Are space heaters safe?

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Forum topic by newbiewoodworker posted 09-14-2010 03:28 AM 6525 views 0 times favorited 32 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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668 posts in 3033 days

09-14-2010 03:28 AM

I may very well pickup a space heater on the way back from an appointment tommorrow. But my question is: Are oil filled heaters safe for use in a shop? Will they warm an uninsulated 1 car garage? The size is 11×24, would one suffice?

Also, are they cool to the touch… or do I have to worry about getting burned by one(so I can figure out where to position it, so while planing a board I wont end up cooking a “Rump Roast”... :O


-- "Ah, So your not really a newbie, but a I betterbie."

32 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8547 posts in 3854 days

#1 posted 09-14-2010 03:33 AM

since they are space HEATERS, I can only assume it also gets hot ;)

I have a space heater (electric) and it’s hung from the wall so that I won’t accidently bump it, touch it, or knock it over something that might want to catch fire. just remember not to use any solvents (finishes/mineral spirits/etc) near it, the vapor could easily start an unwanted BBQ party.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Quixote's profile


206 posts in 3844 days

#2 posted 09-14-2010 03:34 AM

Yes, maybe, maybe not, no, yes.


-- I don't make sawdust...I produce vast quantities of "Micro Mulch."

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668 posts in 3033 days

#3 posted 09-14-2010 04:43 AM

I am refering to one of these.

-- "Ah, So your not really a newbie, but a I betterbie."

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18396 posts in 3882 days

#4 posted 09-14-2010 04:50 AM

Herer in WaterWorld, Western WA, 10 watts per sq foot is a good number for insluated room. It may make a nice little spot to warm up, but it will not heat the space.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View snowdog's profile


1166 posts in 4189 days

#5 posted 09-14-2010 02:25 PM

I use a torpedo to bring the shop up to temp then a hanging electric heater to keep it warm. The electric heater is a new addition and has not yet been put through the zero degree test. This winter will be the true test. The torpedo worked for me, I just had to shut it off after 10 min due to the fumes. Good luck.

I don’t thing your heater will heat your shop, but it depends on how cold it gets

-- "so much to learn and so little time"..

View Toolz's profile


1004 posts in 3948 days

#6 posted 09-14-2010 03:59 PM

In the winter I heat my shop (22’x44’) with a torpedo heater to bring the temp up to about 55F. It has a thermostat and cuts off when it reaches the desired temp. I also have a 220V electric heater that I place a fan in front of to circulate heated air. The torpedo come on about 10 minutes every hour.

-- Larry "Work like a Captain but Play like a Pirate!"

View TheDane's profile


5552 posts in 3869 days

#7 posted 09-14-2010 04:13 PM

I have a Fahrenheat 5000 Watt Unit Heater ( ) that I am quite happy with. I considered other options, but IMHO, electric was the cleanest and safest for my situation.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View helluvawreck's profile


32087 posts in 3073 days

#8 posted 09-14-2010 04:24 PM

All I have is a space heater in my office at the plant but outside my office in the plant there is no heat. At home I have a space heater in my shop. We don’t have cold weather but about two or three months since we’re in North GA. I would not use a space heater in the house especially if there were children or pets that could knock it over. I know that most of them will cut off if knocked over but I still don’t trust them if no one is right with them.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View dbhost's profile


5767 posts in 3438 days

#9 posted 09-14-2010 04:53 PM

I have one that I use in my 2 car garage. Will it keep up with an uninsulated garage? That all depends on just how leaky the building is, and how cold it gets where you are I guess. BUT… in my 2 car garage, prior to insulating last winter, my shop heater was able to keep up with a Texas winter, windy sub freezing days without door seals and my shop would still stay in the 70’s.

I am in a 2 car garage, but a small one. (18×20), so even if you are in a colder climate, you SHOULD still be okay with it since you are minus about a third of the square footage.

As far as are they hot. Yeah, they are hot. But not enough to cook your rump roast as it were… I can lay my hand on top of mine with it running at high heat no problem.

I find that a small box fan on low, and I suspect now that I have an ambient air filter, would be sufficient to move the air all the way around the shop so you don’t have hot and cold spots. Except for maybe by the overhead door.

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View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3189 days

#10 posted 09-14-2010 07:29 PM

I have one of the oil filled space heaters. As a single source they don’t heat enough for one to stand alone. You may want to use 2 of them to make a comfortable temperature to work in. I first bought mine for the chicken house, at 0 degrees it kept the chicken house 20 degrees warmer than the outside temp. They are warm to the touch but won’t burn you. I had no problems with dust on the heater causing problems. Depending on where you live you may want to check into something with more BTU’s to be more economical to heat the shop.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18396 posts in 3882 days

#11 posted 09-14-2010 09:26 PM

I have installed a lot of unit heaters of the type TheDane recommends. IMO, they are the best style for heating shops if yoiu are going with electric. That style comes for gas and hot water systems too.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View NathanAllen's profile


376 posts in 3350 days

#12 posted 09-14-2010 10:40 PM

That one is safe, but won’t do much to heat an uninsullated garage. The other down side is they are expensive to run, figure $20-$30 a month to run a few hours a day.

Your best bet is if you have a natural gas service pipe located nearby that you can have a plumber tap into to install a wall or ceiling mounted unit. The blue flame versions will throw off enough heat, but will smell, cause some extra moisture in the air and are a risk of explosion. Not to understate the risk, but all three are a pretty minor risk.

The next step up is a direct vent natural gas heater, which I use. They minimuze the main three risks of using gas around wood working and still keep the biggest two advantages; cheap to run and effective.

Beyond insullation and drywall or other wall enclosure you’re probably going to need around 20k btu/hr worth of heat to keep working through the late fall and winter.

View newbiewoodworker's profile


668 posts in 3033 days

#13 posted 09-14-2010 11:04 PM

My father is worried about a space heater starting a fire… so I think I may go electric baseboard, its about the same price per 4ft segment…. and then I can attach a thermostat..

We dont have Natural Gas over here in HickTown USA….

IF we dont sell the house(divorce) I am going to insulate.. but, not until I am certain my money will go to use for ME.. not the next owners…. Even the workbench can be removed… and it will unless it increases the houses value by more than $200(about what I have into it…)

-- "Ah, So your not really a newbie, but a I betterbie."

View kosta's profile


946 posts in 3561 days

#14 posted 09-26-2010 06:25 AM

I got a heater and it does get hot when I use it. I dont have enough power going to my shop so I cant run my heater and my tablesaw at the same time its one or the other. The most important thing when your using a space heater is dont get dust on it and in it. If your in a garage you dont want to put gas cans within 10ft of your heater. As long as you pay attention to whats going on you wont have any problems

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18396 posts in 3882 days

#15 posted 09-27-2010 05:07 AM

Do not put gas cans in the shop at all!! Fumes can collect up to 18” deep. Above that is considered non-hazardous.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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