretty efficient,
but do require a gas supply, an exhaust, and preferably
a clean air intake and a sealed combustion chamber to prevent any major issues
from the presence of wood dust or finishing fumes in the air. Next up is forced air electric heaters. Similar in concept to the gas versions, these units rely solely on
electricity to generate heat. While easy to install,
the obvious drawback is the increased electric bill. Then there’s infrared tube heat. For the first couple of
days of my research period, I became convinced that infrared was the only way to go. It has an enclosed combustion chamber, makes very little noise, and doesn’t blow any air around the shop. The infrared energy, just like the sun, is unique in that it warms
the objects and bodies instead of warming the air. In fact, you can stand
in front of one of these just after turning it on and immediately feel
the heat on your skin. But the more research I did, the more I realized that this might not be the best solution for me. First, the tubes are large and they have to cover a
fairly significant area of the shop to be effective. Second, this type of heat can
result in hot and cold spots. At least while it’s bringing
the room up to temperature, you could easily end up with
a hot face and cold feet. But those who have these units installed seem to really love them, so your mileage may vary. How about pellet and wood stoves? Now, these are probably
the most old-school option, and you can simply drop a
big old oven in the shop and start burning stuff. Obviously, you need to exhaust it as well. These things can really
crank out the heat, but you do have to keep
stocked up on fuel. And if you’re concerned
about kids or pets, this could be a big safety issue. Also, there could be insurance
and code ramifications for installing something like this in a residential garage space. Next up, ductless mini-split heat pumps. Now this one is near and dear to my heart since I’ve been running these in Arizona for the last five to six years, though I can count on one hand the number of times that I’ve actually used the heat setting. These units consist of an
outside compressor unit and an indoor head unit
that blows warm or cold air into the space. They’re very energy
efficient and super quiet. As a heater, they aren’t very aggressive and they generally won’t work very well once the temperature drops
below a certain point. And finally, there’s
radiant in-floor heating. After all of my research, I have to say that this, in my opinion, is the gold standard in
comfortable, efficient heating. It works by pumping warm water
through tubes in the floor. A properly-installed radiant system will heat the entire space from below, evenly and without the need for extremely high
temperature heat sources. But it generally does require installation prior to pouring the slab. Now there are ways to install it in a new subfloor on top of the slab, but that’s a long ways off for me. So even though I think
it’s the best solution, it’s just not practical right now. Now, obviously there’s
a lot of other options available to woodworkers, but these seem to be the most popular and accessible options. So what did I wind up doing? Well, I went with the easiest thing first. Now, I brought with me
a Mitsubishi mini-split ductless heat pump. I thought if we installed
this, let’s see how it works. It was a little bit
undersized for this space, but I figured hey, if
it does any heat at all it’s probably gonna be decent. And then I could add a supplemental heater to bring the temperature up, and then let the mini-split
keep it up to temperature. Well, the problem was
the installation itself. In order to get this thing installed here, we had to put the compressor
on the front porch. And man, was that an eyesore. I thought we could live with it, and we figured hey, it’s for the business, let’s just do it. And after a couple of weeks, we just decided no, that’s bad. And unfortunately we wasted
money on that install and wound up taking the
whole thing out again. Now, there is one more location where I might be able
to put that compressor, but it’s a lot more work. It’s gonna cost a lot
more money to install because it’s further away and will likely involve
busting up some concrete to get all the tubes and everything that need to go, and the power that needs
to go to the compressor. So that is a future thing. But we had the dang thing installed and then had it taken out. So I had to go to plan B. Plan B was a gas-powered forced air unit. Now, these seem like they would
be pretty easy to install, but I had an HVAC company come out and we looked at the situation, and unfortunately where my gas lines are means that there’s gonna be a lot of work to be able to connect the gas line properly to the unit. Also, again, the whole eyesore factor. The positioning of this garage means that the vent would have to go out toward the front of the house, near the front porch. So again, I’m trying not
to recreate the situation I just created with that mini-split. So I kind of pulled back for a minute, especially because the
bid we received for it was over $5,000. Now, of course I would go to
a couple different contractors and see if we couldn’t get a
much better price than that. But this was a trustworthy HVAC person who’s actually worked on
other things on this house, and I don’t know, I was
a little bit surprised. But the bottom line was the eyesore factor and it just was cost-prohibitive. So I figured let’s shelve that idea and move onto the next option. So where I finally wound up was pretty much the
path of least resistance in terms of installation and cost, and that’s forced air electric. Now, the big drawback with this is power costs a lot of money, right? So my electric bill is
definitely gonna go up. But I could get these units installed, have the shop warmed up, and that means I can actually work, which is the thing that makes the money that pays the bills anyway. So for now, I think this
is a really good solution. And let me show you what I have here. So I have two different models made by the same company
called Fahrenheat. The one behind me is 7,500 watts. That’s pretty darn powerful. And the one over here is 5,000. Now, they’re actually configurable to different wattages. So I think the 7,500 could be
configured for 3,750 watts, and the 5,000 could also
be dropped down to 2,500 depending on your needs. So I had an electrician
come in, wire it up for me just to make sure it’s nice and safe. And I have them hung in such a way that they’re trying to create sort of a circular pattern
of air around the shop, and they work in unison with each other. Now given the location,
as high as they are it’s about 11 feet to the ceiling, I’m gonna need to add some ceiling fans to help push down the air. Because right now, a lot
of the heat, of course, is gonna stay sort of in
a pocket at the ceiling. So we do need some air
mixing to make this work. But even as they are right
now, it works pretty darn well. The cost for these, about
400 for the 7,500 watt unit, and I think about 250 for this guy. So with the cost of the electrician, I actually was able to
help the electrician to save on money. I like to do that when
people work on the house. I’m like, “Hey, you need a helper? “If it saves me money,
I’ll help you today.” So these were installed, overall I think we’re
looking at maybe 1,500 bucks for the total investment for installation and the cost of the units. So performance-wise, I’m extremely
happy with the two units. Basically, first thing in the morning I come in, turn them on. No matter what the
temperature is in the shop, within about 45 minutes, hour at the most, I’ve got a comfortable
working temperature. Usually I come out in a
hooded jacket like this, and then within 10 or 15
minutes I’m taking this off because it’s getting too warm. So I do have to climb up the ladder to reach those thermostats, which is a huge pain in the butt. But I have read online there are solutions for adding an external thermostat that we could then run down the wall, and then I don’t have to
worry about the ladder. I didn’t do a shut-off at the unit. If I really need to shut them off, I can do that at the circuit breaker because it’s so easily accessible. But when I do the thermostat, I may consider either putting
in a little plug module there or some kind of a switch or something. But right now, this is simple, it works really well, and it
definitely heats the shop. Now when we talked about the
different types of heaters, we talked about infrared being one that warms all the objects
first and then the air, and this type of heater being
something that warms the air and then eventually the objects warm up. So you might be wondering
if I open a garage door, which I actually do every morning to be able to take my son to school, how much cold air comes in? How much hot air do we lose? I have no way of quantifying that, but ultimately just opening it real quick, getting into the car, shutting it, and doing
that again 15 minutes later doesn’t really seem to have any sort of impact that I can feel. Obviously, air is gonna exchange. If you keep that door
open for a long time, it’s gonna be problem. But I don’t really see it
being super problematic to open it quickly and
then lower it again. Ultimately, once everything
is up to temperature in here and the floor is a little warmer, the walls are warmer,
the tools are all warmer, opening and closing a door isn’t really gonna just
suddenly chill everything. It may cause the heaters to
stay on a little bit longer, but I don’t think that’s
that big of a deal. It’s a garage, right? It’s a shop, so we’re not
gonna be super picky about it like we might be inside a house. So, so far, so good. And the final question
is the electric bill. Now, we haven’t had these
things running long enough for me to give you that perspective, and I’ll certainly let you know as soon as our first bill comes in because it’s probably gonna hurt. But ultimately, again,
this was just a factor of how quickly can I
get myself back to work. Because if I don’t work,
I don’t make money. So you have to sort of do
a cost-benefit analysis and figure out if it’s worth it. Ultimately, in the long run we
might do something different, but for now this is
gonna get the job done. So next time, you may’ve already noticed
we have new lights. Next time, we’ll talk
about that installation. (gentle guitar music)

100 thoughts on “Heating Your Workshop”

  1. This video is a re-post as it was posted on our Offcuts channel. Every year, people ask about shop heating options so I decided the video needed to be in front of our entire audience. If you haven't seen it, please enjoy. Here's the full article if you're interested: https://www.thewoodwhisperer.com/videos/shop-heating-options/

    Here are the two units I installed:
    Fahrenheat FUH54 – http://amzn.to/2iO2NhE
    Fahrenheat FUH724 – http://amzn.to/2imiYjf

  2. To put radiant tubing in an existing slab, cut slots with a tool like this
    https://www.contractorsdirect.com/husqvarna-cut-n-break-saw
    lay the tubing in the slots, and cover with grout. For a smoother floor, lay down a coat of self-leveling underlayment.

  3. I live in the mountains and its damn cold and my woodshop gets freezing, but its an easy solution. Wear warm clothes and get moving! I end up generating enough body heat that im comfortable.

  4. If you review how split systems are installed in apartments, you may find a solution for the compressor unit that's close to your internal heater via a rigid frame and bracket mounted to your workshop. Just a thought. Allan

  5. I'm going to have to just suffer this first winter in my new shop and hopefully make enough money to put 8n some kind of heating system before next winter.

  6. I was originally planning on using a wood stove to heat my garage/workshop but the cost to have it installed and cleaned every year was cost prohibitive. I ended up going with a $100 propane space heater. Which works really well. Eventually I’d like to upgrade to the electric heaters like you have. And just leave them at like 55/60 degrees so the shop isn’t freezing when I come in. It’s a stand alone garage that is not connected to my house.

  7. I had this question before I built my shop. I decided on hydronic in floor heating. It has been 20 years since I installed it and am very comfortable working in my shop all winter long. It is 12 degrees outside this morning but a comfortable 65 in my shop! I have never looked back and love my hydronic heat!

  8. Oh, come on! It's a balmy 19* and just a foot of snow on the ground! Get that shop outdoors and enjoy it! 🙂

    Bad joke, hiding real pain; my shop really is outdoors so no woodworking for me 🙁

  9. You didn't touch on the noise factor too much, but with filming all your content you really only have 3 options. Electric Force air, Radiant and infrared. I have always used forced air for my heating living in MN most effective way to heat my shop 40'x32' but my 100K BTU reznor is pretty annoying while its running.

  10. You should be able to calculate the cost per hour based on the watts used. If you have a 5,000 watt heater, and you pay 10 cents per kwh, that heater costs 50 cents per hour to run, right? I am lucky ro have my garage heated by the house furnace. My garage is always ready for me!

  11. We just finished our house where we use in-floor heating. The water is wormed up by a heat pump just bigger then yours and effective on -15C but you can even use condensing gas boiler. Still have to plan it ahead because of the in-floor pipes.

  12. We use an electric heater since our power is in an apartment garage and we dont have to pay that electric bill 🙂

  13. If anyone is planning on building a new shop, in-floor radiant is the only way to go.Existing shop that's well insulated, any heat source will do fine. It comes down to personal preference. But' the mini-splits have come a long way and there are a couple of manufacturers that are able to heat down to -10 F.

  14. I am just setting up a shop and learning woodworking and have been looking at a heating solution for this winter. My concern has been safety. Sawdust is certainly combustible and can be explosive. Different types of finishes can give off combustible gases. I'm wondering if I am overtly concerned about this topic?

  15. I installed a similar heater in my garage and hooked up a Nest thermostat to it. I can turn it on via internet so the shop is warm before I get there.

  16. I'm going to use a 12v Chinese diesel night heater in mine, hopefully be fairly cheap to run. I also have lots of solar gain.

  17. I am in Australia and both the OP and comments just blow my mind, I just can’t imagine what it is like to have a garage that cold. Really makes me think, makes me realise most of the world is colder then what I am used to. Wow!

  18. At this time I am using propane heat. Dose a fair job. The down side is that when I am staining projects in the shop. Well, the flash off is so bad that you lose the heat to ventilation needs.
    Sometimes I have to just leave the shop for a day.
    Thankfully I'm retired and not needing to hury anything to make money.
    So I can do this.
    (Q).. Do you get any flashing off of stains that bad with the electric heaters you are using?
    Great subject line, thanks.

  19. I use infrared panels on a thermostat. No noise, no air movement and it heats the shop easily. No cold feet – no hot face. And they are no thicker than 2 inches – and placed in the ceiling.

  20. So besides being an eyesore, how did the mini split perform? I'm considering putting air/heat in my garage and the mini split is at the top of my list. Anyone have any experience with them, good/bad? Thanks!

  21. Not sure about the sun light conditions in Colorado during the winter months but have you thought about a Solar Heat Collector made out of black painted soda cans?
    Material wise it's relatively cheap and for someone with your skills an easy project to build. After that enjoy your freely collected energy. In combination with your new electric heaters you could cut down on your electric bill. Just a thought 🙂

  22. So how well did you mini split heat in Colorado and what BTU is it vs the square foot you were trying to heat. I am in Ohio and am thinking of using one in the new shop I am building. Thanks for the great videos

  23. I use a mini split for my a/c and heat in Maine. In winter it can get pricey but keeps it shorts and t -shirt nice about $75-100 a week when outside 29 to -20. Summer when in 90’s keeps shop 68-72 and cost practically nothing to run.
    So pricey for 3 months and 2 months still a high electric bill. Worth the ease of use and how comfortable it is in shop which is around 700 sq feet

  24. Colorado…nice temperature…here in Quebec, in the laurentians, we get bad winters, global warming forgot us, we get the minus 40 and piles of snow…in my shop I only have 2, 4 feet wall radiators about 6 inches from the ground, and I keep the temperature around 65 to 68…I find it's the right temperature to work, less sweating but still …. the problem is the summers when the temperature goes to the 90 degrees, in the afternoon the heat in the shop is a pain!!! Looking for a mini split next year!!!

  25. I lived in Oak Ridge TN for a while and all the houses had radiant in-floor heating. It was great, especially in the morning when you get out of bed and the floors are nice and toasty.

  26. Im not sure why you wouldn't install a wall mount thermostat in the first place, it probably wouldn't have affected your bill much. Also another negative about electric heat vs gas other than the electric bill is, gas burns inside air and exhausts it so there is air exchanger with outside helping to control humidity. Electric just heats the air if it is humid in the shop and gets real cold outside you can get condensation on all the cold spots like windows and door knobs.

  27. Kerosene heaters are impressive ; just get a couple of 55 gallon drums and you are in business: one drum fills the other drum…

  28. In my last two shops I’ve put both my heat and dust collection in the slab , it’s the best way to go if you’re building from scratch.🔨📐👍

  29. Good video. I’m not sure if someone has already posted similar question.
    Could you combine infrared heaters with the ones you have now and add solar panels as someone suggested below?

  30. One day I want to make educational videos on things I have no education on. I've never lived in a cold climate but after one winter I'm an expert. I can't believe you put in a ductless unit and then removed it a week later hahah

  31. Although retro fit is an fairly easy option. The inability for quick temperature changes might rule out infloor heat in your climate.

  32. If you install a drop ceiling with insulation above it, you will save a small fortune. 11 foot ceiling is a waste of money. That would be my first thing to do. The money you put into lowering the ceiling and insulation will pay for itself over a few years. Why on earth the builder put in 11 foot ceilings in a cold climate is crazy. I live in New York State and I would never do that.

  33. So, I'm in Aurora, Colorado. Last year I installed a Cadet 4000 watt electric heat in the garage. It worked great. I started using it in November and for one month my bill went up ~$125. After that, I figured I'd just deal with the cold. I'm not doing it for money so I cut back on projects. I can't even image what the bill for Jan and Feb would have been. The heaters in the video should work find for the Oct-Dec time frame. It's Jan-Feb that is going to be the real test.

  34. You didn’t mention far infrared radiant heating. I just installed two 300w panels equivalent to 1500w using radiant heaters – flat, slim panels with infrared at a different frequency to the old fashioned tubes. With electricity in the UK equivalent to 26 US cents per kWh it seemed like a great option. Yet to put it to the test, but I am optimistic!

  35. Like you were mentioning about insurance and that aspect. I watched a YouTube video not that long ago and off the top of my head I forgot who it was. They did a shop tour and they have a wood stove. I also forget the state they were in but they said when they tried to get insurance for their shop they couldn’t because of the wood stove being in a wood shop. With say dust and fumes from finishing they said they wouldn’t I sure the shop for fire damage. So it really is something you need to look into before choosing your heating device. I know you kinda breezed over it. But it can be very important if you’re looking for insurance for your shop and tools. With electric we have electric baseboard heat in our house for a secondary heat source and it’s very very expensive. Ours is also a bit older and they have much better options now a days. But electric can be a pricey choice. Before adding electric also be sure you have the space in your panel. Depending on the size of your shop you could have 2 or three units with each of them using 220v. So that’s 6 breaker spots in your panel. Just some other things to think about. But great video. I’m turning my basement Into my new shop and it doesn’t have heat. So I’m actually looking at this issue myself at the moment. You mentioned a couple options I didn’t even think of and/or didn’t know existed. So thanks for the video. As always great content.

  36. when we upgraded the house heater we put the old fernace in the garage its stupid over powered for that job but man is it nice to turn it on and 10min later be in a Tshirt when its -20 out side

  37. Great video! In the UK, some businesses have found the cost of running electric is double that of propane (gas) heaters – though there is a greater fire risk for woodworkers with gas heating over electric.

  38. Last thing i want is higher bills, heating my workshop is a luxury i cant afford…gona stick to overalls and a decent coat!!!

  39. Did you consider propane or compressed natural gas. the companies that provide the service even deliver and change the bottles for you .

  40. You should have just put a Festool sticker on the minisplit compressor , call it a systainer, then watch the comments roll in! 🙂

  41. You do the research so we don't have to! Excellent and informative video, I've saved it for future reference. Thanks for sharing

  42. Convection heating/cooling is one of the most effective ways of transferring heat. So long as you minimize the period you have your door open it should not make a big difference. Just remember electricity probably costs you three times the heat you are losing/gaining.

  43. Why not do hot water baseboard. That gives you efficient, even, quite heat not and sets you up for the subfloor heating you ultimately want.

  44. Just read your electric meter then run those heaters for your time allotment i.e. (1/2 or 1 hour) and calculate the kilowatts used by what your electric company charges per kilowatt.

  45. One of those heaters attached to the top of a propane tank offer a good start to the day that can bring the room up to temp to let the electric units maintain the temp. Fans will definitely be a plus. With a covered floor one is not standing on the concrete.

  46. I bought a heater yesterday then saw your video and thought hmm well this should induce buyers remorse. Well not so much! I bought the Fahrenheat 5000 unit off of Marketplace for $140!

  47. Mark if you are not heating this space all the time or at least maintaining a minimum temperature will the wide temperature swings cause problems with your project pieces. What I mean is if it gets down to freezing or below in the shop overnight and you come in and crank up the heat the next morning how long before your tool surfaces and more importantly your project materials are all at a uniform temperature? I would think it's difficult to measure the internal temperature of a piece of wood more than one inch thick. The surface and first 1/4" may be at room temp within an hour, but how long till the internals of a 2 inch thick piece are at the same temperature and what would happen if you cut that piece while there is a large temperature differential between the surface the interior? I don't know I'm just asking. Maybe do a video on this with some experiments to determine if it's a concern or not. Seems to me it would be since it is customary to let your wood acclimate before using it. I'm not targeting you with these questions, this is something that has always concerned me as I don't heat my shop 24/7 because I am not in there every day.

  48. I use a heat/AC unit that some 8 years ago and have had really good luck with it. Here is SC we really don't get that cold

  49. I've got the 5kw unit in a 700sqf shop and it definitely does the trick. I put a meter on it and it's pulling a little over 22a so I'm thinking the electric bill will notice it. Thankfully the shop is well insulated and it doesn't have to cycle that often.

  50. With my garage shop in Michigan I used a radiant tube heater. Worked very well and kept the cars warm in the winter. Also, didn't worry about blowing dust around the shop like a fan based heater would do.

  51. Well think Solar for the heaters/ AC… and fans, and a small heating element could keep the snow and ice off… the solar panels… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnSew-tCuPo also putting up a sheet of plastic (free flowing) in front of the garage door will help in keeping the air warm in…

  52. Good information. I worked in the air barrier field. And air tightness is your friend with heat. Seal those windows with some plastic. Every winter I turn my shop into a trash bag and that does me very well

  53. You might also consider a hydronic pellet stove with a circ loop into fan coil units which could also be used to help filter the ambient air

  54. Hey brother. Firstly would like to say I'm not being critical. That being said, folks are missing out on the cost benefits of wood burning stoves in garages and shops, especially if they are occupied daily. Combined with air cleaners and air movers, a considerable amount of the cost of running A/C in the warmer months can be recovered by wood stoves during the winter.

  55. My concern w/ the turn-it-on-in-the-morning-off-at-night is the change in temp and the effect on your supply of wood. Aren't you concerned about wood movement, or is it minimal in winter conditions?

  56. Maybe, increasing home heating system to the garage will be cheaper, then pay for 12,5 kW heaters every month for 3 years? 😉

  57. When you consider you have saved $3,500 or more on the heating system that you can put towards to difference in fuel cost, it might be a number of years before you’re spending more overall. We used to have to replace gas unit heaters every 10 years at several thousand dollars each. Not sure electric wouldn’t have been cheaper overall because they last a lot longer.

  58. I live in Northern Canada and I use a natural gas furnace in my shop, works great and costs about 20 bucks a month during the coldest months.

  59. at-20 or -30 I find opening the door completely cools my garage. I went Forced Air/Propane 38,000 BTU still doesn't seem to warm up my shop. I need to move south from Canada…

  60. We were lucky at our new place, we have plenty of timber on our land. I was a little hesitant to put a wood stove in my shop but I love it. It's quite and don't even mind having to add wood every once in awhile. Plus I usually have a pot of water on there at all times so it's easy to have coffee or tea at anytime. When the temps get into the negatives I have a Perfection kerosene heater I can use to help supplement the heat. It's the glass model and it's absolutely gorgeous when it's going.

  61. 2:25 that's my name but not my shop… I have a small 12'x 24' shop and I just use the big buddy heater connected to a big tank and it works good but sometimes I need the space and not the heater.

  62. Is it possible to run solar to offset the electric bill for the 2 units.. I just moved to TX from CA and starting my woodworking journey and was wondering your take on SOLAR.. THANKS FOR THE INSPIRATION.

  63. Mark in 2017: "If you're parking your car in your garage… what's wrong with you?!"
    Mark in 2019: "When I open the garage door to take my son to school…"
    Me for the past 7 years: "I vaguely remember a time when my garage wasn't full of useless crap and I could either make things or park in here."

  64. where is your go to wood supplier in colorado? im new here and live on the western slope but would be willing to head to denver for a decent supplier. literaly nothing on this side of the mountain.

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