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Unfinished barn - it's cold, please help!

I'm wondering about the best way to heat an unfinished free-standing barn. Approximate dimensions are 20'x50'. I only need to heat about half that space. This is in Northern Vermont, so it gets chilly.

I want to be able to use it as a workspace during the day but want to limit energy costs when I'm not there. At the same time, there will be water running to the building.

Any advice is appreciated!



  • meplumber
    meplumber Member Posts: 678
    edited October 2011
    First things first.

    I have no solution for an unfinished barn with water running to it. Insulate, Insulate, Insulate.

    Once you have the building tight. Then you can look at some viable heating options.

    So the footprint is 20 X 50, but you are dividing off half of it. So you are looking to heat 500 sq ft. This could be easily accomplished with one of the vented space heaters by Rinnai or Monitor. I doubt that natural gas is available but LP is.

    As long as you tighten up the structure to include the ceiling, one of these would work.


  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
    edited October 2011

    Not to disagree, but generally in a wood shop (if that's your intentions) I wouldnt recommend a Rinnai or monitor. They can have problems with dust and cleaning filter's daily (Rinnai) get's old fast. Two other thought's are the Empire DV-55 or a Modine hot dog heater. Any of the unit's mentioned could be installed quickly and easily. You probably would only need a 120 gallon propane tank to take care of it.

    On a side note, I also heard that Monitor is no longer making units? Not sure if this is true or not..
  • meplumber
    meplumber Member Posts: 678
    Good point Ichmb

    I didn't think about it being a wood shop.

    I hope Monitor didn't stop making them. I will have to check on that.
  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 4,187
    A small wood stove

    would be a start. Since you have the wood scrap around. No blowers to blow dust around. just vent it out the side, properly....
  • coldbuilding
    coldbuilding Member Posts: 3
    not a wood shop :)

    Hi all, sorry for omitting this in the original thread. The space won't be used for wood and in fact won't have any kind of airborne particulate floating around. Part would be used for storage (unheated part) and the heated part will be used for screen printing ... need to keep it warm for me while I'm in there and for certain liquids so they stay above ~50 degrees.
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
    edited October 2011

    The empire is my go to unit for shops. I use 3 myself and have awsome luck with them. It is fast to recover, can drop low in temp and has little service issue's. Although a tough louder (not much) than a Rinnai it can drop lower in temp. The modine is also a fast recovery and can be used with a t-stat so you can set your temp's lower. I believe a rinnai's minimum temp is 60 degree's...With that in mind, any of them will do what you need, check with your local contractor (Freds?) and see what they recommend for your needs..
  • meplumber
    meplumber Member Posts: 678
    Wouldn't recommend a wood stove.

    Since this is a screen printing application, I wouldn't recommend a wood stove. The fumes from the inks can be combustible.

    As Ichmb said, check with your local contractor. one of these sealed combustion LP units would take care of your needs easily.

    Good Luck.
  • Jack
    Jack Member Posts: 1,046

    Monitor is out of business, sorry, production since Hitachi, the manuf decided the numbers for oil didn't support the effort and with old tooling it was not worth doing. Chris, one of the local ME distributors bought the remaining inventory of the gas products. They are all orphans at this point.

    The Rinnai will go down to 55F in normal use mode. Using it's " frost timer" feature will allow temps down to 42F. I've run Rinnai's in my own wood shop successfully. Then again, while I like woodworking, I really don't like sawdust and used primary dust collection. As well, I had an ambient air filter box. With that I would regularly check the filter and at the end of every season I'd pull the cover and use compressed air and brushes to clean the blower wheel and make sure to clean off any debris on the board. I ran one heater this way from 93 until '10. Maintenance is key in that kind of install.
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997

    Reading the literature with the newest model of the Rinnai,

    Temperature Range (Min-Max)

    60°F - 80°F in 2° Increments

    16°C - 26°C in 1° Increments

    I checked all models and do not see one that drop's lower....I believe the unit with frost timer is no longer available...I may be wrong though...
  • meplumber
    meplumber Member Posts: 678
    Thanks Jack.

    It looks like I have a bunch of orphaned Monitors out there. Oh well. Time to sell the camp owner's new Rinnai's when the Monitors die.

    Ichmb, Jack was my Rinnai rep for ages before his recent and well deserved retirement.

    He knoweth what he speaketh.
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
    edited October 2011

    I am just going off memory and what the web site says...I like to get my info straight and will use any and all resources to find them..:)

    Have a 551 in my garage I'm repairing now, it's been in a wood shop a long time and they are an excellent unit. This one just needs a board and it will be going back to work..First one I've ever seen, it goes to lockout for flame failure (customer ran out of gas) and wont reset for a week or two...once it clears it runs fine...
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,840
    edited October 2011
    If it were MY shop....

    I'd insulate the living bejezits out of it BEFORE I started thinking about heating it. But if you've got money to burn, then go for it. To avoid draining your checking account, maybe you should consider placing a "hot box", which is basically an approved storage locker for flammable chemicals, and insulate it real well, with an internal heater, then you don't have to maintain the whole shop just to protect the liquids...

    Forced air makes the most sense in your application.

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Jack
    Jack Member Posts: 1,046
    Thanks, Chris, but

    Lchmb is correct here. I was referencing the older models. Sooo...
  • Jack
    Jack Member Posts: 1,046
    You are correct on the recent models and low temps.

    However, now All Energysavers now have the programmable t-stat including the 38's. All current production has a low temp setting capability of 38f, but it must be selected in the "set-back" program mode to be accessed. It is simple to program. The new units also have the relight feature that in the event of power outage or pressure sensor outage (wind) the unit will re-start. If it fails to re-light it will try every hour. Your post gave me the opportunity to ask Rinnai to update the info on the web-site.

    That is what I like about this site. It is hard to get away with anything;)
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
    Thanks Jack

    I like the new features! Glad to hear about them and thanks for taking the time to get the info. One more reason to offer them...
  • coldbuilding
    coldbuilding Member Posts: 3

    Mark, I think you're right that I should insulate before worrying about heating. I, unfortunately, do not have money to burn. I checked with a local contractor and was quoted an amount of $27,000 to insulate the entire 1,000 square foot space.

    I imagine the specifics of the space will heavily impact the cost of insulating but I was hoping to find a more cost-effective method.

    I really appreciate everyone's thoughtful advice. This is a bit of a tricky problem and any further help is appreciated!
  • njwebdevguy
    njwebdevguy Member Posts: 33
    spray foam

    Have you priced spray foam insulation? Depending on the walls spray foam may adhere well. Open cell foam is around half the cost of closed cell and is very good at stopping drafts. Since it is not a residence, I am sure that you would not be required to insulate it to the same R-value. You would need to cover the foam with a fireproof material, though. Maybe there is something you could also spray on to keep the cost down.

    Foam can make almost any building much warmer. One thing, though. It needs to be a fairly warm day to apply foam. Over 50, probably more like 60-70 is best.

    See if you can get a quote on three or four inches of open cell foam?

    Note, I am not a professional, at all, this is just an idea.

    I have foam in my attic and it was like day and night. Made the house much warmer.
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