Monday, February 11, 2019

A comfortable shop in winter

Compared to many areas, our winter temperatures in Portland are quite mild, highs averaging in the mid forties during the day with lows in the mid thirties at night, but I still struggle to be comfortable in my garage workshop at this time of the year.  The cold air return comes through the garage which keeps it about 10 degrees warmer than the outside temperature, but this is still too cold to be comfortable.  It's a three car garage (that never sees a car) which makes space heating difficult and expensive.  Most of my time is spent around my bench and I have thought about enclosing this space but the layout of the garage isn't suitable for this.  What to do?

For some years, I have been eyeing this quartz radiant heater from Lee Valley.  They say it is a top of the line commercial product and its price of $319 reflects that.  I decided to give it a try and the results have far exceeded my expectations.  I bought the smaller one because it has the same output and has an eight by ten footprint, just right for my bench and surrounding area.  Here are pictures of the unit and its footprint with the lights turned off to show its coverage:

 It's only 15 1/2" by 4" and it does cover the area claimed.  You can mount it safely as I have because the heat is radiant and directionalized.  It's mounted high because it is best not to look directly into it.  I tend to work from the opposite side of the bench and it feels like standing in the sun.

It's hard to believe, but I am comfortable working in the shop when the ambient temperature is forty degrees.  I think it's because the benchtop is warm, the tools are warm and my hands are warm.  It's also a really good environment for glue-ups.  I also like the fact that when it gets up to the high forties I can open the garage door and work in natural light.  Right now I am doing some carpentry projects and this is a great feature.

It's too early to tell how durable it is, but I am really happy with this heater.


  1. Andy,

    Thanks, I've been thinking about doing the same to my shop. It may be too late for this Winter, I figure one more cold spell then the rush to Summer heat but for sure before next November. The older I get the less cold tolerant I am.


  2. Glad to hear it has helped.

    I ended up having insulation blown in all the garage walls, roof and putting insulation on the garage doors. These two things greatly helped me control the cold and heat.