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Mini Splits vs. Garage Heaters: What Should I Install in My Garage?

November 24, 2020

Your garage can be more than just an area to put your vehicles in Portland. It can be a workshop, offer extra storage and more. But when you’re out there more often, it needs to be a comfortable temperature.

Garages don’t usually have the ductwork necessary for common heating and cooling systems. While you can install ductwork, it’s not the most advantageous remedy. The best way to heat your garage is by adding a ductless comfort system, like a mini-split system or a garage heater.

Let’s discuss the difference between the two to help you choose the best style for your needs.

What is a Mini-Split?

A mini-split is close to a heat pump since it moves heat as opposed to making it. This makes it a highly energy-efficient heating and cooling system for rooms without ductwork. These electric systems are usually placed on a wall and linked to the outdoor unit through a tiny hole in the wall.

Though a ductless mini-split is higher priced, a lot have received ENERGY STAR® designation for their energy efficiency. They’re also highly quiet and deliver zoned comfort, which offers accurate control over your garage’s temp.

Most mini-splits allow you to link several indoor units to one outdoor unit. If your garage is connected to your residence, you might be able to have extra indoor units in rooms that are hard to heat and cool.

What is a Garage Heater?

A garage heater is more than a space heater. This comprehensive heating solution is placed on the ceiling or the higher corner of a wall. Depending on the model, these heaters can use electricity, gas or propane. They’re a good choice if you are situated in a cold climate and do a lot of dusty dirty work. Garage heaters are heavy-duty and designed to withstand additional grime.

Evaluating Notable Features of Garage Heaters and Mini-Splits

We’ve made a valuable guide to help you select the right system for your garage.


Garage heaters are the most budget-friendly solution. The estimated cost varies because of fuel type, but they’re usually about half the cost of a mini-split.

Operating Costs

Garage heaters are much like a furnace, consuming fuel to create hot air. A mini-split air conditioner is closer to a heat pump, which moves warmth. This makes a mini-split more efficient to use. You’ll have even lower heating and cooling bills if you choose an ENERGY STAR® certified model. And you could be entitled to added rebates as a result of that energy efficiency.

Fuel Source

Garage heaters have the widest options for fuel sources—electricity, gas or propane. Mini-splits are electric.

Heating and Cooling

As its title suggests, a garage heater is limited to only delivering heat. A ductless mini-split offers both heating and cooling.

Precise Temperature Control

When you are looking for the most exact comfort control, a mini-split heat pump is the smartest solution because it provides zoned heating and cooling. That way, your garage will be the right temperature you want it to be.

Space Considerations

As garage heaters are usually mounted on the ceiling, they can consume valued overhead storage area. In contrast, low-profile mini-split systems are usually installed higher up on a wall and don’t need a lot of room.

If you’re still debating between a garage heater and mini-split, the professionals Three Rivers Heating & Cooling can help. Reach us at 503-213-4433 right away to receive a free, no obligation estimate. We’ll review your needs, advise you on a solution and get it installed fast, so you can get started enjoying your garage workspace much quicker.