A Beginner's Guide to Buying an Outdoor Patio Heater
A small chill during the spring or fall shouldn't stop you from enjoying some quality time in the backyard. Whether you want to fire up the grill, set up a lawn game or just socialize with friends and family, a new outdoor patio heater can be used outside year-round for any occasion. We've put together a comprehensive list of features and types you should consider when buying a patio heater.
- Electricity - These easy-to-use outdoor heating options can be installed just about anywhere. The flameless mechanical components and lack of emissions mean that electric heaters are a more approachable option for families and those especially concerned about safety.
- Propane - Propane patio heaters are ideal for larger outdoor spaces. Depending on the model, they can be relocated quickly and easily and will start in an instant. Since these heaters emit potentially hazardous byproducts, they should never be used in an enclosed area.
- Natural gas - Natural gas burns more cleanly and efficiently than propane, and these options generally are more affordable fuel source. Many outdoor heaters are designed to run both natural gas and propane, so finding the right fuel for your needs is easy.
Types of Outdoor Patio Heaters
A wall-mounted outdoor heater is typically electric and ideal for small or enclosed spaces. Consider a mountable option for sun rooms, gazebos and porches.
- Versatility - This space-saving outdoor heater can be quickly and easily mounted to a wall or ceiling. It also great for indoor spaces like sunrooms and porches since it doesn't use propane or natural gas to operate.
- Discreet designs - Unlike other free-standing options, a wall-mounted outdoor heater can be tucked discreetly out of the way and out of sight. Your guests will appreciate having the extra space to move around, and you'll appreciate not having to reorganize the garden decor you've worked so hard to coordinate.
A hanging outdoor heater is a semi-permanent option that provides concentrated heat to a specific area. Try hanging one beside the grill while preparing dinner or beside a patio chair for taking in the sunset at the end of a long day.
- High-efficiency - A hanging patio heater usually provides less power than its larger counterparts, but it can produce quite a difference for a group of friends around an outdoor bar or dining set.
- Space-saving style - This option is attractive as it is functional. A hanging model makes a decorative addition to any gazebo or porch, while also making the space more accessible year-round.
Whether you're serving drinks to friends at a patio bar or enjoying a delicious meal with the family at the dining set, a tabletop heater can be relocated at a moment's notice to accommodate nearly any outdoor activity.
- Portability - This smaller unit resembles a full-size patio heater but can conveniently be placed on an outdoor dining table, coffee table or side table. When you and your guests decide to move to another area, simply turn off your heater and take it with you.
- Accessibility - As the weather gets cooler later in the evening, adjusting the temperature on a tabletop heater is as easy as reaching over and turning the built-in dial.
A large, freestanding patio heater is the ultimate outdoor heating solution for those who love to entertain. From hosting a game-day cookout or enjoying a summer get-together with the extended family, this heater can help keep everyone warm well into the evening.
- Power and range - When you're entertaining a large group of guests, a free-standing outdoor heater has the power to cover a greater area than many smaller options. Whether guests are mingling near the patio bar or relaxing at a conversation set, they'll stay toasty despite the slight chill in the air.
- Maneuverability - While a freestanding patio heater can be bulkier than a tabletop option, that doesn't mean it's any less to place in your space. Some options even have built-in wheels so you can reposition the unit and get back to enjoying your outdoor space.
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Outdoor Heater Alternatives
If you prefer a more natural heating source, consider firepits or chimineas. These create heat using good, old-fashioned wood and a flame.
This classic backyard heating solution is ideal for large, open areas. Invite some friends over no matter the weather and get cozy next a stone a ceramic firepit.
- Large open spaces - These heaters need space around them for safe firepit usage. Because they contain open fires, they're ideal for large backyards where there aren't nearby shrubs or trees that could catch fire.
- Evening bonfires - Compared to a traditional outdoor heater, a firepit can provide a wider and taller flame for large groups of people. Just make sure to follow the safety ordinances set forth by local municipalities.
A chimnea or outdoor fireplace is a freestanding wood burner that directs smoke upwards and away from those seated or standing nearby. If you're sick of getting watery eyes while enjoying an evening by the fire, this is a functional and beautiful option for backyards of all sizes.
Families - Because they have enclosed flames, these outdoor heaters can produce high temperatures in a safer environment than one with a firepit.
Outdoor living spaces - Place casual seating sets around an outdoor fireplace or chiminea to create a homey atmosphere in your outdoor living room.
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What to Consider When Buying a Patio Heater
- Range - Most patio heaters intended for home use have a range of anywhere from 3 to 20 feet. Commercial outdoor heaters can be significantly more powerful, heating well beyond 20 feet, but will require more fuel and will need to be refilled more frequently.
- Portability - Larger, more powerful heaters may have an extended range, but they can be harder to maneuver and won't be suitable for smaller or enclosed spaces. While Wall-mountable electric heaters are lightweight and compact, they're more difficult to move into a new position than a freestanding model once they've been installed.
- Safety - Flameless electric outdoor heaters can offer homeowners additional peace of mind while enjoying the outdoors. Many gas-powered, free-standing models include anti-tilt and automatic shut off features in case the unit is accidentally nudged or knocked over.