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Workshop warming

What to do about high energy bills

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mick H28/04/2022 12:02:35
766 forum posts
28 photos

Although well wrapped up, it felt flipping cold in the workshop this morning. So much so that I abandoned it at 1130. I could have switched on my electric heater.....3x1kw bars.....but we all know why I didn't.....or am I just being silly. It has set me thinking though, that if at the end of April I am forced to beat a retreat, what am I going to do in December, January, February and March? Without getting into the climate change debate there is not much evidence of global warming in this corner of England.

The options are not very attractive. I could Just shut down for those months and possibly bring a bit of work indoors. I could use my current heat source, shut up and just pay the extortionate energy bills. I could even abandon the hobby altogether and sit and go to seed indoors. I am just on the right side of 80 at the moment so maybe this is a nudge in that direction. Perhaps working to a daily or weekly energy budget and abandoning ship when this is reached would be possible but it would be pretty inconvenient in the middle of some work. What about infra red heaters that apparently will warm me but not waste energy on warming the air around me?

Whilst the 2022/23 winter is still some months ahead I am trying to think of solutions but not making much progress. Any thoughts, members of the jury?


Bill Phinn28/04/2022 12:50:17
753 forum posts
113 photos

Dress technically, Mick.

A goose-down or heated body warmer and hat. When really cold, thermal base layers as well.

Just avoid long, or at least floppy, sleeves at all costs.


Edited By Bill Phinn on 28/04/2022 12:51:31

colin hamilton28/04/2022 12:52:24
140 forum posts
61 photos

I've got a space heater which is good but of course you need to buy the fuel. I also put in a log burner which is great and I can scavenge most of the fuel but I find myself sitting in front of it drinking tea!!

mgnbuk28/04/2022 13:04:33
1188 forum posts
71 photos

I bought a vehicle diesel night heater kit ( like this ) & fabricated an angle iron frame to hold it and a 12V PSU for heating my garage/workshop.

Making the frame was a bit of a pain & if I were to do the job again I would start with an "integrated" version like this Diesel heater and power it using a 12v PSU (the heaters take around 10A to start up & around 2A when running at temperature). The integrated versions have a built-in 5 litre tank, but mine sips from a 25 litre oil drum.

Be aware that the exhaust must be routed outside the building & that the exhaust pipe gets very hot !

They will run on either red or white diesel, parafin or heating oil & a 5Kw version uses about half a litre an hour running flat out. Mine is a bit noisier than an electric fan heater inside the garage (but not objectionably so) & the exhaust (with supplied silencer fitted) is a low purr outside the building . Unlike an electric fan heater it does actually warm the space !

Nigel B.

Jon Lawes28/04/2022 13:19:09
927 forum posts

I have the same system as Nigel (but integrated), I drilled a hole in the brick wall for the exhaust and have two outlet ducts in the workshop. I also have two carbon monoxide detectors of different brands because I'm rather paranoid about fumes having had a friend brain injured by Carbon Monoxide.

It's very effective, some people have had varying reliabilty but I think making sure you run it for a decent amount of time so it doesn't soot up helps.

jaCK Hobson28/04/2022 13:30:28
262 forum posts
92 photos

I got a heated vest/gilet which works very well. Mine has a heated collar which is nice.

Edited By jaCK Hobson on 28/04/2022 13:31:37

Rockingdodge28/04/2022 13:48:13
315 forum posts
72 photos

Mine's the same as Nigels, been running it in a 5mtr x 7mtr workshop with 4" insulation in the roof and 2" in the walls.

I've had it for 3 years now, I start it about a hour before I go into the shop to take the chill off, so far I've bought 150 litres of kerosene @ less than 50p per ltr and reckon I've got enough to last through the next winter plus. The bonus with these heaters is that it circulates the air in the shop so doesn't introduce cold damp air from outside.

Never had an issue with it.


Edited By Rockingdodge on 28/04/2022 13:50:47

DMB28/04/2022 13:50:57
1312 forum posts
1 photos

So the old chestnut is back, albeit in slightly different form.

1 To keep workshop even slightly warm-ish, you need to use something that's on 24/7, in my opinion (and experience.) Having said that, there is also a timer in circuit, allowing a switch off for a few hours in the warmest part of the day. This being adjusted according to season.

Even a garage can be insulated, the initial cost being recovered in the saving of actual heat.

If heater(s) connected via a thermostat to limit rise in temperature, that should help to make running cost a bit more economical.

Every large machine, e.g., lathe, mill, etc., are covered when not in use, covers will trap heat rising from the heater in the drip tray. Any escaping heat will gently warm the rest of the workshop.

My system works well for me in the "Sunny Sarf" (Sussex) and it hasn't bankrupted me yet.

Adrian R228/04/2022 13:57:15
164 forum posts
5 photos

Is your workshop insulated and draught proofed? If not, can you make it so or at least improve it before autumn?

Ady128/04/2022 13:58:49
5090 forum posts
736 photos

I got a fleecy "snood" as an xmas present and went out to buy 2 more within a week because they are so good

Wish I'd known about them when I used to hillwalk, been wearing one practically every day since I got it

We don't get much global warming in Jockland

Edited By Ady1 on 28/04/2022 14:06:36

Neil Lickfold28/04/2022 14:19:58
862 forum posts
195 photos

Mine, I have a heat pump AC unit and keep it about 20c all year round. Put the most insulation in all the walls possible and the most insulation in the roof. The 1 window is double glazed with a heat rating of 63 what evers. Out here in NZ the std double glazing is only around 15 to 20 for the insulation value. I found that having it set on a permanent low fan speed, in the summer months I have it on cooling, and now we are approaching winter, I have switched it over to heating. Running costs year round is about $350 for the year approximately. The floor of the workshop is concrete but on this polystyrene block system. The houses next door were done with a plastic dome to insulate the concrete. I have a wood cabin for making model planes in and is where I also do my gluing up work. Last year I put a heat pump in that one as well, and have done the same, run the fan only on low and in the winter have it on heat only mode and summer is cool only mode. It is only a 10 m2 room and cost about $3 per week in electricity on average year round. It is also well insulated, and has a very nice double glazed door that came from the old house.

When ever I had the heat pumps on only when I was in there, it was not all that much cheaper to run. So I just leave them running year round. At the 55%-60% humidity, 20c is not too cold. I also find that things don't rust either as it is kept well above the dew point.

I went with LED lighting in the outside cabin and I like it very much. I am not sure if the LED batten lights use any less power than the fluro tube lights.


Howard Lewis28/04/2022 15:02:10
6105 forum posts
14 photos


No point in spending money to keep everyone and everything else warm!

Admittedly the shop is small, but a thermostatically controlled 2 Kw fan heater brings it up to temperature, aided and abetted by waste heat from the machines, then operates on a very low duty cycle.


not done it yet28/04/2022 16:14:40
6809 forum posts
20 photos

My approx 35 cubic metre workshop is comprehensively insulated and pretty well draght-proof. Over 100mm of insulation and no windows. Cool in summer and cool in winter - it is kept dry and above dew point by running a 375W desiccant dehumidifier for a couple hours at night, or longer if the weather is very cold.

I’ve solved the winter ‘coolness’ with a diesel air heater similar to the one mgnbuk showed under his ‘like’.

Mine delivers a little over 4kW, I think. I can turn it on remotely and ten minutes on the mid-range setting is enough to make the worksop air temperature acceptable. I usually soon turn it down to minimum - but I expect I will need to run it at ‘full whack’ occasionally, to avoid any coking up in the combustion chamber.

If you were to go this route, my advice is to check the specifications carefully. That one shown indicates 0.64l/h fuel usage. They are notoriously inaccurate with their claims - mine will not provide a sufficient pumping rate to provide the claimed heat output. Otherwise, it has been reliable (so far), was easy to install and doesn’t cost anywhere near as much as using leccy for the heat supply!

jimmy b28/04/2022 16:37:57
786 forum posts
42 photos

I run a 3kw radiator for 6 months of the year.

I'll spend the money while I have it.


Baz28/04/2022 16:48:41
724 forum posts
2 photos

Totally agree Jim I am the same, dehumidifier runs all year round and as much heat as is needed during winter, I would rather spend the money on enabling me to enjoy my hobby, if I keep it no doubt the care home will get their grubby fingers on it and having first hand knowledge of how the mother in law was treated in a home they will get as little as possible from me.

Mike Poole28/04/2022 17:59:04
3339 forum posts
73 photos
Posted by Ady1 on 28/04/2022 13:58:49:

I got a fleecy "snood" as an xmas present and went out to buy 2 more within a week because they are so good

Wish I'd known about them when I used to hillwalk, been wearing one practically every day since I got it

We don't get much global warming in Jockland

Edited By Ady1 on 28/04/2022 14:06:36

When I was a hairy 1970s apprentice we had to wear a snood to avoid being scalped alive by rotating machinery, ‘snood’ seems to cover a variety of garments, the version we had to wear was a hat with net bag to take care of our treasured locks, it seems now to be commonly used to describe a neck and head warmer.


Roger Williams 228/04/2022 18:31:38
346 forum posts
3 photos

Planar 5kw diesel heater like a few have mentioned , absolutely marvellous.

Martin Cargill28/04/2022 19:27:28
176 forum posts

In our workshop the Gaffer allows us to all huddle around a candle. If the workshop temperature drops below -10 he will even allow us to light it.

Calum Galleitch28/04/2022 22:07:39
191 forum posts
65 photos

A couple of months ago I realised that condensation would do for everything in my workshop if I didn't address it. I now have a very cheap fan heater attached to a little plug-in thermostat. It kicks in when the temperature drops to 6C and off again at 7C. It obviously consumes some power but watching the meter for the last couple of months I can't discern any impact, and we don't use electric for heat or hot water at all here.

Obviously 7C is not a lot but it made the workshop tolerable for me. I did have an old gas fire in there which gets the place toasty in short order, but it gives off so much water it's like a sauna after an hour or two. Since putting the fan heater in it hasn't been on once.

Leendert Brouwer29/04/2022 00:23:04
1 forum posts

Mount an infra red panel above the place where you are the most in your workshop. After you insulate your workshop.

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