A Barn Heater for Horses: Exploring the Different Heating Options for the Winter Season

As winter approaches, horse owners face the challenge of keeping their beloved equines warm and comfortable in the barn. With freezing temperatures and chilling winds, a reliable heating system is essential to ensure the well-being of these majestic creatures. 

Whether you’re a seasoned horse owner or a first-time barn manager, this guide will help you decide on the best solution for barn heaters for horses. Let’s saddle up and explore the different heating options for your barn.

Should You Heat a Horse Barn?

While it may seem like a good idea to provide warmth for the horses during winter, is it necessary to do it? Consider these factors before investing in a horse barn heater. 

First, consider the natural resistance of horses to cold weather. Horses have evolved to withstand cold temperatures with their thick winter coat that provides insulation. Overheating a horse barn can affect their well-being. Horses rely on the change in temperature between the inside and outside of the barn to regulate their body temperature. If the barn is constantly heated, their bodies may not adjust properly, making them more susceptible to illnesses.

Another factor to consider is the cost associated with heating large spaces. Horse barn heaters can be expensive to purchase, install, maintain, and operate. The cost of electricity or gas needed to run the heater can quickly add up, especially if the barn is large or poorly insulated. 

Also, heating a horse barn can create a fire hazard. Hay, bedding, and old, dry barn wood are highly combustible if exposed to high temperatures or faulty heating equipment. 

Ultimately, the decision to heat a horse barn depends on climate, insulation, ventilation, and cost. It is important to carefully assess these factors and consider your horses’ needs before deciding. Consult with a professional for your situation.

What Problems Can You Face During Winter When Keeping Horses?

Keeping horses during winter can present several challenges:

  1. Cold temperatures: Extreme cold weather can expose horses to hypothermia or frostbite if not adequately protected.
  2. Limited turnout: Snow and ice can cause slippery fields, limiting horse turnout time. Horses can get bored, leading to behavioral issues.
  3. Frozen water: Water troughs and buckets can freeze, making it difficult for horses to stay hydrated. 
  4. Poor forage quality: During winter, the availability of fresh grass decreases, and hay becomes the primary forage source. Ensuring a high-quality hay supply can be challenging.
  5. Lack of shelter: Horses require access to shelter to protect themselves from harsh weather conditions. Insufficient shelter can compromise their well-being.
  6. Increased feed requirements: Horses need extra calories during winter to maintain their body temperature. Balancing their nutritional needs can be challenging, especially for horses with specific dietary requirements.
  7. Ice-related injuries: Horses can slip on ice and injure themselves, especially when ridden or exercised.
  8. Respiratory issues: Poor ventilation in barns can lead to increased dust and ammonia levels, causing respiratory problems for horses. Proper ventilation is crucial for their health.
  9. Horse bedding: Proper bedding is crucial for keeping horses warm and comfortable during winter. 

Horses require adequate shelter, bedding, nutrition, and hydration. By addressing these potential problems, horse owners can help ensure the horse’s welfare during the colder months.

Different Solutions for Keeping Your Horses Warm 

When it comes to heating a horse barn, safety should be the top priority. Safe heating options include:

Heated floors are popular for new barns as they provide consistent and gentle heat. The heat radiates from below, ensuring the entire barn is evenly warmed. However, installing heated floors can be expensive and may require professional assistance.

Portable heaters are a more affordable and versatile option. They can be moved as needed and provide localized heat. Look for a heater with automatic shut-off and tip-over protection safety features. 

Blankets are an excellent way to keep your horses warm. They offer insulation by trapping the horse’s body heat. 

Gas infrared tube heaters emit soft and comfortable radiant heat energy directed downward from the ceiling toward specific areas or stalls inside the barn. Gas infrared tube heaters are known for their energy savings and efficiency. They are suitable for equine facilities due to their directed heat and self-contained design. 

Forced air heating systems blow heated air, sometimes through ductwork or simply in a localized area. They usually install hanging from a beam and out of the way for safety.

Understanding Different Heating Methods: Forced Air Vs. Radiant Heat

Two common methods of heating horse barns are forced air heating and radiant heat. This table highlights the differences.

Forced Air Heating Radiant Heat
Heats the air and uses a fan. It may use ductwork or vents to distribute warm air. Heat is emitted directly into a specific area of the barn.
Heats the air in the barn, which then warms the animals. Objects and animals absorb heat directly, like a sunbeam through a window.
Requires regular maintenance and cleaning. Requires minimal maintenance.
Can circulate large volumes of air containing dust and other particles.  Provides a large radiant heat pattern without a fan.
Can result in dry air and potential respiratory issues for horses. Maintains optimal humidity levels.
Suitable for larger barns with multiple zones. Suitable for smaller barns or specific stalls.
It may require additional insulation to prevent heat loss. Provides efficient and targeted heating in barns with no insulation.


Consider factors such as the size of your barn, maintenance requirements, and the comfort and well-being of your horses.

What Is The Safest Way to Heat a Barn?

Here are some safe heating options for a horse barn:

  1. Infrared/Radiant Gas Heaters: Infrared heaters provide efficient, direct heat for specific areas, such as stalls, livestock pens, and storage areas. 
  2. Forced Air Systems: Like central heating in your home, forced air heating uses ducts and vents to distribute heat throughout the barn.
  3. Well-Protected Glass Heat Lamps: In cases where a horse requires additional warmth due to sickness or injury.
  4. Electric Garage Heaters: They can be mounted high to prevent contact. A fan and directional fins force the heated air to the area below.

When selecting a heating option, it is crucial to consider the barn’s specific requirements and the horses’ health and safety. 

Different Solutions for Keeping Your Horse’s Food and Water Warm

Cold food and water may reduce the horse’s overall intake. Fortunately, there are several solutions to keep the horse’s food and water warm.

  1. Bucket Heaters: Choose a bucket heater that wraps around, not the immersible type. The horse can get the immersible type into its mouth.
  2. Heated Water Troughs: These are electrically powered and can maintain a consistent water temperature.
  3. Water Heater: Portable water heaters can warm up the water helping horses stay warm.
  4. Insulated Feed Bags: These bags can keep the feed warmer, providing a more comfortable eating experience in cold weather.
  5. Warm Mash: Soaking the horse’s feed in warm water can create a mash that provides warmth, aids in hydration, and keeps the digestive tract moving smoothly.
  6. Blanket Insulation: Wrapping the feed and water containers with blankets or rugs can help retain heat and prevent freezing.

Additionally, you can create a heated manger. It warms a horse’s food during the cold winter. While it’s not as common as other warming solutions like insulated buckets or heated water troughs, it can be valuable to a horse barn in colder climates. 

Recommended Barn Heaters for Different Areas of Horse Barns 

Different areas of the barn may require different heating solutions. Here are some recommended barn heaters for various locations:

  1. Wash Stalls: Wash stall heaters must withstand moisture and provide localized heat. Infrared heaters with waterproof and corrosion-resistant features are a suitable choice. 
  2. Horse Stalls: You can use radiant heaters or heat lamps for individual horse stalls. Radiant heaters provide consistent and gentle heat, while heat lamps offer localized warmth. 
  3. Large Barns: Large barns require heaters with high heating capacity and wide coverage. Radiant heaters with large radiant heat patterns are ideal for warming the entire space efficiently. 

You may have to install multiple units strategically to ensure even heat distribution.

Your Partner in Keeping Horses Warm

Remember to consider the safety of the heating system, the comfort of your horses, and the heater’s efficiency. With these in mind, you can ensure your horses stay warm and safe throughout winter.

Powerblanket offers unique solutions specifically for agricultural settings, from horses to how to keep your chicken’s water from freezing. Powerblanket agricultural solutions provide an economical, easy-to-use, and transportable way to keep your assets safe from freezing temperatures. Explore Custom Agriculture Solutions to find the best heating system for your barn. Your horses will thank you.

Powerblanket agricultural solutions provide an economical, easy to use, and transportable way to keep your assets safe from freezing temperatures.


Shelby Thompson

Shelby Thompson is the head of standard product sales for Powerblanket. He has a distinguished military career, having served in both Afghanistan and Iraq. In his time in the Marines, Shelby acquired an impressive skillset that he now uses in his current role. When he's not working, Shelby loves spending time outdoors with his wife, son, and daughter. He is also a semi-keen hunter, fair weather fisherman, and shooter. Unfortunately, Shelby also has something of an unlucky streak when it comes to Fantasy Football at the company.

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