what you need to know about heaters for outdoor patios

The year 2020 has been one that many people in the United States have characterized by spending more time outside. Even though we all appreciate being outside and breathing in the crisp air, there is a very simple explanation for why we do it: COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the virus is more easily transmitted inside of a building than it is outside. And if you're a homeowner like a lot of other people, you're probably searching for ways to make your outdoor space more pleasant as the temperature decreases. Outdoor heaters are one possible answer. These convenient appliances are increasingly appearing on restaurant patios and backyard decks everywhere; however, it may be difficult to locate one of them. A patio heater, a feature that was originally unique to ski lodges, is a fantastic way to get even more usage out of your favorite outdoor settings when the temperature drops. Before you go out and buy a patio heater, here are some things you should know.


To keep warm around a patio heater, you won't need to crowd together like you would around an outdoor fire pit. They are constructed in such a way as to radiate heat outward, toward the areas where people are congregated. Patio heaters use a variety of fuel sources to provide heat, the most common of which being propane, electricity, and natural gas. (If you keep reading, you'll learn how to decide which option is best for you and why.)


Patios, terraces, gardens, and outdoor porches or decks are examples of well-ventilated outdoor places that are suitable for using natural gas and propane heaters. This is because these types of heaters generate heat by means of an open flame.

Patio heaters should never be used within an enclosed space such as a building or garage, or too close to the ceiling of a covered deck or patio. This is for your own protection. If you use your patio heater in an area that does not have adequate ventilation, you run the risk of starting a fire, as well as of suffocating or becoming poisoned from the harmful carbon monoxide emissions. In the absence of any contrary instructions provided by the manufacturer, it is strongly advised by industry professionals that you maintain a space of at least three feet all around your heater.


An outdoor patio heater's price, much like that of other home equipment, will vary based on the quality and size of the unit. Small tabletop electric heaters can be purchased for as little as $100, although huge gas heaters designed for commercial use might cost as much as $500 or more.


When it comes to selecting an outdoor patio heater, you will have the option to pick from one of these three primary fuel types. There is no correct answer, because every possible source of fuel has both positives and negatives associated with it. This article will provide you with some information that will assist you in selecting a patio heater for your home.

  • Patio heaters: that run on propane function in a manner analogous to that of a barbeque grill that runs on propane. Because the fuel is contained within a metal propane tank, they offer the greatest degree of portability of any heater choice. However, this also implies that the heater will turn off when there is no more gas in the tank. Plan accordingly: a full 5-gallon propane cylinder will only last around 10 hours when used with a patio heater that emits 40,000 BTUs of heat.
  • Patio heaters that are electric: Patio heaters that run on electricity are the only alternative to gas that do not require ventilation because there is no open flame in them. Because of this, they are often an excellent choice for spaces such as covered decks and porches. Due to the fact that they operate like a space heater, it is also possible to permanently attach them below a ceiling; nevertheless, it is important to follow the specific installation instructions provided by the manufacturer. The maximum amount of heat that can be produced by an electric heater is approximately 5,000 BTUs, which is significantly less than what can be produced by a gas patio heater. Infrared heaters, on the other hand, are supposed to produce a cozier feeling of warmth due to the type of heat they emit.
  • Patio heaters that run on natural gas: The fact that you will never be without fuel is one of the primary selling points of a natural gas patio heater, just as it is for a grill that uses a direct line gas supply. These heaters have the lowest operating costs due to the fact that they are connected to the natural gas line of your home; however, a trained professional is required to permanently install them in order for them to be used. In general, you obtain the benefits of using a heater that runs on propane without having to carry about hefty propane tanks. However, they will be more difficult to transport and therefore have a higher starting price.


Patio heaters provide a risk-free method of heating your favorite outdoor locations if they are used appropriately. However, if they are not used appropriately, just like any other source of heating in the home, they pose a risk of injury. Always ensure that you are following the directions provided by the manufacturer, and never leave a patio heater alone.

The usage of your patio heater in a safe manner can be ensured by following these guidelines:

Give it some room. Your patio heater will gradually produce a significant amount of heat over the course of its use. (Is that the reason you decided to buy it?) Maintain a safe distance between your heater and combustible objects such as walls, ceilings, furniture, carpet, and any other flammable material to reduce the risk of fire. If the manufacturer of the heater doesn't specify differently, the recommended clearance around the heater is three feet on all sides, according to the recommendations of the experts.
Find a spot that is level. Always make sure that the surface on which you use your patio heater is flat and level. If you position your heater on an elevation, there is a risk that it will roll or topple over, which poses a risk of both fire and burns.
Look for any signs of leaks. When installing a patio heater that runs on natural gas or propane, you should always perform a comprehensive examination to ensure that there are no gas leaks. You can accomplish this by applying a solution made of soapy water to the connectors on your gas tank and hoses. In the event that you smell gas or see bubbles rising from any of the connection sites, you should turn off the heater and tighten the connections. In the event that you are unable to stop the leak, you should have your heater serviced before using it.
Turn the flame carefully. Always make sure to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer while igniting a gas patio heater. There is a button for manually lighting the pilot on most heaters, despite the fact that the majority of heaters feature an electric ignitor button. In that case, you should make use of a candle or grill lighter that provides you with the ability to start the flame from a distance. Turn off the heater and wait at least five minutes if you are unable to get the burner to light immediately after turning it on. Then give it another shot. By doing so, you will prevent the accumulation of gas, which could result in an explosion or a flash burn.
Always have a fire extinguisher within reach. Accidents are still a possibility, even if you take all of the necessary safety measures. Because of this, it is important to maintain a fire extinguisher in a convenient location at all times. Just be sure that the fire extinguisher you purchase is of the appropriate class for the fuel source of your patio heater (Class B for gas; Class C for electric; or a multipurpose extinguisher for both).
Maintain a close eye on it. Never, ever turn on a patio heater and go away without first attending to it. In order to prevent burns, always ensure that children and animals are kept a safe distance away from the fire. If the wind speed is more than 10 miles per hour, you should not use your heater since it is possible that the heater could topple over or that the flame will be extinguished.
Hide it from view. Patio heaters are constructed to withstand adverse weather conditions. However, if you leave your heater exposed to the outdoors for an extended period of time, it may eventually develop difficulties. When your heater is not in use, ensuring that it is stored in the appropriate manner will protect it from corrosion as well as the accumulation of debris and insects that could cause it to become inoperable. When the heater is not in use, it is possible to acquire a specialized cover that will safeguard it. It is also recommended that you remove the heater and bring it inside to store it if you won't be using it for a period of time that is more than a few months. Make sure that the propane tank is kept outside at all times. Never store propane indoors, not even in a detached building like a shed or garage.


If there is one thing that the year has taught us, it is that life is rarely predictable. On this journey, whatever is ahead, we will be there with you to support you. We are adaptable when the conditions around us shift, consistent when the unexpected occurs, capable when assistance is required, and hopeful about what the future has in store for us.

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Jakob Owen
Jakob Owen
Adventure Pending Co-Founder. Content Writer. Mechanical Engineering Graduate