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Electric Radiant Heat in the Workshop Review

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Review by JBrow posted 01-19-2016 02:44 AM 5353 views 4 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Electric Radiant Heat in the Workshop Review No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

Problem. Prior to 2013, I heated the attached 2 car garage 450 square foot workshop with open flame heat. I started out with propane, but it was loud and consumed a lot fuel. I switched to tall style kerosene heater and stuck with it for about 5 years.

The kerosene heater did a great job keeping the shop warm, but the fumes would enter the house even with weather stripping on the tight closing door. And then there was purchasing fuel; it seemed that every two to three weeks I had to make a trip to the gas station in the cold to purchase 10 gallons of fuel. Additionally, I did not like cleaning up the occasional inevitable spills and the heater took up floor space. In January and February in the mid-west, I probably spent about $40 – $60 per month, depending of kerosene prices, weather, and my time in the shop.

One problem that I did not notice was excess moisture in the shop. Open flames produce a lot of water from the burning of fuel. However, I occasionally opened the garage door to get rid of fumes, so that probably saved me problems with my projects.

Solution. In 2013, I was watching “Hometime” where they installed Electric Radiant Heaters in a storage/work area. I looked up the company, “Radiant Electric Heat” on the internet, spoke with the company, and placed my order.

Materials. I purchased three 240 volt Electric Radiant Heaters for ceiling mounting, model 945CL-240-2W. These heaters produce 3414 BTUs and consumed 1000 watts at 4.23 Amps and measure 46 (length) x 10 (width) x 1.125 (thickness). While I call these units heaters, I believe they are actually lamps that produce light in the infrared region of the spectrum rather than in the visible light spectrum.

Each unit arrived with stand-off brackets for mounting to the ceiling. I also purchased their Mechanical Double Pole line voltage thermostat. The heaters can be found at

http://electricheat.com/products/ceiling-heater-surface-mounted/

I also purchase 10-2 electric cable, a 240 switch rated at 30 amps, and a 20 amp/240 circuit breaker from the home center.

Installation. I planned the layout and cut ¾” plywood onto which I mounted the heaters. I installed the plywood on the ceiling at each heater location. I entered the attic and ran 10-2 electric cable to each heater location. I brought the cable from the heaters into the box for the thermostat, from there to the box for the switch, and from there to the load center. The heaters were daisy chained.

I installed the stand-off heater mounting brackets. Then the fun began. The junction box is mounted on the ceiling side of the heater. I made electrical connections at each heater with the heater hanging close to the ceiling while leaving just enough room to make the connections. This was a real challenge given the stiffness of 10 gauge wires. I managed to make the connection and then replace the junction box cover. The heater was secured to the stand-off brackets.

The thermostat and switch were wired and the circuit breaker installed. I powered up the circuit and held my breath, as I do whenever I to do electric work. Everything worked and I passed the county’s electrical inspection.

Performance. I really like the heaters. The radiant heaters use infrared light to heat objects in the workshop, which then radiate heat into the workshop. As I write this review, the outdoor temperature is 10 degrees, and the workshop is warm. It does take a little time to warm the shop when I first begin work, but no longer than it did with the kerosene heater. The units are quiet and I can use the thermostat to increase or decrease the shop temperature. Even though the thermostat has an off position, I prefer the separate switch to shut the heaters off when I am done for the day. That way, I know they are off.

When I purchased the heaters, I was uncertain whether three heaters would be adequate. The company did a heat load calculation using shop parameters I provided, including my desire to keep the shop at around 60-65 degrees. However, I planned the circuit to handle 4 heaters. That way I could add another heater to the existing circuit by simply replacing breaker.

Best of all, no more trips on a cold day to buy kerosene, no more spills, no more fumes, and I found winter time floor space.

Cost. The cost of the heaters and thermostat with shipping was about $1200. Electric supplies from the home center probably added another $100.

The 3 heaters consume 3 kilowatt hours for every hour they are on. For me, that is less than $0.25 per hour. Therefore, the heaters can operate 120 hours before I spend what I was spending on kerosene.

A hidden cost was the insulation I installed in the garage attic back when I was heating with kerosene. Insulation in the attic and exterior walls and the insulated garage door are a critical to the performance of the heaters.

Maintenance. Dust can accumulate in the heater, on top of the lamp and under the top of the lamp frame. The company recommended that any dust be blown off the lamps by directing compressed air through the vent slots as needed. The lamps get hot to the touch and probably would cause a burn with prolonged contact. I am not sure they get hot enough to combust wood dust. Nonetheless, I blast them with air from time to time.

Problems. The only issue I had was making the electric connections to the heaters. The designer obviously did not think about how one could re-attach the heater’s junction box when working just inches from the ceiling. The junction box is held in place by a single philips screw that is driven from the top, right where the ceiling happens to be. I used patience, a wrench, and a philips bit to secure the junction box in place. My stubby screw driver was too long. Although the problem would have been easier with 12 gauge wire, it still would have been a challenge.

I sent an email to the company recommending a design change, but suspect it went into their bit bucket.

Recommendation. I recommend these heaters. I doubt that these heaters are saving any money, but the convenience and performance of the units made it a worthwhile upgrade for me.




View JBrow's profile

JBrow

1327 posts in 826 days



12 comments so far

View Mike Hillman's profile

Mike Hillman

30 posts in 1635 days


#1 posted 01-19-2016 03:41 AM

Thanks for your review. I have been wondering about this type of heat for some time.

-- Mike

View Chubbz's profile

Chubbz

34 posts in 1149 days


#2 posted 01-19-2016 02:01 PM

Nice Review! Seems like a very safe option and a nice alternative if someone does not have access to gas.

View ChuckC's profile

ChuckC

827 posts in 2841 days


#3 posted 01-19-2016 02:12 PM

I’ve struggled with heating a cold shop too. You are right about the moisture you get with gas.

Regarding your installation issue, I suspect they wanted you to making the electrical connections before mounting to the ceiling.

View Douglas's profile

Douglas

423 posts in 2466 days


#4 posted 01-19-2016 07:08 PM

I have a detached 2-car garage shop, about 420q ft. I insulated the whole thing, with moisture barrier, fiberglass, and covered with OSB. After that, I installed a big “window unit” combo AC/electric heater, which does a great job for cooling and heating. I also added a portable electric oil-filled radiant heater set to “no freeze”, so it goes on at 38° and off at 50°. By itself, it keeps the shop at about 40° even during the -2° weather we’ve had for the last week, and then turning on the wall unit get is up to 60° in an hour. It’s been a great solution, and easy to do. Except the insulation, which was a PITA to do. But really, the whole secret of this is the insulation.

-- Douglas in Chicago - https://dcwwoodworks.com

View Ken90712's profile

Ken90712

17547 posts in 3095 days


#5 posted 01-19-2016 11:23 PM

Nice review and Thx for all the detailed information. Well done, and congrats on staying warm.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View BurlyBob's profile

BurlyBob

5247 posts in 2171 days


#6 posted 01-20-2016 12:47 AM

Those sound real good. I’m going to have to give them a little thought. Thanks for this review.

View JBrow's profile

JBrow

1327 posts in 826 days


#7 posted 01-20-2016 02:51 AM

Douglas,

Sounds like a great set up. Not only are you comfortable in the winter, but in the summer also.

You said it was easy to do, but it sounds to me like a good bit of planning and work was involved. But you probably now have only a vague recollection of those efforts – and you reap the rewards every day you are in the shop. Very nice!

View ibewjon's profile

ibewjon

37 posts in 2699 days


#8 posted 01-21-2016 02:26 AM

i had electric heat in my shop, a 4kw in wall heater with circulation fan, which uses 4 kw per hour of runtime. this fall i installed a 3/4 ton mini split heat pump / air conditioner. my shop is about 350 sq. feet, with a 10 foot ceiling. it has a seer of 28 for the ac, and 12 for the heat pump. LG states that it will heat efficiently down to minus 14. i also live near chicago, and my shop has 6 inch walls and a 12 inch insulated ceiling. it has been heating my shop down to minus 5 this last week. as a union electrician for almost 40 years, i have the metering, and hour meters on the unit, and it uses about 1/2 kw per hour of runtime, and puts out about 3 kw per hour. my heating cost has been about 60 cents per day, and it is also an air conditioner to keep humidity down during our humid summers, and make summer in the shop very comfortable. next summer will be a nice time in the shop. i am able to keep the shop at 60 degrees, and for about $100, the is an internet card available, and i can change the temp before i leave work, and have a warmer shop when i get home. this did not cost much more than the radiant heat, and is cheaper to run. NO duct work is required, and this is a wall mounted unit. just watch for a high efficiency rating, there are many different ratings available. there are also more brands available, and many places to buy. ibewjwjon

View JBrow's profile

JBrow

1327 posts in 826 days


#9 posted 01-21-2016 02:33 PM

ibewjon,

Both Douglas and you mentioned it and I mentioned it. I want to underscore the point yet again. Insulation is critical if the workshop is to retain the heat or cool dumped into it. Insulation, though not fun to install, is relatively cheap and will just keep on doing its job.

A heat pump operating down to -14 degrees is impressive.

I do have questions regarding the mini-split system. Since it serves a dusty environment, what steps have you taken to keep dust out of the unit? Also, how much maintenance is required? I suspect maintenance is mostly filter replacement and perhaps cleaning the heat exchanger. The dusty environment and concern over maintenance or other problems associated with the dusty environment kept me from considering this shop heating/cooling solution. Thanks.

View Douglas's profile

Douglas

423 posts in 2466 days


#10 posted 01-21-2016 02:44 PM

Well, for my wall heater/AC unit, I regularly clean out the dust, both by blowing out the filter and vacuuming the exchanger.

-- Douglas in Chicago - https://dcwwoodworks.com

View Combo Prof's profile

Combo Prof

3329 posts in 1183 days


#11 posted 01-21-2016 02:54 PM

Could one install small electric fans that could be turned on to blow off the dust (to be sucked into your dust colection system) or would that be impractical?

-- Don K, (Houghton, Michigan)

View ibewjon's profile

ibewjon

37 posts in 2699 days


#12 posted 01-31-2016 02:23 AM

I really don’t have much dust in the shop. A few years ago I upgraded my two cloth bag dust collecter with the dust dog pleated filter from jet, which I retrofitted to the machine I had, not need for a new machine. I also installed 5” sheet metal duct work around the entire shop and hooked up all machines, so I don’t have to keep moving the hose around. I had considered a ceiling hung air filter, but I don’t think I will need it. So far, I am very happy with the results and the lower heat bill. Ibewjon

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