Many people are using sheds for more than the storage of yard tools. Sheds are being used as workshops, art or writing studios, man caves and she-sheds. At some point, though, weather plays a part. Especially in colder climates, you’ll need to think about heating your shed while you’re in it at some point.
Fortunately, there are many types of heating options available: propane, electricity, wood, pellets, and even some natural gas models. Within each of these categories, there are many brands featuring many sizes and capacities. Once you decide what fuel to use, you can surely find the right heater for your shed size and needs.
Options for Heating a Shed and Approximate Costs
In this section I’m going to go over the top 4 options for heating a insulated shed and the top 4 options for heating an un-insulated shed:
The Steibel Eltron 1500-watt heater will need to be hard-wired onto your wall, but that means that it automatically is kept away from flammable things on your shed floor and there will be no danger of knocking it over or banging it up. It’s a forced-air heater with a thermostat. There are several models with different capabilities so you should be able to find just the one for your size shed. This heater starts at around $135. See it here on Amazon.
A portable electric heater choice is the Blaux Heatcore. It is priced at around $90 and sports some extra features. While it’s mostly suitable for smaller sheds up to 200 square feet, it works by ceramic convection heating. It has the usual safety shut-off feature, has three operating modes, and also works as a UV disinfection lamp. It’s energy-efficient and kills bacteria and odors. Check it out here on Amazon.
Mr. Heater is a propane heater that comes in several sizes. It’s a radiant heater with some models including fans for greater heating capacity. It does require a separate propane tank. It has the usual safeguards, turning off if tipped over, but also has a shut-off if low oxygen levels are detected, making it safe for indoor use. This makes it a good choice for those colder days when you just don’t want to leave your shed window or door cracked open to let in fresh air. The smaller models start at around $100. Read the reviews here on Amazon.
For large sheds, you might consider a pellet stove, especially if you’re prone to working on time-consuming projects in your shed. While they are on the expensive side, priced at several hundred to over a thousand dollars, they are economical to run, and many include fan systems to distribute the heat throughout your shed.
One rather unusual option is the Brightown 350W space heater. It actually plugs right into your wall socket, keeping it away from flammable objects or substances on the floor. It comes with an adjustable thermostat so you don’t have to keep fiddling with it while you’re working. It also comes with a timer. It’s great for heating one room, which is what your shed is. While it might not do for a large shed, for a smaller one it may be just right. Amazon currently lists this heater at $29.99.
Mushroom heaters – This type of heater is named for its top shape. It’s also known as a patio heater. They run on petroleum gas, butane or propane contained in either a built-in or separate tank. The mushroom-shaped top reflects heat downward all around. They are readily portable. These heaters start at around $150.
Infrared heat bulbs – While this option is not often thought of, it’s an easy and relatively inexpensive way to heat your shed. While they aren’t powerful enough to heat your shed in really cold temperatures, if you have rather moderate winters, they should do the job just fine, especially since you won’t spend a great deal of time in the shed. They are as easy to install and place as any light bulb. The bulbs themselves cost only a few dollars apiece. A kit that includes a fan to spread the heat around will run you about $60.
For larger sheds, the Fahrenheat Electric Heater is very versatile. It’s popular for heating commercial garages and workshops, even drafty buildings. It can be mounted on the wall or ceiling and includes brackets for mounting it either vertically or horizontally. It features a thermostat and an automatic shut-off to prevent overheating and is reported to be quiet. The only downside is that it will require more electricity than most other heaters and may need special wiring. It runs about $240. Get all the info here on Amazon.
What is the Cheapest Option for Heating a Shed?
Propane is generally the best option as far as combining safety, cost and efficiency. While not considered quite as safe as electric heat, not everybody has their shed wired for electricity. Electricity is the costliest choice for heating, as anything heated by an electric element uses a lot of electricity to produce that heat, and electricity is not that cheap.
On the other hand, heating with wood is a much cheaper option but is much less safe. Additionally, heating with wood is not as efficient. Another complication is that your homeowners’ insurance may frown on your heating your shed with wood, or it may run afoul of local ordinances.
Propane heaters are made to be much safer than older models. They come with cut-off switches that shut off if the unit is knocked over or tilted. Many models are free-standing and don’t require electricity to start. While propane is not as cheap as wood it is more efficient, and you don’t have to worry about putting in a chimney pipe or dealing with smoke. For more information on propane heaters read my article Can I Heat My Shed with Propane?
What is the Safest Option for Heating My Shed?
Electric heaters are generally considered to be the safest option for heating a shed. They are made with cut-off switches that automatically shut off the power if your heater gets knocked over. Unfortunately, electric heat is more expensive than other choices. Any appliance that uses electricity to produce heat is costly.
Propane would be the next safest option. These heaters are also equipped with safety switches. If your shed is not wired for electricity, a propane heater may be a good choice. Look for models that also feature oxygen sensors and are rated for indoor use. These sensors will monitor oxygen levels in the space and turn off if the oxygen level gets too low.
The heater will then need to be manually re-started on most models. If you don’t have a shed window to crack open for fresh air and don’t want to leave the door open a bit, these would be great.
Of course, with any portable heater, it’s important to place it with at least three feet of open space all around it. Placing it out of the way of traffic will keep it from being kicked over.
Should I Insulate My Shed Before Heating It?
Insulating your shed would certainly help keep the heat in. If you are heating your shed without insulation, too much heat escapes through the walls without insulation, costing you more to heat. It also takes longer to get the shed to temperature and it’s harder to maintain that temperature. Remember that warm air rises while cool air sinks.
If your shed is not insulated, the cold air from the floor and near the walls will sink under your heated air, forcing it upward and out, leaving your feet constantly in cold air. You may not even be able to get your shed to a comfortable temperature when it’s really cold, and your feet will stay cold unless you have a heater blowing directly on them.
Fortunately, for most sheds, it’s not hard to put in some insulation, even if your shed is already finished or you bought a home that includes a shed without insulation. Roll fiberglass insulation or foam board is simple to install between the studs. Even some plastic sheds can be equipped with an interior metal framework to aid you in installing insulation.
If you order a metal shed from a manufacturer, you can specify a stud framework for insulation installation. You can cover it up with plywood walls to really form a good barrier between the inside and outside temperatures. The insulation will also keep your shed cooler in the summer.
Insulation between your floor joists is another option. This will help keep cold air from seeping in from beneath and help keep your feet warmer in winter. Another good idea is to put a ceiling in your shed. This will separate the space to your roof, forming a smaller space below to heat and will save you money. Installing insulation between the rafters under the roofing is another way to save money and will go a long way towards keeping the shed cooler in summer. For more information on insulating a shed read my article What’s the Best Insulation for a Shed? [Batt, rigid or loose fill?].
Keeping your shed warm is not very hard to do with the numerous choices of heaters available. Where you have electricity in your shed or not, you can find a heater to fit your size shed that doesn’t cost a lot to run.
Insulation not only helps in the winter but will keep your shed from being an oven in the summer, so installing some is really a no-brainer. The only drawback is that once you get your shed all comfortable, you’ll have no excuse to put off that project you started in summer, so get at it.