Key Takeaways:

  • Discover the best patio heaters for your outdoor space, whether you prefer electric, propane, or natural gas options.
  • Learn about the heat output and efficiency of different patio heater models to make an informed decision.
  • Understand the features and benefits that matter most when choosing a patio heater for your backyard or deck.

Patio heaters have become an essential addition to any outdoor space, allowing homeowners and commercial establishments alike to extend the usability of their patios, decks, and courtyards well into the cooler months. Whether you're looking to create a cozy atmosphere for a night under the stars or want to ensure your guests remain comfortable during a cool fall evening, the right patio heater can make all the difference. In this comprehensive review, we'll explore the various types of patio heaters available on the market, their features, and what to consider before making your purchase.

Electric Patio Heaters: A Plug-and-Play Solution

Electric patio heaters are a popular choice for those seeking a convenient and easy-to-install option. With a range of models that can be mounted on the wall or ceiling, or even freestanding units, electric heaters are versatile and can fit into various outdoor settings. They operate on electricity, which means they can be used in enclosed spaces without worrying about ventilation. The heat output of electric patio heaters is generally measured in watts, and while they may not provide as much heat as their gas-powered counterparts, they are efficient and can still effectively heat a designated area.

One of the main advantages of electric patio heaters is their ease of use. There's no need to worry about connecting a propane tank or running a natural gas line; simply plug the unit into an electrical outlet, and you're ready to go. Many models come with remote controls and adjustable settings, allowing you to control the heat level from a distance. Additionally, electric patio heaters often feature sleek designs that blend seamlessly into your outdoor decor.

1. Dr. Infrared Heater DR-238 Carbon Infrared Outdoor Heater

Take Two, Doctors Orders

Dr. Infrared Heater DR-238

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The Dr. Infrared Heater DR-238 is an electric patio heater that offers a clean and efficient way to warm your outdoor space. With no propane tanks to refill, this unit provides consistent heat with a simple flip of a switch.

Key Features:

  • Electric Operation: Forget about running out of propane. Just plug it in and enjoy the warmth.
  • Mountable Design: Install it on the wall or ceiling to save space and target the heat where you need it.
  • Carbon Infrared Technology: Directly warms people and objects, making it a highly efficient heat source.
  • Versatile Use: Suitable for both indoors and outdoors, ideal for homes, patios, garages, or outdoor dining areas.
  • Clean and Immediate Warmth: Offers 3 heat settings (900W, 1200W, 1500W) for instant, odor-free heat.
  • Easy to Use: Comes with a remote control and plugs into a standard 120V outlet.
  • Efficient Design: Features a high-quality mirror aluminum reflector with 90% reflectivity and a design optimized for the carbon lamp, ensuring powerful and efficient heating.
  • Durable Materials: Built with sturdy and weather-resistant aluminum.

2. Ener-G+ Indoor/Outdoor Ceiling Electric Patio Heater

It's A Heater, It's A Light

Ener-G+ Indoor/Outdoor Ceiling Electric Patio Heater

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The Ener-G+ Electric Patio Heater is a convenient heater suitable for both indoor and outdoor spaces. It's perfect for anyone needing a flexible heating solution that provides reliable warmth.

Key Features:

  • Versatile Use: Ideal for both indoor spaces like garages and outdoor areas such as patios.
  • Ceiling Mount Design: Saves space and spreads heat evenly.
  • Built-in LED Light: Doubles as a light source for added convenience.
  • Weather Resistant: Rated IPX4, it's protected against rain.
  • Ambient LED Lighting: Enhances the atmosphere.
  • Economical: Low operating costs.
  • Durable: Features a carbon filament lamp with a 5000-hour lifespan.
  • Portable: Lightweight and easy to move or reposition.
  • Adjustable Heat: Three heat settings (700, 800, 1500 watts).
  • Remote Control: Includes a convenient wireless remote.
  • Standard Power: Plugs into a regular 120 volt, 60 Hz electrical outlet.

3. Flowbreeze Portable Outdoor Heater

Quiet, Quick and Quite Safe

Flowbreeze Portable Outdoor Heater

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Wide Heat Distribution: At 30.31 inches tall, this heater ensures you feel the warmth whether you're sitting or standing. Its 60° oscillation spreads heat evenly, warming more people and reducing cold spots.

Key Features:

  • Fast Heating: With a carbon fiber tube, this heater quickly warms up any outdoor area or small room (161-215ft²) in just 3 seconds.
  • Quiet Operation: The heater operates quietly at 40 dB, so it won't interrupt your reading, work, or sleep, ensuring a peaceful environment for you and your family.
  • Auto-off Timer: Comes with a convenient 3-hour timer, allowing you to set it from 0 to 180 minutes and it will automatically turn off, saving you the trouble of switching it off manually.
  • Energy Efficient: With 1200w power, it's designed to be 20% more energy-efficient, helping to lower your electricity costs.
  • Easy to Move: Lightweight at 6.83lb and equipped with a cool-touch handle, this heater is easy to transport and fits in any room without taking up much space.

Propane Patio Heaters: Portable Warmth

Propane patio heaters are a fantastic choice for those who value portability and higher heat output. These heaters are typically powered by a propane tank, which can be hidden in the base of the unit, providing a clean look. The heat output of propane heaters is measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units), and they can generate much more heat compared to electric models, making them ideal for larger outdoor spaces or colder climates.

The convenience of a propane patio heater lies in its mobility. Many models are designed with wheels for easy movement around your deck or backyard. This means you can bring the warmth to wherever your guests are gathered. Additionally, propane heaters come in a variety of styles, from standing units to tabletop designs, ensuring there's a model to suit every setting. However, it's important to note that propane heaters require regular maintenance to ensure the propane tank is connected properly and the unit operates safely.

4. AmazonBasics Commercial Outdoor Patio Heater

Just What You'd Expect To See

AmazonBasics Commercial Outdoor Patio Heater

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When the temperature drops, the AmazonBasics Commercial Outdoor Patio Heater is your ally in transforming a frosty deck into a snug haven. This propane heater boasts a heat output of 46,000 BTU, ensuring your outdoor space remains toasty even when the weather disagrees.

Key Features:

  • Warm Comfort: Provides a cozy heat for outdoor spaces, perfect for use at home or in commercial settings like cafes.
  • User-Friendly: Easy to start with a one-touch ignition and simple to move around with built-in wheels.
  • Strong Heating: Delivers 46,000 BTUs, warming areas up to 9 feet in diameter. Includes an adjustable knob to control heat levels.
  • Safety First: Equipped with an auto-shut off if tipped and a water box to stabilize the base. A chain is also provided to secure the propane tank.
  • Built to Last: Features a durable, powder-coated Slate Gray finish. Requires a separate 20-pound liquid propane gas tank.

5. Fire Sense Tabletop Patio Heater

A Hot Little Shorty

Fire Sense 60262 Portable Patio Heater

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The Fire Sense Tabletop Patio Heater is the epitome of convenience and warmth. This compact unit is perfect for intimate settings, offering a heat output of 10,000 BTU. It's ideal for keeping your dinner guests comfortable on a cool night.

Key Features:

  • Heat Coverage: Enjoy your patio in cooler weather with this heater that warms up to 100 square feet, keeping you cozy.
  • Quick Start: Features a simple Piezo ignition system for instant heat, so no waiting in the cold.
  • Propane Powered: Runs on a 1lb LP gas cylinder (not included) with an adjustable 10,000 BTU output. Lasts about 3 hours on a full tank.
  • Light & Mobile: Designed with a stylish hammer tone bronze finish and durable materials, it's both lightweight and easy to carry.
  • Outdoor Use: Ideal for keeping gatherings warm outside, it comes with safety features and is built to last.

Customer Review:

"I adore this little heater! It fits perfectly on our porch table and keeps our dinner parties warm and inviting. The stainless steel design is sleek, and it heats up quickly. Definitely worth the money for the amount of heat it provides!"

6. Hampton Bay 42,000 BTU Pyramid Patio Heater

Stylish Warmth for Your Outdoors

Hampton Bay 42,000 BTU Pyramid Patio Heater

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Keep your outdoor gatherings warm with the Hampton Bay propane patio heater. It pumps out 42,000 BTUs to keep your patio toasty. Starting it is a breeze with its electric ignition, and you can adjust the heat to your liking with the control valve. It stands tall at 90 inches and has a safety auto-shutoff feature. The heater's golden finish is not only stylish but also rust-resistant.

  • Easy-to-use electronic ignition
  • Safety auto-shutoff feature
  • Powerful 42,000 BTU output
  • Durable and rust-resistant design
  • Comes with wheels for easy movement
  • Simple cleaning: just hand wash

7. Hiland Propane Patio Heater with Table

Keep All The Toddys Hot

Hiland Propane Patio Heater with Table

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The Hiland HLDS01-WCGT isn't just a propane patio heater; it's also a functional piece of furniture. With a built-in table, guests can set down their drinks while they bask in the warmth of its 48,000 BTU heat output.

Key Features:

  • Height: 87 inches
  • Finish: Hammered bronze, powder-coated
  • Mobility: Wheels for easy movement. Move the heater effortlessly to your desired location.
  • Extras: Adjustable table included. Provides convenience and style to your outdoor space.
  • Warranty: 1-year against manufacturer defects
  • Heat Output: High, 48,000 BTU. Customize the heat to ensure your comfort.
  • Design: Easy access door to 20 pound propane tank (not included).

8. Thermo Tiki Deluxe Propane Outdoor Patio Heater

From The Club To Your Backyard

Thermo Tiki Deluxe Propane Outdoor Patio Heater

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The Thermo Tiki Deluxe Patio Heater is a stylish and effective way to keep your guests warm. With a heat output of 38,000 BTU, it's perfect for medium-sized patios and offers a touch of elegance with its unique design.

Key Features:

  • Ambiance and Warmth: Enjoy both a cozy atmosphere and heat.
  • Safety First: Comes with a tip-over switch and auto shut-off.
  • Elegant Design: Looks great and works well.
  • High-Quality and Durable: Made with top-notch steel and aluminum, this 7' 6" tall heater is tough enough for bad weather and looks good too. It won't rust or wear out easily, even in tough conditions like strong sun or salty sea air.
  • Powerful Heating: Warms up a large area (15' around) with a strong 38,000 BTU heat output.
  • Certified Safety: The heater turns off by itself if it tips over, has a safety mesh around the heating elements, and a pilot light for safer use. 
  • Easy to Use: Just push a button to light it up and use the knob to change the flame size and heat.

Natural Gas Heaters: A Permanent Fixture

For homeowners who have access to a natural gas line, natural gas patio heaters can be an efficient and cost-effective solution. These heaters are connected directly to your home's natural gas supply, eliminating the need to refill propane tanks or worry about electricity costs. They are generally more powerful than electric heaters and can provide consistent warmth for your outdoor space.

Natural gas heaters require professional installation to connect to the gas line, but once installed, they offer a permanent heating solution for your patio. They are often more sleek and less obtrusive than propane models, as there's no need for a bulky tank. Additionally, the ongoing cost of natural gas is typically lower than propane, making these heaters a more economical choice in the long run.

9. Fire Sense Natural Gas Patio Heater

Piped In Patio Heat

Fire Sense Natural Gas Patio Heater

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Enjoy a warm and cozy outdoor space with the Fire Sense Natural Gas Patio Heater. It's a high-performance heater with a 45,000 BTU output, crafted from durable stainless steel. Perfect for anyone who loves to entertain outside, this heater will keep your patio toasty on chilly evenings.

Key Features:

  • Quick Start: The electronic ignition system means you can heat your space instantly, without any waiting.
  • Safety First: It includes a tip-over protection system and is CSA approved, ensuring your peace of mind.
  • Easy Installation: Comes with a heavy-duty mounting plate and a 76" gas hose for a straightforward setup.
  • Convenience: No need to swap propane tanks, as it runs on natural gas, making it ideal for extended outdoor events.
  • Sleek Design: The heater has a slim 2.5" pole diameter, fitting seamlessly into your outdoor decor.

10. Bromic Platinum Nat Gas Patio Heater

Premium Heat For Your Patio Seats

Bromic Platinum Nat Gas Patio Heater

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For those seeking a high-end solution, the Bromic Smart-Heat Platinum 500 is the epitome of sophistication and efficiency. This natural gas patio heater offers a seamless blend of performance and style, with a heat output that caters to the most discerning homeowners.

Key Features:

  • Pivot Bracket: Easily direct heat where you need it.
  • Wind Resistance: Stays functional even in winds up to 12 mph.
  • Instant Ignition: Lights up quickly without a pilot light.
  • Eco-Friendly: Uses efficient ceramic burners that are good for the environment.
  • Wide Coverage: Spreads warmth evenly over large areas.
  • Natural Gas Connection: Enjoy uninterrupted heating without changing propane tanks.
  • Modern Look: Adds a stylish touch to outdoor spaces.
  • Ceramic Efficiency: Ensures consistent and comfortable heat distribution.

Heat Output and Efficiency: What to Look For

When choosing a patio heater, one of the most critical factors to consider is the heat output. This determines how effectively the heater will warm your space. Heat output is measured differently for electric (watts) and gas-powered (BTUs) heaters, but the principle remains the same: the higher the number, the more heat the unit can produce. However, more heat doesn't always mean better efficiency. Look for models with features like adjustable thermostats or eco-friendly settings that allow you to maintain a comfortable temperature without wasting energy.

Efficiency also relates to how well the heater distributes heat. Models with reflectors can direct the warmth towards your seating area, ensuring that the heat isn't lost to the surrounding environment. Additionally, consider the size and layout of your outdoor space when determining the necessary heat output. A larger area or one that's exposed to the elements may require a heater with a higher BTU or wattage rating to effectively heat the space.

Safety Features: Keeping Warmth Without Worry

Safety should never be compromised when it comes to outdoor heating. Look for patio heaters with built-in safety features such as tip-over protection, which automatically shuts off the heater if it's knocked over. Overheat protection is also essential, as it prevents the unit from getting too hot and potentially causing a fire hazard. For propane heaters, a safety valve that cuts off the gas supply if the flame goes out can prevent gas leaks.

Another aspect to consider is the material of the patio heater. Units made from durable materials like stainless steel or aluminum are not only built to last many years but also maintain their appearance after exposure to the elements. Some models come with a cover, which provides additional protection when the heater is not in use, further extending its lifespan.

Design and Aesthetics: Enhancing Your Outdoor Decor

Patio heaters are not just functional; they can also serve as a stylish addition to your outdoor space. From sleek, modern electric models that can be mounted discreetly on a wall to elegant, standing propane heaters with a bronze finish, there's a design to complement any home improvement project. Tabletop heaters are perfect for intimate settings, while larger freestanding units can become a focal point in your backyard or courtyard.

When selecting a patio heater, consider how it will fit into the overall aesthetic of your outdoor area. A heater that matches your existing furniture and decor will create a cohesive look, making your patio feel like an extension of your home. Additionally, some heaters come with additional features like LED lights, which can add a warm glow and enhance the ambiance of your outdoor gatherings.

Installation and Maintenance: Keeping Your Heater in Top Shape

Proper installation and regular maintenance are key to ensuring your patio heater operates safely and efficiently. Electric models are generally the easiest to install, often requiring just a power outlet and some basic assembly. Propane and natural gas heaters may require more involved installation, especially if you need to connect to a gas line. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions or hire a professional to handle the installation if you're not confident in doing it yourself.

Maintenance is also crucial for the longevity of your patio heater. Regularly check connections, clean the burner and reflector, and replace any worn-out parts as needed. For propane heaters, monitor the propane tank level and inspect hoses and connections for leaks. By maintaining your patio heater, you'll ensure it provides warmth and enjoyment for many seasons to come.

Price and Value: Balancing Cost with Quality

Patio heaters come in a wide range of prices, from budget-friendly options to high-end models. When considering the price, it's important to balance the initial cost with the quality and features of the unit. Cheaper models may save you money upfront, but they might not be as durable or efficient as more expensive ones. On the other hand, investing in a high-quality patio heater with a higher price tag can offer better performance, longevity, and energy savings in the long run.

Think about how often you'll use the heater and what features are most important to you. If you plan to use it frequently or for commercial purposes, it may be worth spending more money on a robust model with a higher heat output and advanced features. For occasional use, a simpler, more affordable heater might suffice. Always read reviews and compare models to ensure you're getting the best value for your money.

The Verdict: Finding the Perfect Patio Heater

Choosing the right patio heater for your outdoor space comes down to understanding your needs, preferences, and the specific characteristics of your area. Whether you opt for an electric, propane, or natural gas model, consider the heat output, efficiency, safety features, design, installation requirements, and price before making your decision. With the right patio heater, you can transform your outdoor space into a warm and inviting retreat, no matter the season.

FAQ Section

Q: How much does it cost to run a patio heater?

A: The cost to run a patio heater varies depending on the type of heater, the cost of electricity or gas in your area, and how often you use it. Electric heaters typically cost more to operate than gas heaters, but the exact cost can be calculated by considering the heater's wattage or BTU rating and your local utility rates.

Q: Can patio heaters be used indoors?

A: Electric patio heaters can sometimes be used indoors, as they don't produce emissions. However, propane and natural gas heaters should not be used indoors due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Always check the manufacturer's recommendations and safety guidelines before using a patio heater indoors.

Q: How do I maintain my patio heater?

A: To maintain your patio heater, regularly check for any damage or wear, clean the burner and reflector, ensure all connections are secure, and replace any worn parts. For propane heaters, monitor the propane tank level and check for leaks. It's also advisable to use a cover when the heater is not in use to protect it from the elements.

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