Cold-weather days can turn your garage into a frigid, uncomfortable, and unproductive work space. An electric garage heater can keep your garage warm and toasty so you can continue working in comfort, no matter the outside temperature. 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: Heat Storm HS-1500-PHX-WIFI Infrared Heater
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Lasko 755320 Ceramic Space Heater
- BEST PORTABLE: Aikoper Space Heater, 1500W
- BEST WALL-MOUNTED: Broan-NuTone 198 High Capacity Wall Heater
- ALSO CONSIDER: Dr Infrared Heater DR-988 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. If you have a smaller work space 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 with 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 way fan-forced heaters do 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 garages or workshops 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 Buying the Best Electric Garage Heater
Before choosing an electric garage heater for your garage or work space, take a few minutes to educate yourself on the most important shopping considerations to keep in mind.
It’s critical to know the size of your garage or work space when 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 semipermanent 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. It’s an ideal function 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. 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’ll need 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 tip-over mechanisms, overheating protection, and cool-touch features.
- Tip-over mechanisms were designed because electric garage heaters are easy to knock over, especially when they’re in a busy workshop, small garage, or 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’s 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 cause 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 variety of additional beneficial features. 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 make portable space heaters easier to move.
- Louvers on your electric garage heater allow you to direct the flow of the heat with a fan-forced or ceramic garage heater.
- WiFi-enabled electric garage heaters can connect to a website or an app so you can control the heater through your phone.
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. To help you choose the best model for your home, we performed hands-on testing with the best electric garage heaters. We made sure they’re easy to install, operate as they should, and have the safety features to keep you safe.
Sadly, some heaters didn’t make the cut. While we generally love Comfort Zone heaters, the ceramic model we received came broken while the box was still in generally good shape. If it was simply a bracket or small crack, we’d get it. But the condition it arrived in was unsafe for use, so we scratched it from our list of favorites.
The Heat Storm Infrared Heater has 1,500 watts of power and is WiFi-enabled so you can access and control it from your phone, Google Assistant, or Alexa. Just set the built-in thermostat to your desired room temperature and let the heater do the work. You can also set a heating schedule or activate the child lock to prevent anyone from changing the heater settings.
Wall-mount the heater to provide continuous heat to your garage without taking up floor space. The heater doesn’t need to be hardwired into your electrical system, so setup is easy. If the heater overheats or somehow falls from the wall, it has both a tip-over mechanism and overheating protection to shut down the heater and prevent further damage.
In testing, the Heat Storm proved to be a great overall choice. It came with a neat template with a built-in level to ensure it hangs properly. We also liked that this heater has a range between 40 and 99 degrees, meaning it can protect pipes from freezing without keeping the space too warm, or heat a garage up to the point we’d trade in our work boots for flip-flops. The app was very easy to install, and the heater has a much nicer appearance than most heaters. The one downside is it has a very short cord (around 3 feet), so it limits where we can install it.
- Type: Infrared
- Style: Wall-mounted
- Wattage: 1,500
- Slick Wi-Fi controls
- Looks great on the wall
- Has a wide temperature range between 40 and 99 degrees
- It has a very short power cord
This portable electric garage heater is tower-shaped and has an oscillation feature so heat can 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 for maneuvering the heater while it is in use without getting burned.
The nicest thing we found about the Lasko space heater is how quietly it heats the space. By using convection, it displaces the cold air with warm air and creates a cycle, all while barely making a sound. We also liked the remote, but the oscillating function was even better as it distributes heat faster and more evenly than most heaters. The only complaint is that it doesn’t have much in the way of safety features; tipping it over didn’t even shut it off.
- Type: Convection
- Style: Portable
- Wattage: 1,500
- Quietly produces quite a bit of heat
- Oscillation mode spreads heat evenly
- Handy remote for changing through settings and temperatures
- Doesn’t shut off when tipped over
The Aikoper 1,500-Watt Portable Electric Garage Heater is a good choice for those who don’t want to deal with hardwiring or mounting a heater. Simply 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 the heater off or on as needed according to the temperature settings, so the space is never without heat but won’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.
We were surprised by how well the Aikoper Space Heater worked. First, it heated up very quickly, and the oscillating feature distributed it evenly and quietly throughout the garage. While the high and low settings are fine, we liked the digital settings much more, as we were able to choose the temperature and let the Aikoper regulate the space on its own. All of the functions on the heater itself worked great, but the remote would intermittently stop working, which was really the only con we found.
- Type: Convection
- Style: Portable
- Wattage: 900 to 1,500 watts, depending on setting
- Easy to set using high, low, or digital settings
- Has oscillation for even heating
- Safety feature shuts it off immediately if it falls over
- The remote is really hit or miss
For a wall-mounted electric garage heater, the impressive Broan-NuTone 4,000-Watt Electric Garage Heater delivers. Designed to work with either a 240-volt (4,000-watt maximum output) or 120-volt (2,000-watt maximum output) electrical system, this wall heater can either be plugged into an available outlet or hardwired directly into the electrical system with the appropriate attachments.
The fan-forced electric garage heater has a heavy-duty 18-gauge steel grill and an adjustable thermostat 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.
We found that the Broan-NuTone Wall Heater was truly a heavy-duty model. The box that installs in the wall and the faceplate itself can definitely hold up to garage uses. We also liked that the faceplate removes for easy cleaning. However, there are two sides to the Broan-NuTone’s coin. On one hand, we liked the flexible voltages, but on the other, it’s markedly less powerful when wired to 120V. The best method for full capability and minor inconvenience is a 10/2 wire run directly to a panel, but that might require an electrician.
- Type: Forced
- Style: In-wall mount
- Wattage: 4,000 at 240V and 2,000 at 120V
- Flexible voltages
- Heavy-duty construction
- Easy to access for cleaning
- Requires 240V for full capability
Those who enjoy radiant heating, forced hot air, and big-time performance should consider the Dr Infrared Heater DR-988. This 240-volt heater comes with the cord and plug already attached—something most other 240-volt heaters do not. Once set to the desired temperature (between 45 and 95 degrees), it will heat up quickly and maintain the temperature with the built-in thermostat.
We liked the amount of heat that this model produced. The heater itself is powerful, relatively easy to clean, and doesn’t require any real setup—unless you don’t have a NEMA #6-30P outlet available (we didn’t). We’re not industrial electricians, but locating a receptacle for this plug was a nightmare. Hint: your dryer, welder, or table saw outlet probably won’t work. For that reason, it’s probably best to hire an electrician, so budget a bit of extra cash.
- Type: Infrared and forced hot air
- Style: Portable
- Wattage: 5,600 Watts
- Seriously powerful compared to the 120V models
- Setup can be very simple
- Compact design
- You might not have the receptacle required for this heater
Overall, we’re pleased to recommend the Heat Storm HS-1500-PHX-WIFI Infrared Heater for its simple design, good looks, and awesome app interface. For those looking for something a bit more basic and wallet-friendly, the Lasko 755320 Ceramic Space Heater’s quiet heat and oscillating distribution won’t disappoint.
How We Tested the Best Electric Garage Heaters
Testing the best electric garage heaters required a few days’ worth of work, as the temperatures in the garage needed to be low enough to give these heaters a fair shake. Over the course of three mornings, the temperatures were in the high 30s or low 40s here, which gave us the perfect opportunity to test them out.
First, we tested the setup. We attached and hung brackets, wired heaters, and installed apps to see how easy it was to go from in the box to heating the garage. Then, we cranked these heaters up to see how well they’d heat the garage. We also performed a test where we let the heater regulate the temperature in the space by itself (which is why we could only test a few a day).
Finally, we tested the best electric garage heaters’ safety functions. While we weren’t able to get any to overheat, we did tip them all over to ensure they worked as they should. If they didn’t (one didn’t), we noted it in the guide.
The Advantages of Owning an Electric Garage Heater
There are many benefits to owning an electric garage heater, but one of the foremost advantages of these useful appliances is being able to have a warm, comfortable garage work space 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 semipermanent 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 semipermanent 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.
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 work space 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.