How To Make a DIY Garage Heater From a Gas or Electric Clothes Dryer

Convert an old clothes dryer to a shop or garage heater
Convert an old clothes dryer to a shop or garage heater

YouTuber sixtyfiveford crafts a shop furnace or garage heater from a curbside freebie natural gas clothes dryer and explains how to do the same with an electric dryer with just a little time and effort.

Which Dryer Should You Grab?

  • Ones with broken timer controls — You don’t really need the timer knob to work. You would just set it and it would go until you stopped it.
  • Noisy/banging drum — you are going to take that all out.
  • No spin but the fan still blows — likely the belt is just broken and that’s no problem here.
  • Heats but clothes take forever to dry — it is likely just lint plugging everything up.

Which Dryer Should You Leave Behind?

  • No heat. This is very common with electric and it’s just the coil 99% of the time. This is generally $20-40 for the new part. With gas dryers, it’s likely the solenoid valves which also cost around $20-40.
  • BAD CPU computer board with error code: Not worth messing with.

A note about using electric dryers

  • Electric put out around 20k BTU at 5500 watts 240 volts

Some designs are going to be very difficult. The ones with the heating element at the back of the drum are not going to be easy, or near impossible.

The Kenmore/Whirlpool units with the cube heating element on the back should be pretty straightforward and easy to work with. The easiest would be the ones with the heating element in the burn tube (old Maytags, for example).

Parts used/mentioned in video:

Super flexible natural gas hose w/coupler

Shop furnace ready-made, ready to install

Heating Costs for Various Energy Sources

The estimated costs to occasionally heat a shop with different sources of energy were calculated for 25 million BTUs (1/4 the amount needed to heat an entire home for the winter in Northern USA):

  • ELECTRIC: $953 (rate $0.13kw)
  • DIESEL (fuel oil #2): $451 (rate $2.50gallon)
  • KEROSENE (fuel oil #1): $463 (rate $2.50gallon)
  • NATURAL GAS: $200 (rate $0.80therm)
  • PROPANE LPG: $753 (rate $2.75gallon)
  • WOOD PELLETS: $500 (rate $5 per 40#bag​)
  • WOOD: Free or $406 (rate $250 4x4x8 cord) or $162 (rate $100 4x4x8 cord)

To heat my shop with electricity it would cost around $1,000 vs the $200 for Natural Gas. Currently, I use Diesel which is cheaper and has more BTU per gallon energy than Kerosene. I try to get diesel around $2/gallon and stock up, but prices are going up. At that rate, I could spend around $400-$500 a winter.

The cost for me to run black pipe to my garage was around $35 and took an hour or two of my time. The Flexible hose and coupler were around $40. The Natural gas setup and heater should pay for itself in a few months and if I find it’s not big enough to handle the insulated garage, I will buy the Mr. Heater 50k BTU unit.

Carbon monoxide is not a worry of mine. I have run the torpedo heaters for years and never set off the detector. I know my detector works as I can start a chainsaw for 30 seconds and it blares. Natural gas puts out less CO gas per BTU than Kerosene/Diesel or Propane.