Heating a Workshop

At the end of the month I should get the keys to my shiny new workshop :grin: and I’m starting to think about the heating set up in there. It is an integrated single garage, newly built so well insulated.

How does everyone heat up their workspace?Is there any do/don’t bits of advice? Thanks in advance

Lots of different ways, but I use a 1.5Kw oil filled radiator which runs off an electronic plug-in thermostat. It won’t keep the 'shop super toasty, but there’s enough heat there for some background warmth in cold weather. The other advantage of a slim line oil filled rad is that it sits close to the wall and takes up next to no space.

The shed is a double skinned wood 'un of thick walls and insulation of all 6 sides (walls, floor & roof). Also double-glazed. I used to heat it with an electric radiator but discovered that this cost too much.

I later discovered that including a halogen bulb or five in the lighting was just as good anyway. I switch the lights on half an hour before starting work and it gets up to 15 degrees C even on freezing days, once I’m in and working. I too am quite a hot body.

My greatest worry was rust. In practice, the insulation and the wood construction seem to keep the humidity of the air down enough to prevent rust, even during the 15 months I was away from home and no one went in the shed.

There’s also the right clothing. Merino. Goose down.

My workshop is a beast, comprising the ‘old part’ built back in the 70’s against and integrated with our neighbour’s house on one side, the other is single skin brick, with a very deep concrete floor.
It’s roofed with galvanised profiled sheets, over which there is a vapour barrier and 18mm ply, topped by a double layer of felt. It’s ‘difficult’ to insulate because of the way the roof’s been supported with RSJ’s and heavy angle iron. That said, I do intend to try to find a way of effecting some thick insulation before next winter.
I should add that I only tend to use this part for welding and hot-metal-working, plus (when there’s no flame involved), it’s where I carry out some woodworking. The only heating used here, thus far, is a small electric blow heater, to stop me from freezing completely.

The ‘new’ part, connected directly to the old part, was built (by me) using heavy/dense blockwork along the back and one end wall, the other wall has been completed in brick. Couldn’t afford to do double skinned walling.
The new roof has been completed using closely spaced 4" x 2" joists with noggins, topped off with vapour barrier, 18mm ply and two layers of heavy felt (as per the old part). This area, some 12’ x 10’, has a very deep concrete floor, sealed and painted with the customary grey floor paint.
The ceiling has been deeply insulated and over-boarded. This part is separated from the old by an insulated partition wall, and forms my metal machine shop housing lathe, milling machine etc., and has the benefit of two wall-mounted convection heaters, totaling 1.5kw. I have to say, surprisingly (to me), there has been very little evidence of either condensation or rust.

Would I prefer to have been able to build the all-singing/dancing fully insulated workshop from scratch, yes, of course. However, being a pensioner with a very careful wife-purse string holder … you get the rest?!
Most of the cost has been financed by ‘selling’ stuff I’ve accumulated (over 40+ years) on EBay, oh and by obtaining ALL the bricks FREE on one or other of the free/gifting websites.

Needless to say, workshops, like many other projects, are never ending. There are always modifications and improvements to be made, such as the construction of an external housing for the extractor system and a welding/brazing and forging booth to name but two.

My 'shop is the same construction (timber inner and outer skin, 50mm ‘Rockwool’ in the walls and 100mm fg in the roof space with a wooden suspended floor; no concrete) and I don’t suffer from rust on any ironwork. Lighting is fluorescent tubes with daylight tubes and ‘spot’ lighting with these bad boys from Ikea…utterly brilliant.

Another consideration is ventilation. Despite having suckers large and small, as well as a-one o’ them canister things that cleans the air of dust via sucking in then expelling the shed-air via a fine filter, the atmosphere can itself still get dusty. The solution is an extractor to the outside - or just open the doors and a window at t’other end to let a breeze blow through.

Ventilation also ventilates the heat, which is a very good thing on a summer day but not so good in the depths of winter. This is when the merino leggings, baselayer, pullover, socks and so forth go on … under the goosedown jacket, with the apron strings let out a bit to compensate for the bulk.

The hands are the hardest part to keep warm, as one likes to have the fingers bare for feeling at the surfaces.

I have a brick built workshop, brick outside 50mm cavity and old fashioned breeze blocks inside, a pitched roof with clay pantiled roof the ceiling is covered in 100mm industrial insulation, floor area is some 35 square meters. Heating is via two 3Kw storage heaters, one is probably 40 years old I bought for a fiver the other was bought new 32 years ago. They are on timers (hard wired type) which is set to come on at 1.00am and off at 7.00am, most of the winter months I only have one on, but since the Beast from the East hit I have had both on. I used to run them on Economy 7 so I paid a cheaper night rate, but about 3 years ago Eastern Electricity advised that it would infact work out cheaper to have just the normal day rate. My workshop is nice and warm for a 9.00am start and the heat is still sufficient at 5.00pm. Works well for me, no rust issues and no naked flames after in excess of 30 years use they are unaffected by dust. The dust extractor is housed in a separate room within the main work shop, mainly to keep the noise down, the extractor is fitted with a 0.5 micron filter and the filtered air comes back in to the workshop via the small gap round the door.

Thanks very much for your responses. @Woodbloke I currently have a 2.2kw oil filled panel rad which I suspect will do the job just fine, but think it would cost me a fair amount to run and is overkill for the new space.

I have been looking at this heater:
https://ao.com/product/99431-mill-heat-heater-white-51888-152.aspx
which I think would work perfectly for me. It is WiFi enabled so I can control all the timers/heat settings from my phone, which is perfect for me as I currently work a 3on/3off shift pattern so any mechanical timer is useless as my days in the workshop change every week. It also means I can set a nighttime/holiday temp and keep a reasonable environment in there for all my timber and machinery.

Does anyone’s timber suffer from any negative effects of their setup ie warping etc? I also have a dehumidifier which I plan on running a couple of times a week to keep the moisture down

Using the electronic thermostat enables the oil filled rad to ‘cut in’ and ‘out’ at will. The rad is set to max and the temp required adjusted on the thermostat, so the electrickery used by the rad may not be as great as you imagine.
As to any negative effects, I’ve found none. The timber stock doesn’t warp and remains stable at all times, even some boards of elm which will bend, warp and twist at the drop of the proverbial chapeau.
Some years ago I used to run a dehumidifier 24/7/365 but I don’t bother any more as it makes absolutely no difference to the 'shop interior. If you do decide to run one, I’d advise running the drain to an outside soakaway (or similar) as you’ll be constantly emptying the machine’s container.

My timber store is in a refurbished outhouse that shares the air with the rest of the house. Timber is thus at the same moisture level as the furniture in the house - generally around 11% +/- 1% through the year.

I have the odd wooden lump in the shed, which I have measured with the moisture meter over the years to find a greater seasonal variation. Perhaps surprisingly, it’s often a bit drier in there than in the house. Physics, though, tells us that cold air generally holds less moisture than warm air, all other things being equal.

I imagine different sheds of various constructions in various locations will see the air’s (and hence the wood’s) moisture levels vary. Being able to keep timber in the same air-moisture conditions as the finished furniture is best, though.

Even some otherwise excellent makers construct their wares in a relatively humid or dry environment so that their stuff can warp or crack when moved into a typical modern house environment - unless the construction techniques are good enough to cater to the relative expansions and contractions induced by moisture level changes.

Personally I don’t mind working in a cool shed. In fact, I find it preferable to a warm shed, especially when planing a lot. If I stored timber in the same place, I’d be more concerned about making sure the moisture levels were similar to those of the furniture’s destination than I would be about the warmth.

PS

Have you considered one of these:

PTACs (packaged terminal air conditioners) are heat pumps. For cooling, they extract heat from a room and send it outside. If they can heat as well, they flip the operation, pulling warmth from outside and bringing it in. They aren’t inexpensive but do save you money longer term in heating (and cooling) costs.

We have a wooden holiday lodge (a big posh shed) in Wales with such a system and it costs very little to keep the place always pleasant to be in - usually at about 21 degrees, although you can set it for away-mode to maintain a lower temperature.

The greatest advantage is that, because it exchanges the air in the shed all the time, it tends also to keep the humidity from building up. Part of the reason we have one in our wooden lodge is to prevent musts and moulds forming when we aren’t there.

I think a PTAC is probably a bit expensive for my needs, although we use them at work at they’re great. As I’ll be in and out of there 3 or 4 times a week I think the air recirc benefit would be negligible.

I’ll take a look into different timers, but maybe a standard thermostat as mentioned by @Woodbloke may be a good option.

As for the dehumdifier, I may not end up needing it all in the new workshop. I had it running almost constantly in the previous workshop, but that was due to it being a cellar space and one wall used to let in a small amount of water, and over time it grew and grew if left unseen to. The dehumidifier, with its exhaust aimed at the small wet patch, used to keep it in check.

Does anyone have any experience insulating a single garage door? Seems there’s not much on offer and a simple foil backed liner is the most commonly used

My workshop is in part of my double garage. It has single brick walls, no insulation and a steel up and over door at the front. It is brass monkeys in there whenever the temperature drops. Last year I bought a propane space heater which was pretty useless. You were either red hot or freezing cold as it had no thermostat. You could also use a full 9kg bottle of gas a day which is extremely expensive.

This year I bought a 3kw infrared heater on a portable mount. Its brilliant and I can move it to wherever I need it. It does not heat the air but heats objects (human or otherwise) in front of it. I have been able to work out there in the coldest weather that 2018 has thrown at us so I would definitely have a look at infra red. I am also considering a fixed mount heater to place over my lathe which is where I spend most of my time.
Great forum, I will be spending a lot of evening time here.

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Where did you get your infrared heater @Redsilverdog? That sounds like something I could use!

Hi Tim, see the snip below. I got it from Machine Mart a couple of weeks ago and it has seen me through the Beast from the East on both occasions. The wall mounted one I also bought does not seem to be available at the moment but there are some good sites online. You do need to shop around as the price ranges are wide. I paid about £150.00 for mine.

Clarke IQ2000S 2kW Infrared Quartz Heater With Floor Stand
Back to product list
Product manual
Product Code 010419006

Manufacturer sku 6939006
£71.98INC
VAT
9 reviews
Limited stock, please call 0115 956 5555 for availability.

Hope that helps

Steve

My Workshop is both brick & Block - upto windowsill height, then timber framed above this, sheathed with 3/4" plywood on the outside, dense rockwool insulation between timber battens in walls (with silvered bubblefoil insulation against the outer 3/4" plywood (to form a vapour barrier), then an inner sheathing of 12mm playwood. In the flat roof (50mm fall across the width) I have installed 100mm thick Celotex expanded foam insulation. I also have two 800mm X 800mm double glazed windows with a single opener at the top in one wall.

The only heating I have in the workshop are two 400mm long electric bar wall heaters (the sort used in greenhouses - pluged into sockets). These keep the place warm enough to work whilst being cheap to run, and are left on 24/7 throughout the winter. In the recent cold spell with snow and ice, the workshop have been warm enough to comfortably work in, and more importantly, prevents dampness, freezing and condensation on any machinery or tools - so also aids rust prevention etc. The Floor of the workshop is also 3/3" plywood, suspended from the brickwork and sat on 8 X 2.5 timbers at 400mm centres and is not insulated.

Even with just the minimal heating I have, I find that heavy work can make it ‘sweaty’ but having a window to open a little, instead of leaving the door wide open and losing all the heat is just right.

Originally I was thinking of installing a small woodburning stove, but I’m glad I chose to improve insulation and get the two small bar heaters instead, as it would have been far too warm with the stove…

From experience I know the concrete floors of garages are very cold, drawing the cold in from below, so if you have the time and can affords it, I would recommend laying dense foam insulation on the floor (there is a specific type of foam insulation for this application) and puting a timber/ply floor over it…you’ll be surprised at the difference this will make. add insulation to internal walls and ceiling too as it will be beneficial as well, not only in keeping warmth in and cutting costs, but on cutting down on noise and virbration in the house.

The insulation I put in my workshop effectively cuts out all noise ommitted from inside to outside, except when using the noisiest tools/machines, and then its only a tiny fraction of what it was previously.

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Hi, I notice that no one has put in a word for the solid-fuel workshop stove. Admittedly, you have to be there to light it, and fuel ( in my case sawdust and wood off-cuts) has to be in plentiful supply. Also you have to be in a non clean-air zone to use them. I live in a rural area and have been using one for the past 7 years. I now have a very cosy workshop - the warmest I have ever had. And, yes the workshop is also properly insulated.
My previous workshop, which I had for 25 years, would definitely have benefited from on of these. However, both I and a colleague in a neighbouring workshop, were constrained from using one by the terms of our landlord’s insurance policy. This was quite galling, as I regularly had to buy in skips to dispose of my wood waste. During the very cold periods I made use of a single Calor gas heater - two if the job required it, or I had someone working for me who was not quite as Spartan.
My neighbour used an infra-red heater which he also only had on for very short periods o tome. I suppose you have to ask yourself what you need to be heated. if you can wrap up warmly, and are doing physical tasks , such as planing stock, then heating an uninsulated workshop is a luxury. If you need it to be warm enough for glue to go off, or coatings to dry. then this is another matter. I often had to bring work home in order to finish it, as I could not maintain high enough temperatures for gluing up or finishing. Another colleague, who worked on violins and violas, built himself an insulated workshop inside his existing one. This area he kept warm with storage heaters. The electricity costs were, of course, very high.
Despite its lack of proper heat and any insulation, I never had any trouble with rust on my machines in the old workshop. In the present one , however, I do have rust problems - but I am in Wettest Wales and less than a mile from the sea.

Hey! I use cheap fan heater in the garage.

I heat my single skin brick workshop with two 1800 watt infrared ceiling mounted heaters. The interior walls and ceiling are insulated with 25mm Celotex. I have some used Lino on the floor area where I stand with cheap underfloor heating mats. The infrared heaters are great, in my opinion. As they heat object rather than the air all my tools are warm to the touch so my hands and fingers never get cold. The bench is warm, the table saw is warm, everything is warm. This them radiates out into the room. The heaters I bought have a remote control and can also be controlled by my house WiFi via my phone. I can turn them on before I get into the shop and it’s already comfortable. They also have an adjustable thermostat that keeps it from getting too hot or to cold. If it is going to be a cold night I leave one on overnight with the thermostat set to about 10C. They run on a 13 amp plug but I have them on a separate CB protected circuit. They cost about £250.00 each but I think they are good value seeing what they can do, especially the WiFi switching capability. I bought them from Infrared Heating Supplies. They make heaters up to 3000 watts for the larger shops.

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