How to Heat an Uninsulated Shed: The Ultimate Guide


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It’s not uncommon to find sheds that serve as storage space, garage, or workshops for many homes. Many of these sheds are uninsulated against cold. Whether you spend a few or many hours working in the shed, park your car, or store equipment that would not withstand extreme cold, heating the shed is a necessity when temperatures drop.

Here are 5 ways to heat an uninsulated shed:

  • Install transparent sheeting on the roof.
  • Place a space heater in the shed.
  • Use a portable electric heater.
  • Use a mushroom heater.
  • Install infrared heat bulbs.

How you heat your shed depends a lot on the use of the shed, how low the temperatures get, and if the cold is seasonal or just nocturnal. This article discusses five ways of heating a shed during the extreme winter temperatures and in seasons when low nocturnal temperatures may leave your shed too cold for you to comfortably work during the day.

Adapt the roofing for natural solar heating.

This method will work perfectly in seasons and regions where days are sunny, but nocturnal temperatures can be quite low. In this case, it would be superfluous to use a portable heater or install a heating method that uses natural gas or electricity.

Instead, you can tap the sun’s heating power during the day by replacing your current roofing with transparent sheeting. You will not only be letting in the heat of the sun but also the natural light. Ensure, however, that your clear sheeting is done on the side of the roofing that receives sunlight when the sun is hottest during the day.

Space heaters

If you have a large shed that serves as a workshop, space heaters will work perfectly for you.

This is because space heaters discharge lots of hot air, but that also means they must be kept away from any objects, especially those that are easily inflammable.

See how space heaters discharge hot air from this quick video:

Space heaters can be electrically powered or use combustible fuel such as natural gas, wood pellets, fuel oil, or propane. Smaller and portable space heaters that can be used in smaller sheds are available but are best powered by electricity for greater safety.

Whatever the source of power for the space heaters, care should always be taken to ensure safety while warming yourself and your working space.

The National Fire Protection Association reminds users that any flammable objects should be kept 3′ (0.3 meters) away from a space heater and that these heaters should not be left unattended when they are on. This reminder is informed by a 2018 research which showed that an average of 52,050 fires responded to by local fire departments between 2012 and 2016 involved heaters. Space heaters accounted for 44% of those cases.

Portable electric heaters

Portable electric heaters are an easy and rather common way to heat small spaces, as are most sheds. You simply plug the heater into a wall outlet and adjust the heat level according to your needs. For example, this Brightown 350W Space Heater has two easy to operate buttons for increasing and reducing the heat.

You can move an electric heater around to where the heat is most needed without any trouble, as long as a plug is available at the location. Beware of positioning your heater on uneven surfaces in the shed. If the heater should fall, the heat can burn the cable or other objects that it falls on, igniting a fire.

It’s also important to ensure that your electric heater is not too close to your shed’s walls or other surfaces that could be ruined by hot air. Look out for manufacturer recommendations on such issues when making your purchase.

Mushroom heater

Mushroom heaters are so-called because the shape of the top metal mimics a mushroom head. These heaters are also called umbrella or patio heaters because they are commonly used in the outdoors.

The mushroom heater is powered by petroleum gas, butane, or propane dispensed from an inbuilt or separate tank. The heater has a burner on top of a pole that directs heat towards a perforated cylindrical metal screen. The mushroom screen at the top is silvered, which allows it to reflect heat outwards and warm the surrounding space.

These heaters are readily portable, with most of them fitted with a security stand and, in some cases, tiny wheels for easy portability. See this AmazonBasics Commercial Patio Heater for those features.

AmazonBasics Commercial, Propane 46,000 BTU, Outdoor Patio Heater with Wheels, Stainless Steel and Hammered Black

As with other types of heaters, mushroom heaters are best placed at least 3 feet (0.3 meters) from you and any surfaces in your shed.

Infrared heat bulbs

Have you seen how chicken farmers use bulbs to keep newly-hatched chicks warm? Using infrared heat bulbs in the shed works in the same way. You replace the lighting bulb with an infrared heat bulb, and you have a sauna effect.

Infrared heat bulbs are ideal in cold temperate weather and not in extreme winter temperatures. However, using infrared bulbs in a shed is ideal, considering that you only need to heat it when you are around.

The bulbs produce a higher amount of heat than the ordinary light bulb, which makes them suitable as a source of heating. See this Broan-Nutone 2-Bulb Infrared Heater that is 250W and is also easy to install in a sturdy steel building like a shed.

Safety and efficiency when heating an uninsulated shed.

When heating an uninsulated shed, it is always important to bear in mind some safety precautions and efficiency guidelines that keep you safe and avoid fire accidents and energy wastage.

We mention a few of these guidelines, as stated by Energy Saver, the US Department of Energy’s consumer resource that is concerned with saving energy and the use of renewable energy technologies.

When purchasing and using heaters:

  • Purchase newer models of heaters since these have up-to-date safety features and ensure they have the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label.
  • Opt for a thermostatically controlled heater to avoid energy wastage by overheating the shed.
  • Consider the room size when deciding on the size and power strength of the heater.
  • Place portable heaters on level ground to avoid accidents if they should fall.
  • Keep inflammable objects away from heaters.

Always bear in mind that, when heating uninsulated sheds, heat is easily lost to the surrounding cold air. Since heating is only done when needed, it’s always better to choose a heating method that best responds to the current heating need.

Final thoughts

Heating an uninsulated shed is a necessity whether your shed serves as a garage, a workshop, or as storage space.

If you are using your shed during the months when nights are cold and days are sunny, heating your shed can be easily achieved with transparent roofing that lets in the sun’s heat or using infrared bulbs. Sheds in regions with harsh winter temperatures will require space heaters, mushroom heaters, and electric heaters to be heated.

Always bear in mind important safety and energy-efficiency tips when using heaters in a shed. Keep heaters at least 0.3 meters (3 feet) away from you and any surfaces and objects to preempt fire accidents. After all, your safety is just as important as avoiding numb and chilled fingers while you work in your shed.

Steve Rajeckas

Steve Rajeckas is an HVAC hobbyist with an avid interest in learning innovative ways to keep rooms, buildings, and everything else at the optimal temperature. When he's not working on new posts for Temperature Master, he can be found reading books or exploring the outdoors.

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