Natural Gas vs Electric: How to choose an effective garage heater

Winter brings a chill to the air even in more temperate climates. In some areas, it can be crippling, and definitely slows down the pace of life you get used to during warmer seasons. If you enjoy working in your garage, or other types of outdoor buildings, this may come to a complete halt due to how difficult working in cold weather can be.

Adding a heating source to your space doesn’t just create a much more comfortable atmosphere to work within, but it also can support the longevity of your vehicles, keep stored items from being exposed to extremes, or allow tender plants to be more easily stored through the winter. Of course, this is dependent upon how you choose to use a heating source, but no matter whether you pick a garage heater, gas or electric- the benefits justify the effort it takes to pick the best that works for you.

NATURAL GAS VS ELECTRIC COMPARISON TABLE


Model
Features

Natural Gas

  • Heat Quality: excellent
  • Cost: higher, but may be more efficient
  • Availability: Not in all areas
  • Portable: very few choices

Electric

  • Heat Quality: excellent
  • Cost: lower, but may be less efficient
  • Availability: Can be used anywhere
  • Portable: Yes

Natural Gas Pros & Cons

PROS

  • Can often be modified to work with propane
  • Can be hooked directly to your existing gas line
  • Efficient and powerful
  • Do not take up much space
  • Provides heat even during a power outage

CONS

  • Installation is permanent and cannot be easily moved
  • Ventilation may be required
  • Professional installation is recommended

Electric Pros & Cons

PROS

  • Quiet operation
  • Easy to install
  • Much more portable if needed
  • Not dependent upon the running of gas lines to where they may not exist

CONS

  • May run up the electric bill
  • 240-volt outlet required- which may need to be installed
  • Professional electric source connection recommended

Natural Gas Heaters

Mr. Heater 30,000 BTU Vent Free Blue Flame Natural Gas Heater MHVFB30NGT

Natural gas is considered an efficient heating source, and also environmentally friendly since it burns clean and sustainable. Although there are other gas options for heaters (such as propane, kerosene, and diesel), natural gas is considered one of the most affordable. Since most natural gas choices can be converted to propane for properties that do not have natural gas, they are also convenient. Although gas heaters are a more permanent feature, rather than portable, they are one of the most heating popular choices for areas that have longer, colder winters- especially when you want to heat an outdoor building.

 

Types

Although natural gas heaters are more permanent in nature due to them having to be hooked to a gas source, there are various types that lend themselves to specific situations and spaces for convenience. Depending on what you need them for, and the temperatures you are combating, some types are more efficient than others and you should consider the variances available to ensure you get what you need.

Radiant

Mr. Heater Indoor-Safe Portable Radiant Heater

Radiant heat transfers heat to the objects surrounding the heat source via infrared radiation. Although it does not warm the air, it is incredibly efficient because it keeps the heat from rising and being lost, and keeps it within the space you have it directed upon as it can only project heat forwards. This is not always the best choice for large spaces because of this but does keep heat where needed.

Forced Air

60000-BTU-Variable-Propane-Forced-Air-Heater

Forced air units are the most popular gas heating choice as they are affordable, and have the ability to heat large spaces quickly. These types of systems heat cold air that is forced into the unit and then blows it back out. This quickly begins to circulate the air within the space- warming the entire room. These almost always work with a thermostat to stop once the desired temperature is reached. Because it depends upon combustion and a fan, the noise these make is noticeable- although may not be distracting.

Convection

HeTR H1017UPS Portable Convection Heater

Like a forced air heater, a convection heater warms the air to be circulated around the room. What is different between the two is that the convection heater relies on natural ventilation rather than fans, making them much quieter.They utilize air convection currents and radiant heat to move air across heated elements, which then distributes heat evenly within a room. They are considered highly efficient and clean, but may not be as effective in larger areas as a forced air unit.

Cost

Costs

Natural gas costs, like other fuel sources, fluctuate regularly. In order to provide an average estimated cost, you need to first check your area for cost, and then determine how many BTU’s it will take to heat the square footage of space you need heated. Natural gas is considered to be highly cost-efficient, especially for heating larger areas, but realize it will take more gas to heat more room, as well as bring it to an acceptable temperature. If you are not looking to keep your space heated consistently, and only when you are working, this may save on cost as well.
Concern

Concerns

Obviously, natural gas heating works through combustion- meaning that an open flame is present within the heater. Although considered safe, these units should be installed by a professional to ensure no leaks are present, and a carbon monoxide detector placed near its local in case of a leak. Leaks can cause fires or even explosions. Carbon Monoxide can kill through asphyxiation.

Most gas heaters also need a ventilation system of sorts as well to avoid a buildup of carbon monoxide. This can add to the overall installation cost if what ventilation you have is not considered sufficient. And, even though it is considered a fairly clean, sustainable fuel, it also is a non-renewable resource and contains methane, a potent greenhouse gas- which over time may play negatively into environmental factors.
King Electric Electronic Control Garage Heater

Electric Heaters

Electric heaters convert electricity to heat. They all work on the same premise that passes an electrical current through an electrical resistor in order to create heat which is then blown into the surrounding space. They are both portable and mountable, and only require a 240-volt outlet into which you need to plug them- or if you prefer, the ability to wire into your electrical source for a more permanent heating solution.

Types

Although a bit more convenient due to being powered by an electrical source rather than a connection to an existing gas line, electric heaters are also available in the same types of heat sources as gas. With the same ability to heat as a natural gas source, the main differences between the two have more to do with how much electricity is used to heat your spaces versus the amount of gas being used.

Radiant, forced air, and convection heat all work on the same premise as described above. Rather than creating heat through combustion, however, coils are heated through energy -making these heating options efficient, and incredibly easy to include within your space.

Portable

Portable Electric Garage Heater

Unlike natural gas, electric heaters are much more portable. Although some gas heaters, such as propane, kerosene, and diesel have a decent selection of portable versions- all require good ventilation, whereas electric requires no ventilation at all. Natural gas needs to be permanently placed due to the connection to a natural gas line, and electric units can be moved at whim with a minimum of fuss.

Mounted

Amaze Heaters Wall Mounted Electric Heater, Heat Reflector, 400 Watt

Electric heaters can also be mounted where needed, or even more permanently installed through a hardwire into your existing electrical source. But even then, moving the heat source to another location wouldn’t be that difficult if the need arose in the future.

Costs

Dollar bills

Although electric is often much less expensive to use than natural gas, it may not be as efficient. Your electric heater may not be able to heat and maintain your space temperature as effectively as a natural gas unit- making the cost of using natural gas the better choice. This is, of course, dependent on your determination of square footage, the BTU’s needed to heat the space, and the average cost of energy required to do so.

CONCERNS

Concern

Although electric heaters are very convenient and dependable, the biggest concern surrounding them is cost. Smaller species definitely benefit from their use, but the larger space, the less effective they may be- especially in severely cold climates.

Electric units are also mostly used to heat a space for a short period of time while you work within it, and not to necessarily keep your garage at a constant temperature when not in use. These units can also overheat, and although many are equipped with a shut down if this occurs, they do pose a fire risk- especially if they are portable and are tipped over (again, safety measure do exist for this as well).

Your Best Choice Explained

Garage heaters, electric vs gas, both provide dependable, efficient heat- but do have a few differences that may influence you picking one over the other. Natural gas heaters require installation and more permanent connection to an existing gas line. Even though it can be converted to propane if natural gas is unavailable, these are not always easily moved once installed.

Electric heaters have some more variances in choices surrounding portability, and mounting- but may not put out as much of an efficient heating source for larger spaces- and consequently raise your electric bill exponentially. It’s important to weigh the uses of each within the space you need it for before making a choice.

If you have any questions or comments, please let us know below! And, as always, if you found this article helpful- please share.

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