red shop building in snow
WINTER WARM: Snow surrounds a farm building. Keeping a shop warm in winter requires planning in the design stage.

8 tips to keep farm shops toasty in winter

These planning ideas will make a farm shop easier to heat.

Keeping farm shops in the Dakotas warm in the winter is a major design consideration. Ken Hellevang, North Dakota State University Extension agricultural engineer, recommends these eight tips:

1. Insulation. R-30 to R-40 ceiling, R-18 sidewall and R-10 to R-12 door insulation should be the minimum.

2. Tight doors. If doors allow significant amounts of cold air in, weather stripping should be installed. Air infiltration is one of the largest heat wasters in many buildings.

3. At least 2 inches of extruded polystyrene (enclosed cell insulation) insulation around the shop foundation. It should be installed at least 2 feet below ground level. Any concrete exposed above ground level should be insulated, too.

4. Few windows. Window increase heat loss, limit useable wall space for tools and usually provide little light in the shop in the winter. Rely on overhead lighting instead.

5. Double- or triple-glazed window panes. A window with single glazing will have an R-value of about 0.9. A double-glazed window with an inert gas between panes will have an R-value of 3.0 to 4.0.

6. Doors out of the wind. Prevailing winter winds are usually from the northwest. Installing the large doors facing south or east will prevent a considerable amount of heat loss when they are opened.

7. Zone heating. Directional heaters over work benches are a good idea. Separating the shop from the storage area, even with a plastic curtain, can save a significant amount of heat, too.

8. Dense shelterbelts about 100 feet from the shop. Shelterbelts will reduce the wind velocity and reduce the energy needed to heat a shop. Short, dense trees should be located on the edge of the shelterbelt and the taller trees should be located in the middle. Shelterbelts should be at least 100 feet from the shop to reduce the problem of snow buildup near the shop.

Source: NDSU Extension

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