Cold-weather days can turn your garage into a frigid, uncomfortable, and unproductive workspace. An electric garage heater can keep your garage warm and toasty so you can continue working in comfort, no matter what the outside temperature is. Electric garage heaters are powered by an electrical connection through an outlet, allowing you to easily set them up for use in any wired garage or with an extension cord running to the closest outlet.
The best electric garage heater for your garage or workshop will depend on your space requirements, the type of heater you want, and the safety features you need. Take a look at the products below that represent some of the best electric garage heaters in each respective category according to quality, functionality, and overall value.
- BEST OVERALL: Fahrenheat FUH Electric Heater for Garage
- RUNNER UP: Lasko 755320 Ceramic Space Heater
- BEST PORTABLE: Aikoper Space Heater
- BEST WALL MOUNTED: Broan-NuTone 198 High Capacity Wall Heater
- BEST CEILING MOUNTED: Comfort Zone CZQTV5M Ceiling Mounted Quartz Heater
Types of Electric Garage Heaters
While electric garage heaters all basically function the same way, electric heaters fall into three main types: fan-forced, infrared (radiant), and ceramic.
Fan-forced heaters use an electric heating element within the heater to rapidly heat the air around it. A fan in the back of the heater pushes this hot air out into the garage or workshop to warm up the ambient air and raise the temperature within the room. This style of electric heater takes time to heat up and isn’t as effective as a ceramic heater. So if you have a smaller workspace and you don’t mind waiting a bit for some heat, a fan-forced heater will serve you well; otherwise, you might want to consider an infrared or ceramic electric garage heater.
Infrared garage heaters are also known as radiant or quartz heaters. They generate radiant infrared heat that can be used for small or large garage spaces. These heaters begin working as soon as you turn them on and provide a very high heat intensity when compared to fan-forced or ceramic electric garage heaters.
However, the heat generated by infrared heaters does not warm up the air within the garage space. Rather, infrared heating warms up the physical objects that the infrared waves come into contact with, like a person or vehicle. This means that while you will feel warm with the heater on, the ambient air has not changed temperature, and when the heater is switched off, the temperature of the objects and people in the garage will drop quickly. This also means that the more items and people you have in your garage, the less effective the infrared heater will be because the waves will be dispersed throughout the objects and people in the room.
Ceramic electric garage heaters function basically the same as fan-forced heaters but with one significant difference: They use a ceramic heating element instead of the metal component in fan-forced heaters. This difference in the material makes them far more effective than a fan-forced heater at heating a large space. Ceramic heaters are a good option for larger spaces where you want to raise the temperature of the ambient air instead of heating only physical objects, as with an infrared heater. However, ceramic garage heaters will still take some time to heat up before the fan can begin blowing warm air.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Electric Garage Heater
Before choosing an electric garage heater for your garage or workspace, take a few minutes to educate yourself on the most important shopping considerations to keep in mind.
Garage size is an important consideration when you are selecting an electric garage heater. If you get a unit that is not powerful enough for the space you want to heat, then you will be left working in the cold, and you will be out the money you spent on the wrong heater. A good rule to follow for choosing an adequate garage heater is for every 10 watts of output, you can heat 1 square foot of space. For instance, a 150-square-foot garage or shop will be fully heated by a 1,500-watt electric garage heater.
Also, keep in mind the amount of actual space you use. If you use only a third of your garage while the rest is for your vehicle or for storage, then you may be able to get a smaller heater that will provide enough heat for you but won’t waste energy by heating up the rest of the unoccupied room.
Portable vs. Mounted
Electric garage heaters can be separated into two main installation types: portable and mounted.
- Portable electric garage heaters can stand on the ground or a table, and you can maneuver them wherever and however you want to get the best heat for the room. These heaters don’t require much installation or setup and generally need only an available outlet to begin working right out of the box. These heaters take up floor and table space, and their cord can be a tripping hazard.
- Mounted electric garage heaters can be wall-mounted or ceiling-mounted. They can also be hardwired into the building’s electrical system for a more powerful heat output, or they may be plugged into a regular power outlet, which is a style of mounted heater that is easier to install than the hardwired type. Mounted heaters are a great option if you are looking for a semi-permanent heater that you will have to set up only once. However, if you don’t have a large garage or workshop, these bigger units may be too powerful for a small space.
If you want an electric garage heater that can monitor the ambient temperature of the room and turn on when the temperature is too low and off when the temperature is too high, then you need a heater with a built-in adjustable thermostat. This feature allows you to choose your ideal temperature for the garage, and the heater will automatically begin heating until the ambient air in the room reaches that temperature. This function is ideal in colder climates that may need 24-hour heating because the auto-on and auto-off features will keep your garage at the right temperature without wasting unnecessary energy.
Any heating or cooling appliance will require some maintenance to continue working effectively over the years, and an electric garage heater is no different. Lightweight heaters are less expensive than more durable units, but they won’t last as long. So if you don’t mind replacing a heater every couple of years, you can get sufficient heat without having to do much maintenance.
More durable electric garage heaters will last longer, but you will need to be sure to clean them regularly, inspect the power inlets for breaks, and test the heat outputs to ensure they are functioning properly. If you do this on a regular basis, these more expensive heaters may end up costing less over time than having to replace several lightweight heaters.
Electric garage heaters can be dangerous if they are not properly installed, set up, and used. Fortunately, many manufacturers have begun adding safety features designed to make the product as accident-proof as possible, including a tip-over mechanism, overheating protection, and a cool-touch feature.
- Tip-over mechanisms were designed because electric garage heaters are easy to knock over in a busy workshop, a small garage, or in a home with small kids. This mechanism activates when the heater is knocked over, automatically shutting down the heater to prevent damage.
- Overheating protection is a useful feature that most electric heaters have. It is designed for days of prolonged use when the ambient temperature can fluctuate by several degrees, causing the heater to begin to overheat. When this happens, the overheating protection senses the rising temperature and shuts off the heater to prevent external damage to your garage and to stop internal damage to the heater.
- Cool-touch features are primarily used for wall-mounted and portable garage heaters because they are often set up or installed in locations where passing children or adults can come into contact with the sides of the heater. Heaters without this safety feature can give you a significant burn, but the cool-touch feature allows you to touch or grab the outside shell of the heater without injuring yourself.
Electric garage heaters have advanced with the times and now come with a wide variety of additional features that may benefit your garage. Take a look at these features below to see if any are must-haves for your electric garage heater.
- Extended cords give you the ability to place the garage heater anywhere within reach of the outlet, expanding the available areas to set up and keep warm.
- A handle on a portable heater makes it easier to pick up and move around the garage so you can find the best place to put it.
- Wheels can enhance the maneuverability of portable space heaters.
- Louvers on your electric garage heater allow you to direct the flow of the heat with a fan-forced or ceramic garage heater.
- Wi-Fi–enabled electric garage heaters can connect to a website or an app so you can control the heater through your phone, as long as the Wi-Fi is connected.
Our Top Picks
The top-rated products below were chosen for quality, price, and functionality to help you find the best electric garage heater for your garage or workshop.
If you have a large garage, the Fahrenheat’s 5,000-watt garage heater is up to the heating task. This model uses fan-forced heating to warm up large and drafty workspaces. The heater comes with a mounting bracket that allows you to install it on your ceiling or on your wall, depending on where you want to direct the heat. The heater also comes with adjustable louvers for better directional control.
While you will be paying a higher price for this electric garage heater, you get a remote control for distance operation, overheating protection, and an adjustable thermostat that will keep track of the ambient temperature and automatically turn on or turn off the heater according to the current reading. Keep in mind, however, that this heater does need to either be directly wired into a 208- or 240-volt system or plugged into a 208- or 240-volt outlet with the appropriate plug.
This portable electric garage heater is tower-shaped and has an oscillation feature so heat can be spread across a taller and wider area from the ceramic elements. You can set the temperature to either a fixed low setting or a fixed high setting for a maximum 1,500-watt power output. The ceramic heater also comes with an adjustable thermostat that you can use for automatic operation.
When you turn the heater on, you can choose to set an automatic timer that will turn off the heater when it reaches the scheduled time, or you can leave it to function on its own until you turn it off. The heater comes with a built-in carry handle, a remote control, and several safety features, including overheating protection and a cool-touch exterior that allows you to maneuver the heater while it is in use without burning yourself.
The Aikoper is a good choice if you don’t want to deal with hard-wiring or mounting your heater. Just plug in the cord to the nearest standard outlet and set the temperature on the adjustable digital thermostat to begin heating your garage to the desired temperature. Low heat produces 900 watts of energy, while high heat produces up to 1,500 watts of energy.
ECO mode will automatically turn off or turn on the heater as needed according to your temperature settings so you are never without heat, but you don’t waste energy when the heater doesn’t need to be on. This ceramic heater has an oscillating function for more widespread heat distribution and a remote control for distance operation. The stay-cool body of the heater and built-in handles make it an ideal option for portability, and the heater also has overheating and tip-over protection for added safety.
For a wall-mounted electric garage heater, the impressive Broan-NuTone delivers. The wall heater is designed to work with either a 240-volt (4,000-watt maximum output) or 120-volt (2,000-watt maximum output) electrical system, and it can either be plugged into an available outlet or hardwired directly into the electrical system if you have the appropriate attachments.
The fan-forced electric garage heater has a heavy-duty 18-gauge steel grill and an adjustable thermostat that is located on the front of the heater. Downflow louvers in the grill direct the airflow toward the ground, so it may be best to install this heater higher up on the wall. A built-in fan delay prevents the fan from operating until the element has reached a high enough temperature so the fan will push out only heated air.
This ceiling-mounted heater has a sleek, compact design, and it comes with a mounting bracket for attaching the heater to the ceiling. From there, it can be angled by up to 90 degrees for better control over the direction of the heat.
The infrared electric garage heater uses two radiant quartz bulbs to reflect infrared heat into the room and any nearby object or people. The heater comes with a halogen light (light bulb included) for better visibility in the workshop and also has an overheating sensor to automatically turn off the heater if it begins to overheat. While it doesn’t have cool-touch protection, it does have a metal safety grid that prevents the powerful quartz bulbs from coming into contact with anything else.
The Advantages of Owning an Electric Garage Heater
There are many benefits of owning an electric garage heater, but one of the foremost advantages of these useful appliances is being able to have a warm, comfortable garage workspace year-round.
Electric garage heaters versus built-in heating systems also give you the ability to choose how and where to use them, so long as you have an available power source. Install a semi-permanent heater on your garage wall or ceiling if you prefer a reliable heat source that you don’t have to set up every time you use it. If you want more maneuverability with your electric garage heater, then you can get a portable product that just needs an outlet and somewhere to stand.
Simple installation and eco-friendly operation are two primary advantages that electric garage heaters have over gas heaters. Electric heaters are also more affordable, and their heat output is optimal for most residential garages, though very large spaces may call for a more powerful heating option, such as a gas heater.
- Using an electric garage heater allows you to work effectively in your garage in cold temperatures.
- Electric garage heaters can be mounted on your ceiling or wall in a semi-permanent position, or they can be portable, giving you the freedom to choose where and how to use them.
- For residential garages, an electric heater is an inexpensive, effective option that is easy to install compared to natural gas garage heaters.
FAQs About Your New Electric Garage Heater
Below are some answers to commonly asked questions about electric garage heaters.
Q. Where should I place my garage heater?
You can place portable electric garage heaters anywhere you want. If they aren’t giving you the heat and results you want, just move them. Fixed or mounted electric garage heaters that have a forced-air or ceramic-heating function should be installed in the coldest corner of the garage with the air directed toward the center of the room.
Fixed or mounted electric garage heaters that use infrared or radiant heating need to be positioned at least 24 inches from the walls of the garage to ensure that they do not cause a fire. Measure and mark out this safety zone, then select an area within the zone that is close to your usual workspace so you can benefit the most from the heater when it is installed.
Q. How many watts do I need to heat my garage?
The type of heater, the layout of your garage, the contents of your garage, and the ambient temperature are all factors that can make this a difficult measurement to pinpoint, but a basic rule to follow is approximately 10 watts for every square foot of space that you want to heat.
Q. How much does it cost to run an electric garage heater?
This depends heavily on your local electrical costs, the wattage of the electric heater, and how long the heater has been used. However, on average, a 1,500-watt electric space heater will cost between $0.18 and $0.25 per hour to use.