Having a propane heater on hand is a great way to heat your garage or workshop, especially during those cold Winter days. Propane heaters are energy-efficient, cheaper to use than electric, smell better than kerosene heaters, and make a great emergency heat source should the electricity go out.
And, if you are like me, you like to work in your garage year-round. I always have some project that requires the use of my garage. For that, a space heater is a great option for heating your garage.
So, you might be wondering, are propane heaters safe in garages? Are propane heaters safe in general? And, can you use a propane heater indoors?
When used properly, propane heaters are safe to use in your garage as long as they are rated for indoor use.
- Can I use a propane heater in my garage?
- Types of propane heaters
- Indoor vs outdoor propane heaters
- Can I use an outdoor propane heater in my garage?
- What to look for in a garage heater?
Can I use a propane heater in my garage?
A propane space heater makes a great garage heater. But if you want to have a heater in a garage, you must follow the safety recommendations for each manufacturer and model.
Types of propane heaters
Some portable propane heaters are designed for indoor use, and others are rated for outdoor use. There are 3 primary types of propane heaters:
Convection propane heaters
Convection heaters radiate heat out in every direction. These units do not need electricity, so no need to plug into the wall. They are often used as indoor space heaters because they do not blow forced air. They tend to run quiet, so they are the most common type of indoor space heater available. The radiant heat produced feels natural and produces a nice, ambient, even temperature.
Forced air propane heaters
Forced air propane space heaters use forced air to blow hot air into the space. They tend to be very loud and are not the best choice when it comes to using a space heater indoors. I have used them in barns and outdoor structures that had proper ventilation. Because they blow hot air in one direction, they are best used when you need heat and have a large area of square feet to cover.
Wall-mounted propane heaters
If you are looking for a space heater that takes up less space, wall-mounted models are a great choice. They do have less capacity than other models in terms of BTU, typically topping out around 30,000 BTU, but can be a great choice for a small 1-2 car garage. You will want to look at forced-air or convection heaters with larger garages or use more than one.
Indoor vs outdoor propane heaters
The difference between the indoor and outdoor models comes down to how efficient their burners are. Indoor propane heaters are highly efficient and produce minimal carbon monoxide. Outdoor propane heaters are less efficient and require proper ventilation to vent the heater safely.
Outdoor propane heaters are best used in open spaces like your deck or patio. They are designed to heat the immediate space around them using radiant heat.
I love using outdoor propane heaters on my deck, especially in the Fall when the temperature cools or when I want to avoid the smoke from a fire pit. Just hook them up to a propane tank and enjoy the cool nights with family and friends.
Can I use an outdoor propane heater in my garage?
While some will say it is OK to use outdoor heaters in your garage, don’t do it! Only when properly ventilated, can you use these types of heaters. The burners aren’t as efficient, and carbon monoxide can build up and can kill you due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is an odorless and tasteless gas and, with time, can build up to unsafe levels. Because of this, using an outdoor propane heater indoors can be fatal!
You should treat your garage the same as any indoor room or space. If you wouldn’t run it in your house, you shouldn’t run it in the garage.
What to look for in a garage heater?
Low oxygen sensors
One of the most important safety features you can look for is low oxygen sensors. Most modern space heaters include automatic shutoff sensors should your space heater detect low oxygen in the room. When the low oxygen sensors go off, carbon monoxide has built up to unsafe levels and your heater will cut the power, or shut off.
If this happens, open nearby windows or your garage door and leave the area until it is safe to return.
Carbon monoxide detector
Always be sure to install carbon monoxide detectors so you can avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Having these on each floor of your house and garage will give you peace of mind.
Carbon monoxide detectors save lives. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, as many as 200 lives are lost each year due to appliance-related carbon monoxide poisoning.
Note: Using a carbon monoxide detector in the garage can sometimes cause alarms if you start and idle your vehicle. Be sure to pull your car completely out of the garage to avoid setting off the detector.
Avoid flammable materials
Another important safety tip is to never leave propane heaters unattended or near flammable materials. Portable garage heaters get quite warm and can get hot to the touch.
Some propane heaters come with a front heat shield that ensures accidental touching does not cause burns. However, you should assume anything near your propane heater can catch fire and keep flammable materials away.
Do not use your heater near other propane tanks, gas cans, or other materials in your garage that can catch fire, leak, or explode.
Anti-tip shutoff feature
Another safety feature you should look for in a space heater is the ability to shut off power should your propane heater tip over. This is an important feature for indoor propane heaters
Only use indoor propane heaters with a UL rating
Look for portable propane heaters that have a UL rating. A UL rating means that an organization called Underwriter’s Laboratories has tested samples of a product and determined that the product meets specific, defined requirements in the industry for safety.
Only use an indoor propane heater when needed
Once your propane heater eliminated the cold and warmed your space, shut the power off. Only turn on if needed.
Check your indoor propane heater and tank for leaks
Propane is highly flammable. Heater safety includes occasionally checking your propane tank and connections often to eliminate gas leaks.
Use the proper size indoor propane heater (BTU)
Make sure the propane heater is appropriately sized for your garage or room. This ensures you produce enough heat (BTU) to properly heat your garage (in terms of square space) without overheating your space.
Using a portable heater, specifically a propane heater is safe to use when you need to heat a room or garage. A propane heater can warm your space in minutes.
Just be sure to select a propane unit that can be used indoors or make sure you vent your unit properly.