Sheds are typically lowly outbuildings, but sometimes you want to warm them up to keep the things you store in them -- or you yourself for that matter -- from freezing. There are several ways to heat sheds that cost very little to install or operate. The informality of the installation shouldn't tempt you to neglect safety, however; always follow local building codes and keep flammable substances away from heat sources.
If your shed has a south-facing exposure, consider facing the roof or wall with clear vinyl sheeting or transparent plastic panels. The sun's rays can keep the interior of the shed significantly warmer than the outside air temperature. Even if it's not your only heat source, solar heat can reduce your electricity or fuel costs over the winter months.
Infrared Heat Bulbs
For sheds with at least one electrical light fixture, the use of infrared bulbs can be a cheap and easy heat source. These bulbs simply screw into a standard bulb socket and provide radiant heat whenever the light is switched on. While they cost much more than a regular incandescent bulb, they use much less power than electrical-resistance space heaters.
Wood Barrel Stove
If your shed is a bit larger, you can build a wood stove out of an old oil barrel. Kits are available that supply the hatches and the chimney pipe collar you need; you also need to make sure that the barrel stove is installed well away from the wall and that the chimney pass-through is properly insulated. However, barrel stoves can throw off a surprising amount of heat and burn for hours on just a log or two.
Propane Space Heaters
Portable propane space heaters do an excellent job of warming a space and require no installation whatsoever. Small ones capable of cranking out 25,000 BTU start at well under $100 and run off a standard 20-lb. liquid propane tank, the kind frequently used by campers. Unlike other kinds of liquid-fuel heaters, they emit no significant toxic fumes, so venting isn't a problem.
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