Heating a Shed in Winter: Tips and Solutions

heating a shed in winter

Sheds, summerhouses and outbuildings are notoriously tricky to heat and maintain during the winter months. Mainly used for storage or summer activities, they lack the same levels of insulation and infrastructure as houses and are, therefore, prone to becoming cold, damp and generally unpleasant to be in. While this isn’t such a huge problem for outbuildings used only for storage, sheds or outbuildings that are used throughout the year will require heating and a little extra maintenance in winter. To help things along, we’ve compiled a list of top tips for heating a shed in winter here at Laver Online, which details a number of heating options to suit a range of budgets and requirements.  

First thing’s first; consider your space

Before you decide on the form of heating you need, it’s important to take a moment to evaluate the building you need to heat, including its size, level of insulation, power sources and, of course, your budget and function of the building itself. Once you’ve assessed all of these elements, you can decide how much you need to spend and how complex a task it needs to be to suit your needs. 

Can I insulate a shed or outbuilding?

Yes, you can use foam insulation boards to line the floor, while fibreglass or rockwool rolls can be used to insulate the walls and ceilings and prevent any precious heat from escaping. This, in turn, creates a more energy-efficient setup, which is essential if you need to heat your shed or outbuilding frequently for heavy use during winter. If, on the other hand, you rarely need to venture into your shed but would require heating for brief periods, you can skip the insulation step if you wish.

Heating a shed or outbuilding: The top 6 options

There are a number of options for heating a shed in winter with varying pros and cons to each. Take a look through and see which option would best suit your needs and budget:

Electric Radiators

heating a shed in winter - electric radiator

Ideal for: Localised heating, workshops and wood cabins

Cost to buy: Low

Cost to run: Low

Installation complexity: Low

Electric radiators are a quick, simple and low-cost option for short-term, close-proximity heating for a shed or cabin. You can choose between wall-mounted designs (filled with water) or freestanding designs (filled with oil), and both can be used to provide effective heating straight out of the box. Simply plug in and go. Due to the lack of exposed flames and heating elements, electric radiators make safe heat sources for dusty wood workshops and cabins where fire risks can be higher, and many models come with built-in thermostats and timers, so you can control and set your heaters to come on just when you need them to.

Remember, though, that these only produce localised, close-proximity heat and won’t circulate it, meaning you may need several to heat a larger space.

Electric Fan Heaters

heating a shed in winter - electric fan heater

Ideal for: Small spaces, infrequent use

Cost to buy: Low

Cost to run: High

Installation complexity: Low

Fan heaters are extremely easy to buy and use – you simply plug them in and enjoy instantaneous heat. The only real downside to these is that, although they are cheap to buy, they can be expensive to run as they use a lot of energy. This means that they are best used for small spaces and for short periods of time (for quick tasks in the shed, for example). Fan heaters are fantastic for heating a shed or small workshop as they are safe to use around flammable items and will circulate heat quickly around the entire space. What’s more, they are available to buy in all kinds of shapes, sizes and designs to suit a range of budgets and shed sizes.

Halogen Heaters

heating a shed in winter - halogen heater

Ideal for: Energy efficient heating, small sheds and workshops

Cost to buy: Moderate

Cost to run: Low

Installation complexity: Low

Like our previous two options, halogen heaters run on electricity, however they use halogen elements to generate heat as opposed to electric coils. The downside with this shed heating option is that they can cost a little more to buy, however they are cheaper and more energy-efficient to run, which makes them ideal for heating a shed in winter for longer periods of time. Safety is of a higher concern with halogen heaters, as the exposed front can get very hot and they can get knocked over, which is why the newest and best-quality models come with a host of safety features to prevent this from happening.  

Underfloor heating

heating a shed in winter - underfloor heating

Ideal for: Long-term heating, frequently-used spaces, limited floor space

Cost to buy: High

Cost to run: Low

Installation complexity: High

We’ve taken a jump in one-off costs now with underfloor heating, but this is a great long-term investment for sheds, garden office buildings, annexes and outbuildings that are frequently used or inhabited. Underfloor heating is usually water or electricity based, though electric underfloor heating is usually best for sheds and outbuildings. The initial cost is high, but underfloor heating is not expensive to run, and provides evenly-spread heating across the entire space. What’s more, underfloor heating is especially convenient when you have limited floor space in your shed or workshop and don’t want to risk tripping over cables and heaters. It is important to be aware, however, that if your underfloor heating system should require any maintenance you may need to take up your entire floor to carry this out.

Solar Powered Heating

Heating a shed in winter - solar powered heating

Ideal for: Green energy, long-term heating

Cost to buy: High

Cost to run: Free

Installation complexity: High

Not all heating for sheds has to rely on electricity to run. You can install solar panels on the roof, which can be used to heat water to run small radiators inside your shed or outbuilding, or to generate electricity to run heaters and other equipment. The great thing about running your shed’s heating on solar power is that, once the initial set-up and installation costs are out of the way, you can then heat and power your shed for free. This also means your heating will not be negatively affecting the environment, which means peace of mind and guilt-free enjoyment of your shed or workshop space.

Log Burners

heating a shed in winter - log burners

Ideal for: Cosy aesthetics, efficient heating

Cost to buy: Moderate – high

Cost to run: Low – moderate

Installation complexity: Moderate

Our final solution for heating a shed in winter is the most traditional of all heating methods; a classic log burner. Rustic and attractive, these burners are great for turning summerhouses into cosy winter cabins, but are less ideal for functional spaces like workshops as they take up valuable space. They can be pricey to buy and install, but once they’re in they can be cheap to run (especially if you have access to free wood fuel supplies). Even if you do need to buy the occasional bundle of logs and kindling, however, these burners are designed for occasional use so should still only have a low to moderate running cost. Our advice would be to ensure your burner is professionally installed to ensure it is correctly and safely set up, and you must also install a carbon monoxide alarm for an essential extra safety measure. 

With these six methods for heating a shed in winter, there should be something to suit every shed, summerhouse, cabin, workshop and outbuilding, no matter what you use it for during the colder months. 

Looking to replace or upgrade your shed or outbuilding? 

Here at Laver Online, we sell an incredible variety of garden sheds, summerhouses and log cabins in all sizes and designs, all of which you can heat all year-round if you need to.

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