We use our garages for more than parking a car or storing a couple of boxes worth of holiday ornaments. Our garages become workshops, wood shops, mechanic shops, sports bars, man-caves, and many other daily uses.
Heating a garage is generally left off of the HVAC routing from the house, and you need to supplement that fact. Electric heaters are a great way to heat a garage. Finding the best 120 volt electric garage heater, though, can be difficult. This article will find out what you need and which models are best for you.
Advantages of 120v Electric Garage Heaters Over 240v
There will always be a debate about using a 120 or 240v heater in your space. Why should you choose 120v?
- Standard Outlets.
Most outlets in your home and garage are single phase 110/120 volts. This means you don’t need to do anything extra except plug your heater in and turn it on.
- Designed for Smaller Spaces.
A 120v and 240v heater produces the same amount of heat, but 120v cover smaller areas (about 150 – 200 sq. ft.).
- Easy Installation.
If you are looking for a more permanent mounting, most 120v units are easy to mount or install.
- More Options.
When shopping for electric heaters, you will find more variety and styles in the 120v range.
Electric Garage Heater (120V) Compared
Considerations Before Buying 120 Volt Electric Garage Heaters
The size of your garage will play a big part in the type and size heater you need. For 120 volt systems, you shouldn’t try to heat more than about 200 square feet. The inefficiency beyond this point will cause the heaters to run full time and can raise your electric bill.
If you have an oddly shaped garage or one that is over 200 square feet, think about investing in two or more electric heaters.
Heat Output (BTU’s)
Heat output is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs). It is a basic unit of measurement for heat transfer, and the higher the BTU, the more heat is transferred. For electric heaters, this means higher output.
For the 120 volt range, you can expect to see an average output of about 5100 to 7500 BTUs. There will be outliers, of course, with much less or much more output. For heating garages in the 100 to 200 square foot range, though, 5000 to 7000 BTUs is a good range.
Depending on how you mount or where you set the heater, various safety features are needed. The most common features are auto shut off and anti-tip. When the unit is knocked over or becomes too hot, it will shut off to protect itself and you from hazards.
Safe-to-touch, easy start, and overload protection are also found on many heaters that add to the safe use of these machines.
Some heaters will have a three setting system (off, low, high). However, many are starting to become more digitally controlled and offer full thermostats to control when they come on or shut off and offer adjustable dials to help you find the ideal temperature for your space.
Energy efficiency is the rating assigned to electrical devices based on average use and expected cost of running. Electric garage heaters can be more energy efficient if the brand is inclined to make them so. The cost is calculated with a simple formula:
cost per kWh x watts consumed x hours used/1000.
With a national average cost of 13 cents per kWh, you need to figure out the machine’s wattage. If it is not listed, just multiply the volts and amps together to get the watts. Multiplying 0.13 x the watts (for example, 1500) for 4 hours of use per day will give you $0.78 to run the machine.
If you run that same machine 5 days a week, every week for a year (0.78 x 5 x 52), you will get an annual cost of $202.
The more efficient a heater is, the fewer watts it will consume, bringing the total cost down.
Installation (Fixed vs. Portable Heating System)
When it comes to electric garage heaters, there are two basic types, portable and installed. Installed units are mounted and may or may not have ducting involved, routing the intake and exhaust to spread the heat out more evenly.
Mounted or installed units generally have a higher upfront cost but can heat evenly and with less energy. Portable units are more popular with the benefit of only being used where needed, easier to move to a new location, or stored away when not in use.
Portability comes in all shapes and sizes, including carrying handles, wheels, and other features. What makes a portable unit portable is generally its size. Smaller, compact, and easy to move units are considered portable, whether they have wheels or not.
Portable units can also be mounted, hung, or placed on a cart. Some models may be small but are too heavy to move around efficiently. The use of a cart or dolly can aid in making them more portable.
Design & Other Features
There are various types and styles of electric heaters, and it is important to understand the difference and figure out which will offer you the best features for your needs.
Radiant and forced air, for example, heat in two different ways. Force air units heat much faster but have a much higher energy draw.
You also want to consider other features such as remote control options, thermostats, and even warranty coverage. Along with the safety features, these extra options may raise the price but could be worth it for you.
Remote operation gives you more freedom, for example, while thermostats allow you to set a temperature and forget about the heater. When looking at the warranty, make sure you understand what is covered, for how long and what it requires on your part to make a claim.
The price, of course, is going to be a significant deciding factor. There is a wide variance to choose from, with prices ranging from less than $50 to over $200. For the most part, though, you are paying for quality, durability, and safety. For this reason, it is a wise choice to invest in a higher priced model over a cheap model just to save a few dollars.
8 Best 120V Electric Garage Heaters Reviewed
1. Stiebel Eltron 074058
Best 120v Electric Wall Garage Heater
|Heater Type||Fixed Electric Fan|
|Coverage Area||215 sq ft|
Stiebel Eltron makes a series of wall-mounted heaters that are ideal for garages and other smaller spaces. Installation is required, and it must be hardwired, but the electric blower fan pushes out the hot air with various settings to keep your entire space comfortable.
There are two models to choose from, the CK and the CKT. The main difference is that the CKT models offer a Booster Timer function that allows the unit to run at maximum output for up to 60 minutes before reverting back to thermostat settings. This is used to heat a space quickly and then maintain temperature.
Each model has two versions. The 15E and 20E are the same in both CK and CKT versions, with two exceptions. 1st, the 15E models are 1500 watt models, while the 20E are 2000 watt heaters. The other difference is that the CK models are 120v, where the CKT versions are 240v. Other than that, the heaters are identical.
These models are wall mounted and hardwired, meaning you need access to the circuit wiring and the mounting bracket. The bracket needs to be mounted with the wires from the home coming through. Consult an HVAC or electrician professional if you are unsure.
When mounting, there must be a minimum of 4 inches from the bottom of the heater to the floor, with 6- to 8-inches being ideal.
With a 106 CFM fan output and less than 50dB operation noise level, you will have warm air throughout your garage and without being loud to disturb anything you are working on in there. You will also get the benefit of frost protection should the temperature drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
- 3-year warranty
- Thermostatic controls
- Central thermostat compatible
- Frost protection
- Low noise level
- Must be hardwired into home wiring
- Minimum 15A circuit required
2. Dr Infrared Portable Space Heater
Best 120v Infrared Electric Garage Heater
|Coverage Area||210 sq ft|
|Cord Length||5 ft|
If you are looking for the best compact 120v garage heater, you just found it. The Dr Infrared Portable space heater will surprise you with its output, heating your garage better and faster than its compact stature would lead you to believe.
Standing only 17 inches tall (with caster wheels), the heater doesn’t look like much. However, it is installed in a nice looking cabinet that makes it look great in any garage or room. The infrared heat output, though, is more than enough for garages around 200 square feet.
With 1500 watts output, you can evenly heat your garage in no time at all. It also features thermostat controls allowing you to select a temperature for the heater to maintain. You can also choose between low and high or automatic mode.
In auto mode, the heater will conserve energy and save you money, though you may need more heat from time to time while it is running.
The device does weigh 24 pounds, making it a little heavy as far as portable units go. However, it is easy to move with the caster wheels and will stand on any flat surface, even carpet. Your garage floor won’t be a problem.
It also features a cool to the touch cabinet, tip-over protection, and overheating auto shut off. The 5-foot power cord may be a little short for some outlets or garages, but as it can sit against the wall, you shouldn’t have much issue with the cord length.
- 3-year warranty
- Aesthetic cabinet
- Automatic energy saving mode
- Temperature selection
- Remote control operation
- No carrying handle
- Not always as quiet as it claims
3. NewAir NGH160GA00
Best 120v Portable Fan Heater for Garages
|Heater Type||Ceramic Electric Fan|
|Coverage Area||160 sq ft|
|Cord Length||3 ft|
If you need a lightweight and powerful heater for your garage, look no further than NewAir. This ceramic heater is the best portable heater for your garage. It offers 1500 watts of heating power with an electric fan to push the warm air out to you.
There are 2 speed control options, and you can adjust the temperature for each setting (turn dial). The unit sits on its own stand, which can be tilted to direct air up, down, or straight ahead. Once you get it in position, the twist locks will keep it in place.
The ceramic plates heat up quickly, and the electric fan is designed to evenly push air over the plates, so there aren’t any cold spots, giving you consistent heating.
The housing is also cool to the touch, so if you need to pack up and move, you don’t need to wait for the heater to cool down. The unit must be cooled before storage, though. The NewAir heater also features an internal thermometer and will shut off if it detects overheating.
While it doesn’t have tip-over shut off features, the base is permanently attached and is wide enough that it is very difficult to tip over.
The downside to this model is the short power cord. Since you shouldn’t use power strips or extension cords with portable heaters, we would like to see more than 3-feet of power cord.
- No set up needed
- Position to direct airflow
- Tabletop or shelf placement
- Lightweight, durable design
- Cool to the touch
- 1-year warranty
- 3-foot power cord
4. Cadet CSC101TW Wall Heater
Best 120v Electric Garage Heater with Thermostat
|Heater Type||Electric fan|
|Coverage Area||200 sq ft|
The Cadet Com-Pak is a small in-wall mounted heater designed to heat your garage quickly. It works under the same principle as a bathroom exhaust fan with simple installation and easy to use thermostat control.
To install this model, you may need help from an electrician or HVAC technician. It is hardwired into your home’s circuit and doesn’t have a power cord. However, the rest of the installation only requires a small hole cut in the drywall and 6 screws.
Placing the wall can into the hole and attaching the can and heater with 3 screws on top, and 2 on the bottom secures everything in place. After that, you place the grate over the can and secure it with two mounting screws.
The thermostat knob slips on and will turn to adjust the fan speed, controlling the amount of heat entering the room.
When turned on to the highest setting, you can heat up to 200 square feet in less than 5 minutes. The 100-watt unit is cost-effective and efficient, but there are other options if you need more heat. Com-Pal models come in 1000, 1500, 2000, and 3000-watt options with a couple of 240v models as well.
No matter which model you go with, your garage will have heat whenever you need it, and the out of the way system doesn’t take up an outlet in your workshop area or floor space to be stepped on or kicked over.
- Simple thermostat single-dial control
- Quick install
- High heat output
- Multiple wattage options available
- 2-year warranty only available in store
- May require electrician assistance
5. STANLEY ST-222A-120
Smallest Portable 120v Garage Heater
|Heater Type||Electric fan|
|Coverage Area||165 sq ft|
|Cord Length||6 ft|
Stanley makes one of the smallest (yet powerful) portable space heaters for your garage. This electric fan heater spouts the famous Stanley black and yellow color scheme and has a high heat output.
With a 6-foot cord, you can put this unit almost anywhere. On a tabletop, you can effectively and quickly heat up to 165 square feet. If you place the unit on the floor, it may take longer to heat the entire space, but it will still get there.
There are numerous safety features, including overheat protection and tip-over auto-shutoff. It also has three heat settings, low, high, and fan-only. You can adjust the temperature for each setting (except fan-only), too, giving you complete control over how warm your garage becomes.
It does heat quickly and can be positioned to face you for more instant warmth if needed. The heavy-duty carry handle stays cool to the touch, so you can move it where you need it without having to wait for a cool-down cycle.
The 1-year warranty is a little light, but coming from Stanley, you should expect years of consistent and dependable use. If something does go wrong, Stanley customer service is easy to get in touch with and are happy to help.
- Great customer service
- Multiple safety features
- Stay-cool carry handle
- Rugged, durable design
- 1-year warranty
- Airflow direction is not adjustable
6. De’Longhi Convection Panel Heater
Best Freestanding Convection Panel Heater
|Heater Type||Convection Electric fan|
|Coverage Area||210 sq ft|
|Cord Length||5.5 ft|
|Installation||Stand alone, wall mount|
If there were awards for sleek and stylish heaters, the De’Longhi panel heater would win. This impressively thin heater will warm up your garage in no time and maintain temperature for as long as you need.
There are two mounting options for this model. You can attach it to the wall, with only a 3-inch profile; it won’t get in the way by sticking out too far. However, you can also use the included feet to make it a freestanding unit that can be moved where you need it most.
There are multiple heat settings, fan speeds (including no fan), and a thermostat so you can set a specific temperature and maintain the warmth all day long.
This panel heater is full of safety features, too. An internal tip sensor turns the unit off if it falls over and it comes equipped with a thermal cut-off switch that prevents damage from overheating.
More, there is also an anti-freeze setting that prevents the heater and your pipes from freezing. If that isn’t enough, you can control the thermostat dial to get more heat or less heat when you need it and return to normal after the ideal temperature is reached.
With a 3-year warranty you have little to worry about, except being yelled at for not wanting to ever leave your comfortable garage.
- 3-year warranty
- Sleek design
- 3 heat settings
- Dual mounting options
- Can take longer to heat the space than other models on the list
- Eco function may not be warm enough
Best 120v Portable Space Heater with Thermostat
|Heater Type||Ceramic Forced Air|
|Coverage Area||108 sq ft|
|Cord Length||5 ft|
If you need a portable, personal space heater with a thermostat, ISILER has your answer. This ceramic plate forced air unit is ideal for smaller spaces up to 108 square feet. And has a host of features making it an easy favorite for garage workers around the country.
This lightweight unit (only 2.3 pounds!) heats up in under 3 seconds and will warm your space quickly. You can set the thermostat dial to high to add warmth quickly and get the garage up to temp. Once you are warm enough, setting the dial lower will not only maintain the temperature but drastically cut down on the energy consumption.
The 5-foot cord is a surprise, as most models this size have a shorter power cable. However, this one gives you plenty of room to plug it in and move it where you need it. The downside is that the legs for the angled heater must be assembled before use.
Because it is forced air (and a smaller unit), you will notice when you aren’t in the vicinity of the airflow. It won’t heat up your entire garage unless it is completely insulated, and even then, it will take time. However, for personal space or a smaller work area, it is ideal.
The 1-year warranty is a little bothersome, but ISILER also offers a 90-day full refund policy, so if you aren’t happy for any reason, you lose nothing.
- Great for personal spaces
- Heats up in seconds
- Carry handle stays cool
- Thermostatic control
- 1-year warranty
- May not warm your entire garage
8. Comfort Zone CZQTV5M
Best 120v Ceiling Garage Heater
|Heater Type||Radiant Quartz|
|Coverage Area||225 sq ft|
|Cord Length||6 ft|
|Installation||Ceiling or wall mount|
For those looking for a working heater that won’t take up valuable floor space, the ceiling mounted Comfort Zone heater will answer all your needs. Not only is it a quartz radiant heater, but it also features a work light to help you out even more.
The halogen light is difficult to replace as the bulb isn’t a standard size. However, while it works, it will come in quite handy.
Once mounted, the heater will warm up spaces to 225 square feet. You can control the output by changing the wattage from 750 up to 1500 watts. On high, there is quite a power draw, and circuits with other items on it may trip.
If the ceiling isn’t viable, you can also mount it to the wall. The Comfort Zone heater features an angled bracket, so you can tilt it where you need the heat the most. The downside to this model is that it only has a 6-foot power cord.
While 6-feet is among the longest power cords on this list, it can be difficult to find an outlet within 6-feet of your ceiling. Since you cannot use extension cords with heaters (major fire hazard), you may wish to hire an electrician to install an outlet for the heater on the ceiling.
- Halogen work light included
- Pull cord cycles between power settings
- Frees up valuable floor space
- Thermal cut off included
- 1-year warranty
- Cord may be too short to reach an outlet
Sizing Up 120v Electric Garage Heaters
One of the best ways to save money when buying an electric heater is to find one that is the right size for your space. To find the right size, you need to understand how heaters are sized and what it means for your garage.
We discussed BTUs earlier, but the fact is most electric heaters won’t list the BTU outputs, using wattage instead. The conversion for BTUs to watts is 1 BTU is equal to 3.4 watts.
The first thing, though, is to figure out the size of your garage. The square foot measurement will tell you the size of the space you are heating. Multiply the length of the garage by the width to get your square feet. For this section, we will look at a standard single car garage measurement of 12 feet x 20 feet, or 240 square feet.
You also need to consider heat loss. Non-insulated garages will lose heat much faster than insulated garages. You can consider garage door insulation to help keep the heat in as a cost-effective solution.
The more heat loss your garage has, the longer and harder your heater will need to work to maintain the temperature inside.
When looking at wattage versus square feet, there is another simple formula. You need 10 watts per square foot. Looking at our standard example of 240 square feet for a single car garage, we would then need 2,400 watts minimum to heat the space.
You can also get more exact, of course. Calculating ceiling height (cubic feet), insulation level, and heat rise percentages. For most people, though, generalities will suffice. The general breakdown looks like this:
|Square Feet||Wattage||BTU (watts x 3.4)|
|0-450||2400 – 3500||8160 – 11900|
|450-700||3600 – 7000||12000 – 24000|
|700-1000||7000 – 10000||24000 – 31000|
Placing Electric Garage Heaters for Efficiency
To get the most efficiency and heat distribution from your heater, you need to know where best to place it in the garage.
A lot will have to do with the type of heater you choose. Forced air models, for example, need ample front, rear, and top clearance. Radiant heaters need less space behind them since they aren’t relying on as much airflow to operate.
Portable units are best placed in the center of the room, radiating outwards in all directions. However, in a corner with proper clearances or along a wall will also work well.
Humidity control may also be in order. Heaters and air conditioners are more efficient when humidity levels are within a more normal range (30 to 60%). This goes along with insulation, too. Maintaining humidity and retaining heat will go a long way to making the heater more efficient.
Each model will have specific clearance requirements, and you need to understand what these are. Top, front, and rear or side clearance is crucial for airflow and operation. However, it is also a safety concern. If surfaces, objects, or walls are too close to the heater, they can become too hot, start a fire or cause damage.
Reading your owner’s manual and adhering to the minimum clearance guidelines there will make sure your heater performs as safely and efficiently as possible.
Installing 120v Electric Heaters in the Garage
If you are looking for a more permanent solution, installing your heater can save space, time, and money. There are specially designed heaters meant for specific installs, which may pique your interest.
Ceiling mount heaters are adept at saving space since they are mounted overhead. However, because heat rises, you will need a fan or blower to help move the warm air down to the floor.
Wall and shelf mount models generally have thermostatic or remote control options. This way, you can mount them on the wall using the supplied brackets or on a shelf out of the way and not have to worry about the floor space in front for access.
People Also Ask (FAQ)
Are 120v electric heaters expensive to run?
120v electric heaters aren’t obscenely expensive to run, but they will cost more than a fan or light bulb. Depending on your cost per kWh, the wattage draw of the heater and how often you use the device, the cost will fluctuate. An average yearly cost of about $100 is expected for a 1500 watt 120v heater run for 4 hours a day during the colder months.
Are 120v electric garage heaters safe?
All electric heaters are required to have some safety features installed. Most of these include overheating and tip-over shutoffs. Other options include humidity sensors, circuit overload sensors, and temperature controls. Compared to LP heaters, electric heaters are generally safer, though any electrical appliance will have hazard considerations.
What type of heater uses the least electricity?
Propane and LP gas heaters don’t usually use any electricity at all. However, radiant heat, portable electric heaters are more efficient than forced air heaters.
How many BTUs does it take to heat a 2-Car garage?
An average 2-car garage is about 18 x 20 feet, which is 360 square feet. Using the 10 watts per square feet rule, you would need a 3600-watt heater or (3600 x 3.4) 12,240 BTUs.
Will a 1500-watt heater warm a garage?
A 1500-watt heater will efficiently heat a single car garage of 200 square feet or less. This will depend on the actual square footage of your garage, insulation level and ceiling height, of course, but on average, most smaller garages with a single 1500 watt heater do just fine with temperature rises below 30 degrees.
What are some common issues with 120v electric heaters?
The most common issues with 120v electric heaters are the unit not turning on or the heating elements not getting hot. These issues are usually associated with the power supply. A tripped breaker, blown fuse or low voltage draw are usually the culprits. If these problems present themselves, check the circuit breaker for the outlet, make sure the heater is plugged in and try a different outlet on a new circuit to ensure the problem is with the heater and not the power supply.
What type of maintenance is needed for electric garage heaters?
Electric heaters are generally maintenance-free. However, you need to always check the power supply, electrical cord, outlets, and circuit breakers for damage, scorching, or burns. Beyond that, you want to keep the area around the heater clean from dirt, dust, and debris and, if possible, keep dust and debris from building up on the heating elements.
Choosing the best 120v electric garage heater can be difficult. There are a lot of brands, styles and options to wade through. This article was designed to outline the factors and considerations needed to make an informed decision and showcase the best garage heaters on the market.
If you still cannot decide, take a closer look at the top pick. The Stiebel Eltron 074058 is a well-rounded wall heater that is energy efficient, fast heating, and low maintenance. It is a solid choice for any garage, simple to use, and easy to install.
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