Best Shed Heater: Cheap, Effective and Safe Options

Ever feel like you need to get away? Last holiday season my in-laws came to stay for two weeks! The problem was, I just didn’t have any place to go to get some peace and quiet. Then I thought, what about my shed? It’s big, there’s plenty of work to do in it, and it’s away from the house! But when I got out there, I realized that just having an insulated shed wasn’t enough – I needed some heat! But what was the best shed heater?

I experimented with a bunch of different options and found 10 cheap and effective options for heating a shed. Hopefully, you find them helpful too!

Top Picks For Shed Heater

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Best Shed Heater

Why Would I Want a Heater in My Shed?

Here’s another reason I needed a heated shed: I wanted to run a table saw and make some cuts with my circular saw in my shed, but in the dead of January, it was just painful! Bringing the tools inside my house wasn’t an option – too messy and loud.

If you want to use your shed as a bunkie or a workshop, you are going to want heat. Even in mild climates, a chilly, cloudy day spent in an unheated shed can get uncomfortable in a hurry. Besides, do you want to run a table saw in your basement?

Factors To Consider Before Choosing a Shed Heater

Before you throw a space heater in your shed and call it a day, you’ve got to think about your shed structure. Is it ready to be heated? Or does it need any modification before you heat it? See below for factors to consider before you buy (or make) a shed heater.

Is Your Shed Insulated?

If not, consider if heating your shed is even worth the effort and money. Why? Remember, cold air is of high density. It sinks and is always on the lookout for places to infiltrate, like a warm shed!

Warming up an uninsulated shed is futile, particularly in the cold months in northern climates. Dense, high-pressure cold air will quickly suck the warmth from any non-insulated space. The warm air the heater produces will quickly rise and be pushed out by the denser cold air. This will make your heater work harder, costing you fuel or electricity. Also, you won’t feel any warmer. Insulating your shed is critical.

How Much Space do You Want to Heat?

Understand that the greater the square footage of your shed, the larger and more powerful your heater needs to be. Even if you only plan on working or sleeping in one small corner, you obviously cannot direct heat to just one spot in the shed.

The good news is that the area you are going to heat is likely smaller than a garage or entire house, so you have options. Understand that electrical heat, while extremely efficient, is also very costly. If you have a large shed, consider an alternative. Wood is the cheapest, but also the least efficient and potentially not an option for your area.

Do You Have Electricity in Your Shed?

Electricity in your shed is handy for a variety of reasons, not least of which is plugging in an electric heater. If you do have power, you need to know if you have 110V or 220V service. Since you are a DIYer and wired the shed yourself, then you already know!

Sheds wired for 220 volts can support larger, commercial heaters. Are they necessary for the size of your shed? Probably not, unless you live in very cold climates and want to warm the air to room temperature. 110 volts is likely enough for most folks in climates that don’t experience extreme cold.

Where Would You Place Your Heater?

Electrical heaters can be mounted on the ceiling, against the wall, or anywhere in between. Gas heaters, such as propane or kerosene, typically sit on the floor away from walls – they are not ideal for cramped spaces due to safety concerns.

Shed Heating Cost

Electricity is expensive, and it isn’t going to get any cheaper. Even with the time of use pricing, electrical heat is not cheap regardless of the time of day. If you are heating your shed regularly, cost out what it would take to use gas or wood instead.

If you haven’t wired your shed, then you also need to factor in electrical installation costs, as well. Newer kerosene heaters are effective but may need extra ventilation. Natural gas is cheap, but you’ll need to have a gas line run to your shed.

Types Of Shed Heaters

The multitude of shed heater options is overwhelming. Not only are there different fuel types, but there are also different heat delivery methods. Let’s take a look at their types of fuel, as well as the ways they are delivered.

Heating Energy Sources

No one energy source is best. It depends on where you live, the type of shed you have and many other factors. Below are the main energy sources for heating your shed.

Propane

Propane is cheap, safe, and widely found in any home reno store. Thanks to its widespread use in gas grills, propane heaters have increased over the last decade. A 20 lb. propane tank can deliver 8000 BTUs for over 50 hours.

Electric

The benefit of electric heat is the safety and ease of use. On the other hand, it is incredibly expensive. While electric heat likes to tout itself as nearly 100% efficient, this doesn’t matter compared to the price of electricity where you live.

Electric garage furnaces are in the range of 6k watts when running. Let’s say electricity is ten cents/kWh in your area. You’ll pay $.60/hr to run your furnace. If your furnace runs 3 hours a day for a month, you’re paying $56/month for heat.

Wood

Heating with wood is a cheap option, although it might not be practical for some households. A cord of hardwood (e.g. oak, maple, ash) can run anywhere from $100 to $200. Depending on where you live, you may only need three or four cord (4 feet tall x 4 deep x 8 long) of wood. Colder climates need at least ten or much more with a large house.

The problem with wood is that if you are gone for much of the day, or days at a time, your house gets cold without a backup heat source. Also, wood stoves may increase your home insurance rates. Lastly, using wood requires work. However, for occasional use in a shed, wood can heat a space quickly.

Pellet

Pellet stoves use compressed wood pellets which are electronically fed into a wood stove. Burning wood pellets is easier than wood because the fuel is more easily controlled. Pellet stoves can handle a bag, or more, of wood pellets at a time. Thus your home can stay warm – for a time – if you are not there.

Wood pellets are anywhere from $5 to $10 a bag. Buying in bulk can save you money, provided you have room to store a pallet of bags. If you burn a bag a day in the winter, you are looking at $150/month.

Kerosene

Kerosene gets a bad name due to its flammability and perceived danger. Modern kerosene heaters are very effective, safe, and cheap to operate. Overall, the cost of a new kerosene heater is expensive compared to electric. Kerosene, however, is cheap. Some kerosene heaters will accept diesel as well.

Burning kerosene requires adequate venting, which most sheds should already have due to the nature of shed construction.

Fuel Delivery

The most common type of heat delivery method is forced-air or radiant heat. Forced air sucks air across a heated space and blows the warm air out the other side. Radiant heat doesn’t “blow” heat, it’s more like a heated object in space.

In a shed, forced air might not be ideal. Since the air is being heated, and your shed is likely not as insulated as your home, then your heater will have to work much harder to warm the shed space. This will result in higher fuel costs.

Infrared heaters do not heat the air either and provide direct sources of heat in a hurry. On the other hand, once an infrared heater is turned off, space cools nearly instantly.

While it takes time to heat up, portable radiant heaters can effectively warm an entire shed space as they warm the objects around it instead of the air.

Buying Guide: How To Choose the Best Shed Heater

Several factors should guide you when choosing a shed heater. Available power in your shed and the overall size of the interior space are the primary factors. Additionally, safety and overall price may also be concerns. Make sure to be generous with your calculations – the last thing you want is a heater that is too small to heat your space.

How Much Power?

If you have a shed, then chances are it isn’t much larger than 20×20. At that size, which is quite large, then you would need a 4k watt heater. Compare that to a 10×10 space, which only requires a 2k, or less, watt heater.

Also, you might need a larger heater if you have a shed with higher than 8’ ceilings. Heat rises, and a forced-air heater in a shed with a loft would require much more power than the same sized shed without a loft.

Power Source

If the power in your shed is an issue – meaning you don’t have any – then there are still lots of excellent options. Kerosene, propane, and other gas heaters are sometimes battery-powered, just like your gas grill. Wood stoves also don’t require power, so no electricity isn’t much of an issue for shed heat.

If you do have electricity, then infrared, radiant, electric, and more powerful gas forced-air heaters are available to you. Portable electric heaters nearly all run at 120v, so your shed doesn’t need to be wired up for 240v for you to run any.

Safety Features

Most store-bought heaters will have all the required safety features already installed so that you can add fuel or plug-in and go without any worry.

Gas-powered heaters that use kerosene, propane, natural gas, or other combustible sometimes have CO detectors already installed. Less oxygen means more CO2 and potentially carbon monoxide if there is significantly less oxygen. The heater will shut off if too little oxygen is observed.

Another feature that gas or liquid fuel heaters have is “tip-over” switches. If a kerosene heater gets kicked over, it will automatically shut off. If your shed is a workshop, you’ll want this feature. Safety first.

Radiant and electric heaters sometimes offer “cool touch” technology, meaning you won’t burn your finger if you accidentally touch it. Many utilize wire guards to prevent body parts from hitting heated coils.

Another feature found on some, but not all, shed heaters is overheating protection. Not to be confused with a thermostat, overheating protection switches the unit off if the device is getting too hot, potentially creating a fire hazard.

Best Shed Heater Reviews

Here’s my take on the best shed heaters available right now. Keep in mind that you’ve got to find the right heater for you – every shed is different. Also, some of us use our sheds more than others, so the frequency of use should also factor into your purchase.

1. Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy Portable Propane Radiant Heater

Portable Propane Radiant HeaterI like this cordless, yet powerful, propane Mr. Heater Buddy for a shed. First, you don’t need the power to run this heater. It has a small battery that enables you to light it, and then the propane takes care of the rest. Secondly, it uses propane, which is cheap and found everywhere.

Even better, you can use it with larger propane canisters like the one under your gas grill. You’ll need to buy a longer hose, but a 20 lb. tank will give you 60 hours of heat. Enough for one season in your shed.

This heater is powerful. Capable of emitting 9000 BTUs, it has more than enough juice to heat an entire shed. A 10x10x8 shed requires about 4000 BTUs to reach room temperature if the outside temperature is at freezing. This heater can more than double that.

Use indoors is safe due to a low oxygen sensor and tip-over shut-off. If I’m in and out of my shed with tools or power equipment, I don’t need to worry about knocking this heater around.

Finally, this heater is extremely light – under ten pounds – yet pumps serious heat. This heater gets my vote for the best shed heater.

2. STANLEY ST-60HB2-GFA Gas Forced Air Heater

Forced Air HeaterA powerful propane heater, this STANLEY ST-60HB2-GFA heater is an excellent option if you have power in your shed. Since this heater dispenses heat using forced air, it needs a 120V outlet.

Due to the power of this heater, it requires at least a 20-pound cylinder of propane. The overall size of the heater, however, is quite small. At just over 12 pounds, the heater is extremely portable.

Stanley claims this heater will heat up to 300 cubic feet per minute. If that’s the case, then a typical 10×10 shed would only need about 3 minutes to warm up. Really cold climates would likely take longer, as well as uninsulated sheds, but it gives you an idea of just how powerful this heater is.

This heater comes with a one year warranty. As well, there is no automatic shut off or oxygen sensor. Without these safety features, be sure your shed has adequate ventilation if you purchase this heater.

3. Dyna-Glo KFA50DGD 50,000 BTU Kerosene Forced Air Heater

Dyna-Glo KFA50DGDBefore you write off kerosene as too dangerous, keep in mind that this Dyna-Glo heater is one of the safest heaters you can buy. Why? This heater has to overheat shut-off protection, which means if the actual heater unit gets too hot, it shuts down.

Even though kerosene is highly flammable, the heater shuts off way before a fire could erupt. As well, the fuel line also shuts down. You must be careful with room ventilation. You need to have a window ajar if using this heater to ensure you won’t suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning.

This heater is powerful. 50k BTUs can quickly heat a space of 1200 square feet. Kerosene might be inconvenient to purchase if you live far away from a hardware store. Luckily, this heater also accepts diesel and dyed diesel.

Since this is a forced-air heater, it requires power. It can work on a standard three-pronged 120v outlet. There is a thermostat which you can control the heat, and the power will heat your shed quickly. If you have a larger shed, access to power, and sufficient ventilation, then this heater is an excellent option.

4. Heatstar By Enerco F125444 Radiant Overhead Natural Gas

Stiebel Eltron 074058If you can run natural gas to your shed, then Heatstar By Enerco natural gas heater should be your first choice. First, natural gas is incredibly cheap to run. Natural gas costs, on average, about $14 per million BTUs. No other fuel comes close to matching that, except firewood.

Natural gas is also very safe. The gas itself is not poisonous. While a persistent leak can displace oxygen in your home and result in hazards, other gas fuels are more dangerous.

The Heatstar uses radiant energy to heat a space. Radiant heat is effective because it does not heat the air, but rather all the objects within its range. Since objects hold heat much better than the air, radiant heat is more efficient when heating a space.

While this heater requires a natural gas line, it does not require electricity. Running a new natural gas line from an existing connection (your house furnace) costs around $500 dollars. If it is extra far, then you’ll pay closer to $1000. However, once attached the cost of running this heater is low.

5. Fahrenheat FUH54 240-volt, 2500-5000-watt Electric Fan-forced

Fahrenheat Electric Fan-forcedThe Fahrenheat FUH54 is an electric heat option that mounts to the ceiling or wall. A forced-air delivery will throw heat up to 16’, an area large enough to heat most sheds. Topping out at 20k BTUs, this heater might not be as powerful as other options, but you’ll remember that electric heat is perfectly efficient, unlike gas options.

This forced air heater sits on the ceiling or against the wall, at a minimum of 6’. Your shed is also going to need to be wired for 240 volts, as electric heaters require a significant expenditure of energy.

At peak heat – 5000 watts – this heater will cost you about $2.50/day with an average run time of 5 hours. If you plan on spending lots of time in your shed in the winter, this cost can add up.

The bonus of electric heat is that you don’t need any venting or have to worry about fuel spills. This heater has an overheating shut-off switch, which means you can set it and forget it. Other heaters, such as kerosene or propane, should not be left unattended.

6. Stiebel Eltron 074058 120-Volt 1500-Watts Wall Mounted Electric Fan Heater

Stiebel Eltron 074058Stiebel Eltron is a high-end manufacturer of portable heaters that mount on the wall. While Stiebel Eltron 074058 wall-mount heater might not be the first type of heater you think of to put in your shed, this heater works great for tight spaces and smaller sheds.

First, this heater is not huge. If you have a large, drafty shed, then look for another option. However, if you have a small, well-insulated space, then this 120-volt unit works well. If you’ve wired your shed with only a few outlets and a light on a 15 amp breaker, then this heater can still work for you.

A fan pulls cool air from above and emits warm air out the bottom for efficient heat flow. The actual size of the fan is such that it only sticks 5” beyond the wall, allowing you to maximize space in your shed. However, since this heater only hits 1,500 watts, you won’t be able to heat a shed larger than 12×12 effectively.

This heater comes with a three-year warranty, which is about as good as it gets in terms of portable heater warranties.

Extremely quiet, this heater is meant for household use. However, if your shed doubles as a bunkie or office, then this unit is a good option.

7. DeLonghi EW7707CB Radiant Heater

DeLonghi EW7707CB Radiant HeaterA stand-alone, plug-in electric option, DeLonghi EW7707CB Radiant Heater uses oil heated by a coil to radiantly heat a room. The unit itself looks like a portable radiator on wheels and is one of the more commonly used portable heaters out there.

The reason so many people opt to use these oil-filled radiant heaters is they work. Radiant heat, as mentioned above, heats objects, not the air. This is great news for your drafty shed, where forced-air heat is not as effective.

This specific DeLonghi model clocks in at 1,500 watts, which effectively heats a 12×12 shed at maximum. The wattage of this model will allow you to run this model for 12 hours a day, for under $2/day. Since DeLonghi offers a “Confortemp” button, which is essentially a smart thermostat, you’ll likely spend far less to operate this unit.

8. Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy

Small shed heaterMr. Heater offers the ultimate portable heater. The Little Buddy is less than six pounds and under 12” tall. Since the size is so small, this is a great option for tents, crawlspaces, or any other area where space is at a premium.

This heater uses radiant heat. That means there is no fan and does not electricity. All you need is a one-pound propane cartridge. On a full cartridge, with the heater going at its highest setting, you can get nearly six straight hours of heat from this little heater.

There is an automatic shut-off for tip-overs and a low oxygen switch sensor, which is essential when using these small, portable heaters. One pound propane canisters cost anywhere from $5 to $10 and can be found in any big box home improvement or outdoors store. Larger gas stations may also sell these canisters.

Ventilation is required with this heater, but not much – only 4 square inches. Unless your shed is ultra-insulated, you won’t need to worry about suffocating at the hands of this heater.

9. Guide Gear Outdoor Wood Burning Stove

Guide Gear Outdoor Wood Burning StoveIf you are looking for a cheap, heavy-duty heat in your shed, then burning wood is the way to go. This small stove from Gear Guide is galvanized steel and cast iron – that means it’ll withstand pretty much any abuse it might encounter in your shed.

This stove comes with 6.5’ of pipe, which might not be enough for some sheds. If not, the diameter of the pipe is standard and extra can be picked up at your local big-box home improvement retailer, along with elbows, entry/exit points and caps.

The depth of this stove is 17”, allowing you to put larger pieces of wood. Keep in mind, you can’t jam this stove with wood like a traditional wood stove. However, if you are heating a smaller space like a shed, then you don’t need a whole pile of wood to quickly heat space.

This unit weighs about 50 pounds and is not expensive. If you are comfortable outfitting your shed with a pipe outlet and a base for the stove to sit on, such as patio stones or cinder blocks, then this is a great option to get serious heat for your shed.

10. Comfortbilt Pellet Stove

Comfortbilt Pellet StovePellet stoves are a bit of a mystery to lots of people only because they are less common heating options compared to the other heaters on this list. However, as bags of pellets decrease in price, along with pellet stoves, it is hard to overlook the viability of pellet heat.

Comfortbilt Pellet Stove stove is expensive. It also requires installation. It also needs a power source, although it can be vented through a wall instead of a roof, which makes shed installation much simpler.

Pellet stoves need electricity to operate. The hopper within the stove can hold an entire bag of wood pellets, and it feeds them electronically into the burner. Since these stoves have thermostats, you can control the temperature of a space and the stove will burn pellets accordingly based on the set temperature.

At 50k BTUs, this pellet stove is far more heat than you’ll likely need in a shed. But the thermostat allows you to control the heat output. The benefit of pellet stoves is that you can keep your bags of pellets in the shed with the stove, making for easy stove refilling.

The Comfortbilt plugs into a standard wall outlet, and also has a fan to more evenly distribute the heat. If you plan on being in your shed regularly, or maybe have guests sleep in it as a bunkie, then pellets are a great option.

Conclusion

We’ve looked at a bunch of different heaters, but I think the Mr. Heater propane radiant heater wins. Propane is cheap, efficient, and relatively safe to use in a shed.

It also uses radiant heat, which is more effective in a shed than forced air. It also doesn’t require power, which is nice because many of us don’t have power in our sheds.

All the other heaters are also excellent options, but the cost of their fuel or the units themselves make the Mr. Heater the best option. Safety and economy are always most important, and Mr. Heater checks all the boxes.

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