Adding a source of outdoor heating to your deck or patio extends the use of your outdoor spaces while adding coziness and ambience to the area. Outdoor heating options like fire pits, fireplaces, and patio heaters make this a breeze. Before you start shopping, we recommend considering all the outdoor heating options, along with the size, style, and budget you are working with, in order to choose the best outdoor heater for your needs. Read on to discover 4 of the best ways to heat an outdoor space.
When you’re looking for serious outdoor heating, patio heaters deliver some of the best heat output levels. Perhaps the most versatile outdoor heating solution, patio heaters are great for heating both lounge and dining areas. These outdoor heaters can accommodate almost any outdoor entertaining situation and are commonly used on patios and lawns at restaurants and receptions. Because of their tall and narrow structure, portable patio heaters take up very little floor space and are compact enough to use in small spaces but powerful enough to heat large areas as well. See below for a comprehensive list of pros and cons focusing on patio heaters to help you determine if this is the right outdoor heating option for your space.
To learn more about patio heaters and how to choose the right model for your space, visit our Patio Heater Buying Guide.
- Easy to use
- Enjoy warmth over a larger area for longer while heating an area with a diameter up to 20 feet using radiant heat
- Lots of flexibility – choose between gas and electric models as well as styles like free-standing, ceiling-mounted, tabletop, and wall-mounted to fit almost any outdoor space
- Most patio heaters come with wheels, making it easy to move them around as needed
- Patio heaters boast energy efficiency as well as added safety features with integrated anti-tilt auto shutoff
- Requires little to no cleaning
- Should be used away from fabrics, foliage, and other flammable materials
- Need to be stored safely and covered when not in use
- Could present the risk of tipping over in high winds or if someone bumps into it
- Not as aesthetically pleasing as a fire pit or fireplace
The affordability, portability, and ease of use that fire pits offer have made them one of the most popular outdoor heating options. Fire pit designs range from tabletop models to larger fire pits that are perfect for gathering around on a cool night. For optimal heat enjoyment, fire pits are best suited for outdoor conversation areas where you can position seating around the fire pit. There are two different options for fueling the fire: gas or wood. Wood-burning fire pits typically range from $50–$300, while gas fire pit models usually cost anywhere from $200 on up. See below for a comprehensive list of pros and cons focusing on fire pits to help you determine if a fire pit is the right outdoor heating option for your space.
If you want to learn more about fire pits and how to choose the right one, visit our Fire Pit Buying Guide.
- Both gas and wood burning fire pits are easy to set up
- Portable fire pits allow you to move them around as needed
- Gas ignites very easily but produces less heat than wood
- Wood burns hotter and is better for cooking, but it produces more smoke than a gas fire pit
- Gas is safer for families with younger kids because the fire typically is more controlled and contained than wood-based fires
- Wood lets you build a fire just the way you and your family like it, but gas fire pits are easier to keep clean
- Gas fire pits may require an extra gas line or connection to a tank
- Wood for fire pits can be a pain to store—as well as expensive—particularly in cities and urban areas
- Chopping your own firewood can be strenuous
- Wood fire pits create additional worry about fire accidentally spreading, and they require careful placement
- Cleaning a wood-burning fire pit can be tedious as you will need to regularly clear ashes, remove old logs, and store the wood in a dry spot
A chiminea is a freestanding, front-loading fire feature that consists of a rounded body that’s supported by 3 legs and features a vertical chimney for venting smoke. Similar to a fireplace, chimineas are more affordable and smaller than traditional outdoor fireplaces making them ideal for smaller patio spaces. Traditionally, chimineas were made out of clay and terracotta, but nowadays, you can find them in materials like copper, cast iron, and more. Most chiminea models are wood-burning and can be controlled like any other wood-burning outdoor fireplace or fire pit. See below for a comprehensive list of pros and cons focusing on chimineas to help you determine if a chiminea is the right outdoor heating option for your space.
- They’re designed to maximize heat with a shape that draws air into the fire while leading smoke out of the top
- Because the smoke exits the top of the unit, smoke is kept away from you and your guests
- You don’t need as much wood to fuel your fire, which creates less ash and mess
- The chiminea contains the fire, making it safer for use around kids — just be sure they’re not tempted to touch the surfaces
- Chimineas are designed for use in dry, warm climates; they can crack or get damaged from lower temperatures and rain
- They should be stored properly in colder months to prevent cracking or crumbling
An outdoor fireplace gives an outdoor space the true feeling of an outdoor room. They are ideal for both patio dining and seating areas and add the distinct flair of bringing the indoors outside. Keep in mind that outdoor fireplaces tend to be heavy, so they are best suited for permanent placement on your patio. They also tend to have a higher price point that is justified by the architectural beauty and function they will bring to your outdoor space. Outdoor fireplaces can be fueled by gas or wood and come in a range of material options from stone and concrete to metal. See below for a comprehensive list of pros and cons focusing on outdoor fireplaces to help you determine if this is the right outdoor heating option for your space.
To learn more about outdoor fireplaces, visit our Outdoor Fireplace Buying Guide.
- Because the fire is contained, fireplaces can be safer options for children and pets
- High heat output makes it suitable for larger areas
- Wood and gas options are available for flexibility
- Outdoor fireplaces are cumbersome which can make setup challenging
Ultimately, you should consider the amount of heat you need and the style you want. Style, budget, and safety are your top priorities. Let these features guide your choice in outdoor heating options.