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  1. #1
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    Workshop/garage heating and humidity solutions?

    A few threads came up with a 'garage' search regarding options and ideas of a garage setup. Some good pictures, some conversation of peg board vs cabinets. However I am curious if anyone else has an answer or is having the problem that I am.

    Finally got into my first home. New. 2 car garage. Plenty big. I split it in half, one car gets space, the other side is for bikes. 19 on the wall for my wife and I, hanging on the wall, large hooks placed into studs. (fyi - a previous rental had them all at the same level and you would alternate hanging them by top/back wheel to get them to fit, however I staggered them 10 inches, so they can all hang by the front wheels.... much less hassle when you realize you are off sequence or trying to pick up a big MTB bike from the back end). We also have the trainers and rollers and a TV for workouts.

    Anyhow, the issue I am having is temperature/humidity. We went out the other day, rode a few hours on the mountain in the snow, had some water crossings, and basically froze out cables so we couldnt shift up front. After the ride at the house, it is just warm enough to melt the ice after a few hours, however it is pretty darn cold to work in the shop.

    Question 1) Do you use a heat source in the winter? Ive kinda been looking at a halogen heater.... low electric use, no propane fumes/explosion risk, and its not trying to heat the whole place.

    Next:
    Unless I use a rag to dry the bikes off, and any clothing (gloves, shoes) we leave out there do NOT dry. We live in the PNW (base of Galbraith Mtn if you wanna go ride!), and obviously there is going to be some moisture. I bought a PEET dryer for the shoes, but really would like the bikes to dry well after washing and when hanging.

    Question 2) Do you use a dehumidifier in the garage, or set some sort of fan blowing to assist with drying tasks? Or possibly combine the two and just use a bigger heating element to dry when needed as well as heat me when Im working in there?

    A little lengthy, I apologize. Thanks for taking the time to consider it. Any other things that you put into your workspace and love, I would like to hear it! (like rubber mats on floors or something?

  2. #2
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    If you heat your garage the relative humidity will automatically drop as a result of heating the air, no matter how you heat it, so you shouldn't need a dehumidifier during the winter. An un-vented flame type heater (propane, kerosene, etc.) WILL add moisture to the air, however. The combination of heat and lower humidity will help bikes and clothing melt and dry faster. A fan to move the air over the objects will also speed things up and properly aimed will help keep the warm air from collecting at the ceiling where it does little good.

    I'd dry shoes and gloves in a heated area, though. If you are using a radiant heater place it where it will direct heat onto the objects to be dried; stuff in the shadows will stay relatively cold. Any type of electric heater will have similar efficiency as all of the electricity will be converted to heat; a radiant type of heater will tend to warm the objects it shines on more that the air although the warm objects will indirectly heat the air. 1500 watts (or so) of electricity will eventually have the same heating effect no matter how you deliver it.

    I have a closed-cell mat in front of my workbench, more for foot comfort than for warmth since my basement shop is heated, but not standing on cold floors will help keep you warm while you work; there are also heated mats available. .

  3. #3
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    Hi milnerpt, I used a 1/2 shoe box sized electric heater years ago and promptly saw a $50+ dollar increase in our electric bill (and I didn't even use it that much). Gave the thing away after that. Don't know if the halogen heaters are so "power hungry" tho.

    As for the humidity, it seems that some newer garages aren't quite ventilated like they used to be. The garage on our 2004 house was "fully finished" (i.e. sheet rocked, textured, and painted when we bought it) and, as such, doesn't have as much ventilation as our previous houses/condos. This, of course, has led to more humidity and dampness than I'd like.

    Anyway, I've been looking into several dehumidifier options and it seems that A/C powered types are know for using a fair amount of energy as well as producing quite a bit of heat. This led me to look into various "passive" (non electric) dehumidifier designs that are, more or less, based on absorbent materials. However, these DH types must be allowed to "dry out" periodically By placing the unit in the sun or in a drier area for a day or so.

    Unfortunately, I still haven't decided on what, if any, type of dehumidifier to use.

    HTH

  4. #4
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    lowering the Humidity in Seattle is like getting the Sand out of a desert..

    I'm using an Oil filled electric radiator (portable) to heat one room in my apartment right now.

    costs too much to heat anything More.

    Partition off the work area so You dont have to pour out the quantity of heat
    to bring both car's worth of space up.

    NOAA says : Patchy freezing fog. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 32. Light east wind...
    So frost on road and MUP where the shadows keep them in the shade.

    high will not get far from 40.

  5. #5
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    Dehumidifying is never cheap. Nearly any portable unit will run off a standard 15 amp household circuit. The power consumption have to be less that 1800 watts, or it would trip a breaker. I'd assume no more than 1600 watts, or 1.6Kw. Multiply 1.6 times you electrical rate (mine's about 13.5 cents per Kw-hr) and you get the cost to operate unit. With my figures, that's 21.6 cents per hour.

    A small portable heater will cost about the same amount per hour to operate. If both units are run at the same time, it would be 43 cents per hour and it adds up fast.

    A unit like this would probably do the trick.

    http://www.homedepot.com/buy/whynter...-rpd-401w.html

    I've rented much larger units, like the one linked below, but they have a hose that must be run to a drain. They're a must when doing big painting or drywall jobs, inside a house, in the winter.

    http://www.cleanfreak.com/Qstore/p00...FYVFMgodFSMApg

  6. #6
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    need to seal off the garage, tightly, to keep from pulling all the moisture in Seattle in through the cracks.

  7. #7
    SE Wis dedhed's Avatar
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    Most Codes require any open flame in a garage to be 18" off the ground. Many require more. I just visited a friend up north and when he built his garage (attached) he ran PEX in the floor and uses a tankless water heater as the boiler.
    '68 Raleigh Sprite, '02 Raleigh C500, '84 Raleigh Gran Prix, '91 Trek 400

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    It is doubtful that a refrigerant type dehumidifier in an unheated space in Seattle would be able to work without the evaporator coil freezing up. Why don't you try the heater and see if the humidity comes down enough? Forget using absorbers; it would be like bailing out a boat with a teaspoon, you need to take gallons per day out of the air to make any difference.

    I would not use any open flame heaters in a space with cars in it due to the explosive nature of gasoline vapors; they will travel along the floor for long distances. I'd even keep electric ones off of the floor to keep sparking of the thermostat contacts away from gas vapors.

  9. #9
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    Use rags to dry/clean the bikes and bring any wet clothes, shoes, etc. into your house and put them in the clothes dryer or over a drying rack. I like to put wet shoes next to the furnace or water heater as they dry pretty quickly but don't get warm enough to damage them. Stuffing soaking wet shoes with newspaper (remove the insoles first) and letting them sit over night does a wonderful job of pulling out the water.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    I'll just mention that with electric heaters, Watts is Watts. Those Watts may be in the form of hot air (convective), glow (radiant heat), or often some combination, but no electric heater is more or less efficient than another. All of the electricity consumed winds up as Watts of heat in the room. One type of heater that I've used in large areas was a radiant heater, some with parabolic reflectors. These provide a infrared light beam that heats whatever it hits, but not the air, so you feel the warmth but the volume of the room isn't heated very much. This works fairly well to keep warm when working on something, and if you direct it to "shine" on your bikes they will get warm. It's still pretty expensive to run.

    One trick we used to use was to cover equipment with a tarp and put a 100W light incandescent drop light in with it. The 100W was enough to reduce relative humidity and prevent condensation and help dry stuff off.

    Of course the high-dollar solution is to insulate the garage and garage door and either extend your house's heat system or install another in the garage, perhaps even a pellet stove?

  11. #11
    Senior Member woodcraft's Avatar
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    I love my Peet's shoe dryer.

    My garage shop is just cold in winter- rubber floor mats, as mentioned, maybe a small radiant heater to warm yourself.

    A small enclosed area i.e. bikes covered with tarp, could be warmed with a light bulb or equivalent.

    Air movement helps the moisture somewhat. An unventilated garage that opens to the house lets a lot of fumes in from the hot car. I like turbine roof vents- passive, large opening, and surprisingly, keep the rain out.

  12. #12
    S'Cruzer pierce's Avatar
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    maybe a dedicated bike cleaning/drying area separate from your storage racks, with a radiant heater on a 1-2 hour timer so you can hose off the bike before you bring it in, then leave it under the heater to be dried. then a few hours later or the next day, hang it up on your racks.

    just a random idea.

  13. #13
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    One problem with most garage areas is little or no insulation, so trying to keep the space warm is going to cost a lot of money. When I built my retirement home on a 2 acre lot in Loveland, Colorado, I built a separate 1800 s.f. workshop. I bought an 18’x 9’ garage door with the best insulation that I could find (R-17). I put the standard R-38 insulation above the ceiling. The minimum wall insulation is R-19 and about 70 lineal feet of wall has 18 inches of fiberglass stuffed into a 15" thick wall. The foundation has R-10 foam insulation and there's R-10 foam under the concrete slab floor. I heat the shop with a 92% efficient forced-air furnace, much like the one in my home. My house has better insulation, with R-26 in the first floor walls, R-23 in the basement walls and R-60 in the ceiling. I use a 95% efficient forced-air gas furnace with zone control in the house. My December gas bill was $97, with below average temperatures for the month. About $22 of that is gas for the water heater. The other $75 is home and workshop heating, but I only kept the workshop at 55 degrees, since I haven’t been doing any work out there, lately. I can only guess that it costs about $20 per month to heat the workshop, since the house is 3000 s.f. on the main floor (ranch style) and the same for the basement, that’s mostly finished and heated.

  14. #14
    Senior Member calstar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
    One problem with most garage areas is little or no insulation, so trying to keep the space warm is going to cost a lot of money. When I built my retirement home on a 2 acre lot in Loveland, Colorado, I built a separate 1800 s.f. workshop. I bought an 18’x 9’ garage door with the best insulation that I could find (R-17). I put the standard R-38 insulation above the ceiling. The minimum wall insulation is R-19 and about 70 lineal feet of wall has 18 inches of fiberglass stuffed into a 15" thick wall. The foundation has R-10 foam insulation and there's R-10 foam under the concrete slab floor. I heat the shop with a 92% efficient forced-air furnace, much like the one in my home. My house has better insulation, with R-26 in the first floor walls, R-23 in the basement walls and R-60 in the ceiling. I use a 95% efficient forced-air gas furnace with zone control in the house. My December gas bill was $97, with below average temperatures for the month. About $22 of that is gas for the water heater. The other $75 is home and workshop heating, but I only kept the workshop at 55 degrees, since I haven’t been doing any work out there, lately. I can only guess that it costs about $20 per month to heat the workshop, since the house is 3000 s.f. on the main floor (ranch style) and the same for the basement, that’s mostly finished and heated.
    A big +1. Without insulation heating a given space=big$, no matter the type of heater used, so be prepared to pay accordingly. Likewise the larger the space the larger the heating bill. Nice work DaveSSS, you're way ahead of the heating game and kudos for your insulation choices.
    "The older I get the better I was" (from Old Guys Rule t-shirt)

  15. #15
    S'Cruzer pierce's Avatar
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    the radiant heater heats the stuff directly rather than trying to heat the air, so it /would/ work fairly well for drying out a wet bike, even in a cold dank uninsulated garage. do figure on 1200 to 1500 watts when its on, this translates to 1.2-1.5 KWH per hour its on... if you just use it a couple hours after said wet ride, thats less than $1. if its on for hours and hours every day, well, kaching, kaching... it adds up on a monthly/annual basis...

  16. #16
    Fred-ish rogerstg's Avatar
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    I have dehumidifiers in my basement and in my unheated (but attached) garage. They don't operate much in the winter because cold air holds very little moisture. They mainly prevent rust and corrosion on my tools and sporting equipment.

    I use an electric fan aimed at the wet items to dry things left in the cold garage. It works great.
    Best regards,
    Roger

  17. #17
    John Wayne Toilet Paper nhluhr's Avatar
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    The dehumidifier will be very ineffective in a cold garage because the way it works is identical to an air conditioner except the condenser is downwind of the evaporator. In a very cold garage, the evaporator (cold side of unit) will not be able to condense enough moisture out of the cold air to make much difference and the unit's metering valves will limit the unit's work output (to prevent the evaporator from freezing over) so the condenser side won't get much warmer.

    A simple heater will be far more effective. As somebody above correctly pointed out, simply raising the temperature in the garage will dry the air out since the relative humidity will drop as air temperature increases.

  18. #18
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    I agree that a refrigeration type dehumidifier won't work if the temp is low, but running a heater alone does not remove any water from the air. The absolute humidity remains the same, unless water is removed. Continually running a small heater would be costly and make little difference in the temperature.

  19. #19
    Fred-ish rogerstg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nhluhr View Post
    As somebody above correctly pointed out, simply raising the temperature in the garage will dry the air out since the relative humidity will drop as air temperature increases.
    Except that you're both wrong. Raising the temperature does not dry the air. Aside from the misconception about relative humidity, warm air holds more water than cold air, so the consequence of bringing the the cold bike into a warm moist environment is condensation on all cold metal surfaces.

    That's why a simple fan works best in cold weather; a dehumidifier works well at temps above 40F (if it's a damp environment) and a space heater can be used as needed when planning to work in the area.
    Best regards,
    Roger

  20. #20
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    "Raising the temperature does not dry the air."

    Raising the temperature does not change the amount of water in the air, the "absolute humidity". It does, by raising the amount of water the air can hold, lower the "relative humidity" and increase evaporation rates from moist surfaces.

    From a Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relative_humidity:
    "5 C air at 80% relative humidity warmed to 68 F or 20 C will have a relative humidity of only 29% and feel dry."

    Wet objects in this warmer, lower RH air will also dry more quickly.

  21. #21
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    Lots of responses... and I thank you for that!

    Considering I dont want to run up a big electric bill, I think Ill look something more along the lines of a fan to direct on the bike(s) for a few hours after washing (that way if I leave it overnight, it wont run up a huge bill), yet hasten the drying process.

    Ill likely get some sort of small heater for use when I am working out there (literally only for a few hours a week), as Im sure in the warmer months, it wont be necessary.

    Im not looking for sealing, insulating, etc etc the garage, but will likely get some rubber mats down for the work area and training sessions. We do have a mud-room with washer dryer at the garage entrance, but its not going to tolerate 2 bikes to dry, as all the nutrition, bottles, gloves, etc are stored there.

    At some point, Ill get some pictures up.... Im happy enough getting all (or most) of the bikes on the wall.

  22. #22
    Senior Member rootboy's Avatar
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    How are the propane prices up there? When I built my shop, I used a direct vent wall heater. Draws combustion air from and vents exhaust to the outside.
    Some upfront cost, but they work very well.
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...ZGNW0F2MVTTCSD

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