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Heating an old garage

 
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My wife and I moved onto a historic 2 acre lot with a house from somewhere between 1870 and 1900 (records building burned down) and four outbuildings. One of those is a standalone garage with barn doors and a metal roof. The plan right now is to turn this into a workshop, but as winter is fast approaching the weather will soon be a bit cold for the unheated building. Does anyone have any recommendations for short term and long term heating solutions? I would like to be able to work on converting the building during the cold months and have it ready to go for spring, and if possible I'd also like to plan what kind of heating I need to have out there long term.

Right now there is no power running to the garage, but there's an old conduit with a cut off wire in it that I'm hopeful is still in tact so I can use it to pull new line through. Still need to find where it starts from in the house.

Any advice on the heating issue or setting up a new shop are welcome :)
20200811_173221.jpg
Wife painting the new barn doors
Wife painting the new barn doors
 
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My short-term goal would be to seal as many leaks as possible and install as much insulation as you can.  Insulation will make or break you as far as being able to heat your garage and keep it heated for a reasonable amount of fuel.

A torpedo heater can make the garage warm enough that you aren't miserable working in it, but long term, I would put in a wood stove or a pellet stove.  We have a pellet stove in my lady's current house and I love it.  It's been maintenance free except for cleaning, on the coldest days of the year you only load the hopper once in the morning and once in the evening.  Well worth the money.  If you don't mind cutting wood (I kind of like it), a wood stove can be added more cheaply generally, and if you have wood available, you will get by cheaper than a pellet stove, even figuring in your fuel and maintenance for your chainsaw.  If you figure in your time as worth money, maybe not.  I put soapstone stoves in our new house because I have lots of wood, and I like cutting and splitting.  YMMV.
 
Brian Holmes
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Hey Trace,

That makes a lot of sense. The walls on 2 sides are cinder block, and the back wall is stone. Above that is metal roof on wood framing. I think the roof portions should be easy to insulate, and I'm guessing the cinderblock walls will need some kind of framing to hold insulation to. There are also windows on those walls, so I'll need to extend the window frame.

The hardest part (at least in my mind) is the barn doors. I'll need some kind of flexible flaps to overlap the doors, and perhaps the same for the inch or two they hang off the ground.

I'll look into designing in some kind of wood stove to my layout

PS - ideally I won't be covering the back (stone) wall in anything as I really like how it looks. May have to sacrifice efficiency for aesthetics there, but I'll take it!
 
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Hey Brian;  For this winter I would hang plastic over the inside of the doors.
Yes the ceiling is the best place to start, you'll get the most improvement from that.
A portable propane heater will make it livable inside while your working.
As far as long term  I'm a big fan of wood burning. Specifically of rocket mass heaters.
If you want info about them then hop on over to the rmh forum and start reading.
 
Brian Holmes
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Hey Thomas,

I love RMH's, but I'm loathe to give up too much floor space in my shop. If there's a good compromise there, I'm all for it. Right now I'm leaning towards a wood burning stove as there are woods not too far away and I can harvest some when I go on hikes (downed by storms, at least).

The plastic on the doors is a great plan. If I plan to only move the middle 2 doors, I should be able to hang a nice continuous piece on each side. I could even just hang 2 sheets from the frame above the doors to the floor, and pin back the opening when needed. Appreciate the idea!

Will also look into portable propane, there are some sales going on.
 
Trace Oswald
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Builditsolar.com has some really cool ways of insulating doors like yours.  Here is one of them;  Solar Garage Heating  It's DIY plans to insulate and solar-heat your garage if the door is south facing.  It's basically Thomas's hanging plastic idea taken up a notch.
 
thomas rubino
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So Brian;  A standard wood burning box stove is not very large.  The space the stove takes up is minimal... However add in the 2-4' clearance that everything must have suddenly your using at least a 4' x 4' space...
A brick bell 6" batchbox  can easily fit in a 4 x 4 space, although it will be 5' tall.
Basically the same space that box stove will take up....
The difference is anything can be set next to a batchbox including your comfy chair... A guy must sit back and survey his domain once in a while you know...
Building a batch is a project you would want to take your time on. They are not very technical to build but it does take some time.
Luckily there is a new rocket stove parts store opening that could help you acquire the proper parts to build one.
 
Brian Holmes
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Thomas - Any reading suggestions on reading for batchboxes? I'm all for being able to be next to it.

Trace - My door faces east, but my big problem would be having the contents of the room visible from the street. I have a window on the south side I'm considering trying to pull some kind of solar setup through, but my wife might be trying to plant a cutting garden bed there, so I may not get dibs.
 
thomas rubino
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Hi brian;  I'll start by sending you to the batchbox innovators site first.   http://batchrocket.eu/en/
This is Perter Bergs website.  It can be intimidating with so much information but it has the answers to all questions.
I suggest checking it out and then come to the rmh forum and search out builds . I have several recent batch builds that are highly documented.
Another site would be Matt Walkers.  Matt has developed a riserless batch core. Like Peter  he freely shares his information.  Matt also sells detailed plans to build his stoves.
Here is his site.  https://walkerstoves.com/index.html
 
Trace Oswald
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thomas rubino wrote:Hi brian;  I'll start by sending you to the batchbox innovators site first.   http://batchrocket.eu/en/
This is Perter Bergs website.  It can be intimidating with so much information but it has the answers to all questions.
I suggest checking it out and then come to the rmh forum and search out builds . I have several recent batch builds that are highly documented.
Another site would be Matt Walkers.  Matt has developed a riserless batch core. Like Peter  he freely shares his information.  Matt also sells detailed plans to build his stoves.
Here is his site.  https://walkerstoves.com/index.html



Add me to the list of people that are intimidated by the huge amount of information, unfamiliar terminology, different types of RMHs, etc.  I need a "for dummies" book that just says "do this. next, do this. after that, do this..."  No need to take this thread adrift though.
 
Brian Holmes
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I'm enjoying reading the site so far. I can skip over the explanations on combustion and whatnot and get straight to the operations explanation. Good site, much appreciated.
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