Choosing quiet garage heaters involves balancing noise and heating levels against the appropriate fuel type. After all, there’s little point in buying a quiet garage heater if you don’t have a ready supply of gas or propane (or electricity, for that matter).
So, in this article, I’ll discuss my top picks for the best quiet heater for garage. Let’s look at some approximate noise levels before jumping into the reviews.
Are Garage Heaters Noisy?
Garage heaters can be noisy depending on the fuel type and heating mechanism. But, on the other hand, they can also be pretty quiet. There are a few different types of garage heater, which are:
- Electric: ceramic or infrared
- Natural gas
- Forced air
It’s worth noting that forced air isn’t a fuel type. Instead, it’s a method of air distribution. As the name suggests, it uses a fan to force air over a heating unit, blowing it out into the room. Therefore, a forced air garage heater could use any kind of fuel source (although electric is common).
Some rough noise levels for these garage heaters are:
- Electric – 30-65dB
- Gas – 40-60dB
- Propane – 40-60dB
- Forced air – 50dB or more
Rather than comparing each decibel level to a common sound, here’s a graphic that should clarify things.
As you can see, forced air heaters are the loudest. This shouldn’t come as a surprise because they include a fan, which generates a considerable amount of noise compared to convection heaters. The bottom line is that the more moving parts your garage heater has, the louder it’s likely to be.
Our Top 6 Picks
Based on the information above, let’s go over my top picks for the best quiet garage heaters. It’s worth noting that most won’t include a specific decibel level. Where we’re lacking one, we’ll instead rely on user reviews related to noise emissions.
Best Electric Heater: Dr. Heat DR966 6000W Heater
- Heat. Cap: 20,500 BTU
- Power: 6000 W
- Heat settings: Knob
- Fan speed: 2
- Heater type: Electric forced air
The Dr. Heat DR966 is my top pick for electric garage heaters because it’s specifically designed for industrial spaces. These include warehouses, factories and garages. The maximum heat output is 20,500 BTU, which is quite a lot for a small model.
Unfortunately, we don’t have a decibel level for this heater. But we can assume it’ll be on the louder end of the quiet garage heater scale because it uses a fan to circulate air. Users reported the noise volume was similar to that of a window fan, but that it’s generally quiet for the heat it gives out.
This video gives an illustration of the approximate noise output. As you can see (or hear), it’s no louder than a standard desk fan.
You can set the heater to 3000W or 6000W, and the difference is, unsurprisingly, quite noticeable. There’s also a thermostat dial that ranges from high to low, giving you plenty of flexibility over the temperature output.
The heater is designed for either fixed or portable use. It has a carrying handle on top (although it weighs 27lbs.) and it comes with a wall mounting bracket. If you plan to only use it in your garage, I’d recommend mounting it on the wall for better air circulation.
Its major downside is that, when it’s set to 6000W, it draws a lot of power. For one hour runtime it’ll consume 6kWh, so multiply whatever your kWh hour price is by that to determine how much it’ll cost you to run in your area. (Spoiler alert, it’ll be quite a lot.)
- Kicks out a lot of heat for a small appliance.
- Can be portable or fixed.
- Flexibility over temperature output.
- Expensive to run.
Best Propane Garage Heater: Gasland MHA18B Propane Heater
- Heat. Cap: 18,000 BTU
- Fuel consumption:
- 0.58 lbs/hr (low)
- 1.73 lbs/hr (max)
- Run time:
- 69 hrs, for 40lbs cyl. (low)
- 23 hrs, for 40lbs cyl. (max)
- Heat settings: 3 (6,000 / 12,000 / 18,000 BTU)
- Heater type: Propane – Radiation
Although the Gasland MHA18B is described as ultra quiet, we once again don’t have a decibel rating. However, it’s fair to assume that it is fairly quiet because it doesn’t have a fan or any other air circulation device. As such, it relies on radiant heating. This video shows the heater in action, and it’s pretty quiet when it’s running on the low setting.
Its maximum BTU output is 18,000, putting it just below the Dr. Heat above. Gasland advises it’s suitable for spaces up to 450 sq. ft., which could cover most garages and workshops. There are 3 heating modes but no thermostat, so it’s not as flexible on temperature output. However, users state it’s enough.
With a 20lbs. liquid propane tank, you can get up to 69 hours of heating on low, and this drops to 23 hours on high. It has caster wheels, so you can roll it around. Better yet, even with a propane tank fitted, it only weighs 37.4lbs, meaning it won’t be difficult to move. A rough fuel efficiency rate of lbs. of fuel per kWh is around 0.32. This makes it the least efficient propane heater on this list.
Although it’s not loaded with safety features, it’s got the 2 most important. There’s a tip-over protection and low-oxygen automatic shut off system. However, to be on the safe side, I’d recommend installing a carbon monoxide detector if you don’t already have one. Larger spaces should be fine, but it’ll be vital in smaller work areas.
- High BTU output for a small heater.
- Fairly fuel efficient.
- Works completely off grid (no electricity needed).
- An extra carbon monoxide detector is a good idea.
Best Gas Garage Heater: Dyna-Glo 30,000 BTU Wall Heater
- Heat. Cap: 30,000 BTU
- Heat settings: 3 (15,000 / 22,500 / 30,000)
- Heater type: Natural gas
As the title states, this Dyna-Glo heater has a BTU rating of 30,000, meaning it’s suitable for rooms up to 1,000 sq. ft. It should be ideal for pretty much all garages.
Importantly, it doesn’t need mains electricity for its ignition, as it’s battery powered. This means you can keep it off grid, provided you have a natural gas supply for it.
You can buy a model with a built-in blower. However, I haven’t chosen this for 2 reasons. First, we’re looking at quiet garage heaters, and adding a blower will make it louder (although we don’t have dB ratings for either). Second, user feedback states the blower isn’t great. This is likely because there’s not much clearance behind the heater, so it can’t draw in cold air properly.
You can check out this video for some information on performance and how long it’ll take to heat your garage.
There are 3 heat settings ranging from 15,000 to 30,000 BTU. Although there’s no thermostat, it’s not super necessary because the settings give you enough flexibility. Also, just in case it wasn’t obvious, this isn’t a portable heater because it’s wall mounted. Even so, it’ll do a good job of keeping your workspace warm.
The unit has an Oxygen Depletion sensor, which also monitors carbon monoxide levels, so you won’t need a separate unit. But bear in mind that gas heaters aren’t allowed in some US states, so check the rules before you buy this one.
- Heats up quickly.
- No moving parts – should be quiet.
- Functional and inexpensive.
- Not amazing for heating up an area.
Best Forced Air Heater: Mr. Heater F271390 Propane Heater
- Heat. Cap: 125,000 BTU
- Fuel consumption: 3.5 to 5.8 lbs/hr
- Run time:
- 11 hrs, for 40lbs cyl. (low)
- 6.6 hrs, for 40lbs cyl. (max)
- Heat settings: Knob
- Heater type: Propane – Radiant
The Mr. Heater F271390 heater puts out a whopping 125,000 BTU and states it’s suitable for rooms up to 3,000 sq. ft. Even in a room that big, it should heat things up in no time at all. You can get versions that go as low as 38,000 BTU, but they’re currently not available.
As you can probably imagine, this thing (literally) burns through propane at a massive rate. It’ll last 11 hours on its low setting when you hook up a 40lbs. tank of propane. This is significantly less time than the Gasland model above, but it’s a symptom of the heater style.
The heat output ranges from 75,000 to 125,000 BTU, which you control using a dial. Although the manufacturer claims it’s 50% quieter than a standard propane heater, this is unlikely because it uses forced air technology. Some users state it’s on the louder side, but it’s still quieter than other forced air heaters. This video shows the 60,000 BTU model in action to give you an idea of the expected noise level.
The expected runtime on low setting (75,000 BTU) is 11 hours. The product specification is very detailed when it comes about runtime and choosing the proper propane cylinder. A rough fuel efficiency for the F271390 is 0.16lbs. per kWh. This makes it the second-least efficient propane heater, but only by a tiny margin.
It’s surprisingly easy to set up, as you only need to connect the propane tank, ignite it, and set the temperature. The pack comes with a 10ft. hose and regulator, so you only need to supply the gas.
The biggest downside is that there’s no physical on/off switch. Instead, you need to turn the gas off at the tank. While this isn’t the biggest issue, it’s a minor feature that would vastly increase its usability.
- Massive heat output – ideal for larger spaces.
- Easy to set up.
- Quieter than other forced air heaters.
- No on/off switch.
Best Budget Pick: Shinic Electric Garage Heater
- Heat. Cap: 5,120 BTU
- Power: 1500 W
- Heat settings: 2 (2,560 / 5,120 BTU)
- Heater type: Electric – Quartz Infrared
I’ve chosen the Shinic electric garage heater as my budget pick because it’s fairly functional and, of course, is budget friendly. It has quartz heating elements that produce infrared heat, and it warms up incredibly quickly. For those who didn’t know, infrared quartz heaters are more efficient for radiant heat than ceramic infrared.
It’s a ceiling- or wall-mounted heater, but this is fine in garages. Not only does it help circulate heat better but it also means you don’t have to worry about kicking it over!
With a maximum output of 1500W, it’s only 25% as powerful as the Dr. Heat model above. This translates to 5120 BTU, which is suitable for a space between 150 and 200 sq. ft. If your garage is larger than this, either buy several or opt for a more powerful model.
Although not a massive bonus, it does have a built-in light, which is helpful. You get 2 temperature settings, and it comes with overheat shut-off. There’s not much else to this garage heater: it’s functional and inexpensive.
Some users state it’s not great for heating an area and instead only heats the space underneath it. This is often the case for infrared heaters, which is why they have blowers.
- Heats up quickly.
- No moving parts – should be quiet.
- Functional and inexpensive.
- Not amazing for heating up an area.
Top Portable Pick: Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX
- Heat. Cap: 9,000 BTU
- Fuel consumption:
- 0.18 lbs/hr (low)
- 0.40 lbs/hr (max)
- Run time:
- 5.4 hrs, for 1lb cyl. (low)
- 2.4 hrs, for 1lb cyl. (max)
- Heat settings: 2
- Heater type: Propane – Forced air
The Mr. Heater F232000 is specifically designed for portability. It’s got a robust design, including a folding handle and swivel-out regulator to make it more compact for travel. The casing is shock-resistant, too.
Its heat output ranges from 4,000 to 9,000 BTU, making it suitable for spaces up to 225 sq. ft. You can fit a 1lb. propane tank directly into its body, but there’s also the option to hook it up to a larger tank with an adaptor.
With a 1lb. tank, it can burn for up to 5.4 hours at its maximum BTU. Its fuel efficiency is 0.15lbs. per kWh, meaning it’s the most fuel efficient propane heater on this list.
Although this video doesn’t explicitly demonstrate the unit’s noise level, you can at least tell it’s pretty quiet when it’s running.
The heater has the standard safety features you’d expect. There’s tip-over protection and low oxygen shut-off. It has a piezo igniter, meaning you don’t need external electricity or fire to start it. Importantly, it only weighs 10lbs., so it’s pretty easy to carry around.
The major downside is that it’s perhaps not as portable-friendly as it seems. For example, you couldn’t use it in a tent or other flammable environment, and there’s always the risk of CO poisoning. However, this isn’t unique to this model but to propane heaters in general (it’ll be fine in a garage space).
- Ideal for moving around.
- Can run off larger propane tanks.
- Robust design.
- Piezo igniter can be temperamental.
What Matters when Choosing your Heater
Choosing a quiet garage heater is a bit more complex than other quiet devices, but this is mainly because there are different types available. To help you out, here’s a rundown of what I consider to be the most important factors.
I’d recommend starting with fuel type, as it’ll influence things like power, efficiency, and noise output.
Electric heaters typically use radiation and/or convection heating to warm a space. They may have a blower, which helps circulate hot air more efficiently. This helps compensate for the fact that they’re often less powerful than the alternatives. We can break them down into 2 general categories:
- Ceramic heaters. They are the easiest to understand because they simply pass a current through a high-resistance material. This is called Joule heating. In turn, this creates heat, which radiates outwards into the room. Electric heaters typically have the fewest moving parts (if any).
- Quartz infrared heaters. For pure radiation heating, quartz units are far more effective. They feature a coiled wire that emits infrared energy, which is then radiated into the room. The wire is inside a quartz tube that doesn’t block any of the infrared radiation, unlike ceramic. Although only minor, ceramic heating elements absorb some of the infrared emissions.
Unsurprisingly, propane heaters run on propane tanks. This makes them useful if you don’t have mains electricity in your garage, as the only power input they otherwise need is for the ignition.
Propane heaters create a flame, which then heats an element. It’s typically ceramic or porcelain, but it could also be a wire element. They’re good for radiating heat around a larger area, and some have a blower (such as a forced air heater) to make this more efficient.
To learn more about propane heaters, check out my top picks and buying guide for quiet propane heaters.
A gas heater runs off natural gas rather than propane. However, the basic principle is the same: it burns the fuel to create heat, which it then radiates into the room. It may have a heating element or it could just have an exposed flame.
The benefits are also the same, as you generally don’t need mains electricity and their efficiency is nearly 100%. A gas heater can have a blower fitted, but this’ll make it louder. It does mean you’ll either need a tank or a natural gas line in your garage, though.
As you can see, it’s not common for garage heaters to have a noise rating. The bottom line is that propane and gas heaters are the quietest overall, as they often don’t have blowers fitted. They’ll provide the best heating-to-noise ratio.
A standard electric heater isn’t necessarily loud either. However, they’re more likely to have a fan to aid circulation, which will make them louder. That said, gas and propane heaters can have fans but they’re not as common.
Depending on the type of heater, we can use one (or two) measurements of power. Generally, we’d use BTU, which stands for British Thermal Unit. There’s no standard correlation between BTUs and room size, as it depends on height, insulation, etc. Instead, use this calculator to get an approximation of the kind of BTU output you need.
The other measurement of power we can use, specifically for electric heaters, is wattage. Again, it’s easiest to use a calculator to work out the wattage you need. A general rule is that electric garage heaters will have a lower BTU output than propane or gas because of the cost associated with producing that much heat using electricity.
There’s not much else to say about BTU and room size that I haven’t covered already. Instead, we’ll look at fuel type related to room size.
If you have a small garage or only need to warm the immediate area, electric should be fine. For anything over 250 sq. ft., go for propane or gas. The cost-to-heat ratio is generally better, as electric is one of the least cost-efficient ways to heat a space.
Energy efficiency is a difficult factor to discuss with these different fuel sources. Typically, we use EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio). It’s suitable for appliances such as HVAC units because it looks at heating/cooling capacity in relation to power requirements.
But, as mentioned, the only heater type to draw electrical power is an electric heater. Propane and gas heaters can typically run off grid, provided they have a built-in ignition.
In terms of raw efficiency, electric converts 100% of its power into heat. Propane and gas heaters are usually up to 99% efficient, although this’ll depend on the unit and build quality, among other factors.
A good illustration of this is establishing a comparison of the propane consumption rate of the model reviewed:
The Mr. Heater F232000 and F271390 are the most fuel efficient. They consume 0.15 and 0.16 lbs of propane per kW of heat emitted. It’s more than 2-times more efficient than the Gasland.
Instead, let’s consider cost efficiency. A 20lb. propane tank could cost as little as $7.78 to fill, which could last 69 hours if you were using the Gasland heater above. If you were to use the Dr. Heat electric heater, the same heating time could cost $69. This is based on the average American price for a kWh and the fact that its rating is 6kWh.
If we compare how much it would cost to output 1 kWh of heat of the models reviewed, it looks as follows:
The bottom line is that electric heaters are generally the most expensive to run. Natural gas is by far the cheapest per kWh of heat (it’s roughly one-third of the cost of electric). An efficient propane heater is a bit cheaper than electric. You can find some rough figures here.
Fixed or Portable?
Deciding whether you want a fixed or portable heater shouldn’t be too hard. If your garage isn’t massive or you have a single workplace, fixed should be fine. A wall- or ceiling-mounted heater will generally circulate heat more efficiently because it reduces the chance of obstacles.
However, if you move around your garage, portable heaters are the obvious choice. You must balance this against the fact that they’re typically less powerful, though. But if you want portability and more power at the expense of noise output, a forced air heater is the way to go.
A good option for portable heaters are simple space heaters. Check out my full article on space heaters for some suggestions, many of which include actual noise ratings.
A thermostat isn’t a completely necessary feature, as most garage heaters have at least some temperature control. Generally, it’s a simple 3 or 4 settings that adjust the BTU output. Provided you have at least some flexibility over temperature, this should be fine.
The benefit of a thermostat is that you can set the heater to an exact temperature, or at least have more control over it. You might find you’re paying more for the pleasure, so don’t put too much effort into it.
At the very least, your garage heater should have overheat protection. This is true for all fuel types. As the name suggests, it shuts the heater off if it gets too hot or malfunctions.
For gas and propane heaters, make sure you’ve also got tip-over protection. It’s important because they’ll have some kind of flame, which could set things on fire if it falls over.
Finally, low-oxygen shut-off is a must for these fuel types, too. Again, it’s pretty self-explanatory: if the heater detects low amounts of oxygen in the air, it’ll shut off.
In smaller garages, I’d recommend having an independent carbon monoxide detector too, just for safety. Larger spaces won’t have the same issue, as there should be better circulation.
Arguably the easiest heater to set up will be electric: you just plug it into a wall outlet. But propane and gas aren’t too far behind: you connect them to a tank and turn them on.
After that, installation can be as complicated as you want it to be. For example, wall-mounted heaters take more effort, and portable ones will likely require more assembly.
Electric vs. Gas vs. Propane Heater
To finish, let’s look at which type of heater is best based on certain criteria. I won’t explain each answer too much because they’ll use information I’ve discussed above. Instead, think of it as a quick-fire decision-making tool.
A quartz infrared electrical heater without a blower is probably the quietest because it has the fewest moving parts. This is followed by propane and then gas garage heaters.
Big Heating Capacity
Propane is best because, as demonstrated, you can get 125,000 BTU heaters. The fuel source and heating type make it ideal for large garages.
If money is no object, electrical heaters are arguably the most energy efficient. However, natural gas heaters are the cheapest to run in terms of fuel cost and running efficiency. Propane is somewhere in the middle, and is marginally quieter than a natural gas heater.
Electric heaters are the easiest to set up because they’re basically plug-and-go. However, as long as you know how to hook up a gas tank and where to install it, propane isn’t far behind.
Provided you’re happy to carry a heavier heater, propane is arguably the most portable. The model I reviewed above takes 1lb. tanks and has no cables or tubes to get in the way. You can apply the same logic to gas heaters.
However, if you want a lighter model and have a wall outlet nearby, an electric heater is a good choice. Failing the wall outlet, you’d need a generator or a battery.
I hope the above information has helped you narrow down your top pick for the best quiet garage heater.
I don’t really have an overall top pick because each fuel type has its own merits. However, if I were to pick the best all-rounder, it’d be the Gasland MHA18B Propane Heater. It’s fairly compact, easy to move around, and heats up quickly.
Do you have any other tips for choosing a decent garage heater? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.