Working in a sub-freezing garage throughout the icy grips of winter isn’t a pleasant experience. Maybe you’re woodworking, fixing a car, or tinkering with other projects, but soon, your hands become stiff from the cold, making it challenging to complete the task. Thankfully, you can safely add a propane heater to the garage for warmth.
Is it safe to run a Propane Heater Safe For in a Garage?
There are several types of propane heaters, but the general workings remain the same across the board. Propane heaters work similarly to methane gas – they feature a tank full of propane (in liquid form), which converts to gas when released.
Most propane heaters utilize a piezoelectric igniter to ignite the gas. Inside the system, a material (usually quartz crystal) develops an electric current under pressure.
The material sits in a mechanism that facilitates a hammer strike due to spring-loaded mechanisms. The strike produces a spark, which ignites the propane gas, producing heat.
Note: As long as the heater has proper ventilation, it’s incredibly safe to use, even in smaller garages. These heaters burn cleaner than other options, which translates to cleaner air since they don’t release carbon black or damaging chemicals.
Of course, there’s a fire risk if you position the heater too close to flammable items (paint, gasoline, paint thinners, etc.), but this is a risk with nearly any heater. Most modern propane heaters are packed with safety features to protect against hazards like overheat protection, tip over sensors, and low oxygen sensors, so the probability of these is low.
For example, let’s say the oxygen level in the room is far too low. With the oxygen sensor on some heaters, the system will automatically shut down, ensuring the carbon monoxide doesn’t build up to dangerous levels. Some models even feature carbon monoxide detectors, which, if triggered, will shut down the system immediately.
So, compared to other garage heaters, propane heaters are a remarkably safe option for heating your garage and other indoor spaces.
Do You Need Ventilation When Using A Propane Heater?
Proper ventilation is vital while using a propane heater. This isn’t an issue in an outdoor setting, where the heater has plenty of oxygen and fresh air. However, in your garage, airflow can be a problem.
A propane heater needs oxygen to “breathe.”
Note: If there isn’t proper ventilation, the system will eventually replace the oxygen in the room with carbon monoxide, which is very dangerous. So, you’ll need to provide plenty of ventilation.
Vented propane heaters feature direct vents outside, such as flues or exhaust tubes, so this isn’t a problem. However, portable propane heaters need fresh air via an open door or window. Alternatively, you could rig up a ventilation system with flues or exhaust tubes, although it might be easiest to open a door and window.
Remember, the larger the space you’re heating, the more fresh air you’ll need.
Propane Heater Safety Measures
Any heater presents some safety hazards due to its inherent nature, though some are more dangerous than others. As mentioned, propane heaters are safe for heating garages and other indoor spaces. However, they aren’t without safety risks. You must understand the risks and how to avoid them to lessen the probability of adverse side effects associated with them.
Related article: Kerosene Heater vs Propane Heaters
Type Of Propane Heater: Indoor or Outdoor?
Propane heaters are designed in one of two ways: for indoor use or outdoor use. While the difference may seem unimportant, choosing the correct option based on the application is essential. For garage use, you’ll need an indoor propane heater.
Outdoor propane heaters aren’t suitable for use in enclosed spaces, like a garage, as they can produce carbon monoxide as part of the combustion process. There’s plenty of ventilation in an outdoor setting, so the combustion gases don’t present a health risk.
However, these gases can build up in an enclosed space and cause carbon monoxide poisoning, which is incredibly dangerous.
Note: While you could add a vent to your garage while the heater runs, having the garage door open with the outdoor propane heater running is counterproductive– you’ll lose heat. So, it’s best to stick with an indoor heater.
Indoor propane heaters are designed to minimize or nearly eliminate carbon monoxide production, so they’re safe for indoor use. Since you’re using the heater in an enclosed space (the garage), look for a propane heater marked for indoor use.
When browsing for a space heater for your garage, look for models with multiple safety features. While you could get a base model without any safety add-ons, it’s best to be safe.
Most modern propane heaters feature various safety add-ons, like low oxygen shut-off and tip-over shut-off. These features help avoid fire and safety risks associated with carbon monoxide poisoning and spills/fires due to tipping over.
Some models even feature built-in carbon monoxide detectors, which trigger shut-off if the sensors detect high levels of this dangerous gas. These features can be life-saving, so it’s best to purchase a model with them.
If you plan on installing your propane heater as a fixed mount installation, you’ll need to plot the perfect location. Since these heaters present a fire risk, pick a spot in your garage that is away from combustible and flammable materials.
For example, if you store paint, gasoline, and other flammable materials on one side of the garage, position the heater on a different wall with plenty of distance between the two. Ensure there’s plenty of space around the heater, so nothing will constantly touch it.
In addition, avoid positioning it near pathways through your garage. So, if there’s a specific path you usually walk through your garage, ensure you safely place the heater out of the way. Consult an HVAC professional for guidance if you’re unsure where to put the heater.
Tip: Add insulation to your garage’s attic and exterior walls to help retain the propane heater’s warmth.
Additional Safety Measures
- UL Certification: This certification ensures the product has passed rigorous testing that verifies its safety and reliability.
- Carbon Monoxide Detector: Although some models come with built-in carbon monoxide detectors, installing a separate carbon monoxide detector in your garage doesn’t hurt. This way, you’ll have an extra layer of protection designed specifically to detect high levels.
- Never Leave It Unattended: Avoid leaving your propane heater alone, especially if you have pets or kids. Pets and kids might accidentally bump the heater while walking by, so it’s essential to always be in the space while it runs.
- Turn It Off If You Smell Something Strange: Although carbon monoxide is tasteless and odorless, propane is detectable. So, if you smell something strange, stop using the heater immediately and open the doors and windows in the space for ventilation. Check the heater for leaks.