The Wonderful World Of Patio Heaters

The Wonderful World Of Patio Heaters

Going through the hassles of planning for an outdoor renovation can be stressful. Actually going through it can be downright nerve wracking, especially if you’re going big! So, naturally once all has been said and done, the contractors have packed up and the outdoor space looks amazing.

Naturally, you’re going to want to spend as much time out there as you can! There’s no sense in spending a boatload of money on a space that you cannot enjoy simply because it got cold.

Outdoor Patio Heater In The Night

How can you enjoy the outdoor space without the need of a parka? Easy, with a patio heater. One of these devices can make a world of difference during those chilly nights and they can do wonders for extending the amount of time you get to enjoy outdoors.

But, you may be wondering what exactly is a patio heater. Is it a big heating unit like the one you have in your home? Is it a glamorized bon fire? Is it like a green house, but for people? Nope—it’s none of those things!

What Is A Patio Heater?

A patio heater is a variety of space heaters that you will use outside. Whenever the temperature outside drops and it’s no longer comfortable to be outside without a jacket on, you can fire up one of these bad boys. With one of these heaters, you can continue to enjoy your newly renovated outdoor living space well into the colder months without worrying about freezing.

Outdoor Patio Heater Yard

These heaters are designed specifically for use outside, so you can be certain that they are going to be weather-resistant. Not only can they withstand whatever nature wants to throw at it (well, within reason at least), they are easy to use—many of them using a one-push ignition button to light the heater.

What Are The Benefits Of Using A Deck Heater?

There are a lot of benefits to using an outdoor heat lamp, some of them are quite obvious, while others aren’t so obvious. If you’re a business and you want to provide your customers with a great source of heat that is safe while they are outdoors, these heaters can do that. In fact, it isn’t uncommon to find a food establishment with an outdoor eating area use restaurant patio heaters to keep their guests warm while they dine outside.

Here are the top five reasons why patio heater is a great investment.

Low Maintenance Operation

Owning one of these outdoor space heaters is very convenient for entertaining purposes, but they also require little effort to maintain and operate them. Most of the backyard heaters you can purchase will come with a useful instruction manual that is going to tell you how to assemble the unit, but also how to use it in a way that will ensure it is going to provide heat for seasons to come.

Outdoor Patio Heater By The Swimming Pool

Usually, the top rated patio heaters will feature one-button ignition and an easy temperature control unit, so you can adjust the heat to the temperature that is most comfortable for you.

Silent Heating Solution

One of the most amazing features of a porch heater is that it is silent when it is running. This can be fantastic for those intimate dinner parties with a few close friends, or at a restaurant where people want to enjoy conversing without a noisy heater in the background.

Aesthetically Pleasing

You’ll find that when you look for a patio heater, there are many options available, but one thing is true, they all are beautifully designed. They are relatively compact and do not take up too much space—they only enhance it.

No Air Quality Problems

Unlike using an open source of fire, like a fire pit or a fireplace, a patio heater is going to give you all the warmth you crave without the air quality problems (or maintenance concerns) you would have with those fireplaces and fire pits.

Designed For Nature

What truly makes a patio heater a worthwhile investment is that if they are built for the weather. These units feature heavy-duty construction so that you can rest assured that your heater will still be there in the morning if it gets windy overnight. Because these are constructed to withstand all types of weather, you can be confident that your heater will work with the same efficiency and integrity as the day you assembled it.

Now that you know why it would be a good idea to have a patio heater, let’s learn more about them.

Common Fuel Types Used By A Heater For Outside Use

There are three types of fuel that a patio heater will use. When choosing which heater you want, you will also want to take into consideration the fuel type and if they are a good fit for your needs.

Natural Gas

A high quality natural gas outdoor heater is going to be able to provide you with continuous heat with almost no maintenance, which would explain why they are one of the most popular patio heaters available. All you have to do to use one of these units is hook it up to a natural gas line and you’re good to go.

These heaters also have the benefit of being less expensive to use when compared to the other two versions, propane and electric. You’ll discover that the natural gas models will come with a gas line that is included so you can have the unit hooked up quickly.

Covered Yard Patio Gas Heater

The downside of a natural gas outdoor heater is that you may need a professional to come and help you set up the lines. Also, once the heater is set up and the lines are in place, it is going to be difficult to move the heaters around like you could with an outdoor propane heater. With that said, on the plus side, these heaters have the ability of heating a space up to 20 feet in diameter and they come fully assembled.

Propane Gas

When looking for the best type of patio heater, people usually turn to a propane patio heater over the others. These heaters are preferred because they are easy to use and they can give you heat almost instantly.

All you have to do to operate these units is have a propane tank (usually a 20 pound propane tank). These tanks are simple to install on your own. There are models that are pre-assembled, which to those who are less than handy will find this a Godsend.

Outdoor Patio Heater In The Yard

You can even find units with domes that will spread the heat up to 20 feet in diameter. With these benefits, there is a downside to them too. Because these heaters use a propane tank, that means you are going to have to replace the tank once it goes empty. Over time, this can be quite expensive—depending on how frequently you use the heater.


Electric patio heaters are incredibly convenient because all you have to do is plug the unit into a wall socket and turn it on.

These heaters are capable of heating up your deck or patio space with minimal effort on your behalf, and the best part is, most models use a 120-volt outlet, allowing you to plug them in wherever you want, be it your deck or your patio, but they can also be used in an enclosed space like your garage or maybe even your studio space.

That is something you cannot do with a gas heater because gas heaters emit carbon monoxide, which we all know is lethal. These heaters are incredibly convenient because they are very low maintenance, especially when you compare them to the other options available.

On the flip side to all of these great features of an electric heater, there are some negatives to go along with them. For example, one of the biggest reasons why people may not choose an electric heater is that it has to be plugged in. Most outdoor spaces do not have that many electrical outlets, so you’re limited to where you can put the heater.

Outdoor Electric Patio Heater

If you do want to move the heater, you’re probably going to need to use extension cords, which not only are unsightly (unless they are the green ones and they can blend in with the grass) but they are a safety hazard (especially if they are the green ones because they do blend in with the grass) because people could trip over them. If there is alcohol at your party, that could cause some serious damage.

Also, people buy gas heaters because they create a nice ambiance and they are a great focal/talking point when guests come over. An electric heater? Eh, not so much. Sure, they work to keep people warm, but they aren’t going to be grilling you on where you got it, how much it cost, do you like it, blah-blah-blah. You know how it goes when neighbors love something that you have.

Styles Of Patio Heaters

When it comes to the style of the patio heater that you choose for your outdoor living space, there are several that you could choose from. However, let’s look at the most common types that you’re going to come across:

  • Standalone heaters – These heaters are also known a ground heater and they are usually the most common type of heater that you’ll find. These are tall and thin units that emit a lot of heat. These are perfect for decks and patios, but some people even use them around the perimeter of their yard and pool. You can also find these types of heaters used at events and the outdoor dining spaces at a restaurant.
  • Tabletop heaters – This type of heater closely resembles a miniature floor heater, but it can also look like a traditional lamp you’d find inside someone’s home. Sometimes you’ll see these lamps described as an outdoor heating lamp and these are ideal for side tables or larger tables at an outdoor event. These heaters usually stand about 3 feet high.
  • Mountable heaters – These heaters can be mounted to the ceiling or the wall and they are quite versatile. Some hanging electric patio heaters will feature a stand, and they will give you the ability to save floor space. These can usually be found in industrial spaces and work spaces to give off additional heat.

Patio Heater Size And Power Considerations

The power of any patio heater you choose is going to be measured in one of two measurements: watts or BTUs (British Thermal Units). Most heaters you find will mention their heating range as a certain amount of feet around the heater. For example, an electric heater that offers up to 1200 watts of power will heat up space of 12 feet in diameter.

Patio Heater In Winter And Snow

BTUs are usually the standard measurement for these units and they are written on the box or in the product description as BTU per hour. The higher number of BTUs the unit uses, the more heat the unit will produce. Do keep in mind that if you are considering a propane heater, make sure you take into consideration the tank size.

Smaller tanks will have to be replaced more often. However, to avoid that, you can choose a heater that uses a 20 pound tank. There are even some models that use a 40 pound tank, which means many more hours of continuous heat.

Location And Safety Concerns Associated With A Patio Heater

Before you run out and purchase your new stand up propane heater, there are some things safety concerns that you need to consider first:

  • Propane and natural gas heaters are only to be used outdoors because of they create carbon monoxide when they are in use. Electric heaters can be used indoors and outdoors, however you do not want to leave the electric heater outside when it is not being used, or in bad weather.
  • Make sure that your heater is on a flat surface that is strong enough to hold the weight of the heater.
  • ​Never put the heater in an area where there is a lot of wind, nor put it anywhere there are low hanging branches because they can be a fire hazard.
  • ​Read the guide that is included with your heater about combustible clearances and wall clearances to avoid any potential fire hazards.
  • ​Never leave fabric or flammable materials hanging over or around the heater.
  • Always make sure you turn the heater off completely before you do any sort of maintenance on the unit or when you are moving the heater from one spot to another.

Safety Features To Look For In A Patio Heater

When you’re entertaining your guests or you just want to relax outside and sip on some tea, you’re going to want to make sure your heater has some safety features built into the unit so that you know you’re going to be safe from any fire hazards. Look for these safety features in the patio heater you are interested in buying:

  • Automatic Shut Off – There should be a switch inside the heater that will turn the unit off as soon as it gets too hot, or if there is any sort of fire hazard within the unit itself.
  • Tilt Protection – This is an essential feature that all outdoor heaters should have, but do not. The feature makes sure that the unit will turn off automatically in case the unit tilts to a certain degree—in many cases a 30 degree angle will cause this feature to turn the heater off.
  • Cool Touch Glass – You’ll notice that many commercial heaters will feature cool touch glass that makes the unit safe to use around pets and children, or careless adults.
  • Safety Approvals – You’re going to want to find a heater that has passed the safety standards by UL and CSA. These types of approvals indicate that the unit has passed all safety requirements and it is safe for use.

Caring For Your Patio Heater

Over time, you’re going to want to do general cleaning and maintenance on your heater. To clean the unit, all you have to do is clean it with water mixed with a mild cleaning agent and wipe the unit with a dampened cloth. You don’t want to use any abrasive cleaners or anything harsh because it’ll damage the finish, or worse, the unit itself. For proper cleaning instructions, check the owners guide for the recommended cleaning methods.

Tabletop Patio Heater In The Yard

As for maintenance, you can put away your tool belt because there is very little maintenance required with these heaters. This is probably the biggest draw to having one of these heaters. All you really need to do is wipe it down with the sudsy water and that’s it. The only real maintenance you should have to worry about is replacing the propane tank when it runs out of fuel.

Additional Features You’ll Want To Consider

Along with all of the things we discussed, there are a few other notable features that you may want to consider before purchasing a patio heater.


There are a variety of assembly types that you are going to run across. Most outdoor heaters will require some type of assembly, but there are a few that will come fully assembled, all you’ll need to do is attach the dome and you’re good to go. The assembled heaters are good options if you aren’t very handy or if you’re too excited and you don’t want to wait while it is being put together.

Electronic Controls

The type of heater you choose may feature electronic controls that will allow you to power the heater, but also adjust the heat level. With these types of controls, you may find the experience more enjoyable. While these electronic controls aren’t a necessity, they are nice to have. One electronic feature we do recommend is ensuring that the unit you choose features a one-touch ignition. That alone will make your life so much simpler.

Mountable Patio Heater On The House

Adjustable Flames

Most natural gas and propane heaters will use some type of flame for their heat source, and these flames can be adjusted to the amount of heat that you want. Having this type of heat source is a great way to add a bit of ambiance to your outdoor space.

Length Of Warranty

The length of time your heater is covered under warranty is going to give you great peace of mind. It is going to reinforce the idea that the company stands behind their product and they guarantee the product will last, regardless of the environmental conditions it may face.


By incorporating a patio heater into the design of your outdoor space is a great way to extend the usability of your living space by months! When it starts to get colder outside, you don’t have to stay inside anymore, because with a heater or two, you can entertain your guests outside without needing to bundle up.

Outdoor Natural Gas Patio Heater

In this article, we covered a lot of ground in terms of the benefits of using one of these outdoor heaters, the different types of heaters and the fuel they use, but we also covered some other features that you’ll want to consider, too.

We hope that after reading this guide, you’ll be confident enough to go out there and find that perfect heating unit for your outdoor living space. We bet once you do bring one of those beauty’s home, you’ll wonder why you hadn’t purchased one sooner!

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