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The Top Patio Heaters

Spring turns to summer, summer turns to fall. You’ve been enjoying your patio so much, though, you don’t want to let the brisk weather ruin it! Fortunately, there are a lot of great heaters that can take the chill off. Once you have one, you’ll be able to enjoy the autumn leaves, the clear sky, and so much more while still comfortably relaxing!

What To Look For In A Patio Heater

Providing heat for an open area is a lot tougher than it is to do it indoors. But it’s still possible to use a heater to generate enough heat to keep you comfortable when the temperatures start to drop.

The amount of space you want to heat, the temperature, and the wind are all factors you have to take into account when you want to choose an outdoor heater. The latter two, of course, are beyond your control. But it’s important to remember that it takes a lot more energy to heat the space from 60° to 70° than if your starting point is 50°. And if you’re simply curling up to read, you can get by with a smaller heater than if you have a larger space and more people to warm.

A patio heater is great in your outdoor kitchen, too. Get more ideas for adding a space on your patio for cooking out!

Heating Capacity

Like indoor heating and cooling units, the capacity of an outdoor unit is measured in BTU. The higher the BTU rating, the more heat the unit will produce. This should be the first thing to consider in your heater. If you only plan to use your heater if the weather is dropping to the high 50s and it only needs to heat your personal space, 8000 BTU will normally do the trick.

Here’s a relatively simple way to calculate how many BTU’s you should look for.

Cubic feet of area you want to heat x degrees (Fahrenheit) to raise the temperature = BTU

Remember, cubic feet is the length x width x height of the area. For height, it’s normal to use 8 feet.

So if you just need a small space of 10 feet square heated, and the temperature is about 55° but you feel comfortable at 65°, you need an 8000 BTU heater. That is, 10 x 10 x 8 = 800 cubic feet, time 10 degrees, is 8000 BTU. But if you need 20 square feet heated from 50° to 65°, you have 20 x 20 x 8= 3200 square feet, times 15°, equals 48,000 BTU.

Fuel Source

You also need to choose among various fuel sources. Outdoor heaters may use electricity, natural gas, or propane. You could elect to have a fire pit or fireplace, too, but that’s a topic for another day!

If you already have a natural gas connection to your home, you can add your outdoor heater to the gas line. This usually requires professional installation. That can be costly, although the ongoing use is relatively cheap. You’ll also need to be sure where you want your heater set up because you can’t move it easily afterward.

a patio heater can help take the chill off

Propane is more expensive to use than natural gas, but it offers the benefit of mobility. As long as there is gas in the tank, it’s easy to use and heats up quickly. You just need to make sure you always have enough gas in the tank!

An electric outdoor heater is probably the most convenient choice. As long as you have an outlet to connect to, you can use it. It’s easy to position where you want and move it as needed – as long as it’s the cord can reach. However, it can cost more to use in the long run. Electric heaters tend to warm up more slowly, too.

Safety

Any heating unit can prevent safety issues. It’s important to be aware of issues and risks, choose a model appropriate for your space, and observe proper safety precautions for your heater.

One important consideration is to be sure your heater is stable. It should have a solid base that won’t let it tip over. Most units have an auto-turnoff feature in case they’re tipped over, which is a good feature to look for.

The heating element itself should also be situated where you won’t accidentally bump into it. That could mean it’s properly shielded with a metal cage in front of it. Some units are tall enough that the element is not likely to be touched accidentally.

Gas heaters cannot be used indoors, either. If you want a heater you can use both indoors and out, an electric heater is the right choice.

Design

There are several broad categories of design to choose from. 

Tabletop heaters are small and usually provide only enough heat for a small area. They’re also usually electric models. 

Floor-standing models may have any fuel type but are probably your best choice if you want to go with propane or natural gas. They come in a full range of BTU output. They also offer many attractive designs.

Wall-mounted heaters or hanging units are another option. These are generally electric units. If you don’t have much space on the ground, these make a good choice. But of course, you need  a wall or beam to attach them to. 

Reviews of the Best Patio Heaters

It’s tough to create a single list of the best outdoor heaters, especially when considering the large range of needs in terms of space to heat. However, we’ve tried to look at some examples of the best units across all types of need. Here are the ones we recommend.

Golden Flame 46,000 BTU (XL-Series) Matte-Mocha Patio Heater

pyramid patio heater 46000 BTU commercial heater

If you have a large space to heat, this model from Golden Flame is a great model for you. Advertised as a commercial heater, it will do the job when you have to warm up enough space for a good-sized space. 

The power source for this heater is propane. However, you can find a natural gas version at the same link.

The pyramidal shape helps make it very stable. It’s also attractive in terms of style and color. And it’s on wheels for easy maneuverability!

There is some effective heat loss because of the height of the unit, but it still provides a good amount of heat. Of course, it depends on the air temperature how far that heat will be felt. 

One of the biggest drawbacks, though, is the price. This unit, at least as we write this, was listed for several times the price of the next unit.

Hampton Bay 48000 BTU Stainless Steel Patio Heater

stainless steel patio heater from hampton bay

This is another powerful unit that produces 48,000 BTU. The stainless steel finish is modern and attractive. The site claims it can heat over 200 square feet – at that rate, it should be able to warm it by about 25°. 

This is a propane-powered heater. A 20-pound tank can last up to about 6 hours of continuous use on a medium setting.

One drawback to this unit is that it doesn’t have wheels. We don’t recommend trying to move any unit while it’s in use; however, wheels would come in handy for when it’s not in use.

AmazonBasics Havana Bronze Commercial Patio Heater

amazonbasics 48,000 btu patio heater

This is another powerful heater and has an output of 46,000 BTUs. It measures 89 inches tall. 

It has easy push-button ignition and a “tilt valve” for safety. That means that if it’s knocked over or ever tilted, it will turn itself off automatically.

A wheel assembly is included as well.

Up to a 20-pound propane tank can fit inside the base of the unit. One tank can last 6 – 8 hours on medium.

According to the manufacturer, this heater does appear Havana Bronze – under sunlight. When we saw it, though, the color was truer to the charcoal as it appears in the photo. That is one caution if you’re concerned about the color!

AZ Patio Heaters Electric Patio Heater

AZ Patio Heater for under patio umbrella and patio parasol

Here’s a different idea for a patio heater. If you have a table with an umbrella, this is perfect! This electric heater fits right inside and keeps everything underneath nice and warm. This unit produces 1500 watts, which is the equivalent of about 5000 BTU. 

It does have a variable-temperature control for times when you don’t need to use all that heat. This works by having separate power to each of the three “wings” – each wing is 500 watts. If you want low heat, only one wing turns on, etc.

This unit clamps tightly onto the pole to hold it in place. 

If you’re tall, be careful when standing up so that you don’t bump your head on it; it does get very hot. Also, while it provides a decent amount of heat, that heat won’t penetrate the table. So your legs may still feel cold even while your upper body is comfortable.

Fire Sense 1,500-Watt Stainless Steel Infrared Electric Patio Heater

fire sense electric infrared patio heater

If you want a small floor-standing heater, this model could work great for you.

This model from Fire Sense has a 1500 watt output (about 5000 BTU). It’s lightweight and easy to move. 

Like most electric heaters, this unit is great for concentrating heat in the area it’s pointing. But it doesn’t radiate heat beyond that.

If you need to heat just a pair of seats so you can sit and talk, this is great. Or if you need something to keep your hands warm while working on a project, it can do the trick.

The unit measures 92 inches tall (7 feet 8 inches). It can be adjusted for storage, but not for use. From the look of it, we thought it would be unstable, but it actually has good balance.

This is made of aluminum.

This heater doesn’t have variable settings. It’s either on or off. 

Conclusion

There’s no reason to stop enjoying your patio just because there’s a little nip in the air. A patio heater can warm things up and make you and your guests feel comfortable outdoors even when the weather turns to the cool side. You’ll have your choice of fuel types, styles, and heating output. Whichever you choose, you’ll be able to enjoy your yard just a little more!