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How to Install a Garage Heater: A Basic Overview

Garage heater installation doesn’t have to be an unobtainable, or expensive task. As winter settles in, even the most insulated garages can drop dramatically in temperature depending on your climate. The things you store in your garages, such as vehicles, or even food within refrigerators, can suffer from colder weather.

Luckily, installing a garage heater, whether gas, electric or even a simple refrigerator heater kit is a job you can do fairly easily over a weekend with very little time or effort. All you need is a little bit of information, a trip to your local hardware store for some basic materials, and the ability to have some patience to learn a new (albeit simple) skill. If you have been wondering how to install a garage heater of any type, this is the place to get started for basic instruction.

Gas Garage Heater Installation

Natural gas or propane heaters all follow the same premise of installation. First, you will need to determine where you will be mounting your heater. This may be influenced by where your gas line hookups are as well as electrical outlets. Keep in mind that you want the fan to be blowing the heated air into the areas where you have maximum heat loss in order to warm the space more evenly.

Gas Pipe Pressure

Be sure to size your pipe according to the gas garage heater manual to allow for proper pipe pressure. You also need to first check for a local code to ensure you are not putting your property at insurance risk in case of an accident. When making pipe connections use proper joint compounds, be sure your pipe is held stable, and ALWAYS check for leaks prior to making your final connections and running.

Electrical Connections

Gas and propane garage heaters usually have thermostat controls, as well as fans to better circulate heat within the space. These do need electrical connections, and a thermostat works best when placed about 5 feet from the floor since heat rises. This ensures you do feel the heat. Manuals will almost always come with a wiring diagram for this work, so be sure to follow this, and also keep to local building code. If you are unsure about electrical hookups, it might be best to hire an electrician for this step.

Venting

Natural gas and propane are a fuel and generate heat energy after ignition. This means there is a flame – which does put out an exhaust. To avoid problems with carbon monoxide, and to keep your pilot light lite and operational, you must provide proper ventilation. This can be done in multiple ways, and you should pick the one that best works for your unit placement. And like everything else, but sure you follow local code.

Electric Garage Heater Installation

There are two different types of garage heaters: those that you simply mount and plug into a 240-volt outlet, and those that you need to wire into an existing electrical system. These simple ‘plug and play’ units are popular items as they are powerful, affordable, and simple to set up. But there are times when you may want the more consistent running heat that is more specific to keeping your garage at a consistent temperature- rather than only when you need the heat for personal purposes. If this is your goal, then you will want to wire a heater into your garage as a more permanent feature.

Wire to thermostat

The first thing you need to do is determine where you will place your heater, and where you will place your thermostat. Your main goal is to run your wires to the thermostat from the heater and then from the thermostat to the main electrical source. This route is going to be behind your walls or through the ceiling, so plan your route carefully, take your time marking where the wire will run, and be sure to check your local code. Be sure you attach your wires correctly to both the heater and thermostat according to the unit manual.

Thermostat to main the electrical panel

Two empty breaker spaces are all you need in a circuit breaker, but if you have a fuse box you may want to hire an electrician to ensure you are providing enough of a power source. You’ll run your wire from your thermostat to the electrical panel (which of course you will have cut power to in advance).

Hooking up a new power line to your power source really should be done by a licensed electrician. This is to ensure you are kept up to code, plus it provides a safety net for insurance purposes, but there is no reason why you cannot run all your lines in advance to save both time and money.

Refrigerator Heater Installation

Many people keep a refrigerator in their garage for various purposes, but what most people don’t realize is that many refrigerators cannot run effectively below 55 degrees. In fact, it may cause your food to spoil within due to this, and despite the lower outside temperatures. This is especially true if a freezer is attached.

To offset this problem, you can purchase, and easily install a garage refrigerator heater kit. This will allow your refrigerator to work effectively to 34 degrees to keep what is inside from spoiling, or thawing out. Even though every model will have a slightly different installation, they come with complete installation instructions, and usually only require a screwdriver and maybe a nut driver to complete the task. Most likely you will install this in the refrigerator section next to the thermostat and defrost timer.

Conclusion

If you plan on installing a heater of any type, your first step is to make sure you have the instructions for your particular unit that are specific to how the manufacturer suggests you hook it up. You also want to be aware of any local codes that exist, and also ALWAYS TURN OF YOUR ELECTRICAL SOURCE prior to working with anything that has the possibility of shocking you or starting a fire with exposed wires.

Although your gas line and electrical connections are usually very straightforward and easy to do on your own, if you are unsure of what you are doing, please hire an electrician to complete the task for you.

About The Author

Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod cuts a tragic figure in the High School English classroom teaching literature by day, and moonlighting as a writer and graphic artist by night. Published in a variety of travel magazines, and now a blog, Danielle enjoys coming up with home and garden projects to complete with her two young boys. A native of Michigan, she resides in Southeastern New Mexico with her variety of horses, poultry, and variable mix of rescue dogs (there’s a cat or two in there as well). In her free time she enjoys travel, art, photography, and a good book!

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