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I'm looking for a way to heat my 4-car garage. Two bays are for cars, one is for the mower and other items, one is my workshop.

I live in Minnesota, with very cold winters, so a heater is necessary to keep the shop usable in the winter and to keep the cars warm. I would like to have a heater/furnace that is on a thermostat, so that I can keep the garage ~ 35-40 degrees (F), but then crank it up to 50 or 60 when I want to work out there.

I've been doing some research, and it looks like a good option (efficiency and cost-wise) would be a corn heater, however, it looks like most of these are stoves intended to go in houses. The "shop" heaters I have seen online are huge commercial units designed to heat 3000+ square feet, whereas my garage is only ~1100 square feet. Any thoughts on where to start looking for a good shop-type corn heater that is thermostat controlled? Any ideas for other heating options that wouldn't involve running a new gas line out to the garage?

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I pulled out a lot of text about other, non-heating work you're planning to do. I hope you feel that the text still asks what you need to ask. If you have questions about that other work, go ahead and ask them separately. Like "what circuits should I run to my garage?" and "how can I safely remove a garage door?" –  Jay Bazuzi Jul 10 '11 at 4:59
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At an old shop I worked at, we had a small (~1400sqft) warehouse with a large garage door (probably 16' high) at the back. It was heated by a gas heater mounted about 9' up, on a thermostat, and it had a fan in it. It worked very well to keep the space warm. One thing I did was hook the thermostat control wire through a NC contact in the garage door opener, so that whenever the door was open the thermostat circuit was broken and thus the heater wouldn't turn on (before that, it would turn on within a minute or two of opening the door, and just stay on wasting gas as the heat escaped outside). –  gregmac Jul 11 '11 at 3:37
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2 Answers

Since your garage is so large, but only a small part of it is a workshop, consider separate heating strategies.

If you use your shop often, it will take a long time to bring all that thermal mass up to comfortable temps.

Instead, use a thermostat to keep things above a baseline temperature, perhaps a space heater with a ThermoCube.

Thermocube

Then use a radiant heater to warm your body without warming the shop.

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Thanks for the suggestion Jay. Definitely something to keep in mind for the shop portion. That being said, my primary concern at this point (since I'll have all the walls torn out, and installation will be much easier) is what do I use for the baseline heat. My bigger concern is not the shop heat, but rather keeping the garage/cars at a "sane" temperature (32-40 degrees) for those brutal cold days we have in the winter here. –  MarkD Jul 10 '11 at 15:25
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I'd seriously reconsider heating the section of the garage where the vehicles are stored. Storing vehicles in a heated garage in the winter rapidly accelerates rust formation.

http://www.cars.com/go/advice/Story.jsp?section=top&story=car-talk-tips&subject=more&aff=cartalk

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