6 Best Heaters for Pole Barn Comfort in Winter

Marina Maletic

Written By

Marina Maletic

Expert Reviewed By

Josh Mitchell

Last Updated On

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As an HVAC expert, I've taken the guesswork out of finding the perfect heater for my pole barn by rigorously testing a multitude of heaters, and now I’ve compiled it all to share this ultimate guide.

I’ve checked what other users have to say, calculated how many BTUs you need depending on the size of your pole barn, and personally tested these heaters.

Get ready to heat a pole barn and transform it into a cozy, warm haven with these standout heating solutions.

Plus, you can use any of these to heat garages or to reach the desired temperature in any other room.

Quick Glance - My Recommendations

Ashley Hearth AW1120E-P 1,200 Sq. Ft. EPA...

Ashley Hearth AW1120E-P

  • Efficient, even heating
  • Sustainable wood fuel
  • Rustic aesthetic appeal

Mr. Heater F260550 Big Maxx MHU50NG Natural...

Mr. Heater F260550

  • Powerful heating output
  • Easy natural gas use
  • Adjustable thermostat

Mr. Heater 125,000 BTU Forced Air Propane...

Mr. Heater F271390

  • Rapid heating ability
  • User-friendly operation
  • Ergonomic handle for portability

6 Top Rated Pole Barn Heaters

Here are the six best heaters for pole barn owners to turn their barns cozy during cold winter months.

I’ve included options such as an infrared heater, natural gas model, pellet stoves, and more.

1. Ashley Hearth AW1120E-P

4.8

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

4.75

Current Progress
Current Progress
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Heating Ability

5.0

Current Progress
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Value for Money

4.75

Current Progress
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Who is the Ashley Hearth AW1120E-P best for?

I recommend Ashley Hearth AW1120E-P to those who appreciate the traditional, rustic charm of a wood-fired heater and have a medium-sized pole barn, specifically up to 1200 square feet.

Pros
  • Efficient, even heating
  • Sustainable wood fuel
  • Rustic aesthetic appeal
  • Economical in long-term
CONS
  • Regular manual effort
  • Ventilation system required

The Ashley Hearth AW1120E-P has an outstanding balance of aesthetic appeal and functional heating. Its capacity to evenly warm up a space as large as a 30 x 40 pole barn is impressive.

I prefer it over electric heaters, as I found the hot air it provides feels more natural and enveloping, creating a cozy atmosphere that's particularly enjoyable in cold weather.

I didn’t have any issues using the Ashley Hearth AW1120E-P. I found the operation straightforward.

However, keep in mind it requires regular attention, such as loading wood and managing the fire.

Ashley Hearth AW1120E-P wood
If you want an active role in maintaining your heating system, this pole barn heater is a great choice.

Compared to the Mr. Heater F260550 (my second-best heating option), the Ashley Hearth AW1120E-P offers a more traditional and visually appealing experience, but it demands more active involvement in terms of fuel management and maintenance.

Finally, the cost-effectiveness of wood as a fuel, especially in areas where it's readily available, is a significant advantage.

However, you’ll have to use this heating system in spaces with proper ventilation, which also means you’ll have to install a chimney system if you don’t have one for safety and effective operation.

Feature

Details

Heat Output (BTUs/Wattage)

68,000 BTU

Coverage (square feet)

1,200

Heating Mechanism

Radiant

Power

Wood

Installation

Fixed


2. Mr. Heater F260550

4.7

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

4.5

Current Progress
Current Progress
Current Progress
Current Progress

Heating Ability

5.0

Current Progress
Current Progress
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Value for Money

4.75

Current Progress
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Who is the Mr. Heater F260550 best for?

Mr. Heater F260550 is ideal for those seeking a powerful, low-maintenance heating solution for larger spaces, particularly suitable for expansive pole barns.

Pros
  • Powerful heating output
  • Easy natural gas use
  • Adjustable thermostat
  • Long-lasting build             
CONS
  • Complex installation
  • Ventilation necessary

The Mr. Heater F260550 is a standout for its robust heating capacity, making it an excellent choice for heating large barns efficiently. It has 50,000 BTUs, which can heat up to 1250 sg. ft.

I also liked the flexibility, as this heater gives me two heating options — I can choose between vertical or horizontal venting thanks to the powered exhaust.

Moreover, I loved that you don’t need to be next to it to change the settings. I could control the heater from outside the building, thanks to the thermostat and A/C terminals.

Mr. Heater F260550 thermostat
Its operation on natural gas is a significant advantage over other heaters on this list. I found the use more automated and less labor-intensive compared to wood-fired models.

In other words, it requires significantly less work than the Ashley Hearth AW1120E-P.

This is a great choice if you want a set-and-forget type of heating system.

Plus, I could easily adjust and maintain a comfortable temperature within the barn, even though it had a high ceiling.

I also appreciated the materials used and the build quality of the Mr. Heater F260550.

It’s designed to withstand the rigors of barn environments and ensure durability over time.

However, keep in mind it requires a minimum 8 ft clearance from floor to base of the heater, which leads me to the complex installation.

I needed professional assistance, which is an important factor to consider.

Feature

Details

Heat Output (BTUs/Wattage)

50,000 BTU

Coverage (square feet)

1,250

Heating Mechanism

Convection

Power

Natural Gas

Installation

Fixed / Ceiling Mounted


3. Mr. Heater F271390

4.6

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

4.25

Current Progress
Current Progress
Current Progress
Current Progress

Heating Ability

5.0

Current Progress
Current Progress
Current Progress
Current Progress

Value for Money

4.75

Current Progress
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Current Progress
Current Progress

Who is the Mr. Heater F271390 best for?

Mr. Heater F271390 is the best choice for those needing a portable and efficient heating solution and is suitable for varying sizes of pole barns.

Pros
  • Rapid heating ability
  • User-friendly operation
  • Ergonomic handle for portability
  • Extremely quiet
CONS
  • Fuel level monitoring
  • Noticeable noise level

The Mr. Heater F271390 stands out for its portability and quick heating capability.

Its forced-air design means it can rapidly warm up a space, making it invaluable during particularly cold weather.

However, forced-air systems can circulate dust, which is a downside if you plan to operate it in sensitive environments.

I found it's especially beneficial in a pole barn setting where quick temperature adjustments are often needed. The ease of use is another significant advantage.

Mr. Heater F271390 adjustment

Unlike the Mr. Heater F260550, it requires no complex installation. It is a practical choice if you want a straightforward, plug-and-play type of heater.

Another advantage compared to Goodman GMES960803BN is that the Mr. Heater F271390 offers greater flexibility in terms of placement and is more suited for immediate, targeted heating.

However, it may fall short in heating very large rooms as efficiently.

The reliance on propane meant I had to be mindful of fuel levels, which can be a minor inconvenience.

This is one of the quietest pole barn heaters I've ever used. The manufacturer claims it's 50% quieter than a propane heater.

While I didn't measure the noise levels, I agree it's very quiet, which is handy if you plan to use it in a man cave or a garage.

This pole barn heater comes in several versions, from 38,000 BTUs to 250,000/400,000, so you can easily choose the size that can heat your space best.

Feature

Details

Heat Output (BTUs/Wattage)

125,000 BTU

Coverage (square feet)

3,125

Heating Mechanism

Forced Air

Power

Propane Gas

Installation

Portable


4. Goodman GMES960803BN

4.5

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

4.5

Current Progress
Current Progress
Current Progress
Current Progress

Heating Ability

4.75

Current Progress
Current Progress
Current Progress
Current Progress

Value for Money

4.25

Current Progress
Current Progress
Current Progress
Current Progress

Who is the Goodman GMES960803BN best for?

Goodman GMES960803BN is recommended for those requiring a high-capacity, reliable gas furnace for extensive heating needs, particularly in large barns.

Pros
  • Energy-efficient design
  • Durable and reliable
  • Advanced control features
CONS
  • Higher initial cost
  • Professional installation needed

The Goodman GMES960803BN is a powerhouse in the realm of barn heating.

Its capacity to efficiently heat large areas is impressive, making it an ideal choice for extensive barn areas.

The efficiency of this model is a key feature because it helped me reduce operating costs over time.

This is a significant consideration if you’re looking to heat large spaces regularly.

The construction is robust and designed to endure the demanding conditions often found in barn environments, ensuring longevity and reliability.

Keep in mind it needs professional installation and regular maintenance to keep it running efficiently.

Finally, compared to the Mr. Heater F272800, the Goodman GMES960803BN is more suited for larger spaces, offering a more powerful and consistent heat solution for extensive areas.

Feature

Details

Heat Output (BTUs/Wattage)

80,000 BTU

Coverage (square feet)

-

Heating Mechanism

Convection

Power

Natural Gas

Installation

Fixed Furnace


5. Mr. Heater F272800

4.5

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

4.5

Current Progress
Current Progress
Current Progress
Current Progress

Heating Ability

4.5

Current Progress
Current Progress
Current Progress
Current Progress

Value for Money

4.5

Current Progress
Current Progress
Current Progress
Current Progress

Who is the Mr. Heater F272800 best for?

Mr. Heater F272800 is the best natural gas heater for pole barn. It is perfect for those seeking a space-saving, efficient solution for warming up medium to large pole barns.

Pros
  • Space-saving design
  • Effective area heating
  • Easily installed
  • Robust build quality
CONS
  • Fixed installation

The Mr. Heater F272800 is a great choice for those who want to maximize their space.

I loved that its ceiling-mounted design frees up floor space, making it ideal for barns where space is at a premium.

I had my reservations about the heat output due to its small size.

However, despite its compact size, it provides ample warmth, suitable for a variety of barn sizes. It’s suitable for spaces up to 1,000 sq. ft and in spaces of 12 to 15 ft ceilings.

I liked that the installation process is relatively simpler compared to larger furnace models, which is great if you don’t want to worry about a complex setup.

However, its fixed position means that once installed, it lacks the portability of standalone units.

Compared to the Goodman GMES960803BN, it doesn't need electricity to run, which means you can use it even during a power outage.

Compared to Dr. Heater DR966, the Mr. Heater F272800 is a more discreet, space-efficient solution with less flexibility in positioning and movement.

Feature

Details

Heat Output (BTUs/Wattage)

40,000 BTU

Coverage (square feet)

1,000

Heating Mechanism

Radiant

Power

Electric

Installation

Ceiling Mounted


6. Dr. Heater DR966

4.4

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

4.75

Current Progress
Current Progress
Current Progress
Current Progress

Heating Ability

4.25

Current Progress
Current Progress
Current Progress
Current Progress

Value for Money

4.25

Current Progress
Current Progress
Current Progress
Current Progress

Who is the Dr. Heater DR966 best for?

Dr. Heater DR966 is recommended for those needing a reliable, efficient electric solution for warming small to medium-sized pole barns.

Pros
  • Efficient small-area heating
  • Simple installation
  • Precise temperature control
  • Quiet operation
CONS
  • Limited to smaller spaces

The Dr. Heater DR966 is an excellent choice for smaller barn spaces where efficient and reliable warm air is needed.

It's another compact-sized heater but has effective heating capability, making it ideal for areas with limited space.

Plus, the eight-inch fan circulated hot air inside the buildings but was quiet.

Dr. Heater DR966 fan
I found the installation process to be straightforward, which gave it a significant advantage over more complex gas or wood-fired heaters.

The adjustable thermostat is a useful feature. It allowed me to get precise temperature control, which enhances comfort and efficiency.

However, I found it's not as effective in very large spaces. Moreover, being dependent on electricity might restrict its use in barns with limited electrical access.

Keep this in mind if you plan to use it in more remote locations or where electrical infrastructure is not robust.

Compared to the Ashley Hearth AW1120E-P, the Dr. Heater DR966 offers a more modern, convenient solution but lacks the larger area coverage and the traditional charm of a wood-fired model.

Feature

Details

Heat Output (BTUs/Wattage)

3,000/6,000 Watts

Coverage (square feet)

600

Heating Mechanism

Forced Air

Power

Electric

Installation

Ceiling Mounted


Heaters For Pole Barn Compared

Preview

Name

Rating

Heat Output

Coverage

Price

Ashley Hearth AW1120E-P 1,200 Sq. Ft. EPA...

Ashley Hearth AW1120E-P

4.8

68,000 btu

1200

Mr. Heater F260550 Big Maxx MHU50NG Natural...

Mr. Heater F260550

4.7

50,000 btu

1250

Mr. Heater 125,000 BTU Forced Air Propane...

Mr. Heater F271390

4.6

125,000 btu

3125

Goodman 80,000 BTU 96% Efficiency Upflow,...

Goodman GMES960803BN

4.5

80,000 btu

-

Mr. Heater F272800 40,000 BTU Natural Gas...

Mr. Heater F272800

4.5

40,000 btu

1,000 sq.ft.

Dr. Heater DR966 240-volt Hardwired Shop...

Dr. Heater DR966

4.4

6000W

600 sq.ft.


How To Select The Right Heater For Your Pole Barn

Choosing the right heating system makes sense only after considering all relevant factors, so here are all the factors you need to know when deciding on the best heaters for your pole barn.

The Type of Heaters Available By Fuel Type For Pole Barns

When selecting a heater for a pole barn, understanding the different fuel types available is crucial.

Each type offers unique benefits and limitations:

  • Wood:
    The Ashley Hearth AW1120E-P is a great example of wood-fired heaters. Ideal for those who value sustainability and a traditional heating approach, wood heaters are excellent for medium-sized spaces like a 30 x 40 pole barn.

    They provide a natural and comfortable warmth, enhancing the space with a rustic aesthetic. However, they require regular maintenance, such as wood loading and ash cleaning, and need proper ventilation for safety.
  • Natural gas:
    The Mr. Heater F260550 is a natural gas heater that’s suitable for larger barns due to its high heating capacity.

    These heaters are known for their efficiency and convenience, as they require less manual intervention than wood-fired models. 

    However, they necessitate professional installation and a permanent gas line, along with adequate ventilation, to ensure safety.
  • Propane:
    Represented by Mr. Heater F271390, propane heaters are valued for their portability and quick heating. They are versatile, suitable for various barn sizes, and easy to use.

    These heaters are ideal for those who need a movable source of heat, but they require regular monitoring of propane levels and can be less price-effective in the long run due to fuel costs.
  • Electric:
    The Dr. Heater DR966 is an electric heater best for smaller to medium-sized barns. 

    Electric heaters are efficient, easy to install, and safe, making them a good choice for spaces where gas or wood heating is impractical. 

    However, their heating capacity is generally lower than gas or wood-fired heaters, making them less suitable for very large spaces.
  • Fixed vs Portable:
    The Mr. Heater F272800 is a fixed, ceiling-mounted heater, saving floor space and providing effective heating for medium to large barns. 

    In contrast, the Mr. Heater F271390, as a portable propane heater, offers flexibility in heating different areas but may not be as effective in very large spaces.

TL;DR: Heaters are based on different types of fuel types. It is natural to buy a space heaters based on the fuel type most readily available to you. There are pros and cons to fuel type. Electric heaters are safer; gas heaters are more powerful.

Do You Prefer Radiant, Fan Forced, or Convection Heaters?

  • Radiant heaters:
    The Ashley Hearth AW1120E-P, being a wood-fired model, offers radiant heat. This type of heater is excellent for creating a cozy atmosphere, emitting warmth directly to objects and people rather than heating the air.
  • Fan forced heaters:
    The Mr. Heater F271390 is a forced-air propane heater. These heaters use a fan to blow hot air into the space, quickly warming up the area. They are effective for rapid heating but can be noisier.
  • Convection heaters:
    The Mr. Heater F260550 and the Goodman GMES960803BN are examples of convection heaters. They heat the air, which then rises to warm the entire space. These are suitable for larger areas and provide even, consistent heat.

TL;DR: Heaters use different heating techniques. Radiant heaters heat up objects that radiate heat outward. They are slower but offer cozy warmth. Fan forced use a fan to blow hot air out. They are effective at heating quickly. Convection heaters are great for consistent heat in larger areas.

What is the Size of Your Pole Barn?

The size of a pole barn is a critical factor in heater selection.

Unlike typical residential spaces, pole barns are measured in volume (length x width x height), which means the heater needs to be capable of handling a large amount of air.

For example, a medium-sized barn requires a heater that can manage the hot air volume effectively.

Larger barns, like those for the Goodman GMES960803BN, need heaters with a higher capacity to ensure even and efficient heating.

Pro Tip:

Placing heaters in the right corner of the barn can significantly improve heat distribution and efficiency

TL;DR: It is important to calculate the volume of your pole barn before choosing an appropriate heater.

Choose Appropriate Heating Capacity (BTU/W)

Determining the right heating capacity is essential.

The BTU (British Thermal Unit) requirement for a pole barn can be calculated by considering the volume and insulation quality.[1]

The Goodman GMES960803BN, for instance, is designed for large barns and has a high BTU output, making it suitable for extensive spaces.

TL;DR: To convert BTU to Wattage, divide the BTU number by 3.41.[2]

This calculation helps in selecting a heater with the appropriate BTU output for your specific workshop or barn size.

The last thing you want to do is choose a heater that’ll turn too costly in the long run, and you’ll have to get rid of it or switch to another one.

Another important consideration when installing a heater is to consider the number and insulation of doors.

Multiple doors can lead to increased heat loss, so go for a heater with a higher number of BTUs, especially if your pole barn isn’t insulated.

TL;DR: Once the volume of your pole barn is calculated, you can use simple math to figure out the heating wattage or heating BTU requirement.

Is the Unit Energy Efficient?

Energy efficiency is crucial for long-term cost savings and environmental considerations.

Electric heaters like the Dr. Heater DR966 are typically more efficient for smaller areas.

For larger barns, gas heaters with energy-efficient designs, like the Goodman GMES960803BN, are preferable as they can significantly reduce operating costs over time.

Also, ensuring your pole barn is well-insulated is key to maintaining a warm, energy-efficient space, regardless of which unique set for heating you choose.

Finally, keep in mind the cost. 

While some systems are cheaper and others more expensive upfront, it's important to consider their long-term efficiency.

TL;DR: Keep energy efficiency in mind for long terms cost savings. It is preferable to choose an energy efficient heater that heats up slowly as compared to a powerful one that heats up quickly.

What Safety Mechanisms Does It Offer?

Safety features in heaters are non-negotiable.

A wood-burning stove, such as the Ashley Hearth AW1120E-P, requires proper ventilation and fire management to prevent hazards.

Gas and propane heaters like the Mr. Heater F260550 and Mr. Heater F271390 should have built-in safety features to detect leaks and control flames.

Electric heaters generally have lower safety risks but should still have features like automatic shut-off in case of overheating.

TL;DR: It is important that heaters have safety features like auto shut-off to reduce fire risks.

Does it Provide Ample Warranty?

A good warranty indicates the manufacturer's confidence in their product. It's important to check the warranty period and what it covers.

A longer warranty period can provide peace of mind and protection against unforeseen malfunctions or defects.

Each heater type, whether it's the Ashley Hearth AW1120E-P or the Goodman GMES960803BN, will have different warranty terms, which should be a factor in the decision-making process.

TL;DR: The longer the warranty, the more piece of mind you have.


Industrial Grade Solutions For Heating Large Pole Barns

Heating large pole barns, especially in regions with harsh winters, requires robust and efficient solutions.

These systems not only provide the power needed to heat large spaces but also ensure energy efficiency.

Industrial-grade heating systems are designed to meet these demands, offering durability, high performance, and price effectiveness over time.

When installing these advanced heating systems, it's crucial to consider both the initial setup costs and long-term benefits.

Here are some key industrial-grade heating solutions suitable for large pole barns:

High-efficiency furnaces:

Modern industrial-grade furnaces work on fuels like natural gas or propane to produce heat.

The latest models boast high Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings, indicating their energy efficiency.

For pole barns, furnaces can be tailored to include extensive ductwork for even heat distribution.

This is particularly important in large, open spaces where maintaining a consistent temperature can be challenging.

Advanced heat pumps:

A heat pump offers a dual function of heating and cooling, making them a versatile choice for pole barns used year-round.

A heat pump operates by transferring heated air between the barn and the external environment.

In colder months, they extract heated air from the outside air or ground and transfer it indoors. During warmer periods, this process is reversed to cool the interior.

The latest models are highly energy-efficient, though the initial installation cost can be higher than traditional heating systems.

Radiant heating systems:

Radiant heating, particularly in-floor heating systems, is an excellent option for pole barns.

These systems provide heat directly from the floor, making them highly efficient as they minimize heat loss that typically occurs in a forced-air system.

Radiant heating provides a comfortable, even heat distribution, ideal for spaces where people spend long periods.

It's particularly beneficial in pole barns with high ceilings, as it heats objects and people directly rather than wasting energy heating the air at the top of the barn.

Note:

Among the various options, a forced air system is particularly effective for distributing heated air evenly in large rooms.

TL;DR: Industrial sized pole barns require industrial grade heating solutions such as large furnaces, and in floor heating systems.


How We Review & Rank Our Product List

At Air Conditioner Lab, our team follows a similar process when evaluating all products reviews before formulating our final lists for readers.

We begin by gathering data sources directly from brands, e-commerce platforms, online retailers and press releases.

These are then added to a master file we use to compare features specifications from all heater models. You can access this Heater Sheet Here.

Next, we narrow down all the products on the market by evaluating user reviews, ratings and feedback from a wide variety of online and in-person sources.

Our team then discusses and co-ordinates our first hand experiences using these products, as well as gather independent opinions and feedback through Youtube and customer reviews.

Commonly Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Is The Safest Heat Source For A Barn?

The safest heat source for a barn is typically an electric heater, especially models with built-in safety features like automatic shut-off and overheat protection.

Electric heaters eliminate the risks associated with combustion, such as carbon monoxide emission or fire hazards, which are critical considerations in a barn environment.

Does The Color Of The Roof On Pole Barn Affect Heat?

 Darker colors, like black or dark brown, tend to absorb more heat from the sun and cold from the snow.

Lighter colors, such as white or light gray, reflect more sunlight, helping to keep the interior of the barn cooler.

Do Pole Barns Need Ventilation?

Yes, pole barns need ventilation.

Proper ventilation ensures a healthier environment, particularly if the barn is used for housing livestock or storing hay, where moisture and ammonia can build up.

It also helps in maintaining the structural integrity of the barn by preventing mold, mildew, and rot.

So, Which Pole Barn Heater Is Suitable For You?

For warming a medium-sized pole barn, I recommend the Ashley Hearth AW1120E-P.

This heater is particularly suitable if you're looking for a traditional, sustainable heating method and have a barn space of up to 1200 square feet.

If you have a large barn, choose the Goodman GMES960803BN. The Goodman furnace is a natural gas option.

It's a fixed unit, which means it provides consistent heating without the need to move the unit around.

Additionally, gas furnaces like this one are often more cost-effective in the long run, especially for larger spaces.

My #1 Recommendation
Ashley Hearth AW1120E-P

  • Efficient, even heating
  • Sustainable wood fuel
  • Rustic aesthetic appeal
  • Economical in long-term

References: 

  1. https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/units-and-calculators/british-thermal-units.php
  2. https://www.stelrad.com/news-events/blog/how-to-convert-btu-to-kw/ 
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Marina Maletic

Writer

Marina Maletic
Marina Maletic is a full-time freelance writer with years of experience specializing in blog posts and long-form articles on air conditioners, heat pumps, and HVAC brands.  When she's not planning her next travel adventure, Marina can be found experimenting with new coffee recipes and baking delicious treats.

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