Your guide to garage gadgets
The garage is not a room that is generally associated with appliances – unless, of course, they're broken appliances that are waiting to be thrown out or repaired – but no garage would be complete without a few handy gadgets to help carry out its functions. After all, what good is the perfect workbench if there are no power tools nearby to perform the work?
Here are a few appliances every garage should have:
- Garage Heater – Most people don't spend money heating their garages, and unless they're storing a vintage car or something, there's really no need to. But for those who live in colder climates, an unheated garage can get quite inhospitable and may not get used during the winter months. In this case, garage heaters are the perfect solution. Usually portable, these heaters come in a variety of sizes and can provide heat as needed. They can be used to heat only a particular part of the garage (for example, the area round the workbench) and only during particular times (i.e., when it's being used). This saves energy and money while still allowing you to get full use of your garage, even during the winter.
- Trash Compactor – The garage tends to be an obvious repository for the garbage and recycling awaiting trash day. But these items can take up precious space in your garage, not to mention in landfills, which are growing exponentially. A garbage compactor can save you space and help save the environment by reducing the amount of physical space your refuse takes up. Available in a variety of sizes, trash compactors can service everything from a single-person household to a multi-household apartment building.
- Wet Dry Vac – While your regular vacuum is great for sucking up hair, crumbs, dust and other particles from carpets and furniture, it's likely no match for the larger messes found in a garage workshop (sawdust, wood chips, etc.). And what about those occasional wet messes, such as drink spills, tub or toilet overflows and pet accidents? A wet dry vacuum is the perfect tool for handling these and other incidents your regular vacuum can't. No workshop is complete without one, and any household with pets or children is likely to find it a worthwhile investment. Sometimes called a shop vac, after the original brand, a wet dry vacuum looks sort of like a garbage can on wheels. They come in a variety of capacities and with numerous attachments available to tackle pretty much any household cleaning job there is.
Common Garage Appliances:
Garage Door Opener
You don't have to be Superman to open the garage door with just one finger! At the push of a button, a garage opener will do the heavy lifting for you. Garage door openers consist of a motor, a track, a control panel and usually a remote or two. Pushing the button on the control panel or remote activates the motor, which draws the door along the track, first vertically (up the door frame) and then horizontally (under the ceiling). The control panel is usually mounted on the wall of the garage, often by the door that connects the garage to the rest of the house. Garage door remotes are generally the size of a large pager and clip to the sun visor of a car so that the garage can be opened as the driver is pulling into the driveway.
There are many, many makes and models of garage door openers. A few of the most popular are the Genie garage door opener, the LiftMaster garage door opener and the Sears garage door opener (sold under the Craftsman name).
Power washers are excellent tools for cleaning driveways, decks, siding and even cars (watch your settings, though!). Electric power washers tend to be more popular than gas power washers, but an electric power washer does require access to an outlet, so make sure one is available in the area or invest in a long extension cord.
There are a variety of power washer parts or attachments to accommodate a number of tasks and materials. Be sure that you are using the right setting and attachment for the job. Power washers are, as their name implies, quite powerful, and the wrong setting or nozzle could damage your property (e.g., stripping the paint off your car or deck). Used properly, however, a power washer is an excellent tool for maintaining your deck, driveway, siding and other outdoor areas.
In order to get the most use possible from your garage, it is important to keep it comfortable and clean, and these appliances will help you do just that.