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Thread: Pole Barn Heater

  1. #1
    sennister's Avatar
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    Pole Barn Heater

    I was wondering what people are using to heat their shops.

    I have a pole barn. It is roughly 32x50. I didn't build it and I have never measured it. Anyhow it is split up a little. The back part 32x18 is not insulated and that is where I have my 4 post lift. It was originally used for storing a motorhome (previous owners) and the floor is lower than the rest of the building giving it more overhead clearance. The rest of the pole barn is my shop/garage. It is about 32x32 with 12' ceiling. It is insulated and heated by a NG garage heater. I don't know how many BTUs it is but I could probably look. The thing I don't like about it is that it just heats the air. When I park in there all the time I loose all my warm air and have the start over all the time. Sure perfect world would be in floor heat but I don't think this was done much if at all when the building was built and it isn't cost effective to try and retrofit a system like that. When I moved in we were getting killed with the utility bills ($500-$600/mo in the winter for gas/electric). I have gotten that under control more by installing better insulation in the house and changing the thermostat in the pole barn. All it had was one of the old school round house thermostats. I replaced it with a digital thermostat typically found in commercial refrigeration units so that I could set the normal temps for 35-38* when I am not out there. When I am going to do work I flip a toggle switch and use the old round thermostat set to about 60*.

    Anyhow I remember when I was in the military we had these large infrared heaters that seemed to work really well. For a while when I was a door gunner in an aviation unit we had large hangers that we would open up to get the helocopters out, we would close the hanger doors and in a mater of a minute or two it was warm in there again because the heat was retained in everything in the hanger. I would imagine that switching over to this type of heating system would be more efficient as I wouldn't loose all my heat twice a day. I was looking at something like this.

    Link to Heater

    I was wondering if anyone out there has used both the traditional garage heaters and something like this to compare efficiency/performance. The only real draw back is that I may want to adjust the temp as I do now. I think it would take longer to go from cool normal storage to it being warm enough to work out there comfortably. Maybe the answer is to keep both. Use the IR to maintain a temp in the 40s and use the air heater to bump it up when I want to work. This time of year I am not out there much because how long it takes to heat. Couple times a month. I may use it more if it were warmer out there all the time. The big thing I don't like is that my slab gets so cold now that my feet get pretty cold unless wearing boots.

    Thanks


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    Re: Pole Barn Heater

    I have a non-insulated two car garage that is attached to the house with a lean to roof. Don't know the dimensions but there is about 6 feet of space around both cars when parked inside.

    I currently use a 115,000 BTU/hour forced air kerosine Reddy Heater:

    http://www.masterheaters.com/kero/

    You can get them with a thermostat. It sounds a little like a jet engine but warms the space from 25 degrees F to 60 degrees F in about 20 minutes. When I open the garage door to take out the snowblower or car, the unit reheats the space in about 3 minutes - I guess this is faster because everything in the garage is warm and radiating heat.

    The downsides include the noise and the carbon monoxide output. Since the garage isn't insulated and has venting for the roof there is no buildup of carbon monoxide per the carbon monoxide monitor I use at the same time.
    Bob
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  3. #3
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    Re: Pole Barn Heater

    I have a 24x26 garage up here in Canada, and it's insulated well.

    I installed a 60,000 BTU 10' tube heater similar to the one you posted but made by Calcana Industries.

    I have no backup, and keep the temp around 40 all the time. When I want to work it's easy to turn it up a little and it doesn't take long to get warmer.

    They are at least 40% more efficient than a regular heater or furnace and there is no standing pilot flame as they use an electronic ignitor and 115 volt thermostat.

    I used an air intake kit that brings combustion air in from outside, and the exhaust can also be vented out the side wall.

    Since the combustion air is coming from outside and there is no pilot flame they are extremely safe when you are painting or have other possibly explosive vapors in the shop.

    I'm very happy with my system.

    The really nice thing about them is that they heat everything,not just the air.

    Larry
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  4. #4
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    Re: Pole Barn Heater

    Quote Originally Posted by Blue One View Post
    I have a 24x26 garage up here in Canada, and it's insulated well.

    I installed a 60,000 BTU 10' tube heater similar to the one you posted but made by Calcana Industries.

    I have no backup, and keep the temp around 40 all the time. When I want to work it's easy to turn it up a little and it doesn't take long to get warmer.

    They are at least 40% more efficient than a regular heater or furnace and there is no standing pilot flame as they use an electronic ignitor and 115 volt thermostat.

    I used an air intake kit that brings combustion air in from outside, and the exhaust can also be vented out the side wall.

    Since the combustion air is coming from outside and there is no pilot flame they are extremely safe when you are painting or have other possibly explosive vapors in the shop.

    I'm very happy with my system.

    The really nice thing about them is that they heat everything,not just the air.

    Larry
    Would you say that this heats up your slab some and what is the recovery from when you open up the building on cold days? If it heats the objects in the building you don't loose that heat when an overhead door is opened. That is where I think I would get better efficiency. I noticed that it can be vented out the side wall which is good. That is how my current furnace is vented so if I did remove it I would be able to extend the existing ductwork and use that. I can't image that this would be a tough thing to install as gas, power and exhaust is already there. I did see that they make different length units. Is yours centrally located in the building? I would say that the back half of my shop is where I am 99% of the time if I am working out there as that is where my benches are and tools. The front part is more where I store things like my John Deere, ST1100 and 450ES. I did read that there are some minimum ceiling height requirements which I meet but I do have some free standing storage lockers in the shop area (some metal some wood) that I would likely need to stay away from.

  5. #5

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    Re: Pole Barn Heater

    I have a 30x36 well insulated garage with 10' ceilings and have a RobertsGordon Caribe radiant heater similar to the one posted as well. Also from Canada, so I keep my garage around 60 all winter and the costs are minimal with the heater. I used to keep it around 40 then warm it up when I was out there, but too many issues with condensation and other issues as well, so now it just stays fairly warm all the time with very little incremental costs. It is very efficient and installers around here actually recommend keeping the area warmer for the reasons I listed.

    The heater is great, runs for 5 maybe 10 minutes after removing a vehicle from the garage through the 16' door when temps are below -20F.

    Link to Heater

    Mine is located along one of the outside walls and is about 32' from the other end of the garage and it keeps the entire area quite comfortable. I also like the warmer concrete since I started leaving it set warmer all the time, snow and ice melt from vehicles dries up nicely now. There are minimum distances from objects that vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Check the install manaual at the link above for the minimum distances on mine (see page 22 of the manual). The distances above, and behind are minimal though. I have mine mounted at about a 45 deg angle.

    Mine uses a standard thermostat for control. I think you can wire it to use the 115V ones if you desire, but my garage was all prewired for the low voltage thermostat. I agree with Larry, not having a pilot light is a great thing too!
    Cory Strobel
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  6. #6
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    Re: Pole Barn Heater

    Quote Originally Posted by strobe View Post
    I have a 30x36 well insulated garage and have a RobertsGordon Caribe radiant heater similar to the one posted as well. Also from Canada, so I keep my garage around 60 all winter and the costs are minimal with the heater. I used to keep it around 40 then warm it up when I was out there, but too many issues with condensation and other issues as well, so now it just stays fairly warm all the time with very little incremental costs. It is very efficient and installers around here actually recommend keeping the area warmer for the reasons I listed.

    The heater is great, runs for maybe 5 minutes after removing a vehicle from the garage through the 16' door when temps are below -20.

    Link to Heater
    How big (rough length) of a heater do you have? Your garage is pretty close in size to what I am heating. Is it mounted in the middle of your shop? The best place for me to install it would possibly be in the center line of the shop. But my overhead door is there so I can't go all the way to the front. That should be fine though because as I mentioned I am in the back of the shop more. If that is the case I might be better off with something going across the the shop closer to the back. Plus the link I posted was for a 30' I think. This would likely be too big. I would probably be better off with a 20' or so unit. I don't think I want it too close to the side walls.

  7. #7
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    Re: Pole Barn Heater

    Look into waste oil heaters. if you change your oil in the car and the bike you will have plenty. I used one for years and they work very well. You just have to replace the filters about once a week. witch was not very costly...

  8. #8
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    Re: Pole Barn Heater

    Quote Originally Posted by Silver Bullit View Post
    Look into waste oil heaters. if you change your oil in the car and the bike you will have plenty. I used one for years and they work very well. You just have to replace the filters about once a week. witch was not very costly...
    I have thought about that but I really don't get that much waste oil in a year. Not enough to heat my shop. My ST gets new oil once a year as does the John Deere and 450ES. But that isn't that much. As for my truck, it doesn't get driven that much so 2 times a year tops. Then the only other vehicle that does get driven is the Jetta TDI. Well @ 10,000 mile oil change intervals it isn't changed very often. That and for the first 3 years the dealer covers all maint including oil changes so we will just do that. So I will only have a couple gallons a year. Then I use most of that starting brush fires out back. We get a lot of branches down so we have quite a few fires a year.

  9. #9

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    Re: Pole Barn Heater

    Quote Originally Posted by sennister View Post
    How big (rough length) of a heater do you have? Your garage is pretty close in size to what I am heating. Is it mounted in the middle of your shop? The best place for me to install it would possibly be in the center line of the shop. But my overhead door is there so I can't go all the way to the front. That should be fine though because as I mentioned I am in the back of the shop more. If that is the case I might be better off with something going across the the shop closer to the back. Plus the link I posted was for a 30' I think. This would likely be too big. I would probably be better off with a 20' or so unit. I don't think I want it too close to the side walls.
    I added some info to my original post that you may not have seen since I added it after I originally posted, but I have the 40,000 BTU model so it is 11' 6" long. I added the mount location to my original post, but for ease of reading it is mounted along one of the outside walls (minimum distance from the wall or about 4" from the wall). I don't think the actual length of these units is as important as the BTU output of them being right for your size of shop. I have no complaints at all no matter where I am in my garage with the temperature. It may be have been better to mount it in a more central location, but in my garage that is about the only place that worked for me.

  10. #10
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    Re: Pole Barn Heater

    Quote Originally Posted by strobe View Post
    I added some info to my original post that you may not have seen since I added it after I originally posted, but I have the 40,000 BTU model so it is 11' 6" long. I added the mount location to my original post, but for ease of reading it is mounted along one of the outside walls (minimum distance from the wall or about 4" from the wall. I don't think the actual length of these units is as important as the BTU output of them being right for your size of shop. I have no complaints at all no matter where I am in my garage with the temperature.
    I went back and read your original post. The one that I was looking at (and I am not sold on this brand or any other yet) did mention that it could be mounted at a 45* angle as you did your installation. I did read some about the minimum distances. It looks like I shouldn't go with the 75,000 BTU that I linked to. It is too long I think for my application unless I did a diagonal installation across the shop, but it also said I need 13' ceilings for that and mine are 12'. They make a 50,000 BTU version of the 20' unit that may be perfect as it needs 11' ceilings. The manufacture's web site also mentioned and showed a graph that explained how the unit will be hotter at the burner end than the exhaust end. This may work out well. If I put the burner over where my benches are (where I would want more heat) it would put the exhaust roughly where the existing furnace is and I can tie into that to vent it. This would mean that I would need about 20' of NG piping to install but I have done that in the past when I installed our NG dryer in the laundry room.

    www.sunstarheaters.com

    My current thermostats are set up for low voltage so I would likely continue using that.

    I like the idea of heating the slab when I am gone at work and there are no vehicles in there. My slab is always wet now and the snow just barely melts off of it. The slab is sloped to a center drain but I still get a lot of standing water in there this time of year.

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