Kev Quirk

Warming up the Garage 🔥

14 Jan 2024 | ~3 minute read

After renovating the Garage, it's still very cold in there, thanks to Welsh winters. I have a small electric heater, but it wasn't good enough, so I upgraded.

Back in early January, while off work for the Christmas break, I decided it was a good time to service one of my motorbikes, specifically, my Royal Enfield.

Obligatory pictures of the Enfield in bits during the service:

My Royal Enfield, being serviced in the garage
A close up of my Royal Enfield being serviced

It was cold outside, around 4°C (39°F), and it wasn't much warmer in the garage. So I switched on my little electric fan heater. I'd assumed that the little heater would have been enough to heat the room, but alas, after 3 hours it was still freezing cold in there. But was that just anecdotal, or fact? I needed data...

I have a little bluetooth thermometer that I keep in the garage to record temperature swings, so I checked the companion app, and sure enough in the 3 hours during the service, the temperature had raised a paltry 0.9°C (1.6°F):

Temperature in the garage when I started the service (5.8°C)
Temperature in the garage (6.7°C) after 3 hours of heat

Time for an upgrade

Running a fan heater isn't cheap, because they rely on an electric heating element to provide the heat. The one I have draws 2kW of power. So I decided to shop around for alternatives that didn't use a load of electricity, yet packed more of a heating punch.

After some research, I came across "space heaters" which use either diesel or heating oil (kerosine) as the heat source. The only electricity they use is a pump for the oil and a fan to blow the heat into the room, which combined is far less current than an electric heater.

Better still, the heating and hot water system in our house runs off heating oil, so I have hundreds of litres of the stuff in the garden, waiting to be siphoned off and used by the new space heater.

Space heater vs electric heater

As you can see, the black space heater is slightly larger than the little white electric heater. This beast puts out 10kW of heating power, so it's like running 5 of those little heaters, for a fraction of the electricity.

Testing the space heater

I decided to run a little test to make sure the space heater would actually do what I needed. I turned the heater on, set a timer for 10 minutes on my phone, then switched it off again. Here's the results:

The temperature (4.4°C) before the heater was turned on
The temperature (5.8°C) after the heater had run for 10 minutes

So in 10 minutes my new space heater had increased the heat in the garage by 1.4°C (2.5°F). Remember, the electric heater only managed 0.9°C (1.6°F) in three hours. So rather than running an electric heater for multiple hours when I'm in there, I should be able to run the space heater for 20-30 minutes, warm the garage up enough, then turn the thing off. All for a fraction of the electricity.


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