Summer is just going to get over, and winter is going to knock. That warm blanket or sweater is just not going to be enough to remain warm during cold days or nights, especially if you are planning to spend more time in your surrounding outdoor space such as the patio.
A well-furnished patio takes no time to be a beloved spot for both kids and elders who like lounging. This is when you will probably think of buying a patio heater.
It is a must-have appliance for all those who love to have leisure time or relax in their patio by being on a hammock, reading their favorite novel, or enjoying a BBQ party. An outdoor patio is perhaps your haven for making new memories.
Just because it is cold outside, it does not mean that you stop spending some good time. All you need is the best patio heater. These heaters are commonly seen in workplaces, restaurants, and homes as they heat outdoor spaces regardless of how the weather is.
There are many such heaters in the market. This guide aims to help you in selecting the most suitable patio heater as per your needs by sharing the reviews of the top 5 patio heaters as well as factors that influence your selection decision. So, read on.
Reviews of 2020’s 5 Best Patio Heaters
AmazonBasics Commercial Outdoor Patio Heater, Havana Bronze
This is an all-rounder stainless steel patio heater for all types of outdoor entertainment amidst cold air. Whether it is el fresco-style dining with guests or simply enjoying cocoa on a hammock, this commercial patio heater is there to keep you and your guests warm by releasing warm air.
With the impressive output capacity of 46,000 BTUs, this heater is ideal for small- to medium-sized patios. This heavy-duty patio can warm up an area whose diameter is within 18 feet. The gas patio heater works for almost nine hours using a 20 lbs tank of LP gas. You are ensured of consistent heat output and quiet operation.
Once the standard tank is brought and kept inside, you only need to light the heater by pushing a simple button. The credit for this ease of use goes to the user-friendly and safe Piezo ignition mechanism. The soft golden glow boosts the ambiance of the amusing night.
A significant control knob offers variable heat settings so that you can take the benefit of low or high heat operations. It also allows turning off the heater. For better safety, a shut-off tilt valve is integrated to turn the heater automatically off in case of tipping.
You will appreciate that this heater comes with smoothly rolling two wheels so that you can move it from the patio to the deck. You can fill the heater’s lower block with sand or water to have the desired level of stability during strong winds.
The heater’s column is built using durable steel and has a bronze finish with powder coating. This coating protects the outside portion of the device from rust and harsh outdoor elements.
- Beautiful design
- Portable; on wheels
- Good and quick heating power
- Adjustable heat controls
- Ease of use
- Auto shut off
- Available in different stunning colors
- Available in cover (extra cost)
- 1-year warranty
- Not for patios where heavy winds blow
AZ Patio Heaters Electric Patio Heater, Parasol, Black
This parasol patio heater is ideal for anyone who wants a heater to work from right under a patio umbrella sheltering two people. Powered by electricity, this heater will surely need an electrical outlet nearby. However, this is the real reason why homeowners would love to have it for their enclosed patio where propane and natural gas cannot be used for heating.
Working efficiently in both indoor and outdoor settings, this easy-to-assemble and CSA-approved heater has a heat output capacity of 1500 watts. With it as well as three burners inside, this heater can heat up to 15 square feet of area. You can instantly feel the generated heat after plugging it on.
The 3-burner design is responsible for covering more fields to ensure a more pleasant experience, day and night. This design is similar to getting three heaters in one. There is variable temperature control for adjusting the heat as per your preference.
The heater is built using highly durable stainless steel and is waterproof as certified by IP rating. There is also an anti-tilt switch that adds to safety against unpredicted accidents. You are assured of proper spotlight, heat, and comfort.
This stylish heater designed to work from beneath a parasol comes with an adjustable central hole. You can adjust its diameter up to 2.25 inches due to which it can fit into any outdoor umbrella you may have.
- Easy assembly
- Stunning look
- For both indoors and outdoors
- Instant heat
- Three heat lamps for instant heat
- Certified by CSA, IP, and ETL
- Adjustable hole size
- Extremely durable
- May get affected temporarily by strong winds
Star Patio Electric Wall Mounted Indoor/Outdoor Patio Heater
Consider this wall-mounted electric heater for warming up two people on the smallest patio. It is ideal for heating a small balcony, gazebo, café, workshop, or even a small garage as per the manufacturer. The heater is capable of producing 5100 BTUs of heat but with an environmentally-efficient procedure lasting for 8000 hours.
While this heater heats up to 15 square feet of area, you can experience quiet warmth instantly with simple settings (1500W). As it is electric, there are no fumes, chemicals, or odors released.
A notable feature of this heater is its on-off pull switch that ensures ease of use. All you have to do is use this user-friendly switch to turn the heater on or off. Another good ability of this device is adjustable heating up to 45 degrees. Just loosen the two screws to adjust the heater’s vertical angle.
The stylish design comes with a wall mount bracket that is stable and an aluminum casing. It has managed to grab an IP55 certification rating. It is also resistant to dust and weather elements making the device ideal for outdoor use.
- Light and compact
- Stylish look
- cETLus certification
- Easiest to use
- Good and quick amount of heat for a partially enclosed patio
- Lower running cost than of gas heating
- 1-year warranty
- Little pricey for its size
DONYER POWER 1500W Electrical Patio Heater, Ceiling Mounted
Made up of iron and recommended for both indoors and outdoors, this heater is perhaps the most versatile one to consider. You can use it in a living room, office, balcony, and even at a camping site. It is lightweight due to which it is portable enough to be carried almost anywhere.
It is capable of generating up to 1500W of heat and can cover a space of 65 square feet. Interestingly, it comes with two heat settings, namely, 600W and 1500W, which you can set as per your needs. To set the desired heat setting, all you have to do is pull the string down. Doing this once sets it at 600W while doing the same twice sets it at 1500W.
You are assured of instant and uniform heating in all directions. However, you should not be over 5 feet far horizontally from it. At 55 degrees, the heat released is sufficient to feel comfortable in a sweater. The Halogen tube inside takes care of luminous heat dissipation without oxidation, high heating efficiency, and long life.
The 1m chain and Hook design are such that you can easily hang this heater in any suitable place. The rating of IP24 makes this heather waterproof, which means it will not be affected by snow or rain.
- High area coverage for heating
- Good and quick heat output
- Easy to install
- Variable heat settings
- Several certifications including CE and IP rating (waterproof)
- Available in different colors
- Insufficient heat for some customers
Mr. Heater MH18B Portable Propane Heater
Consider this propane heater for your patios if your area is susceptible to frequent power cuts. This advanced heater uplifts portable heating by generating a high amount of heat with the press of a single button.
It blends convection and radiant heat technologies to ensure maximum operational efficiency. Its built-in fan boosts the overall heating capacity. The fan operates on a 6-volt A/C adapter (to be brought separately) or 4D-cell batteries.
In other words, the heater is capable of heating a big area to a greater degree and at a quicker pace than expected. Interestingly, it can effectively heat an area of 450 square feet and raise the temperature to 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit in 20 minutes, while ensuring almost 95% fuel-efficiency. This translates to less consumption of propane and lower power bills.
This heater directly connects to two propane tanks, each of 1 lb. for heating enclosed spaces such as meeting rooms. There are two swivel regulators for adapting to a remote gas supply by investing in a hose and filter. To use the heater, just push and turn the knob. The rest is taken care of by the Piezo mechanism. You also get variable temperature settings ranging from 4,000 to 18,000 BTUs.
A propane heater is not allowed for indoor use. However, this is the only one recommended for indoor use due to its safety features. The tip-over safety shut off and Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS) ensure you years of cozy indoor heat. At altitudes over 7,000 ft, the heater shuts off automatically.
These safety features keep malfunctioning and overheating at bay. One more safety feature is the dense wire cage in the front that does not allow any outside objects to meddle with the interior elements. It also protects you from accidental burning.
- For both indoors and outdoors
- Portable with easy handle
- Pilot light ignition to keep other manual techniques of lighting at bay
- Dual-tank design
- Variable heat settings for 4,000 to 18,000 BTUs
- Great area coverage and heat output
- Low oxygen shut off
- Circulating fan (Ac/batter) to avoid heat wastage
- Extra safe
- Lots of gas used on high setting
How to Choose the Best Patio Heater?
No single patio heater can be the best for all patios. This is because each one differs from another in terms of power source, type, price, maintenance cost, and area covered for heating. Thus, it is unwise just to go ahead and choose any heater for your patio.
Instead, a wise approach is to identify your requirements and budget and map it to the available features of the most promising heaters. For example, you can find out the best energy source such as gas or electricity as per the patio area and then choose from the patios that work using these power sources.
So, the power source is an important buying factor. There are many more similar factors to consider for selecting the most suitable patio heater. So, let’s explore them in the form of answers to frequently asked questions.
How patio location matter in selecting a patio heater?
The first thing to finalize for buying the best patio heater is to its location. Which type of patio or outdoor space are you targeting? Do you wish to heat the whole outdoor area where it is usually windy? Or is it that you want to warm up an enclosed or a partially-enclosed patio?
You need to find the area of patio that must be heated. You also need to identify whether the entire area or just the people inside it should be warmed up. Gauging these things will help you know whether a small or a big heater is required and what will be its most efficient source of power.
It is also essential to ensure that the space for heating is safe for the heater. For example, a standing heater should be placed such that there is a minimum of 3 feet of space on all its sides to keep the risk of fire at bay. Similarly, a roofed patio would need a rational amount of ceiling clearance.
Which type of patio heater should I choose?
Well, this is the most common query from new buyers. Depending on its design or use, the following are the four main types of patio heaters to consider:
- Freestanding/Floor: Is usable without the need for any support such as a table and is ideal for heating large patios. It is widely used in the patio areas of restaurants. Due to the freestanding nature, it is possible to set such a tall heater almost anywhere on a patio. A freestanding heater is usually tall and needs a sturdy base. Instead of electricity, it often functions using a fuel stored in the bottom. Apart from the base, a freestanding heater has a pole, generator, and reflector for dispensing heat. Some freestanding heaters come with a single dome atop, while the rest of them have three domes forming a pile.
- Single Dome: It is cheaper, but it is not that powerful. It is designed to reflect heat to the area below it.
- Triple Dome: It is costly but powerful. It reflects heat in three different directions. This means that a triple dome model covers a larger range than a single dome one. So, if you need to heat the entire big patio, it is essential to set a bigger budget.
- Tabletop: This is a heater that needs support for standing, such as a tabletop, and is designed to remain closer to the area that should be warmed up. Consider this type of heater if you and others are going to sit around a patio table. This is because all of you will get heat from all 360-degree angles to remain warm. Unlike a freestanding heater, a tabletop one has an output of low power due to the small size. While most freestanding patio heaters have an output of 40,000 BTUs, the tabletop ones will have the output of over 20,000 BTUs. Thus, they are ideal for heating smaller spaces. It is super convenient to use them, as they are portable versions of standing models. Most models use electricity with the remaining functioning well on propane.
- Wall-mounted: This is mounted to the wall and is ideal for patios or outdoor areas where there is not much space. It is smaller in size and has a less heat output than the freestanding models but heat the space evenly. It usually runs on electricity and uses infrared techniques to keep nearby people warm. You need to install a wall-mounted heater high up on the wall. It is generally sold with brackets for adjusting the heat’s angle.
- Hanging: Is a permanent option for space with a strong roof. It usually hangs above you, runs on electricity, and evenly distributes heat without any manual intervention after installation. The average heat output is usually in the range of 10,000 to 30,000 BTUs.
To pick the right model, you need to know how heaters generally work. In this regard, there are two main types of patio heaters. These are as follows:
- Convection: Works indirectly by warming the air that surrounds it. It hauls air via the heating elements, warms it up, and then releases it. Thus, convection heaters are ideal for heating enclosed patios. Propane heaters come under this category.
- Radiant: Works by using infrared rays for heating anything to which it is exposed. It does not warm the air but people and objects on whom its rays fall. A radiant heater is, thus, ideal for heating an open outdoor space. Electric heaters come under this category.
Almost all heaters belong to one of these two groups. You need to choose the type as per your requirements. Consider the patio area, whether it is enclosed or not, and what you need to warm up: people or air?
How do I choose a patio heater as per the power or energy source?
The type of energy source is another critical factor to consider. For generating heat, patio heaters use one of the three power sources, namely, natural gas, propane, or electricity. Some sources need more active maintenance than others. Even the cost-effectiveness of these sources differs by location. In short, each of them has its pros and cons.
- Natural Gas: Is the most affordable source to consider for a well-ventilated outdoor space. It is perhaps the best option in terms of affordability and environmental friendliness if there is a line offering this fuel to your kitchen. Otherwise, it is a costly affair. Natural gas heaters run cleaner than electric and propane ones. As they are connected to the permanent gas line, there is no botheration of refilling them. However, the same connection makes these heaters less mobile or portable.
- Further, they need professional installation. A few models, however, come with an option that makes it easy to disconnect and allows using several outlets. Natural gas heaters are just not for enclosed spaces.
- Propane: Is the most widely used fuel for running patio heaters. These heaters are fully portable due to which you can set them anywhere without any wires or walls, as well as without any need for special installation. You can easily store the fuel in the heater’s base. However, it is the costliest fuel to consider, although it is widely available at gas stations. Further, you need to invest in propane tanks of different sizes to fulfill the needs of low or high usage. Propane heaters are fine only for well-ventilated areas.
- Electric: is becoming a popular option, as it is safe and comfortable to use both indoors and outdoors. It is the choice of those who want truly clean air without any toxicity or a burnt smell. Electric heaters are competitively priced, are efficient, heat up quickly, and need no refueling. It is easy to move them around if an electric cord and outlet are handy. However, they need professional installation and are more susceptible to weather conditions than other models.
What is BTU? Why is it important?
The unit of measurement indicating the amount of heat required from a heater to heat a specific space is known as the British Thermal Unit (BTU). It is also known as the heat output capacity of a heater. The more BTUs a device can release, the more is the space it can end up the heating.
It is vital to select a patio heater with sufficient heat output to warm the space you have. You will not buy a heater that cannot warm up the entire target area or can warm up much more than that destined area.
At the same time, you need to consider the weather in your neighborhood. If it is a windy area, the cold air can negatively influence the heater’s efficiency. Thus, for such an area, you need a heater with a higher BTU than usual.
To know the BTUs, you require, start by computing the area of the patio space that should be heated. To do so, measure the length and width in feet and multiply the same. It is recommended to overestimate this as the manufacturer’s BTU for the heater applies only to ideal conditions.
Then, you need to find out the difference between the desired and prevalent temperatures in Fahrenheit. You should finally multiply this figure with space’s area in square feet. The output is the minimum BTU you need.
Propane heaters are ideal for long-term heating; whereas, the electric ones are better for heating up to several hours. All propane heaters are rated with an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) that indicates how efficiently your heater can use the fuel. It denotes the percentage of useful heat produced by entirely consuming the fuel. The higher the BTU per hour, the more is the efficiency.
How much heat do I need for my patio?
A freestanding heater is the most common heater size in use. Most of these models have a heat output of approximately 40,000 BTUs. These many BTUs are required for freestanding models, as they tend to heat a larger area.
Consider this heat output from a single dome heater if the patio area is small. For a larger patio, a model with triple domes is ideal, as it has more heat output. It is advisable to go with a model whose heat output is around 40,000 BTUs per hour. They can easily heat an area of 20 feet without using all the gas swiftly.
On the other hand, the medium-sized tabletop heaters need not be so powerful. Most of them have a medium heat output of 12,000 BTUs for heating the surrounding area. These heaters are ideal for patios with a big table and tend to warm up a small radius of the space directly around it. The heat dispenses in a round direction.
Wall patio heaters are the least powerful ones. They are also the smallest in size. With the decreasing size, the BTU or heat output also decreases. These heaters have a heat output of approximately 3000 BTUs. However, some wall heaters can give more heat output and belong to the category of industrial heaters.
A patio heater that you choose should heat the entire intended space. For this, you need to measure the patio area and read the BTUs carefully in the product description. Below is the list showing how many BTUs per hour is required for how much patio area.
- 100 to 150 sq.ft.: 5000 BTUs
- 150 to 250 sq.ft.: 6000 BTUs
- 250 to 300 sq.ft.: 7000 BTUs
- 300 to 350 sq.ft.: 8000 BTUs
- 350 to 400 sq.ft.: 9000 BTUs
- 400 to 450 sq.ft.: 10000 BTUs
- 450 to 550 sq.ft.: 12000 BTUs
- 550 to 700 sq.ft.: 14000 BTUs
- 700 to 1000 sq.ft.: 18000 BTUs
- 1000 to 1200 sq.ft.: 21000 BTUs
- 1200 to 1400 sq.ft.: 23000 BTUs
- 1400 to 1500 sq.ft.: 24000 BTUs
- 1500 to 2000 sq.ft.: 30000 BTUs
- 2000 to 2500 sq.ft.: 34000 BTUs
Small patio heaters such as tabletop producing 3,000 to 10,000 BTUs of heat are ideal for a small patio that accommodates four to five people. Approximately 38,000 BTUs are required for a medium-sized patio. Similarly, 48,000 to 58,000 BTUs are needed for medium to large-sized patios.
Which type of patio heater has the least overall cost?
For choosing the most affordable patio heater, you need to consider two types of cost, namely, purchase cost and fuel cost. The initial cost for you to consider is the purchase cost. The patio heaters are less stylish than fire pits.
This is the main reason why these heaters suit most budgets, although not all are ideal for your needs. It is wise to have a realistic budget. At the same time, do keep in mind that you get what you pay for.
Then, you should consider the annual cost or hourly cost incurred for the required fuel. Natural gas heaters can depend on the gas supply for your home. So, there is no need to bother about refilling the heater by buying new packs of fuel. You only pay for how much you use.
This is also applicable to electric heaters. On the contrary, propane patio heaters need refilling propane. Thus, depending on how frequently the heater is put to use, you will have to buy propane tanks that often.
According to the estimations, a heater of 40,000 BTUs is likely to utilize approximately half a dollar per hour of natural gas. A heater with the same output capacity, if running on propane, will make you invest almost a bit more than $1.50 per hour in propane.
An electric heater of the same BTU capacity will make you invest a bit less than propane and somewhat more than natural gas. Thus, a natural gas patio heater is the cheapest of all.
Which build material should I choose for my patio heater?
The type of material is one of the significant factors to consider while purchasing a patio heater. These heaters can be built using different metals, with each having distinct benefits and limitations. It is wise to weigh each of them before selecting a patio heater.
Most heaters are made using different steel varieties. Coated stainless steel is resistant to harsh weather elements and is, thus, durable. However, it can corrode fast in harsh coastal areas, and the coating is prone to scratching.
Then, there is stainless steel with the same pros and cons of coated steel. However, it gives a professional and sleek look. If you live in coastal areas with harsh weather and saltwater corrosion problems, a heater of 316 stainless steel that is of marine grade is the only reliable build material. This steel is highly resistant to corrosion but is costly.
Aluminum is another material widely used in making patio heaters. It is resistant to corrosion and is affordable for wall-mounted models. However, it seems to be less durable than steel.
Is there a required clearance around a patio heater?
Yes! Some amount of clearance is required at the top as well as around the sides of any patio heater. The main reason for this clearance mandate is the ability of patio heaters to produce and release a large amount of heat. Blocking one such heater or standing too near to it can be risky, as it can kindle fire or release toxic gases.
At the same time, plenty of heat should be emitted so that you can still be warm and safe while standing a bit far away from the operating heater. A heater whose heat output capacity is 35,000 to 50,000 BTUs should have the surrounding clearance of up to 30 inches from around its top, emitter, and reflector.
Smaller heaters need approximately 24 inches of clearance. Additionally, it is wise to keep all types of flammable objects away from the heater at work.
It is necessary to read the instruction manual thoroughly before selecting a patio location where you will be placing the heater. Doing so will help you to avoid impeding its operational process. If there is a canopy or umbrella above a heater, it is required to ensure sufficient space above it.
Are there any safety standards for patio heaters?
Yes! Indeed, you need to ensure that one or more authorized safety institutions certify a patio heater you choose. Doing so is wise, as it assures you that you are not buying something that is poorly built, is prone to malfunction, and/or invites a dangerous situation.
While buying a patio heater, look for the ETL, CSA, and/or IP certifications. The CSA certification comes from North America’s most esteemed tester of gas devices, which is the CSA Group. The institution ensures that the patio heaters adhere to all safety standards.
An ETL certification is from the Intertek company. Just as the CSA group, this company tests for safety standards compliance. Then, Ingress Protection or IP rating is usually in terms of water and dust resistance.
Is it okay to use a patio heater in an enclosed patio?
Yes, it is okay to use a patio heater for your enclosed patio area. However, you need to use the right type of heater for this area. It is highly risky to use a propane or natural gas heater in such a space. Thus, these fuels are not for enclosed spaces.
Thus, the only reliable option left for you is an electric patio heater that is more suitable for indoors. Still, it is wise to check whether the promising heater is safe or not for indoors. This is because very few patio heaters are meant for indoors. Further, the ones that are for indoor use will possess a lower BTU value than that of those meant only for open spaces.
Is it safe to use a patio heater on grass?
It is unwise to have a patio heater operating on a grassy surface. This is because there is no leveled surface for the patio heater. Ideally, a patio heater is supposed to be set on a solid and flat surface to keep tipping over at bay. This risk is, however, more on a grassy surface.
There are varieties of patio heaters, each differing in terms of size, shape, power source, working mechanism, and cost. You should consider all of them to buy the best patio heater.
If you are still confused, we recommend the AmazonBasics commercial patio heater. It is an all-embracing steel heater that can work well, ensuring consistent heat output of 46,000 BTUs and quiet operation for small to medium-sized patios. It is portable, durable, affordable, stable, and safe, as well.