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I will endevour to persevere
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Discussion Starter #1
I am still looking for a reasonable way to heat my shop. It looks like Propane is going to be prohibited in the cost both for the hardware and expensive to operate fuel wise. My current Propane torpedo heater sucks a 5 gallon propane tank dry in about an hour and a half. Oil heat seems to be also up in the high cost cloud. I looked at pellet stoves and they seem a lot more economic to buy and operate. The big downer there is it is against the law to install any solid fuel heating device in a garage where there are oils, chemicals. paints, gasoline is used or stored.

Now I am safety conscious and don't want to burn down my shop. In my last shop I used a reclaimed oil furnace mounted 18 inches above the floor and never had a problem. of course I never permitted it so it was bootleg all the way. Somewhere in the NFPA code it says liquid fueled furnaces were ok as long as there were 18 inches above the floor. My thoughts are a liquid fueled furnace still has a exposed flame if not externally vented and the same with a pellet stove. I can't see a big difference between the two. I am going to have to bootleg my heat into my shop because of the city requirements I can't meet at this time. So I want to be safe but also want cost effectiveness. I had thought about electric heat but I am limited on electrical power to the shop so that will Not work.

If anyone has done the solid fuel heat ie wood or pellets in there shops let me know of any downsides or problems or concerns. I was careful with flammable liquids in my old shop and don't see any problems but ya never know..

Any and all suggestions are appreciated. :cool:
 

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Those Pellet stoves are good and warm for sure.
I have seen a used motor oil heater made from an old water heater tank, that looked like it worked well too. But it had open flame on it.
Even in the summer when there are no open flames, I still get nervous when gasoline hits the floor!
 

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A friend of mine had a pellet stove , worked fine , was cheaper than propane (80%) furnace had to buy pellets on sale , by the pallet to make it economical , hence , storage challenge . Electrical resistance at best is about triple the cost per btu hour . pellet stoves pop up for sale used around here , usually a good buy . auto feed system can be a problem .. Installation is pretty easy if you get a stove that vents through the wall.. ( power vent )
 

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I will endevour to persevere
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Discussion Starter #5
Shop size is 1080 sqft. I am in the northwest on the coast so temperatures are moderate average around 40 to 45 degrees most of the winter. Not to say it doesn't get around freezing some nights and days but for the most part low to mid 40's. My shop is unfortunately not insulated yet.
 

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Race it, Don't rice it!
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Whats the ceiling height?
Are you wanting to heat it just while working in there or keep it heated all winter?
Do you have a breaker box/service panel in the shop with 220v now?
 

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I will endevour to persevere
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Discussion Starter #7
The ceiling height is 11' 6". I am just wanting to heat while I am out there working. I do have 220v but the amperage is just 100 amps I thought about electric but that means I would have to turn off the heat when the compressor and welder run.. Besides electric is also expensive.. I had a heat calculation done and if I were insulated it would take 35,000 BTU so with no insulation at least double that..
 

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Race it, Don't rice it!
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Electric is out. Got it. Infared might be an option.
That gives you three options. A mini split, wood or propane.
A mini split is the best but more expensive up front to install. Operating costs are very very low.
Propane is cheap around here at $2/gallon. 250g tank rental is $25/month and if you buy it in the summer it's even a little less.
Propane puts out moisture as a by product. That might be a problem if you have machine tooling like I do. Wood will too but seems much less prone to it.

I've heated with wood for years It's not instant heat though. Ya gotta make the fire and wait a little bit rather than just flip a switch on the thermostat.
Pellets are easier to deal with and store and make good heat. Splitting wood for heat is a thing. Or buying it by the chord. Wood is cheap around here.
 

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the 'Duracell Project'
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your cheapest option is to insulate and sheetrock the inside.

you have a mild heating season on the west coast, here in michigan it can get sub zero. my barn is 50x50 with a 30x50 x13 ft ceilings upstairs. i walled off a 12x30 shop space that is insulated and heated full time. thermostat is set at 50° and turned up to 65° when i'm out there, i go thru $300 in propane every winter.
 

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Insulate and sheetrock it. best single thing we ever did. Second best was to hand a big industrial curtain on a cable. Its a movable wall essentially. We can wall off part of the shop and turn the heat on in the morning, its north of 50 in that space by lunchtime. But in my youth we were out there in thermals, and a snowmobiling jacket and pants, working n stuff when its 20* in there, or less. It can hover between 0 and -10 here in February for days at a time, with -20 not being unheard of.

We always heated with cordwood, usually oak and maple.
 

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I have used a wood stove for my major source of heat in my 2000 sq. ft. home for the last 38 years. My wife now has sever COPD and cannot tolerate the wood stove any longer. I removed it this year and replaced it with a pellet stove and we love it. I bought an adapter to connect the exhaust out the flue pipe that I used for my wood stove. There is hardly any odor at all from the stove and it does not effect my wife's breathing. It also heats the entire house nicely in close to freezing temps.
A bag of pellets is about $5.50 at Lowes and if I run the heater on medium a bag of pellets will last about 8 to 10 hours. I would try another one in my shop in a minute, but I have a wood stove now and a couple cords of wood I need to make good use of.
 

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the 'Duracell Project'
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agreed, but everyone with a pellet stove loves them, even thou my monthly gas bill is 1/4 of pellet cost
my gas bill on a cold month is $125 for a 2000sqft, 1890s house in michigan
the propane furnace in my shop came off of craigslist


527164
 

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agreed, but everyone with a pellet stove loves them, even thou my monthly gas bill is 1/4 of pellet cost
my gas bill on a cold month is $125 for a 2000sqft, 1890s house in michigan
the propane furnace in my shop came off of craigslist


View attachment 527164
A 92000 BTU furnace burns approx 1 gal of propane per hour ...with 96% efficiency that's 88000 BTU of heat.... @$2.00 per gal that's $2 for every hour the furnace runs...you have a source for REALLY cheap propane ??
 

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Race it, Don't rice it!
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7,812 Posts
agreed, but everyone with a pellet stove loves them, even thou my monthly gas bill is 1/4 of pellet cost
my gas bill on a cold month is $125 for a 2000sqft, 1890s house in michigan
the propane furnace in my shop came off of craigslist
agreed, but everyone with a pellet stove loves them, even thou my monthly gas bill is 1/4 of pellet cost
my gas bill on a cold month is $125 for a 2000sqft, 1890s house in michigan
the propane furnace in my shop came off of craigslist


View attachment 527164
Low ash and not having to source and split wood is the best reason.



View attachment 527164
 

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Hates: Liver. Loves: Diesel
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I won't ever suggest wasting money or carbon, but that is only a tiny fraction of the equation. You can't just compare dollars per BTU, because not all BTUs are the same. (well, mathematically they are, but what your garage DOES with those BTUs is another thing.)

First, heating the air is inefficient. Air carries very little energy. It makes sense in a house because it is well insulated and it's where you live, sleep, and eat. It's why old, drafty houses still feel cold when the thermostat is set to 72. Poorly insulated, drafty houses radiate heat away from the air at blistering speed. The same is true of a drafty garage. Trying to heat the air is a losing battle.

In the case of drafty garages, radiant heat wins big time. Heat solids and surfaces, not the air. They hold heat far better than air. If you just look at it as BTU per dollar and determine that one certain fuel makes the most for each penny... only to find that you're losing 70% of the BTUs you just made, it's not a winning thing.

Think of it like this. Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Open the door and stick your hand inside. Air feels hot, right? Now grab on to the metal rack (don't, really). Smells like burning flesh, huh? Now leave the door open for 30 seconds or so. The air in the oven is now 150 degrees because all that energy you spent heating the air just escapes super fast. Regardless of the air and the rack being the same temperature, the solid parts in the oven hold thousands of times more heat energy than the air.

Your garage is a lot like that oven. If you heat the air and a breeze goes past the gap in the door, it's gone. If the warm air gets close to the wall, the wall sucks out the heat and takes it away. If you instead heat the car, you, your tools, the workbench, and the surfaces, you'll be way ahead of the game and use far fewer BTUs than you would trying to heat the air.

When it comes to leaky, drafty things, you can't think of heat in terms of temperature like you would in a well-insulated house. You have to think of it as your comfort level. The radiant heater in my shop, for instance, is on a thermostat which measures the air temperature. If I set the stat to 70, it will melt plastic on the floor. If I set it to 65, I sweat and feel like I'm on a beach in Brazil. If I set it to 60, I'm toasty warm, because me, the floors, the tables, and my tools are getting heat directly from a radiant source, not by inefficiently heating the air. The air might only be 60, but the solids are warm and cozy.

You have to stop thinking in terms of BTU per dollar. If you make (using random, round numbers) 100kbtus for $1/hr, it doesn't matter if 90kbtus are convecting out the cracks. You'll end up spending $10/hr to replace all the heat you lose. If instead you spend $2/hr on a measly 20kbtus and only lose 10kbtus, you'll end up spending $4/hr because more of the heat you make stays inside. The second example (on paper) SEEMS like it costs 10 times more per BTU, but in reality, it's 60% less.

Again, random, exaggerated numbers for demonstration, not a realistic estimate.
 

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Hates: Liver. Loves: Diesel
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A word on pellet stoves... for the most part, pellet stoves are a great supplement to heating air in a house, but not always a good choice as a primary heating source. They do a far better job at extracting the most BTUs from the fuel than a regular wood stove, but in order to make enough heat for a primary source, they need to be very large. A woodstove is a box that burns wood. A pellet stove is a complete furnace plus a small firebox. If you have a large basement and can occupy a huge space, they aren't much of a problem, but to get a pellet stove that will effectively heat a drafty garage, I think you'll find that the footprint of the stove is more than you want to sacrifice for usable shop space.

The radiant heater in my shop (about 40' x 100' x 20' high) can make things toasty warm in about 10 minutes because from the time it fires the gas until it starts making heat is about 10 seconds. I can't effectively speak to its cost to operate because the entire building is heated with gas forced air and all on the same bill. For all I know it costs $100/hr, I just know that I spoke to dozens of engineers, HVAC folks, and other experts 10 years ago before writing the check to have it installed. I had resigned to just having the HVAC guys run a forced air duct to the shop and they all but refused. They turned down extra money and told me to call a different company to install a radiant heater.
 

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I know it sucks to wait another winter, as I had too last winter, but muddle thru this one and get a ceiling and insulation up next summer and whatever heat you decide on will stay in the building FAR better and it will be somewhat economical. Even if you can't get the walls insulated right away, the ceiling will contain the heat.
I installed the infrared tube heat in my new place because I had it in the previous and can't imagine a better heat source for our shops. As said, it heats objects and is very efficient. They can be set up for propane too.
You keep talking about propane, is natural not available to you ? Our new place was on propane and expensive to heat last winter, compared to our previous home on natural. I discovered there is natural in the street last year and had it run to the house over the summer. 200 ft to get under the street and to the house, so it cost a bit to get it in, but it is already using less product and much cheaper than the propane was. I changed the gas valve on the furnace and drilled out the jets and the furnace works great. The tube heater in the shop runs on natural too.
DSC06882.JPG
 

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I will endevour to persevere
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Discussion Starter #19
Yes this winter is going to be a chilly one in the shop. You have good valuable info there for sure. I have decided that the ceiling needs to be done before I put any permanent heat source in the shop. You asked about Natural Gas and unfortunately there is no Nat Gas in our town and everything runs on Propane. I am looking at the Infrared heaters and I am hoping to find a business or something that uses this method to heat then I can go feel it for myself before I make the final decision. As things stand now I get 1 to 2 hours a day in the shop with my torpedo heater. It's not a lot of time but it is at least some time and is at least more than 15 minutes a day...:cool:
 
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