The Pro-Line Building Blog

Heating Options for Your Next Pole Barn

Posted by Bill Maschmeier on Nov 9, 2022 11:15:00 AM



There are a lot of things to think about when building or renovating a pole barn. One of the most important in our Midwest climate is deciding how to heat the building. Pole barns, also known as post-frame buildings, are very versatile. They can be used for a she shed or man cave, a garage or workshop, housing livestock or machinery, horse stables, or even a custom home.


Regardless of what your pole barn is used for, its heating method must be able to perform in the Midwest’s extreme winter temperatures. There are a few different heating options to choose from. Which is best for your pole barn will depend on how it’s constructed, how you’re using it, and how highly you prioritize energy efficiency.


Get your next pole barn ready for winter with one of these heating methods.


Wood or Pellet Stove

If you are looking for an inexpensive heating option for your pole barn, consider installing a wood-burning stove. A combustion blower transfers air from the room into the stove through an air vent, and smoke is released through an exhaust vent. If desired, the heated air can be directed throughout the structure in heat-exchange tubes. This can be a great option when you only need to heat the pole barn when it is in use.


Keep in mind that newly installed stove heaters must meet the EPA’s emissions standards to protect air quality. Pellet stoves are a cleaner, albeit slightly more costly, alternative to wood stoves. They also allow for better temperature control.



A furnace that uses electricity, propane, or natural gas can be perfect for a pole barn, particularly if it is used as a custom home or hobby shop that needs to be constantly heated. Furnaces work by heating air and then blowing it throughout the structure via ducts and vents—commonly called a forced air system. When the furnace ignites, the heat exchanger transfers heat to the air coming in, then that heated air is forced into the ducts and out through the vents.


Heat Pump

A heat pump is a more energy-efficient alternative to a furnace. It uses electricity to power a forced-air system that transfers heat from one place to another. This could be perfect for a pole barn that needs temperature control all year round since it is designed to both heat and cool.


During the winter, the heat pump takes heat from an outside source (the outdoor air or, in the case of geothermal heat pumps, the ground) and transfers it indoors. It reverses the process in the summer, taking the heat from inside and expelling it outdoors. While this is a very efficient heating method, keep in mind that most air-source heat pumps work harder as outdoor temperatures get colder. While modern heat pumps are better able to handle Midwest winters than older models, even modern cold-climate heat pumps are useful only down to around –10 °F, which may mean you would need a backup heat source that you can use on the very coldest days.


In-floor Heating

Radiant in-floor heating is one of the most popular and effective ways to heat your pole barn. In-floor radiant heating evenly distributes heat wherever installed, offering greater control of the heat in your barn. Though initial installation costs may cause you to shy away, in-floor heating often provides cost benefits in the long run with lower energy bills. 


There are several types of in-floor radiant heating; two of the most popular are electric & hydronic. 


Electric in-floor heating: 

Electric heating is so popular, primarily because they are low maintenance and have a relatively straightforward installation process. Electric floor heating makes sense for all kinds of different projects as it is highly versatile and can be easily installed during remodel or renovation. 

Hydronic in-floor heating: 

Hydronic floor heating is ideal for evenly & effectively distributing heat in large spaces. Ideally, a hydronic system is installed during initial construction and not during a remodel. After installation, the operating costs of hydronic floor heating for your pole barn are generally lower. With heating components being shared across multiple rooms, the cost per square foot goes down as square footage increases. 


It is very important to have the right heating method in your pole barn before the cold winter months arrive. If you need help deciding what is best for your structure, partner with an experienced company that can guide you in the right direction.


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Topics: Hobby Shop, Post-Frame