Can a Space Heater Really Heat a Garage Gym?


Can a Space Heater really Heat a Garage Gym?

If you’re a garage gym owner one of the biggest issues that you’re going to run into over the course of the year is, “How do I heat my garage gym in the winter?”

You can tell yourself to ‘toughen up’ and make all the Rocky references you want, but let’s be honest: there’s nothing fun about warming up on an ice cold barbell.

There are multiple different ways to try to warm up your garage gym in the winter. The simplest out of those solutions to try to raise the temperature in your garage is to use a space heater.

Space heaters are relatively cheap to buy, cheap to use and the ‘installation process’ involves simply plugging it in and turning it on.

But, how much can a space heater really heat a garage gym?

I set out to find the answer by trying out a small space heater (and then a second one) that I already owned and letting them run for different periods of time. In this article, I’m going to share with you everything I learned during my tests.

Rather watch than read? Here is the video I did on Can a Space Heater Really Heat a Garage Gym:

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My Garage Gym Space

First, just a little background on my garage space so you can have a little context. I have a two car attached garage that is 21x21x10. That is 441 square feet and 4410 cubic feet. I include cubic feet because when you’re heating up an open space, you are heating up the entire space. The ceilings in garages can vary quite a bit and if you have a ceiling height that is different than mine it’s going to effect your results.

I don’t have any heat vents that direct into the garage so any difference in temperature between in the garage and outside is just residual heat (I think that’s the correct term here?) from being attached to the house. My garage also has no windows (big potential heat losers).

My wife drives a small SUV that is almost always parked in the garage when I work out and was parked in the garage when I performed these tests. I mention that because space that the car is taking up is theoretically less space that needs to be heated up.

I tell you this so you can take my results and apply it to your own garage. If you have a similar size garage to me, then you theoretically should see very similar results. If you have a single car garage the heaters should work even better.

The Setup

Here is the equipment and how I set everything up for this test. I purchased an Indoor/Outdoor thermometerOpens in a new tab.. I set the outdoor sensor up just outside my garage door. I set the indoor sensor up right on the front of my squat rack.

The space heaters I used were Oceanaire 1500W Ceramic Space Heaters. I’ve had these for awhile now and they’re actually no longer even available Amazon anymore. This Andily 1500 Space HeaterOpens in a new tab. is the closest comparison I could find to mine.

I set the space heater about 2 feet from the front of my platform. This makes the total distance from the space heater to the thermometer about 10 feet.

First Space Heater Test
For Test 1, I setup one space heater up a couple feet directly in front of my platform facing my lifting area.

For the second test, I set up a second space heater of the exact same model to the side of my squat rack, about 4 feet away.

The Test

The test itself was pretty simple. Starting at 6:30AM on consecutive mornings I took the readings from the thermometer at 4 different time intervals – start, 10, 30 and 60 minutes.

I picked those times because when I work out in the morning it takes me a good 10 minutes to myself dressed and ready with either coffee or pre-workout. If I turned on the space heater before I got ready, would it make a difference before I got started?

The 30 minute mark I thought was feasible for a morning routine if I included the warmup. Maybe I could even do the warmup inside while the garage was warming up. What really matters is is the room a little warmer once it’s time to start moving some real weight.

Finally, the 60 minute interval isn’t probably going to work as part of a morning workout routine, but would be good info to know for afternoon or evening workouts.

The Results

Test Run No. of Heaters Start After 10 Minutes 30 Minutes 60 Minutes
1 One 33 Degrees Outside / 50 Inside 33/50 33/51 33/52
2 Two 45 Outside / 53 Inside 45/55 45/57 45/60
3 Two 38 Outside / 50 Inside 38/51 38/54 38/56

The first test was with running just one space heater. After 10 minutes the thermometer hadn’t even budged and even after running for an hour it was only able to move it 2 degrees.

That is pretty in line with how I perceived the differences as well. After 10 minutes I didn’t really notice any real difference unless I stood right in the line of fire of space heater. After an hour it did feel a bit warmer, but not a major difference.

This really was about what I expected considering the space heaters I have are recommended for a 150 square foot room. So while they are great heaters, they’re just not designed for as big of a space as my garage.

However, what if we bring a second heater into the mix? While I wasn’t surprised by how little one space heater moved the needle, I was surprised by how much two really made a difference.

I placed a second space heater, same model, to the side of my squat rack. I was basically trying to create a “Cocoon of Heat” in the corner of my garage using the two heaters and the two walls to trap the heat.

This worked great.

Second Space Heater Test
I set up the second space heater a few feet to the side of my rack. This positioning pushed all the heat into the corner of the garage.

It still didn’t make a huge difference 10 minutes in on the thermometer, although I could tell a small difference. However, 30 minutes in the temperature had moved 4 degrees. Even more impressive was how it felt. The space was noticeably warmer.

This told me that if I could wake up and start my process a bit earlier, or even perform some of my warmup inside, I would have a gym space that would be way better than walking out into an icy cold garage.

Finally, after an hour the temp had moved 7 degrees. At that point, it was getting so warm that if I was working out I’d probably be tempted to turn the heaters down a bit. Pretty good considering it was in the 30s outside.

The idea of the “Cocoon” worked out perfectly too. You could actually feel a big difference in the garage itself depending on whether you were standing inside the “Cocoon” or a few feet outside of it.

Why the 3rd Test?

I was really happy with the results of the second test and initially thought I had my answer. Space heaters, even small ones, can make a huge difference in heating up a garage gym.

I did have a bit of skepticism though because it was so much warmer outside on the second test run. Did that make a difference in how well the heaters were able to heat up the garage?

So, I performed one more test. It wasn’t quite as cold as test one, but it was much closer. The results I got in the third test was almost identical to the second test. The small differences that did occur could just as easily be chalked up to rounding as anything else.

This solidified my confidence in the results.

How Much Does It Cost to Run a Space Heater?

If you’re running a space heater every day to heat up your garage gym it’s natural to wonder exactly how much this is costing you. Good news. Not much.

According to a report by Consumer ReportsOpens in a new tab., a 1500W space heater costs $2.82 for 16 hours, which comes out to 17.6 cents an hour. While electricity rates may vary (and even running two heaters), being able to workout out in a warm garage for less than 50 cents is a pretty good deal in my opinion.

Final Thoughts

It turns out that, yes, space heaters really can do a great job of heating up a garage gym.

You just need to make sure you have the right heater(s) for the job. Whether that’s with two smaller heaters like I used or perhaps one larger heater, figure out what works for your garage. Thinking back to our single car garage in Philly, I’m pretty sure one small one would have done the job.

The point is, there is no need to overthink or overcomplicate how to heat up your garage for those winter workouts. Go get you a space heater that fits your needs, plug it in and let it work!

Stay Strong (and warm)!

Ryan H

My name is Ryan Horton and I've spent the last 18 years as a Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coach and am currently the Director of Sports Science with Georgia Tech Football. I've always set up workout areas at home everywhere we've lived, but now I have a garage and I'm going all out.

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