Get Rid of a Cold Garage Gym Once and For All

Get Rid of a Cold Garage Gym Once and For All

While we were promoting our recent Reddit AMA that Peter hosted a while back, one of our fans submitted this question:

“Do you have recommendations for insulating and a good heater for a garage gym without breaking the bank? My gym is currently set up in my basement because winter is way too cold in Maine for working out in the garage.”

Thanks for the question Andria. I know it’s one shared by many, and we know just how hard it is to hold onto a frigid barbell in a freezing cold garage gym (gnarly, that's what it is). I’ll be sure to make it a heated conversation.

There may be a garage gym in there somewhere. 

A Cold Open is Bad

A few days ago I was grilling a steak in balmy, near 90-degree temps.

Today it’s overcast, raining incessantly and around 50 degrees. Yikes.

That’s cold for those of us here residing in Texas. I know you Northerners laugh at us.

Let me tell you though, I know cold. I can empathize with all of you shivering up north in chilly garage gyms.

I’m originally from Chicago, lived there 30 years and spent many, many Sundays at Soldier Field watching the Bears. I’ve survived some brutal weather conditions on Lake Michigan in November, December and January.

Since leaving, I’ve lived in Spain, Florida and now, Austin, Texas. The pattern of what I’m doing with my life is pretty clear.

In the spirit of solidarity, I’m throwing out this lifeline to all of our fans and followers residing in places that endure real winters.

Here’s what you need to know about heating your garage gym.


No need to feel like a side of frozen meat in your garage.

Your Mom was Right About Layers

Everyone knows their mom was right when she told you to dress in layers to stay warm. No, I’m not going to tell you to do this, although, we know mom’s advice is the best advice.

What I am going to do is tell you to insulate your garage, which will boost your temperature.  One trial found that insulation increased the temperature by 12 degrees. “They measured temperatures inside of an uninsulated garage in 20-degree weather. With a single layer door (no insulation) the temperature inside the garage was only 30 degrees. But with an insulated garage door, temperatures inside the garage climbed to 42 degrees.”

If you decide you want to insulate your garage, you’ll first want to decide which type of insulation to use. Here’s the perfect article to help guide you through your insulation project. It will help you determine which type of insulation to use and how to match it up with the type of garage door you have.

If you need more help with the DIY insulation project, this in-depth resource provides step-by-step instructions with pictures, making the task super easy. If you’re in the market for a kit, Home Depot sells this one for $60.

Lastly, if you prefer watching video, here’s a 7-minute video that teaches you how to insulate your garage door for under $100. 

Heats of Strength

The first two things to guide your garage gym heating needs are both safety considerations.

We do NOT recommend propane space heaters or any other kind of space heater that has gas emissions. Whether a low amount or not, there’s no reason to take any risk with carbon monoxide poisoning or having to ventilate your garage or crack doors and windows.

For this reason, we’ll narrow our discussion to electric space heaters. This leads us to our second safety consideration, for those of you who’ve never used an electric space heater.

NEVER plug it into a power strip. Here’s why you never plug a space heater into a power strip.

There are 4 main types of space heaters: convection heaters, ceramic fan-forced heaters, radiant & infrared heaters and micathermic panel heaters. Here’s a great article that breaks down all 4. Here are some quick notes to consider.

  • Convection heaters work best for heating large areas, don’t heat up quickly, run quietly, but have hot surfaces that can be harmful to children and pets.
  • Ceramic fan-forced heaters are the most popular, feature timers, remote controls and thermostats. Most will heat a garage easily, and have cool touch surfaces safer for kids and pets. Don’t always run quiet due to fan noise.
  • Radiant & Infrared heaters are completely silent and energy efficient. Can fill a space with heat that is 1,000 square feet as opposed to 400 square feet of a typical fan-forced heater. Think of these like French fry warmers. They don’t heat the air, they heat objects around them using infrared rays.
  • Micathermic panel heaters work as a hybrid of 80% convection and 20% direct radiant heat. Hot to the touch and not safe around kids and pets.

These are the droids you're looking for.

The Heat is On

The next thing you need to do is to calculate the square footage of your garage if you don’t know it already. Here’s an article that helps you calculate square footage and determine the right space heater for you.

At a minimum, you need to know the wattage of your space heater. The higher the wattage, the more square feet it will cover. To calculate how many watts you need to heat your garage, multiply the room area by 8 and round up. This is a rough calculation with other factors not accounted for like ceiling height and climate zone.

Note: After posting, a fan of ours, Jeff Reynolds, said "Ok so electrically speaking the standard is 10 watts per sq ft. But what the hell, go 8 and round up." Thanks for the feedback and input Jeff!

According to this thorough guide “A 1000-1500 W (5000 BTU/hr for propane) heater will do for a small garage while a medium-size one would require heating over 2500 W. Large workshops and garages need far more heat so opt for the devices marked as commercial working at 5000 W (or 17000-18000 BTU/hr and more).” The article also provides a handful of space heater recommendations.

Do be mindful that some units are 240 volts. Wall outlets are 120 volts. 240-volt units will either need to be directly wired in or require a special outlet that often features diagonal prong inserts. These outlets are most common for appliances like washers and dryers.

If you’re not a handyman or electrician, you may want to steer clear of higher voltage space heaters to avoid the extra installation work.

No one needs to take deadlifting this far.

The Hot Finalists

By no means is this an exhaustive list. Nor are these options perfectly suited to your needs, as only you know what they are. However, after doing some research, these units have been found to be effective for a wide range of people.

Top Tier

Mid Tier

Budget Tier

You should be as buff and warm in your garage as these guys.

The Final Heat

Here’s a final round-up and info dump for you to finish up your garage heating needs. Here’s another review guide featuring popular models. This website has tons of credibility as it’s an HVAC company.

If you really want to dig deep and go further into garage gym heating research check out this thread in or dive into a couple of subreddits here and here.

Finally, for all of your warmth options, not solely restricted to space heaters, check out this article from our friend Adam over at Garage Gym Lab. It covers everything from space heaters, to clothes, to insulation and more.

To close, if you have any corrections, input, feedback or pro tips, by all means tell us in the comments below. We don’t claim to be space heating experts or electricians for that matter. Sharing is caring, so help out all your fellow garage gym tribe members by giving them the highest quality garage gym space heating info.

Thanks for reading Fringe Nation. Stay awesome and warm in your garages this winter!

Your newly heated garage gym lighting a fire under your ass.

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