Question about Heating & Cooling

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I live in Wisconsin (so it gets cold) and I just built a 1,000 sqft detached garage with 9' walls and I looking for the most efficient way to heat it. I will generally only be using it on weekends, but, wouldn't mind keeping it moderatly warm throughout the week as well. Looking for recommendations . . . . Thanks, Rob

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  • rob_hummel Nov 12, 2010

    Sorry,
    I should have included that it is fully insulated and sheeted with 1/2" osb inside.

    Sorry, to be so blunt, but I am very aware of the different types of fuels available . . .Oil, NG, LP

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Hi Rob - There are a bunch of variables that come into play. If you're going to use liquid fuels such as K1 kerosene or "home heating oil" (red dyed diesel fuel without the "road use tax"), you have to consider the tank location. Since home heating oil is really dyed diesel fuel, is reacts to cold just like diesel fuel does. It begins to gel - paraffin separates and the fuel gets cloudy around the 20 degree F mark and can clog the supply lines and filter. It gets worse as it gets colder. You can get around this somewhat by installing larger diameter and insulated fuel supply lines and moving the filter bowl assembly inside where it won't be subjected to that much cold. Your dealer may put additives in the fuel to prevent separation or you can add it yourself. K1 can be added to home heating oil tank to reduce clouding and straight K1 can be burned by an oil burner (you can not burn home heating oil in a K1 heater though). K1 on the other hand, flows just fine at these temps and lower. You'll need to supply storage tanks for these fuels.

The amount of heat or BTU's per gallon of these two fuels is significant. Home heating oil checks in with 50% more heat with around 140,000 BTUs per gallon while K1 has just over 90,000 BTUs per gallon. Cost is another factor. Typically, K1 sells for more than home heating oil, but has the benefits above. Prices for home heating oil and K1 are volatile and change daily and from dealer to dealer. Many dealers will lock prices and / or offer purchasing plans.

Next is natural gas (or just plain "gas") and propane (or LP). Gas is usually delivered via underground supply pipes and propane is delivered by truck to your on-site tank in areas that don't have the underground gas pipe infrastructure in place. The LP dealer will usually supply and install an above ground tank. You'll likely have just LP or both LP and gas available in your area. Heating appliances must be set up to burn one fuel or the other - not both. It is often a relatively inexpensive operation to convert from one fuel to the other, meaning separate appliances for either are not required. Gas prices are usually fixed for different times of the year, while LP prices may change daily and based on the volume used. Lower usage customers often pay more than their next door neighbors that use more from propane the same company. Like home heating oil and K1 dealers, many companies offer price locks and purchasing plans.

Gas and LP heating appliances burn "clean" meaning that there is little smoke, soot or tuning needed. Oil and K1 however, require regular tuning and cleaning to achieve maximum efficiency. Oil and K1 will burn but not rapidly combust - as gasoline would. LP and gas however, will explode if allowed to collect in an enclosed area and ignited by spark from a ringing telephone, etc. Prices of the heating appliance itself come into play as well.

You can heat the space by your choice of fuel and method of heat delivery. Forced hot air is probably going to be your best choice, but you could choose a forced hot water system if you add antifreeze to it. You'll also need a source of water to make up any lost due to pressure relief valve discharges, etc. If you chose the forced hot air system, you could probably get away without the expense of duct work - where a forced hot water design will require baseboard radiant heaters or a fan forced hot water coil.

That should be enough to get you thinking.. good luck!
Lastly, electric heat. Electric heat is 100% efficient, but is probably the most costly to operate. It's listed because it is available - not because I recommend it.

The best thing you can do is insulate. Insulation pays you back quicker with each rise in fuel costs. Put money into proper insulation as you can. Low E glass in your windows, weather strip doors, etc.

Posted on Nov 12, 2010

  • Steve Nov 12, 2010

    No problem. Your question, like too many others here - didn't provide the detail needed to get the info you're looking for. It's hard to know specifically what kind of "recommendations" you're looking for - if you don't say. Do you want a recommendation for a brand name of a reliable furnace? Or burner? Programmable thermostat? Fuel dealer? Or what??

    Sorry to be so blunt.. but no one can read your mind! Please, tell us what you've got and what you want!

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