Download the PDF

Summer has come to an end and the blustery days of Fall have moved in but that does not mean that you need to stop enjoying your outdoor living space. The addition of a patio heater will allow you to keep enjoying your outdoor space without getting too cold. Patio Heaters are specially designed for outdoor spaces like a deck, patio, terrace, or balcony.

Patio Heaters use radiant heat to warm an outdoor space; which means that they direct the heat to warm physical objects instead of heating the air. This makes a patio heater efficient in outdoor areas because there is no worry the wind blowing the warm air produced from the heater away from you and your guests. Outdoor Patio Heaters add more than just warmth to your outdoor space. They can be an attractive centerpiece and bring ambiance to an outdoor area.

If you are not very knowledgeable about Patio Heaters or just are not sure which type would be best for your outdoor space we can help you. Read this Patio Heater Buyer’s Guide to learn more about the different types and their benefits so you are informed and ready to make a confident purchase.

Choosing a Patio Heater Type

Patios are a great place for cooking, entertaining guests, and relaxing so why cut it short just because the weather is changing? No matter the size of area that you need to heat there is a patio heater that is a perfect fit. A great place to start the search is be deciding what type of patio heaters are going to be the best fit for your area.

  • Standing patio heaters are full size heaters that have no fixed fuel lines. They can be moved from place to place to provide heat where it is needed. Most of these patio heaters are designed with a compartment for their fuel tanks. The majority of freestanding patio heaters can produce up to a 40,000 BTU output and can heat up to a 20 ft. diameter area surrounding the unit.
  • The tabletop patio heaters are compact and the easiest to take along with you wherever you go. They are the most inexpensive option for providing warmth over a small area. Many are fueled by propane and are designed with bases that store a small propane fuel tank. There are some table top patio heater models that are electric. These patio heaters will produce a smaller BTU output due to their smaller design. They can usually put out up to approx. 30,000 BTUs.
  • Don’t want to clutter your space? Opt for a patio heater model that you can hang from a ceiling. They will still provide all the power and heating capabilities without getting in the way. The hanging patio heaters are built for permanent installations. They are most commonly either fueled by natural gas or electric infrared. They are ideal for small covered areas or even in a garage workshop. The BTU output ranges from 10,000 to 30,000+ for these patio heaters.
  • Mounted patio heaters are not portable, they are meant to be installed on a wall or up right surface on a deck, patio, sunroom, or other area. The majority of mounted patio heaters are electric so they will need an electrical outlet close to the installation location. Depending on the size of the unit a mounted patio heater can put out anywhere from 10,000 BTUs to more than 30,000 BTUs.

The Difference in Construction Materials

As with anything the price will usually reflect a bit on the materials that are used to construct the patio heaters. The majority of patio heaters are constructed from steel but some low cost models will have aluminum parts. A few other things to pay attention to that may vary by the price of the unit are the type of steel used in the construction, is it stainless, weather treated or is it going to rust; the size of the base tends to vary as well as the diameter of the patio heaters upright pole.

One other construction feature to take a good look at is the dome. Patio heaters with larger domes are going to distribute heat more effectively. Most patio heaters offer a single dome construction but there are some on the market now that have a triple dome construction. This allows the heating elements to be guarded from the wind more efficiently.

Choosing the Best Heating type

Patio heaters come in 3 main fuel types: electric, propane, and natural gas. Choosing the right fuel type for your area will depend on personal preferences and accessibility to an electrical outlet or gas line. Also consider whether or not you want the patio heater to be portable or stationary. Let’s take a closer look at each fuel type.

  • Natural Gas Patio Heaters tend to be a more permanent option as they require a gas line for operation. The natural gas fuel is eco-friendly and these patio heaters are the most cost effective to operate. Based on a 40,000 BTU outdoor patio heater, the average cost of natural gas usage is estimated at $.476 per hour. You will need a gas professional to come out and install the fuel lines if they are not already in place.
  • Electric patio heaters are an eco-friendly option as they produce zero emissions while heating an area. The electric patio heaters are at the mid-level based on cost of operation. Based on the required (3) 4000 Watt Bulbs (4KWh) for an output of 40,000 BTUs, the average cost of electrical usage is $1.316 per hour.
  • Propane patio heaters are the most popular choice when portability is a concern and they do not require a professional for any part of the installation. Propane patio heaters are going to be the most costly to operate. Based on not only the operation of the outdoor patio heater itself but also the average cost of filling a propane cylinder which is about $16 to fill a 5 gallon tank that will provide approximately 10 hours of heat in an outdoor heater, propane outdoor heaters that produce 40,000 BTUs per hour will cost on average $1.60 per hour to operate.

Determining the Right Size Patio Heater for your area

Having the right size patio heater for the area that you wish to heat is going to make all of the difference! If the patio heater is too small the area is not going to heat properly or if the unit is too large the area will be overheated. Either way you will not be 100% satisfied with the patio heater. So knowing what size patio heater to consider based of the size of the area you are trying to heat is very beneficial. Reference the chart below to locate the square footage of your area and directly to the right will be the BTU output for you to look for.

Patio Heaters are designed with Safety in Mind

There is no need to worry about children or pets getting too close to a patio heater! Patio heater manufacturers are pioneers in establishing safety standards. Patio heaters do not produce an open flame and the base of patio heaters stay cool to the touch so there is no real danger to pets and children being around them. The only part of the unit that will get hot is the emitter screen and the dome at the top of the patio heater since they come in direct contact with the heat source. Most patio heaters also feature a safety tilt valve that will automatically shut the patio heaters off if they are tilted more than a set degree or if the patio heaters are tipped over while being used.