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Thread: Workshop Heater

  1. #1

    Workshop Heater

    Good Morning all. I am looking for a heating solution for my woodshop. First, the dimensions are 17'x30' floor print with 10' ceilings. So that ends up being 5100 cubic feet and 510 square feet. The walls and ceiling are insulated with R13 faced insulation. The ceiling is comprised of 2"x10" ceiling joists on 16" centers with a central support beam running down the center of the shop. I am planning on pulling up the second story floor and adding additional insulation to fill the 10" space the rest of the way for more insulation.

    I am debating whether to go with an electric shop heater or a propane shop heater. We have propane at the house already, and the propane company said they would charge $3/ft to trench and install propane line to the barn. I would need to plumb the gas line to the shop. There is already an 80amp 220v sub panel to the barn which is what the shop runs off of.

    The electric heaters I'm considering are these:

    I haven't looked seriously at any of the propane heaters.

    My heating requirements are as follows: The shop will not be heated full time, but when I'm out there I want it to be 50-60F. I need to be able to get it up to 70F for finishing and hold it there. I live in central Ohio, so the temperature ranges from -20-30sF most of the winter. Most of the time the temp doesn't seem to go below 20F when i'm home from work and ready to work in my shop. So I'm looking at most at a 55F degree temperature difference that the heater will have to overcome.

    Is there a good way to determine roughly what it will cost to operate either a propane heater or the electric heater? We pay $1.599/gallon of propane currently, but I don't really know what my usage would look like. Most of the week I don't work in the shop, but I do get out there for an hour or two 2-3 nights of the week, and then more frequently on weekends. I'll be storing my glues and finishes in the basement of the house.

    So TLDR: I am trying to figure out which of these heating options is going to be most economical in the long run to operate during typical Ohio winters for a hobbyist woodworker. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Lancaster, Ohio
    sealed burner, vented propane oversized to twice normal as you want to quickly bring the space up to comfort. 2 heaters or one variable rate of fire.
    Building air will come up fast, floor walls and all equipment will warm up slow. Temperature will drop fast until everything is at setpoint, once warmed up won't take as much to hold it there.
    you don't have enough electric power out there for fast rise.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    NE OH
    I agree with Ron. I have a 5000 watt heater similar to the 10000 watt models you link to in my oversize two car garage, pretty similar size and volume to your space. Similar insulation level also. I live in NE Ohio, so a little colder typically than you. It takes the 5000 watt heater close to an hour to warm the air from 30ish to mid 50's. Stuff in the space takes hours to warm up.

    Hard to estimate cost, but that 10kw heater will use 10 kwh of electricity for every hour the element is actually heating, plus a little for the fan. Figure it will run 100% until the shop reaches your setpoint, and maybe 50% of the time or more to hold at temp, depending on outside temp and wind, etc. These are all SWAGS!. So if you're out there for 4 hours, figure somewhere between 20 and 40 kwh. AT $0.20 per kwh, that's 4-8 bucks.
    --Certainty is the refuge of a small mind--

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Gas (vented...don't get unvented) can be pretty good at producing heat. Electric tends to be expensive if you are using resistance heat...minisplit is best in that case. Those units you link to and similar suck power big time...I used to use one. I have a minisplit now. Definitely get more insulation up top as that's where the majority of heat loss is other than poor sealing/infiltration.

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  5. #5
    A Rinnai EX-22 will handle this easily. Pricey, but simple installation you can do yourself and the vent which is supplied in the box requires only a 2.5Ē hole. Built in programmable stat. I have to disagree with Ronís 2X suggestion. If you need the heat to come up turn it up a bit earlier or let it run at a lower setting overnight so the pick-up is less. Over sizing just gives comfort problems.

  6. #6
    In my 24' x 36 ' shop with 10' ceilings, (8640 cubic feet), I have a 75K BTU natural gas, enclosed combustion, Modine Hot Dawg HDS heater, which I keep set at 65 degrees 24x7 throughout the winter in central TN right on the KY line. My average cost per month to keep the shop at a constant 65 degrees is around $30. I actually found that it costs me more in gas to raise and lower the temperature because of my concrete floor. My shop is well insulated with 2x6 walls and 6" in the attic ceiling trusses. (The temp does drop from pressure leakage when running my DC but it quickly recovers.) I'm quite comfortable at 65 degrees and it is in the range for most glues and finishes. I bought mine from QC Supply. The Hot Dawg HDS model can be purchased for either natural gas or propane and is available in 30K, 45K, 60K, 75K, 100K, and 125K BTU versions. Enclosed combustion prevents burning sawdust, VOCs and prevents raising humidity from excess moisture burning gas. QC supply also has a really easy to hang ceiling bracket and vent kits. I'm not affiliated with QC Supply in any way, it's just where I found the best price when I bought mine a couple years ago. Here are links to what I bought for my shop.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Cache Valley, Utah
    I had a Hot Dawg heater in my last shop, a drafty pole building with not much insulation. I ran it off propane only when in the shop and was very happy with it. My current shop has a similar vented natural gas heater (can't remember the brand right now). The shop is very well finished and insulated and I keep it set for 50 at night and about 58 to 60 during the day. It works great for me. I have the same setup in the garage, only it stays set for 50 all the time unless I'm working there. I can't give a breakdown on cost, since they are plumbed in with the water heaters and furnace, but it works very well for me. I would stay away from resistance heaters.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    olmsted falls,ohio
    I also live in northeast shop is same size as yours r 19 in walls blown in in ceiling.I heat with natural gas 28000 btu mr heater radiant panel it takes a couple hours to get from 50 to 65 but once it gets there it cycles nicely.I had a electric heater before cost a lot to run just my 2 cents hope all works out

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Lancaster, Ohio
    I recommended an oversize heater based on OP stated requirements, not what I have or prefer

    "My heating requirements are as follows: The shop will not be heated full time, but when I'm out there I want it to be 50-60F. I need to be able to get it up to 70F for finishing and hold it there. "
    Most of the week I don't work in the shop, but I do get out there for an hour or two 2-3 nights of the week, and then more frequently on weekends."

    I have 2kw electric in the corner of a 20x20 attached garage which will raise the air temp part way across the garage quickly, then it stays cold for hours by insulated garage door, after 6-8 hrs in Jan-Mar temperature levels out across the garage. NOT WHAT OP WANTS. Personally I would hold garage at 45-50 with a small unit and then warm up as needed.

    However to meet OP's spec's need twice size unit to bring it up quick. Wood stored out there will move
    constantly as it rides the RH changes. Tools will sweat certain times of year, etc.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    North Dakota
    Maybe to help the gas or electric furnace not work so hard warming the space add a wood stove . Set the shop temp to 40 and the heater will maintain that temperature. Then when you want to work warm it up further with the wood stove. You wonít have such drastic swings either.
    My woodworking theory: Measure with a micrometer, Mark with chalk, Cut with an ax.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Morocco IN
    I have a ceiling mounted elec heater that I use to keep the shop at temp. To bring it to temp I blast a propane torpedo heater for about 20 minutes. The elec heater is working a lot less this year than last due to the torpedo htr. This plus the foamular panels I put on the outside of the garage doors has cut my elec bill in half.
    You know, the worst ain't so bad when it finally happens.
    Not half as bad as you figure it'll be before it's happened.
    - Bob Curtin

  12. #12
    To add to my earlier post and expand on the cost of heading with my Modine Hot Dawg, I went back through the past years bills and compiled the cost and cubic footage for your reference as well as what the average temperatures are in my location, which you can find here for comparison.

    It turns out that since I have a separate meter on my shop I pay a minimum charge of $17.60 per month even if my gas usage is zero. My average cost even with that extra cost was $23.75 per month for the past 12 months and for the actual 9 months where any gas was used my average cost was $25.79 per month and I averaged 2111 Cubic feet per month. Since a gallon of propane = 35.97 cubic feet you can translate the propane cost for 2111 average cubic feet into 58.7 gallons per month and at the rate of $1.599/gallon that would be $93.86 or almost 4 times what I'm paying for natural gas. That surprised me.


    COMPRESSED PROPANE (GASEOUS FORM) EQUIVALENCY INFORMATION: At 14.73 lbs. of pressure per square inch (psi) and 60 degrees Fahrenheit:

    • 1 cubic foot propane = 0.0278 gallons propane
    • 100 cubic feet propane = 2.78 gallons propane
    • 1 gallon propane = 35.97 cubic feet propane
    • 100 gallons propane = 3597 cubic feet propane

    "NATURAL GAS" means naturally occurring mixtures of hydrocarbon gases and vapors consisting principally of methane, whether in gaseous or liquid form.
    NATURAL GAS (GASEOUS FORM) EQUIVALENCY INFORMATION: At 14.73 lbs. of pressure per square inch (psi) and 60 degrees Fahrenheit:

    • 1 cubic foot natural gas = 0.012 gallons natural gas
    • 100 cubic feet natural gas = 1.2 gallons natural gas
    • 1 gallon natural gas = 82.62 cubic feet natural gas
    • 100 gallons natural gas = 8262 cubic feet natural gas

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Toronto Ontario
    Youíve received some good advice in this thread.

    That said, where I live electricity is almost fossil fuel free ( most is hydraulic and b

    That has lead me to go from NG to electric for domestic hot water and I would do the same for my shop.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Somewhere in the Land of Lincoln
    I have a 1680 square feet shop (30x56) with a 14' ceiling that's R19 in the walls and somewhere around R54 or higher in the ceiling. So 23,000 plus cubic feet. I have it set up for radiant floor heat but haven't gotten it operational yet for a variety of reasons. At this time I am keeping it at 60 degrees with 4 1500 watt electric heaters. I am estimating it's costing me between $100-125 per month. I was using only 3 heaters but when we dropped down to zero and below they weren't keeping up. My suggestion would be to try a couple of these heaters if you have them to gauge your heating needs. I'm not suggesting this as a permanent solution but simply to give you an idea what it will take to keep your shop comfortable. How tight is your shop? If there is much opportunity for air infiltration heating will be more difficult.

    I should add that 2 of the heaters have a digital thermostat and they cycle on and off as needed. Sometimes only one is on and lately it's been between 2 and 4 heaters all the time. Next year I will have the floor heat operational.
    Last edited by Ronald Blue; 02-11-2021 at 8:23 PM.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Wayland, MA
    The first thing I'd do is insulate and air seal the building to the greatest extent possible. That is by far the most effective way to control heating cost and maintain a comfortable environment. I used spray foam to accomplish both in my 1910 barn building. That gets my heating cost down to a couple hundred bucks a season to keep it in the mid-60's and allows me to leave the AC off most of the summer in MA.

    I use a Hot Dawg natural gas sealed combustion heater. Doing it knowing what I know today I would have installed a minisplit air source heat pump instead.

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