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

November 24, 2020

Your garage can be more than just a space to put your vehicles in the Bay Area. It can be a workshop, offer additional storage and more. But when you’re out there more often, it needs to be a cozy temperature.

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

Let’s go over the difference between the two to help you find the ideal style for your needs.

What is a Mini-Split?

A mini-split is much like a heat pump as it shifts heat rather than creating it. This makes it an extremely energy-efficient heating and cooling system for areas without ductwork. These electric systems are typically installed on a wall and joined to the outdoor unit through a little hole in the wall.

Although a ductless mini-split is higher priced, most have earned ENERGY STAR® certification for their energy efficiency. They’re also highly quiet and provide zoned comfort, which provides precise control over your garage’s climate.

Most mini-splits allow you to connect more than one indoor unit to one outdoor unit. If your garage is adjacent to your home, you could be able to install added indoor units in spaces that are hard to heat and cool.

What is a Garage Heater?

A garage heater is more than a space heater. This all-in-one heating solution is installed on the ceiling or the higher corner of a wall. Depending on the model, these heaters can run on electricity, gas or propane. They’re a great option if you live in a cold climate and perform a lot of dusty dirty work. Garage heaters are heavy-duty and created to last through added grime.

Comparing Key Features of Garage Heaters and Mini-Splits

We’ve created a useful guide to help you choose the right system for your garage.


Garage heaters are the lowest-priced style. The typical expense is different because of fuel type, but they’re frequently about half the cost of a mini-split.

Operating Costs

Garage heaters work similarly to a furnace, consuming fuel to make warmth. A mini-split air conditioner is more like a heat pump, which shifts hot air. This makes a mini-split more efficient to operate. You’ll get even lower energy expenses if you get an ENERGY STAR® certified model. And you could be eligible for additional rebates as a result of that energy efficiency.

Fuel Source

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

Heating and Cooling

As its designation indicates, a garage heater is limited to only providing heat. A ductless mini-split delivers both heating and cooling.

Precise Temperature Control

When you are after the most exact temperature control, a mini-split heat pump is the best option since it offers zoned heating and cooling. That way, your garage will be the right temperature you want it to be.

Space Considerations

Since garage heaters are typically mounted on the ceiling, they can consume valued overhead storage area. In comparison, low-profile mini-split systems are typically placed higher up on a wall and don’t need a lot of space.

If you’re still deciding between a garage heater and mini-split, the professionals Contra Costa Heating & AC can help. Call us at 510-343-9841 now to get a free, no obligation estimate. We’ll go over your needs, suggest a solution and get it working fast, so you can get started enjoying your garage workspace much sooner.