(bright jazz music) – Well today I wanna talk a little bit about heating solutions. Now, you probably know that I haven’t needed
heat for a long time. I lived in Arizona, and before
that Southern California. So when I got to Colorado, I
had my work cut out for me. I really had to do a lot of research to find out what the current options are and which option is best for me in this particular situation. But I learned a lot in the process, and I thought it might be fun to share some of that
information with you, because there’s a lot of options. First up is forced air
heaters that run on gas, either natural gas, propane,
kerosene, or diesel. These are pretty efficient,
but do require a gas supply, an exhaust, and preferably
a clean air intake and a sealed combustion chamber to prevent any major issues
from the presence of wood dust or finishing fumes in the air. Next up is forced air electric heaters. Similar in concept to the gas versions, these units rely solely on
electricity to generate heat. While easy to install,
the obvious drawback is the increased electric bill. Then there’s infrared tube heat. For the first couple of
days of my research period, I became convinced that infrared was the only way to go. It has an enclosed combustion chamber, makes very little noise, and doesn’t blow any air around the shop. The infrared energy, just like the sun, is unique in that it warms
the objects and bodies instead of warming the air. In fact, you can stand
in front of one of these just after turning it on and immediately feel
the heat on your skin. But the more research I did, the more I realized that this might not be the best solution for me. First, the tubes are large and they have to cover a
fairly significant area of the shop to be effective. Second, this type of heat can
result in hot and cold spots. At least while it’s bringing
the room up to temperature, you could easily end up with
a hot face and cold feet. But those who have these units installed seem to really love them, so your mileage may vary. How about pellet and wood stoves? Now, these are probably
the most old-school option, and you can simply drop a
big old oven in the shop and start burning stuff. Obviously, you need to exhaust it as well. These things can really
crank out the heat, but you do have to keep
stocked up on fuel. And if you’re concerned
about kids or pets, this could be a big safety issue. Also, there could be insurance
and code ramifications for installing something like this in a residential garage space. Next up, ductless mini-split heat pumps. Now this one is near and dear to my heart since I’ve been running these in Arizona for the last five to six years, though I can count on one hand the number of times that I’ve actually used the heat setting. These units consist of an
outside compressor unit and an indoor head unit
that blows warm or cold air into the space. They’re very energy
efficient and super quiet. As a heater, they aren’t very aggressive and they generally won’t work very well once the temperature drops
below a certain point. And finally, there’s
radiant in-floor heating. After all of my research, I have to say that this, in my opinion, is the gold standard in
comfortable, efficient heating. It works by pumping warm water
through tubes in the floor. A properly-installed radiant system will heat the entire space from below, evenly and without the need for extremely high
temperature heat sources. But it generally does require installation prior to pouring the slab. Now there are ways to install it in a new subfloor on top of the slab, but that’s a long ways off for me. So even though I think
it’s the best solution, it’s just not practical right now. Now, obviously there’s
a lot of other options available to woodworkers, but these seem to be the most popular and accessible options. So what did I wind up doing? Well, I went with the easiest thing first. Now, I brought with me
a Mitsubishi mini-split ductless heat pump. I thought if we installed
this, let’s see how it works. It was a little bit
undersized for this space, but I figured hey, if
it does any heat at all it’s probably gonna be decent. And then I could add a supplemental heater to bring the temperature up, and then let the mini-split
keep it up to temperature. Well, the problem was
the installation itself. In order to get this thing installed here, we had to put the compressor
on the front porch. And man, was that an eyesore. I thought we could live with it, and we figured hey, it’s for the business, let’s just do it. And after a couple of weeks, we just decided no, that’s bad. And unfortunately we wasted
money on that install and wound up taking the
whole thing out again. Now, there is one more location where I might be able
to put that compressor, but it’s a lot more work. It’s gonna cost a lot
more money to install because it’s further away and will likely involve
busting up some concrete to get all the tubes and everything that need to go, and the power that needs
to go to the compressor. So that is a future thing. But we had the dang thing installed and then had it taken out. So I had to go to plan B. Plan B was a gas-powered forced air unit. Now, these seem like they would
be pretty easy to install, but I had an HVAC company come out and we looked at the situation, and unfortunately where my gas lines are means that there’s gonna be a lot of work to be able to connect the gas line properly to the unit. Also, again, the whole eyesore factor. The positioning of this garage means that the vent would have to go out toward the front of the house, near the front porch. So again, I’m trying not
to recreate the situation I just created with that mini-split. So I kind of pulled back for a minute, especially because the
bid we received for it was over $5,000. Now, of course I would go to
a couple different contractors and see if we couldn’t get a
much better price than that. But this was a trustworthy HVAC person who’s actually worked on
other things on this house, and I don’t know, I was
a little bit surprised. But the bottom line was the eyesore factor and it just was cost-prohibitive. So I figured let’s shelve that idea and move onto the next option. So where I finally wound up was pretty much the
path of least resistance in terms of installation and cost, and that’s forced air electric. Now, the big drawback with this is power costs a lot of money, right? So my electric bill is
definitely gonna go up. But I could get these units installed, have the shop warmed up, and that means I can actually work, which is the thing that makes the money that pays the bills anyway. So for now, I think this
is a really good solution. And let me show you what I have here. So I have two different models made by the same company
called Fahrenheat. The one behind me is 7,500 watts. That’s pretty darn powerful. And the one over here is 5,000. Now, they’re actually configurable to different wattages. So I think the 7,500 could be
configured for 3,750 watts, and the 5,000 could also
be dropped down to 2,500 depending on your needs. So I had an electrician
come in, wire it up for me just to make sure it’s nice and safe. And I have them hung in such a way that they’re trying to create sort of a circular pattern
of air around the shop, and they work in unison with each other. Now given the location,
as high as they are it’s about 11 feet to the ceiling, I’m gonna need to add some ceiling fans to help push down the air. Because right now, a lot
of the heat, of course, is gonna stay sort of in
a pocket at the ceiling. So we do need some air
mixing to make this work. But even as they are right
now, it works pretty darn well. The cost for these, about
400 for the 7,500 watt unit, and I think about 250 for this guy. So with the cost of the electrician, I actually was able to
help the electrician to save on money. I like to do that when
people work on the house. I’m like, “Hey, you need a helper? “If it saves me money,
I’ll help you today.” So these were installed, overall I think we’re
looking at maybe 1,500 bucks for the total investment for installation and the cost of the units. So performance-wise, I’m extremely
happy with the two units. Basically, first thing in the morning I come in, turn them on. No matter what the
temperature is in the shop, within about 45 minutes, hour at the most, I’ve got a comfortable
working temperature. Usually I come out in a
hooded jacket like this, and then within 10 or 15
minutes I’m taking this off because it’s getting too warm. So I do have to climb up the ladder to reach those thermostats, which is a huge pain in the butt. But I have read online there are solutions for adding an external thermostat that we could then run down the wall, and then I don’t have to
worry about the ladder. I didn’t do a shut-off at the unit. If I really need to shut them off, I can do that at the circuit breaker because it’s so easily accessible. But when I do the thermostat, I may consider either putting
in a little plug module there or some kind of a switch or something. But right now, this is simple, it works really well, and it
definitely heats the shop. Now when we talked about the
different types of heaters, we talked about infrared being one that warms all the objects
first and then the air, and this type of heater being
something that warms the air and then eventually the objects warm up. So you might be wondering
if I open a garage door, which I actually do every morning to be able to take my son to school, how much cold air comes in? How much hot air do we lose? I have no way of quantifying that, but ultimately just opening it real quick, getting into the car, shutting it, and doing
that again 15 minutes later doesn’t really seem to have any sort of impact that I can feel. Obviously, air is gonna exchange. If you keep that door
open for a long time, it’s gonna be problem. But I don’t really see it
being super problematic to open it quickly and
then lower it again. Ultimately, once everything
is up to temperature in here and the floor is a little warmer, the walls are warmer,
the tools are all warmer, opening and closing a door isn’t really gonna just
suddenly chill everything. It may cause the heaters to
stay on a little bit longer, but I don’t think that’s
that big of a deal. It’s a garage, right? It’s a shop, so we’re not
gonna be super picky about it like we might be inside a house. So, so far, so good. And the final question
is the electric bill. Now, we haven’t had these
things running long enough for me to give you that perspective, and I’ll certainly let you know as soon as our first bill comes in because it’s probably gonna hurt. But ultimately, again,
this was just a factor of how quickly can I
get myself back to work. Because if I don’t work,
I don’t make money. So you have to sort of do
a cost-benefit analysis and figure out if it’s worth it. Ultimately, in the long run we
might do something different, but for now this is
gonna get the job done. So next time, you may’ve already noticed
we have new lights. Next time, we’ll talk
about that installation. (gentle guitar music)