How to Heat a Shed Without Electricity: 10 Practical Ideas and Solutions

When the winter chill sets in and temperatures drop, your shed can start to get quite cold. But there are many reasons why this could be a bad thing, such as possible damage to your equipment inside, or being cold while you’re trying to work inside your shed.

If you have electricity at your shed, you can warm the space easily with an electric heater. But if you didn’t wire your shed up when you built it, then you need an alternative solution.

While searching for solutions to this very problem, I found quite a few methods for how to heat a shed without electricity. I’ve had luck with each of these methods, and you can get even better results by combining them.

How to Heat a Shed Without Electricity

How to Heat a Shed Without Electricity

1. Make Sure It’s Well Insulated

Because we don’t live in them, most sheds don’t get very well insulated. Many of them aren’t insulated at all. Combine that with very thin walls and it’s a recipe for a freezing cold shed in the winter.

Good insulation will help prevent the shed from getting cold when outside temperatures start dropping. It will also help to keep the shed warm for longer when you heat it, meaning that your heat will go much further. Finally, if you incorporate enough insulation, you’ll make it much faster and easier to warm the shed because your warm air won’t escape out into the cold, reducing the amount you have to fight the low temperatures.

Before you implement any of the other methods on this list, it’s a good idea to make sure your shed is well insulated first. It will drastically improve the effectiveness of all the other ideas we’re going to discuss.

2. Let Some Sunlight In

Heating a shed in winter

As you’ve no doubt felt before, standing in the direct sunlight can be pretty darn warm. So, why not apply that logic to your shed? We’re going to add a window to the shed that will allow the light and heat from the sun to warm the inside, magnifying its intensity along the way.

Remember as a kid when you tried to cook an ant using just the sun’s rays and a magnifying glass? Just me? Well, if you were a little less sadistic, you may have tried to light a leaf on fire instead. Either way, the concept is the same.

When the light and heat of the sun are magnified through the glass, they multiply in intensity. But don’t worry, your shed isn’t going to catch fire and burn to the ground! Still, a well-placed window or clear acrylic panel can be an inexpensive way to harness the power of the sun and heat your shed without electricity. As a bonus, you’ll even multiply the amount of light inside your shed!

3. Build A Solar Window Heater

It’s somewhat surprising the level of innovation that some people manage to create with recycled materials. This solar heater will let you heat your shed any time of the year. It requires no electricity, minimal skills and experience to build, and it will cost next-to-nothing since it can be made entirely from old stuff you have lying around your house.

All you’ll need to build this awesome DIY solar heater is an old window, some empty soda or beer cans, duct tape, and a drill with a bit. You’ll paint the cans black, so they absorb more heat from the sun and drill holes in the bottoms.

Then, you’ll form several chains with the cans by taping them together. These chains will fill the inside of the old window.

Two holes must be drilled in the bottom of the window to allow air in. Because hot air rises, as the cans absorb the heat from the sun, the air inside will get hot and expand, forcing it up through the chain of cans, increasing in heat as it climbs. Eventually, the hot air is expelled from the holes on the top of the can chains. Because of convection, as the hot air is forced from the top, cold air is sucked into the holes on the bottom, starting the entire process once again.

Once you have installed this solar heater, it will continue to blast hot air into your shed as long as the sun keeps warming the cans. It’s like a perpetual free heat device!

4. Portable Propane Heater

heating shedOne of the simplest ways you can heat any space without electricity is by using a little portable propane heater. This is a plug-and-play solution in that it takes almost no work or setup from you. Just screw a propane canister into the heater and turn it on. That’s it. Your shed will be warmer!

There are some downsides to this method though. It may be super simple, but it’s also going to cost a bit more than some of the other solutions we’ve discussed. One reason is that you’ll have to purchase the propane heater instead of building it from recycled materials. Second, you’ll continually need to refill or replace your propane canisters since the heater will be using up your fuel.

On the other hand, propane heaters have tons of advantages. They’re very small and lightweight and won’t take up much space at all. Plus, they’re very powerful and can warm up your whole shed in a very short time. And you get tons of options to choose from, which is always nice.

If you’re considering this route, there’s one portable propane heater that I recommend above all others; the Mr. Heater Buddy Heater. It uses one-pound propane canisters that you can find locally at any sporting goods store for just a few bucks. It’s extremely easy to use and heats a relatively large space very quickly, making it perfect for warming your shed.

5. Install A Wood Stove

Wood stoveIf you’re looking for something that can quickly heat a large shed but uses completely renewable fuel, then a wood stove may be an option to consider. These stoves can easily heat a 1,000 square-foot home, so they’ll have no issue with a shed of nearly any size.

Wood stoves burn regular wood logs to generate heat. If you have trees on your property, you can just walk out back and have loads of fuel for your fire. But these stoves aren’t precise, and it’s hard to reach and maintain a steady temperature, though it will have no problem heating the space.

If you’re going to burn wood in a stove, you’ll need to make sure the flue takes the smoke outside, which requires a chimney. Obviously, this is a pretty big project to take on, so it may not be the most practical option, though it certainly is a possibility.

6. Build A Rocket Stove

You’ve probably heard of a wood stove or pellet stove before this, but have you heard of a rocket stove? It’s like an L-shaped wood stove that can burn almost anything you find for fuel, and it’s extremely efficient. The best part is, you can easily build one of your own from inexpensive and usually recycled materials.

As a bonus, the top of the stove has a platform on the top of the pipe where the hot air is coming up from the base. This can be used as a cooking area when the stove is burning, meaning that rocket stoves pull double duty as heaters and cooking stoves!

These stoves can burn almost anything combustible as fuel. Leaves, pine cones, wood, charcoal, paper, cardboard, manure, cloth, moss and pretty much anything else you can think of can be burnt to provide heat with a rocket stove.

For under $5, you could build a rocket stove from concrete with just a bucket and PVC pipe.

If you have some basic welding skills and want something that’s scalable in size and looks awesome, try this rocket stove made from 4”X4” square steel tubing.

Aa with any fire-based heat source, you’ll want to evacuate the smoke from your shed. You could either create a chimney with a flue system connected to your rocket stove, or you could use a vent or vent fan that would allow the smoke to escape. Just try not to breathe the smoke directly!

7. Hot Water Pipes

If you want to think outside the box and you have some time and solid DIY skills, you could try running hot water pipes into your shed like a radiator. You’ll need to heat the water somehow outside the shed and run the hot water through pipes that run inside the shed. The warmth from the pipes will help to heat the ambient air in the shed.

One way to heat the water outside would be something like a barrel heater, or even just a barrel of water with a fire under it. Granted, this method is a bit more complex than some of the others, but if you’re feeling adventurous, it’s certainly one of the unique ways to heat your shed without electricity.

8. Use A Kerosene Heater

kerosene heaterFor a long time, kerosene heaters have gotten a bad name. Granted, older kerosene heaters were fire hazards that you needed to keep a close eye on. But today, kerosene heaters are perfectly safe, and they’re a great way to heat your shed without electricity.

Still, I’d err on the side of caution when using a kerosene heater. I would recommend only using them in a well-ventilated shed, never a shed that’s sealed tight. It’s also best to only use a kerosene heater if you’ll be in the shed with it to supervise, that way you can avoid it being a potential fire hazard.

9. Build A Barrel Stove

A barrel stove is essentially a cheap DIY wood stove that’s made from a recycled metal barrel. Though simple, wood stoves can be quite expensive when purchased new, the barrel stove is a cheap alternative that’s just as effective.

There is a notable drawback to using a barrel stove to heat a shed. These stoves are rather large, the size of a 55-gallon barrel laid horizontally. In a small shed, that’s a lot of space to sacrifice. If you want to heat a larger shed, this may be a viable option, but smaller sheds would do better with a rocket stove instead, which can be made much more compact.

If you like the idea of recycling an old metal barrel to build your wood stove, you may be surprised at just how easy it is. You’ll need to purchase a conversion kit that includes all of the necessary parts. Then you just assemble it and you’re ready to warm your shed.

10. Build a Pot-Belly Stove

A pot-belly stove is a wood stove that stands vertically and is thicker in the middle. These can be made cheaply with recycled materials, such as this pot-belly stove that’s made from an old propane tank. They’re a bit difficult to install in a shed because you’ll need to exit the flue pipe from the building. But if you’re looking for a way to build a wood-burning stove with what you have laying around, the pot-belly stove is a great choice that can be made from a variety of different materials.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for innovative ways to heat your shed without electricity, you might be surprised to find out that there are a plethora of ways that you can do it. Some of them can be made from completely recycled materials and don’t even require a fuel source, such as the solar window heater.

Other methods take less work but cost a bit more, like installing a pellet stove or wood stove. Of course, you could make something that works similarly for a fraction of the price if you have some DIY experience. For instance, you could build a versatile rocket stove that can burn almost anything for fuel, or you could try your hand at the barrel stove if you have plenty of space.

I hope these suggestions help you to heat your shed through all of the cold times this year. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments box below and I’ll answer them as soon as I can. Please feel free to share this article if you found its information helpful. I want it to help as many people as possible!

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