Whether you’re passing the colder months with hobbies in your workshop, or your must-do repairs simply can’t wait for warmer days, time in the garage is better when you’re comfortable. Instead of suffering from frozen fingertips, take the edge off the chill with the best gas garage heater.
These convenient, clean-burning heaters use natural gas or propane to pump heat into your garage space, keeping you, your vehicles, and your tools warm when the temperatures drop. This guide will help you choose the best gas garage heater for your shop or garage.
- BEST OVERALL: Mr. Heater 30,000 BTU Vent Free Natural Gas Heater
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Mr. Heater MH-F232000 Portable Buddy 9,000 BTU
- BEST FOR LARGE SPACES: Mr. Heater F260560 Big Maxx Natural Gas Unit Heater
- BEST NATURAL GAS: Dyna-Glo 30,000 BTU Natural Gas Vent Free Wall Heater
- ALSO CONSIDER: Mr. Heater F260550 Big Maxx Natural Gas Unit Heater
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Gas Garage Heater
A garage heater can be an excellent addition to a home, but not everyone is entirely familiar with them. Consider these points when shopping for the best gas garage heater for your garage, barn, or workshop. Safety, fuel sources, and portability are among the important factors to keep in mind.
The three main types of gas garage heaters are forced air, convection, and radiant. Forced-air heaters draw in cold air from the space, heat it, and pump it back in. Convection heaters (also known as blue flame) warm the air around them, starting a cycle of warm air rising and cooler air working its way to the heater. Radiant heaters project heat onto objects within the space, making them a great option for heating a workbench.
Additionally, these heaters come in two variations: direct vent and ventless. Direct vent heaters exhaust their gases outside, while the exhaust from a ventless heater enters the heated space. Direct vent heaters are more expensive and more challenging to install, but ventless heaters can irritate those particularly sensitive to odors and fumes.
There are other non-electric heaters as well, such as kerosene-burning options.
When it comes to choosing a product based on fuel source, note that there are both natural gas and propane options. Both are efficient, but there are scenarios where one might be better than another.
If a home already has a natural gas supply, a natural gas heater is a great way to add heat to a garage. Natural gas burns cleanly, and an abundant supply is available.
For garages that aren’t on natural gas grids, propane might be a better choice. Propane also burns cleanly, but it’s more readily available by the bottle than natural gas. Many gas stations, grocery stores, and home improvement stores operate bottle swap stations where an empty tank can be exchanged for a full one.
It’s important to understand that propane and natural gas heaters are not interchangeable. The nozzles or jets that supply gas to the flame on each type of heater are differently sized, and you wouldn’t want to use a propane tank, for example, on a natural gas heater without a conversion kit.
Keep in mind that if you’d prefer not to use fossil fuels, there are electric garage heaters as well.
Freestanding vs. Mounted
Choosing among the best gas garage heaters might depend on preference between freestanding and mounted units. Users can position freestanding heaters anywhere they’d like, allowing them to focus heat generation in a particular area. This can be a big benefit, particularly when using a smaller heater in a big space.
Mounted units aren’t going anywhere, which has benefits and drawbacks. These units typically install off the ground, keeping them safe and out of the way. As long as they’re large enough to heat an entire space, they’re a very convenient option. If they’re too small, however, there will be cold spots in the garage.
Shopping for the best garage heater requires some attention to a unit’s capacity or output. Described in BTUs (British Thermal Units), a heater’s capacity can help determine the space for which it’s most suitable.
Larger garages and barns will require a large, high-output heater with a BTU rating between 80,000 and 100,000. These heaters can often handle garages north of 2,000 square feet in size.
Smaller garages won’t need as much firepower. For an attached one- or two-car garage, a 30,000-BTU unit is often more than suitable. Very localized heat, such as above a workbench, might only require 5,000 BTUs.
The best gas garage heaters are clean-burning, efficient, and easy to use, but aren’t without safety concerns. The potential for accidents and injuries certainly increases with a gas heater installed in a garage.
To help reduce the risk of accidents, many of the best gas garage heaters have safety features, such as child safety locks that make it difficult for a child to light a heater inadvertently. Also, low oxygen shutoffs will detect when effective, safe combustion isn’t possible, shutting the heater off entirely.
It’s also extremely important to ensure that carbon monoxide detectors within the home and garage are working properly. Gas heaters that are well maintained and running properly create an “ideal burn,” which poses no threat of carbon monoxide poisoning. But, poorly running heaters don’t burn as efficiently and can cause unsafe CO buildup. A carbon monoxide detector will alert when dangerous levels of carbon monoxide are building up within the home or garage, which can be the result of many different factors. Since carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, these detectors are sometimes the only way to tell that there is an issue.
Finally, keeping flammable items clear of a heater is essential. Garage spaces are full of flammable items, combustible liquids, and other dangerous materials that can cause a fire if they’re in close proximity to a gas heater.
Depending on the style, the best gas garage heaters have convenient features to make them more useful or simply easier to use.
Mounted units compatible with external thermostats make controlling garage temperatures much easier. Setting the thermostat to a preferred temperature will ensure the heater kicks on and off, maintaining that temperature within the space. Also, remote controls make adjusting temperatures an easier process.
For portable units, temperature control knobs allow users to throttle the flame output to balance warmth and fuel efficiency, stretching a bottle of propane as far as possible.
How simple or challenging a particular gas garage heater might be to install could be a factor while shopping. Folks looking to unbox a heater and warm up the space right away might prefer a portable unit that simply screws onto a propane tank. Those looking for a more permanent solution might prefer a mounted unit, which will require a more involved installation process.
Installing mounted units often requires specialized brackets that attach to the ceiling or wall. Also, if these units vent outside, they require a hole in the wall for the exhaust pipe to run through. If connecting to gas pipes is necessary, it might be best to hire out the process to a plumber.
Our Top Picks
Shopping for the best gas garage heater just got a little easier. The following is a list of some of the best products on the market. Be sure to keep the top shopping considerations in mind while comparing these products. From choosing the best fuel source to the proper size, there’s an option for any garage listed below.
Mr. Heater’s 30,000-BTU Natural Gas Heater is worth checking out for small- to medium-size garages. This blue flame convection heater produces enough heat for spaces up to 1,000 square feet, offering even warmth throughout the space. It comes with hardware to mount it to the wall or legs for freestanding applications.
This vent-free heater is simple to install, and thanks to its electronic ignition, it’s also easy to start. It has a variable output switch that allows the user to control the temperature. It also has a low-oxygen sensor that shuts the unit off, and since it uses convection, it’s safer to install in tighter areas than would be a radiant heater.
- Heats up to 1,000 square feet
- 30,000 BTU natural gas output
- Blue flame convection heat
- Stand alone or wall mountable
- Works best under elevations of 4,500 feet
- Not for small, enclosed spaces like bathrooms or RVs
Heating a small space doesn’t require a big budget. This heater has the power to heat a small space, the safety features to run safely, and an affordable price tag. This unit accepts small 1-pound bottles of propane, though an adapter hose will hook it to a standard-size propane tank.
Producing 4,000 to 9,000 BTUs, this radiant heater will warm objects in spaces up to 225 square feet, making it an attractive option for small shops and one-car garages. Its ventless design means it can be used indoors or out, and the near-100 percent efficiency means it won’t waste precious fuel. This heater will also shut down if it tips over, the pilot light goes out, or if it detects low-oxygen conditions.
- Highly portable option
- Runs on a 1-pound cylinder propane tank
- Heats up to 225 square feet
- Can be used in a garage, tent, or camper
- Only runs up to 3 hours at maximum burn
When a small, temporary fix for a large garage or shop won’t cut it, check out Mr. Heater’s F260560 Big Maxx Natural Gas Unit Heater. This 80,000-BTU natural gas heater will heat spaces up to 2,000 square feet. The rear-mounted fan draws cold air into the unit, pushes it across a heat exchanger, and then forces it into the space for quick heating.
The Big Maxx requires 8 feet of clearance under it, so it comes with the necessary brackets for mounting to the ceiling. It also comes with a propane conversion kit, allowing users to swap it over to propane fuel if that’s their preference. While this unit is thermostatically controlled and direct vented, the items necessary to do both are separate purchases.
- 80,000 BTU natural gas output
- Wall mountable
- Powered exhaust system for horizontal or vertical venting
- Heats up to 2,000 square feet
- Minimum 8 feet of clearance from base to floor
When it comes to getting the most value from a gas garage heater, Dyna-Glo’s Natural Gas Vent Free Wall Heater is worth consideration. This 30,000-BTU blue flame heater will create warm, even convection heat in spaces up to 1,000 square feet. And, since it burns at 99 percent efficiency, this natural gas heater offers an affordable way to stay comfortable.
This vent-free heater comes with the hardware required to mount it to the wall. It also has three adjustable heat settings on the top of the unit, allowing users to dial in their ideal temperature. There’s a battery-powered electronic ignition for easy starts and a low-oxygen cut-off switch that shuts down the unit when it detects dangerously low levels of oxygen.
- Can heat very large areas
- Extremely efficient burn
Not all ceiling-mounted units are large and in charge. For medium-size spaces, Mr. Heater’s F260550 Big Maxx Natural Gas Unit Heater can answer the call. This forced-air heater produces 50,000 BTUs of heat, quickly warming garages and small barns up to 1,250 square feet. And the included ceiling brackets make hanging it from the ceiling an easy process.
The Big Maxx kit also included the necessary equipment to swap this heater from natural gas to propane, allowing users to decide which fuel source they’d like to use. This unit does require a kit for ventilation as well as a thermostat, both of which are separate purchases.
- 50,000 BTU natural gas output for 1,250 square feet
- Thermostat and controls are easily accessible
- Powered exhaust system for horizontal or vertical venting
- Industrial-style heater
- Minimum 8 feet of clearance from base to floor
For overall versatility, ease of use, and heat output, we recommend the Mr. Heater Vent Free Natural Gas Heater, but if you need a heater for a larger space, then the Mr. Heater Big Maxx is the way to go.
How We Chose the Best Gas Garage Heaters
These recommendations reflect the importance of having steady, reliable heat in cold temperatures from a trusted power source. It’s important to note that some heating methods are not appropriate for small, poorly ventilated spaces, which is why we have both natural gas and propane options available for specific needs. Furthermore, we narrowed our search to include the three heating methods: forced air, convection, and radiant. Each method produces a different kind of heat in the room that some find more effective than others.
Another primary factor we considered for these recommendations was the total area the unit could capably heat. There are products that work for both large two-car garages and small work sheds or even campers. Overall, our favorites have safety measures in place to ensure safe operation whether they are freestanding heaters or mounted on a wall.
Even though you’re familiar with the best gas garage heaters on the market, you might still have some questions about these heaters. Below is a collection of some of the most commonly asked questions about gas garage heaters along with the answers to clear them up. Check to see if there’s an answer to your question below.
Q. Are gas garage heaters safe to use?
As long as you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use and installation, gas garage heaters are safe. Just be sure to vent units that require it and ensure that the carbon monoxide detectors are working.
Q. Can I heat my garage with a propane heater?
Yes, there are many propane-fueled heaters available that will heat a garage safely and efficiently.
Q. Do you need ventilation when using a propane heater?
Depending on the particular product, some propane heaters do need ventilation while others do not. It’s helpful to check the manufacturer’s use and installation instructions.
Q. How big of a heater do I need for a two-car garage?
The answer to this question depends on the region in which you live. If you experience very mild winters, you might require only 30 BTUs per square foot, while very cold climates will be double that.
A 500-square-foot garage in a warmer climate may only require 15,000 BTUs, while that same garage in colder climates could require 30,000 BTUs. Those numbers can jump considerably if the space is poorly insulated.
Q. How long does a gas garage heater last?
Gas appliances, particularly furnaces and heaters, have an average life expectancy between 15 and 20 years. Keep in mind that factors such as regular servicing or humidity levels will have an effect on how long a heater lasts.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series, including This Old House and Bob Vila’s Home Again, he popularized and became synonymous with “do it yourself” home improvement.
Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.
Tom Scalisi is a freelance writer specializing in the home design, construction, tools, and automotive industries. He has been involved in the trades for over 15 years as both a contractor and a commercial building mechanic. In addition to his professional life, Tom enjoys getting outside on his mountain bike, camping, beekeeping, and fishing. Tom is also an avid racing and baseball fan. He lives in NY’s Hudson Valley with his wife, their three children, and three dogs.