Shop heating question

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Forum topic by Bill Szydlo posted 02-28-2012 07:31 PM 2442 views 0 times favorited 43 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Bill Szydlo

55 posts in 2108 days

02-28-2012 07:31 PM

Topic tags/keywords: shop heat

I am considering building a separate shop building and initially am considering in floor radiant heat (concrete floor in MN). Another option would be electric, radiant ceiling panels and I am curious if anyone has any experience with this type of heating? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. In my current shop I have a ceiling mounted direct vent forced air heater which works ok (shop size approximately 400sq ft) but the new shop will be 800 sq ft and I am looking for an economical way to heat it.
Thanks in advance for any advice,

43 replies so far

View pintodeluxe's profile


4825 posts in 2234 days

#1 posted 02-28-2012 07:37 PM

I have heard that the stand-alone PTAC electric heat pumps do a good job. They are much more affordable than central heating.
Efficiency may be an issue for you in MN though.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View dbhost's profile


5590 posts in 2653 days

#2 posted 02-28-2012 07:47 PM

I guess it all depends on budget, and location. If you can afford to do it, radiant in floor heat takes forever to get going, but keeps everything comfortable once it is going.. Ceiling mounted heat makes no sense to me. Heat rises after all, not sinks…

As far as the heat source goes, that will depend on your location and budget again. Pellet, wood, gas, electric take your pick, whatever works for you. I have seen some folks that heat their homes up north with radiant heat that uses a self feeding pellet stove / furnace type gizmo for fuel. Burns reasonably clean, and cheap to boot. Not too cheap to set up sadly…

There are a couple of heater styles I personally would stay away from…

#1. Kerosene heaters. Heard horror stories about he moisture problems associated with Kerosene. #2. The old style quartz floor standing space heaters. Those are a fire waiting to happen… #3. Any sort of baseboard heating. #4. Ceiling heat. Again, heat rises, so why mount your heat source above where you are?

-- My workshop blog can be found at

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2105 days

#3 posted 02-28-2012 08:06 PM

I went radiant in-floor in my new shop…30×40 heated, 16×30 cold…uses 60 gal LP hot water heater…R19 on the walls, R50 ceiling, 2” foam under the concrete. 5/8”s PEX tubing because it allows for a longer run per loop.

very comfortable at 60’F (that high mostly because of paint operations otherwise I’d drop to 50-55’F and still be comfy).

but not “cheap” LP wise (west central Wis). but comfort has its price and only heating 4 mos. I’ll add foam insulation to the sides of the slab when weather permits (PITA) and see if it helps.

I’d be more than happy to share my “should have done” list (electrical/dust/etc.). .

View ducky911's profile


237 posts in 2210 days

#4 posted 02-28-2012 08:10 PM

The flooring heat. Would take dust out of the equation and i think that is a plus.

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2105 days

#5 posted 02-28-2012 08:24 PM

in-floor is “sweet” (I did it in the new house also…hanging tubes under the sub-floor) .

no forced air movement with radiant.

but you won’t save much $$$ fuel wise in a properly insulated building…it’s all about comfort (heat at your feet and legs makes you feel warm everywhere even though you might be freezing above the waist).

View canadianchips's profile


2310 posts in 2418 days

#6 posted 02-28-2012 08:27 PM

I had in-floor heat in SASK. Canada. If there ever is a test ,that was the place. I swear by it ! Even in middle of Winter we opened large overhead door to bring machinery in, it did not take that long to recover.
My neighbors TRIED radiant heat in ceiling…..very disappointed, they all thought floor heat was better.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Manitario's profile


2393 posts in 2304 days

#7 posted 02-28-2012 08:43 PM

If I re-did my shop I’d put in-floor radient heat. I can’t comment on the price to operate, but it is a steady, gentle, dustless heat source.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2105 days

#8 posted 02-28-2012 08:43 PM

agree Canadian…in-floor is nice but expensive to install (I think the tubing runs about 70 cents per foot and then you need all the manifolds etc.) and not much if anything to gain in operating costs. For me it’s worth it…no drafts, cold/hot spots.

where in Sask btw? my dad became good friends with people in Humboldt and I used to go fishing in Dore Lake (1428 mile drive to get there!!!) but I’ll never forget the experience nor will anybody that joined us. In fact my brother still wants to go back but I don’t know if the lake is still making fish like it used to.

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2105 days

#9 posted 02-28-2012 09:02 PM


you got it correct on all points. no operations savings really (but I have to insulate the slab edges yet and maybe that will change my mind). But it is comfy and no dust moving around unless I want it.

ignoring initial cost, biggest draw-back is you are “stuck” with your shop layout if you want any electric/ventilation in the slab. nick one of those PEX tubes and you will pay dearly.

I wish I would have run conduit and dust collection under the floor prior to pouring it but I hadn’t decided yet on tool placement (coming from a small garage space I didn’t realize how big 30’x40’ space was). We lived 1000 miles away from the property and my wife and I only had a few days to lay the tubing before we had to go back.

View jusfine's profile


2405 posts in 2347 days

#10 posted 02-28-2012 09:21 PM

In-slab heating is usually the best, most of the reasons already mentioned.

I have 12’ high ceiling in my shop in the loft of my barn (Central Alberta), and use a 30’ long radiant tube heater, works like a charm, keeps the tools warm, no air blowing around, (wooden) floor is warm to stand on, etc.

Highly recommend radiant tube heater if you decide not to go to in-slab.

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2390 posts in 2343 days

#11 posted 02-28-2012 10:40 PM

I am a retired heating contractor (Wisconsin) In floor heat is slow to react and expensive to install. Forced air gas its the way I would go. Even a space heater with a fan would work well. Unless you sleep in your shop it will be expensive to operate an in floor system. Turn it on when you walk in or with a timer and it has to heat up all that concrete before it starts to heat the air in the room.

-- "You may have your PHD but I have my GED and my DD 214"

View UltimateCarvercom's profile


12 posts in 1708 days

#12 posted 02-28-2012 11:02 PM

I would agree with in floor heat as well. If you do any finishing you don’t want air turbulaunce and the heat is even. Yes it is slow to react so you leave it on at one temp. I would also insulate the slab as you do loose heat in the concrete so important to insuluate under and at the edges.

Heat pumps have made some progress with tempertures but still is not efficent at under 20 degrees temps. Of course force air would be the cheapest if you have natural gas but you are moving air and that can affect projects if you do the finishing. My money is on infloor heat with hot water heater. Comfort for a couple hundred dollars a year more. No issues.

-- Steve Groeneweg, http//

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2105 days

#13 posted 02-29-2012 12:20 AM

jim finn

In-floor is VERY expensive to install…we did it (my wife and I)...

Radiant in my shop running at 50’F feels comfy. I don’t think I could say the same with a few “hot-dogs” hung in corners away from finishing areas…there is some spooky feeling about warm feet and legs that radiant provides…dunno why…

but all in all, if I lived a few hundred miles south of here, I’d figure out something with forced air (based solely on the initial install costs).

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2105 days

#14 posted 02-29-2012 12:38 AM


since we (my wife and I) already did it (without the benefit of a PEX unroller btw since my heating guy tried a cheap one once and hated it), I’ll say I love it. In our climate a few days to ramp up or down are nothing. We did put down 2” foam below the slab…in the spring I’ll dig out the perimeter and add rigid foam there as well. Not looking forward to it.

p.s. a great biz opportunity for anybody that could invent a system to “inject” foam around slabs.

View RogerM's profile


747 posts in 1820 days

#15 posted 02-29-2012 12:54 AM

I live in the south and built a separate shop with a concrete floor. I considered hot water floor circulating but no contractor down here was available or willing to put in such a system. I ended up with a heat pump and a wood heat stove and absolutely love both. I have 2 X 6 walls and a 16” I joist ceiling consequently I was able to put in a lot of insulation(R 32 in the walls and R 60 in the ceiling). Based on my experience the first and best thing to focus on is the insulation. Firewood is abundant down here and I love the wood stove in the winter. It is also real good in getting rid of a lot of scraps.

-- Roger M, Aiken, SC

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