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It’s a well-documented fact by now that I’m a giant sissy when it comes to cold weather in the shop. Luckily I live in Texas, and cold down here doesn’t take on the same bite as it might in someplace like upstate New York. Regardless, this year I’m looking into something like the Hero heater. It’s a forced-air unit and claims to easily heat a space the size of two-car garage. Okay Mr. Heater; you have my attention.

The Hero claims a 35,000 BTU-per-hour output with a cordless battery capacity of 8 hours use per charge. No cords and no propane refill per charge — this is already worth a look, but the fan noise, which Mr. Heater says is about 50 percent less than standard from other forced-air units, is enough to get us interested.

The street pricing here seems to run about $180, which is a small price to pay if it will push shop temperatures up enough that my extremities don’t feel frozen solid when I’m trying to work.

How do winter temperatures affect your shop work? Obviously it will be different for everyone depending on location, but what solutions do you recommend for Toolmongers as they go on working through the cold months?

Mr. Heater Hero [Website]
Street Pricing [Google Products]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]


18 Responses to Hero Heater

  1. Matt says:

    How do you figure this doesn’t need propane to operate?

  2. Sean O'Hara says:

    @Matt quite right sir. Copy paste error on my part. Good catch.

  3. Matt says:

    That’s too bad, ’cause that little bit had me really excited! Not sure I want a propane heater in an enclosed garage while working during the winter!

  4. Aaron says:

    Living in central Ontario Canada, the winter days range from -10C to -30C on average. My 2 car garage/shop is insullated to R14 walls and R20 ceiling. The doors have about R5, so my heat loss is out the doors mostly. I heat with a 240 volt 4000 watt heater. Its got a 160cfm fan and its noisy (lots of vibration). It does an okay job for the most part, but on the really cold days I wish I had something bigger.

  5. Jerry says:

    Glad I read comments before posting. The ‘no propane’ really got me excited. I was ready to buy. Someone mentioned using propane in a garage – in my case, it’s less of an issue – eaves open into garage with numerous screened vents. So, I have been using a portable propane heater for about 2 years. It’s better than no heat but not as good as I hoped. The fact that it has no fan to push the air to the side means the heat just goes straight up unless I am within about a foot of it.
    Many times I have thought about adding a small fan to the unit but I will certainly be looking at Mr. Heater.

  6. PutnamEco says:

    Kerosene is much cheaper. 12 hours on a 20 pound tank for the Mr. Heater, that’s about $12 a day in my neck of the woods. I have a variety of heaters both radiant convection,and catalytic, propane,kerosene, and white gas. If I’m in the shop for the day, I’m firing up a kerosene convection heater. If I’m just doing a quickie 1/2 hour job. I’ll use a radiant propane heater. or if I just want to keep my hands warm, I have one of those small electric ceramic heaters on my bench. I’ve also been known to use a heat lamp in a clamp on lamp holder to take a light chill off.

  7. Scott says:

    Propane @ 3.55 is around 40.00 per million BTU. Electric at .09 per KW is 23.00 per million btu. Here its much cheaper to run electric heat.

  8. Bemis says:

    I clicked the link to find out how the eff you’re getting 35kBTU x 8hrs (280kBTU!) from a BATTERY… also you can see the freaking propane input in the pic…

  9. rg says:

    I’ve got a kerosene/diesel fuel Reddy construction heater. Kerosene is the most expensive way to heat my uninsulated garage. Diesel is a little cheaper, but after doing the math, electricity is the cheapest. A proper natural gas unit heater would be the least expensive fuel, but I don’t have NG running to my detached garage currently.

    Unfortunately, when it gets much beyone -10C, my 4800W (~16000 BTU) 240V heater can’t keep up, so I get the diesel going (50,000 BTU), and use the electric heater to help it. Here in Edmonton, -35C to -45C winter days are not uncommon.

    I’ve found the downside to these unvented combustion heaters (regardless of fuel), is not really the carbon monoxide — they produce negligbile amounts if the heater is properly tuned, but always use a CO detecter anyway — but the huge amounts of water vapour they put in the air. Unfortunately, this will instantly condense on any cold surface, i.e., everything, including your metal tools, the uninsulated walls (where it freezes), etc.

    To cope with it, when I’m finished working, I try to thoroughly air out the garage for about 30 minutes, window and doors wide open, before I lock it up.

    Aside from those problems, all unvented combustion heaters produce other nasty byproducts, which probably aren’t very healthy to breathe in the long run. So I try to use my non-electric heater sparingly and avoid it when I can. Also don’t forget sawdust suspended in the air is highly explosive, and anything with a spark or open flame could blow you sky-high.

    For a woodworking shop, the safest heater is an electric unit heater with an enclosed motor. Otherwise, a proper NG *vented* unit heater is the most economical, along with good insulation.

  10. dreamcatcher says:

    Two years ago I insulated my garage and used an open flame 80k btu propane burner for heat: it kept me warm while in the shop but caused lots of condensation…not to mention it went thorough LP cylinders rather fast, and I had to shut it down at night as well as when the sawdust got thick.

    Last year I drywalled the garage (made an unexpectedly big difference in light and warmth) and installed a 110k btu wood stove: it kept me warm and kept the garage dry and I could pack it full for the night but my insurance man didn’t care for it.

    This year I installed a wall mounted direct vent (closed flame) 90k LP unit that is plumbed into my LP pig: so far so good – it appears to be efficient and keeps the garage dry and above freezing at all times. Also it was free so can’t beat that.


  11. jeff_williams says:

    Menards had it on sale for $150 recently but it now went back up to $190. Perhaps others will have it on sale for a similar price in the future.

  12. DoItRite says:

    Which is more expensive? Price per BTU? Gallon or KWH or CF?
    Here’s the best chart that I’ve seen for a long time. Lets you compare prices and efficiency and different prices:


    I use kerosene, LP gas, electric and wood, depending on the costs and if I’m occupying the space at the time. Unvented LP gas can get very humid in a hurry, and all of that water in the air will end up as frost on the inside of the windows as soon as you turn it off at night and let it get cold again. I won’t heat the shop if I’m not in it.

    By the way, if you have a hard time finding good clear and pure kerosene for a reasonable price, check at the airport for jet fuel, Seriously – it is the most refined and pure form of kerosene available, and a couple of the providers will let me buy it by the drum if I want, for the same price as the jets.

  13. Javier says:

    I to live in Texas, southeast. I welcome the cold especially after this past summer. I dont use any heat, to much in the shop that is just waiting for a spark not to mention shavings and rags. I shed my layers about 15 minutes after I get started. I do however recommend thermal undergarments.

  14. Gary Z says:

    Two years ago I installed an electric heater in my garage. I picked it up at Northern Tool. For my Texas garage it works well. All walls and overhead door are insulated so it is economical. Any setting above low will drive you out of the shop. However when I lived in Minnesota I installed a used Reznor 85000 btu ceiling mounted furnace. It would get the temp up to 75 degrees in no time and maintain it. Being from the South, I kept the temp in the garage at 55 degrees when not using it which was warm enough to keep the cars warm and the ice from building up on the car. Cost was a factor, it added about $25 to my heat bill each month.

  15. DaveD says:

    I’m still working on getting my block garage insulated (in Ohio). I think I may just insulate the roof since that’s where I lose a lot of heat. I currently use a propane Mr. Heater convection unit and the problem, as mentioned above, is the moisture in the air and condensation. I’m considering building a solar heat collector. It is essentially the same as having many South facing windows. The logic seems sound and it wouldn’t be too expensive.

  16. cyberranger says:

    Virtually any product Mr Heater puts out always has an “altitude” limit, i.e., “not intended for use over 5000’/1500m altitude”. This doesn’t say a thing about altitude. I’ve avoided many of the products for this reason alone.

  17. Dave says:

    Cy, I’ve used a number of Mr. Heater products throughout the winter at over 7000 feet altitude.

  18. Dr Bob says:

    Here in MN, in the winter I wear some Zero-zone insulated coveralls when I do stuff in the garage or machine shed. In winter, I do occasional repair work of the snow blower or change oil in the vehicles, but other work gets deferred until spring, or brought inside the house. I do use mechanics gloves except when I need more feeling and agility than with gloves on.

    Last winter, the transmission in the snowblower literally wore out, so I removed the gearbox outside in the unheated garage, then disassembled and degunked the gearbox in the unheated shop, then brought the gearbox inside and once I got new gears, reassembled it and repacked it with grease on my desk inside.

    Neither garage nor shop, nor machine shed, nor shop are insulated so heating these spaces even temporarily is an exercise in futility.

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