How To Heat A Cold Garage

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

How to Install Electric Wiring for a Floor Heat System: Electrical Circuit for a Floor Heating System.

Electric Heat for a Cold Garage

Electrical Question: I use my garage as an art studio and am trying to determine the effective and cost efficient way to heat the garage during the winter, (it gets down to the low 30’s and even 20s here).

  • After doing my research, I’ve realized that I have 2 options:
    1. Go all out and get a good 240 volt garage heater.
    2. Buy a few 120 volt space convection heaters to heat up the area.

The problem with the first option is that all outlets are standard 120 volt.

  • That said, if I did try to go the garage heater route, what steps do I need to take?
  • I am definitely not going to try to wire things on my own, and I would have a professional electrician do it.
  • Would I go to my power company to do this or should I contact an electrician?
  • Can you estimate about how much the process will cost?
  • And finally, and sorry if this is a dumb question, is there anyway I could instead use the same outlet as my refrigerator to plug in and run the 240 volt garage heater? Frigidaire refrigerator model #FRT21LR7DS3.
  • We could easily run the wire into the kitchen if needed.

Thanks for any help!

This electrical wiring question came from: Rachel, a Homeowner from Athens, Georgia.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Rachel.

How to Install Electric Wiring for a Floor Heat System

Application: Installing Electric Floor Heat.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – Best installed by a Licensed Electrician.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and a Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with tools and install electrical circuit wiring.
Precaution: Identify the panel circuit, turn it OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring.
Notice: Installing additional electrical circuit wiring should be done according to local and national electrical codes with a permit and be inspected.

Electrical Circuit for a Floor Heating System

  • Rachael, the first thing I would recommend is to seal up any air leaks and insulate the walls and the ceiling of the garage where ever possible.
  • Unfortunately your refrigerator circuit will typically not support the additional electrical load of a heating system, especially one that will heat your cold garage.
  • If you must use electricity to heat then a 240 volt heater unit would be much more energy efficient than a 120 volt heating system.
  • If the space will be used continuously then I would highly recommend installing a heat cable system into the floor.
  • A typical floor heat system requires a dedicated 240 volt circuit. The amperage of the circuit breaker providing the power will depend on the size of the specific heat system.
  • Floor heat systems are controlled by a thermostat which can have a variety of settings to enable energy savings and maintain warmth when you need it most.
  • The floor cable systems heat from the floor up which makes it much more comfortable for the conditioned area.
  • If the garage has a high ceiling then consider installing a ceiling fan as well which will help bring the heat down from the ceiling.

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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

2 Responses to “How To Heat A Cold Garage”
  1. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Barb,
    The type of electric heat that will be installed to heat a cold garage will depend on more information about the garage, including but not limited to the following:
    Are the garage has the walls and ceiling finished off with sheet rock? if so then baseboard heaters may be an option.
    If the walls and ceiling are not covered with sheet rock or the garage is drafty then you may consider portable heater units that produce direct radiant heat that is either infra red or a quartz tube type of heater, however keep in mind that portable heaters should have built in safety switches that turn off the unit automatically if the heating unit tips or falls over.
    The type of heating units that can safely be used in the garage will also depend on what is stored in the garage, such as flammable materials and substances which can pose a potential fire hazard or harmful condition.
    The type and size electric circuit to the garage must be clearly identified to fully understand the size of heater that can be installed, however as mentioned above, all of the other factors about the garage must be considered as well.
    I hope this helps,

  2. barb says:

    We have a cold garage that only has 220 volt wiring. So we purchased heating units with fans to boost the room temp. The only thing is, this didn’t heat it to a warm degree and it threw the circuit breaker out. What would be our best bet to use?


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