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Patio Heaters

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Patio Heaters: How to Enjoy Your Outdoor Space in Cooler Weather

Extend the life of your beautifully designed outdoor space with a patio heater. When the temperatures start to drop, an outdoor heating element will help you stay toasty and enjoy the evenings on your patio with friends and family. Use these tips to help you choose a patio heater that works best for your space.

What types of patio heaters can I choose?

It's easy to find a patio heater that offers a balance of style and function to fit your needs; below are the most common patio heater types:

  • freestanding: With the ability to stand on their own, these patio heaters have a wide base and a slim profile. They're sturdy and can fit in smaller spaces, but they're also heavier and a little more difficult to move around. Look for a design with wheels that's easy to roll around your patio.
  • tabletop: The smaller design of these heaters makes them suitable for use on top of a table or other piece of furniture. They're also lightweight and portable. However, because these heaters are smaller than the tall, freestanding designs, they don't put out as much heat. This can be ideal if you live in a warmer climate but still want the cozy ambience of a heat source.
  • glass tube: These attractive patio heaters have metal frames with large, vertical glass tubes that radiate heat. They provide warmth but also have a striking, almost sculptural look due to their large, glowing glass columns. This design works well to provide the necessary heat and can act as a light source to illuminate your patio.
  • hanging: If floor space is limited, you can suspend this type of patio heater from the roof of your patio, covered porch, or gazebo to easily heat up the area without cramping your style or your space.
  • wall mounted: These patio heaters mount overhead on an exterior wall and radiate heat outward in a single direction. Mounted patio heaters don't take up floor space, making them a popular option for small spaces.

What fuels do these heaters use?

The three main fuel types for patio heaters are propane, natural gas, and electric. Your decision here really comes down to personal preference. Take a closer look at each one so you can weigh your options.

  • propane: Propane heaters are easy to set up, and they warm quickly. Use them with standard 20-pound propane tanks to maintain their portability.
  • natural gas: Natural gas heaters typically require professional installation to connect to your gas line. While the initial installation cost might seem like a negative, when it comes to fuel spend these patio heaters have great cost savings over time. You should also be mindful that needing professional installation means heaters using this fuel type aren't portable.
  • electric: With these heaters, there's no professional installation required; they're ready to use out of the box. Keep in mind that you'll need to place any electric patio heater close to an outdoor electrical outlet for safe operation.

How many BTUs do I need for my patio heater?

Aside from the overall style of the heater, you'll also want to consider how much heat it emits. British thermal units (BTUs) refer to the amount of heat that a patio heater produces. You'll see this number often when comparing different models. A higher BTU means a higher heat output, however a larger number isn't necessarily better. If you have a small space it won't take as powerful of a heater to keep it warm. For example, a 7,000 BTU heater is sufficient for a 300-square-foot patio whereas a 2,000-square-foot space would need a 30,000 BTU heater. It all comes down to balancing power with the size of your space.

Related: Still have questions? Let our Patio Heater Buying Guide help!

Where can I put my patio heater?

Make sure you have several feet of clearance on all sides to prevent damage to your home, plants, and any other nearby objects. Additionally, try to maintain two to three feet of clearance above the heater. While patio heaters are safe to use on most surfaces, including stone patios and wooden decks, it's always best to keep an eye on it during use.

If you want to use a patio heater in a sunroom or a three-season room, be sure to select an electric patio heater. Both gas and propane heaters naturally produce carbon monoxide and require proper ventilation, so these two fuel types are best suited for outdoor spaces.

How should I store my patio heater?

It’s wise to invest in a patio heater cover if you plan to keep it outdoors at all times. While light weather changes are nothing to worry about with patio heaters, harsh and unpredictable winter weather can cause unintended damage. Alternatively, if you have the space, storing your patio heater in a shed or garage will also keep it protected and extend its life.

Patio heaters make it easy to enjoy your outdoor living space in any season. To find the design that's just right for you remember to think about the size of your space, the fuel type you prefer, and where you plan on placing your new heater. Once you've figured out those details, you're already on your way to relax in the cozy comfort of your upgraded outdoor space.

Related: Find even more Outdoor Heating Solutions for your patio.