A patio heater makes it possible to enjoy the outdoors during weather that would otherwise be too chilly or uncomfortable. The heaters use natural gas (NG), propane, or electricity to heat covered or uncovered spaces. They can be portable freestanding units or attach to a wall or ceiling.
What are the different types of patio heaters?
- Freestanding models sit on the ground or a tabletop and include different styles like tiki torches, glass tubes, and above-ground fire pits. Finishes on portable patio heaters is almost always stainless steel or black, high-heat paint. Stainless steel is most often used for freestanding and tabletop heaters, while fire pits are often black.
- Fixed heaters attach to walls or ceilings and often use electricity.
What’s the right type for you?
Aesthetics aside, patio heater selection is most often made by the fuel that’s readily available. Natural gas provides the most convenience as long as you have it running to your home already. Propane is widely available in portable tanks at many kinds of retail stores.
When a combustible fuel isn’t convenient or available, you can consider electric units. They will need to plug directly into a receptacle, preferably without using an extension cord. If you must, be certain that the cord you use has an amp rating that exceeds the electrical draw of the unit. A cord that doesn’t have adequate capacity is a safety hazard since it could overheat and start a fire.
How much heat do they put out?
The product specifications will tell you what their heat output is. Electric models indicate their wattage, while propane and NG models show their BTU capacity.
- Electric heaters. The product will indicate how many watts or kilowatts it uses and provides. Most electric units create one watt of heat for each watt of electricity they consume.
- Gas heaters. Look for the BTU consumption. Most heaters let you adjust the gas orifice to provide different levels of heat output.
- Commercial patio heaters. Commercial patio heaters have a higher BTU (British thermal unit) capacity and use NG or propane as fuel.
Are patio heaters safe?
- Any outdoor heater poses a safety hazard if it’s not used as the manufacturer recommends. Using a cord rated too light with electric units is a fire hazard. Electric heaters can be used in enclosed areas since they don’t emit carbon monoxide (CO) and other noxious byproducts.
- Gas models to be used outdoors to lower the risk of CO exposure. The tank or fuel line and the heater’s fittings must be free of leaks to prevent explosions.