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The expert product testers here at Garage Gym Reviews are a group of fitness professionals ranging from Olympic athletes to nutrition coaches. We’re well versed on the best adjustable dumbbells, affordable treadmills, and personal training apps. However, when it comes to outfitting your home gym with more than just gym equipment (like air conditioning, storage, and lighting) we turn to experts in the field so we can provide you with the most accurate information possible.
For our roundup of the best garage heaters, I turned to our resident HVAC expert, Matt Strong (who just happens to be my husband and a competitive powerlifter). Matt is a professional engineer and has nearly a decade of experience with designing heating systems and specifying equipment. We also polled our Home Gym Community on Facebook to see some of the most popular heating products were actually being put to use.
The following statements are meant to serve as generic recommendations. It’s important to consult a local HVAC professional for proper sizing and capacity recommendations based on where you live and the size of your garage.
Additionally, you will not find any recommendations for propane heaters on this list for safety reasons. Propane heaters (without ventilation) can produce carbon monoxide, which is not only a poisonous gas, it’s also odorless, colorless, and tasteless which makes it extremely difficult to detect.
6 Best Garage Heaters:
- Best Overall Garage Heater: MR COOL Mini Split Heat Pump
- Best Durable Electric Garage Heater for Gyms: NewAir Electric Heater
- Best Budget Electric Heater for Small Garages: GoFlame Electric Oil Filled Radiator
- Best Wall Hung Natural Gas Garage Heaters: Mr. Heater Big Maxx
- Best Natural Gas Heater for Small Garage Gyms: Mr. Heater Vent Free Blue Frame
- Best Infrared Heater: Heat Storm Infrared
Best Overall Garage Heater: MR COOL Mini Split Heat Pump
Good for: Folks who want an efficient wall-hung heating (and cooling) option
Best Overall Garage Heater
- 3rd generation with SmartHVAC Wi-Fi control system
- Compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple, and android phones
- AHRI-Certified, CSA-Listed, ETL-Listed, and UL-Listed
- Environmentally friendly refrigerant
- Free shipping and delivery options
Pros & Cons
- Wireless remote control
- Installation kit included
- 4-way air circulation
- Reviews say the installation was semi-easy
- Condenser weight of 66.8 lbs
- Professional installation recommended
- Reviewers say the 16-foot cord needs to be longer
We know that the name MR COOL sounds like it’s about to freeze you out, but this mini split heat pump is a unit that works double time: it heats and cools. The MR COOL mini split was also featured as our top pick on our best AC for garage gym roundups.
Although there are many folks on the internet who will tell you the MR COOL units are DIY and easy to install, the website explicitly states this mini split heat pump is intended to be installed by a HVAC professional. We realize that the kit from Amazon includes pretty much everything you need to install this yourself (including 16 feet of copper lines, control wire, and a 6-foot drain hose and wall sleeve). We highly recommend getting a skilled professional to install the piping and electrical components.
Coop Mitchell, GGR founder and OG product tester, has a MR COOL unit in both of his garages and enjoys the year-round temperature control. Gone are the days of Coop wearing a down jacket during squat warmups!
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The unit also comes with a smart controller that syncs to your smartphone via WiFi so you can use it as a wireless remote control. From your smartphone you control the adjustable louvers, start sleep mode, and manipulate heat settings (which can heat even when the outdoor temps are below 0 degrees fahrenheit).
|Price||About $900 on Amazon|
|BTU rating||9,800 BTU|
Best Durable Electric Garage Heater for Gyms: NewAir Electric Heater
Good for: Folks who need a portable forced air heater built with durability in mind
Best Durable Electric Garage Heater
- Compact, powerful heater
- 19K BTU
- Safety grill to prevent burns
- Automatic overheat shut-off
- Convenient carrying handle
Pros & Cons
- Incredibly powerful for its size
- Temperature range of 45-95 F
- 19K BTU, 5,600 Watt
- Durable steel construction
- Built-in thermostat
- Automatic shut-off in case of overheating
- Requires 30A-240V plug
- Some users reported a noisy fan
Although this NewAir Electric Heater is small, it certainly packs a punch. In fact this small, portable unit can heat up to 600 square feet with a powerful stainless steel coiled heating element and a fan-forced hot air method. It also features a rugged stainless steel exterior with a powder coat finish meant to hold up to industrial environments. It even has a carrying handle or the option for wall-mounting.
It’s worth noting that although this unit will get the job done for a standard two-car garage, it’s not super energy efficient and it requires a 240-volt receptacle (which are the same outlets used for heavy-duty appliances like your washer and dryer).
Even with the drawbacks, this budget heater could be the right option for your gym if you have a 240-volt outlet or you can get one installed easily. We also like the fact that there are no flammable materials in this heater (like gas or propane), which is ideal if you have kids (or pets) so you can keep the family fitness routine going. Plus, there is an automatic shut-off safety feature that turns off the heater if it gets close to overheating.
|Price||About $200 on Amazon|
|BTU rating||19,100 BTU|
Best Budget Electric Heater for Small Garages: GoFlame Electric Oil Heater
Good for: Folks who want a radiant heater for small garages or live in milder climates
Best Budget Electric Heater
- Automatic shut-off for tipping and overheating
- Convenient heavy-duty casters for transport/storage
- 3 settings for silent output
Pros & Cons
- Quiet heat source
- 4 heavy-duty casters for transport
- Tip-over sensor for automatic shut-off
- 3 output settings
- No exposed heating elements
- No estimated square footage listed
- Not suitable for larger spaces
- Risk of oil leak during accidents
The GoFlame Electric heater is an ideal choice for those who just need to take the chill out of the air or if your garage gym is fairly small. The heat output on this portable unit isn’t remarkable at 1,500 watts, but it could be the right fit for some folks—all for under $100, too.
This portable unit has three heat settings and an adjustable thermostat. The heavy-duty transport wheels make it easy to move from the garage to the house and back again. It’s also small and easy to stow away (just like our top picks for best compact exercise equipment for small gyms).
The GoFlame unit is constructed with permanently sealed oil-filled thermal slots that provide radiant heat. The thermal slot design allows the surface temperature to stay relatively low on this space heater, so you won’t accidentally scald yourself, which is great if you have kids or pets running around.
Speaking of kids and pets, you’ll like knowing that this heater has a tip-over automatic shut off switch and an overheat protection.
RELATED: Best Budget Home Gym Equipment
|BTU rating||1,500 watts|
Best Wall Hung Natural Gas Garage Heater: Mr. Heater Big Maxx
Good for: Folks with large garages and access to a natural gas line
Best Wall Hung Natural Gas Heater
- Heats up to 2,667 sq ft
- 80,000 BTU output
- Includes propane conversion kit
- Must be mounted 8+ feet off the ground
- Powered exhaust for vertical or horizontal venting
- Spark ignition
Pros & Cons
- 2,667 sq ft heating range
- Conversion kit for propane included
- Options for vertical or horizontal venting
- Temperature control
- High temperature safety shut-off
- Thermostat, hose, and regulator not included in base price
- Requires clearance of 8+ feet from the ground
The Mr. Heater Big Maxx can be an ideal choice for folks living in an area with natural gas available. The heater comes with ceiling mount brackets so you can hang this unit and not compromise your floor space.
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Similar to the mini split heat pump, you’ll likely need to hire an HVAC professional to install this unit. The unit will not only need to be hung with the ceiling brackets, but it will also need to be piped to your natural gas line, and properly vented. Additionally, this unit comes with a conversion kit to hook this up to a propane tank fuel source instead of natural gas.
I think it’s also worth mentioning that the thermostat, hose, and regulator are not included in the purchase of the Mr. Heater Big Maxx.
|Price||$580 on Amazon|
|BTU rating||80,000 BTU|
|Fuel type||Natural gas|
Best Natural Gas Heater for Small Garages: Mr. Heater Vent Free Blue Flame
Good for: Folks who have access to a natural gas line with a small garage
Best Natural Gas for Small Garages
- 30K BTU heats spaces up to 1,000 sq ft
- Automatic low oxygen shut-off system
- Automatic temperature control via thermostat
- Fueled by natural gas
Pros & Cons
- Blue flame burner provides even heat
- 30,000 BTU heats 1,000 sq ft
- Thermostat for temperature control
- Low oxygen shut-off system for safety
- Wire guard prevents contact with burner
- Battery-powered ignition
- Not for use in bathrooms, bedrooms, or RVs
- Natural gas requirement limits options for placement
This Mr. Heater Vent Free Blue Flame is an ideal option for smaller garages and folks who live in an area with natural gas. This small unit can be wall-mounted or placed on the floor.
To turn on this Mr. Heater unit, you won’t need an electric power source—it’s powered by natural gas. All you need to do is turn on the blue flame pilot light and choose one of the five settings. The website rates this unit to heat up to 1,000 square feet but we recommend this for smaller garages because the blower kit is sold separately. In other words, this unit will provide radiant heat from the flame, but to increase airflow and heating capacity the blower kit (aka fan) could be a good idea.
One more thing worth mentioning: This is not a vented heating option, which means it’s not recommended for small, enclosed spaces like bathrooms or bedrooms. In fact, you should be aware that there is a low oxygen shut-off safety system built-in to this unit because it is not vented.
RELATED: Best Home Gym Storage
|Price||About $220 on Amazon|
|BTU rating||30,00 BTU|
|Fuel type||Natural gas|
Best Infrared Garage Heater: Heat Storm Infrared
Good for: Folks looking for instant heat without the need to call a professional for installation
- Infrared heat is silent
- Tip-over safety switch
- 110 V plug works on normal outlets
- Protected against rain/dust
- Tripod for portability
- 5200 BTU Output
Pros & Cons
- Tripod mounted, but other mounting options available
- Tip-over safety switch cuts power during falls
- 110 V plug
- IPX4 weatherproof
- IR heat is silent and comfortable
- Tip-over safety switch prevents ceiling mounting
- No temperature control
The Heat Storm Infrared is ideal if you’re seeking zoned or direct heat in your gym or workspace. It’s not ideal if you’re looking to make the entire garage space warmer and increase the air temperature. Infrared heat works differently than traditional electric heat or radiant heat. Infrared methods have the ability to emit a lot of heat in a very focused direction. You can also think of this type of heat as warming an object, not the air.
That said, if you use the tripod this Heat Storm unit comes with and place it near your treadmill while you walk, you’ll be fine. It will need to be plugged in, but a normal 110-volt outlet will do the trick. Infrared heat works pretty much instantly plus it’s silent, odorless, and does not have any fumes.
This unit is also weather resistant, with a IPX4 waterproof rating so you can use it outdoors on your porch or patio as well. On Amazon, you’ll have the option to buy the heater alone, with a tripod, roll cage, or with ceiling mount.
GGR facilities manager, Sam Presely swears by infrared heating, thinks it’s absolutely the way to go for garage gyms and general homeowners alike.
This choice also won’t break the bank—so you’ll still have funds for all the essentials on our best home gym equipment list.
|Price||About $200 on Amazon|
|BTU rating||5,200 BTU|
Other Garage Heaters We Researched
Dyna-Glo Electric Heater: This unit is similar to the NewAir Electric Heater but it’s not portable and costs more than double. It also requires a 240-volt outlet and a 60-amp breaker.
Mr. Heater Contractor Forced Air Heater: This unit works well but is intended to be portable and temporary by hooking up to a 20-pound liquid propane tank. It’s also not vented.
Mr. Heater Big Buddy: Although this is a terrific portable propane heater, it’s not going to provide enough heat for an entire garage. I personally own this and you have to be really close to feel the heat from this small unit. For reference, we use it for ice fishing.
How We Picked The Best Garage Heaters
To determine the best garage heaters for home gym owners, we first polled the Home Gym Community on Facebook for initial recommendations and gauge the group’s top picks.
After our poll, I consulted with my husband to determine which products will best serve the most people in most situations. It’s worth noting that there are heating options that are not sold on Amazon, Home Depot, or Lowe’s and you have to go through an HVAC professional for buying and installing. For the purposes of this article, we only chose products that are available to the general public.
Benefits of Garage Heaters
Here are the top benefits we think you’ll get from adding a heat source to your garage gym:
Depending on where you live, dealing with cold temperatures is not just uncomfortable, it can actually be a limiting factor to your training. I live in New England and if my garage were not heated (and insulated) it would be unbearable to train in the middle of winter, especially when the temperatures stay in the single digits for weeks on end.
Less Time to Warm Up
When your home gym is set to a comfortable temperature, you won’t have to start your workout by creating enough body heat to stay warm. When your body is warm your blood vessels dilate, which increases overall blood flow and can help improve your mobility and movement quality. Cold air can potentially make you feel like you’re too tense and limit your performance.
Buying Guide for Garage Heaters
When you need to buy a garage heater so you can withstand your exercise routine during the winter, here are the things to consider while you shop around:
Heat and Fuel Source
Here are the main heating fuel sources you’ll come across while shopping for heaters:
- Electric: This includes electric heating panels and space heaters. Although expensive, heaters that run on electricity are often considered safer than other types of garage heaters because they don’t emit carbon monoxide fumes.
- Gas: A gas heat source can mean natural gas or liquid propane (and in some cases even diesel, or kerosene). To use natural gas, it has to be available in your area through a utility company, while propane can be delivered even if you live in a more rural area. It’s worth mentioning that propone will require outdoor storage tanks and proper ventilation for fuel combustion.
- Radiant and infrared: Radiant or infrared garage heaters use a resistance coil to generate heat to warm an object, not the air like convection heating. This heating approach does not emit humidity, fumes, or odors.
- Forced hot air: Fan forced heaters can be fueled by gas, oil or electricity. These heaters have a fan that brings air through the unit and forces warm air out of the unit. These types of heaters often need to be installed by a professional and are controlled with a thermostat.
Heating capacity is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs) per hour or kilowatts per hour for electric devices. According to Matt and his experience as an engineer in New England, you can roughly estimate for about 30 BTU/h of heating needed per square foot of your garage gym.
That said, if you want to heat a large space, you’ll need a heater that can keep up and if you have a small space, you’ll want to size it accordingly. However, this is a rough estimate and will depend on your location, climate, and how well your space is insulted—old windows and uninsulated walls and garage doors will amplify heat loss.
While some units only have an on and off switch or just a few heat settings, others will have built-in thermostat controls so you can regulate your desired temperature without overheating or letting things get too chilly. Some units (like the MR COOL heat pump) will even feature WiFi controls so you can monitor the temperature away from home.
Best Garage Heaters FAQs
What is a good heater for a two-car garage?
The exact BTU rating for your garage will depend on square footage, how well it’s insulated, and your overall climate. That said, a good starting point can be about 30 BTU/h per square foot.
Will a 1,500 watt heater heat a two-car garage?
A 1,500 watt heater is equal to about 5,000 BTU/h. This is a fairly small heat capacity, but it will depend on your space, climate, and square footage.
Is it better to oversize a garage heater?
In short, no an oversized unit will not work better at heating your garage. The heater will certainly give off plenty of heat, but it will also take more time to warm up to your set point and the unit will cycle on and off more than a unit that is properly sized (or even undersized) for your garage, which is likely to waste more energy.
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