Key Takeaways:

  • Understanding the different types of patio heaters can help you choose the best one for your outdoor space.
  • Propane, electric, and natural gas heaters each have unique benefits and considerations.
  • Safety features, heating power, and convenience are key factors when selecting a patio heater.

Creating a cozy and comfortable outdoor space is essential for enjoying your patio year-round. Whether you're entertaining guests or simply relaxing outside, the right type of heat can make all the difference. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the various options for patio heating, focusing on propane heaters, electric models, and natural gas heaters, to help you determine what is the best type of heat for a patio.

Propane heaters, such as the outdoor propane patio heater and tall propane patio heaters, are among the best patio heaters due to their portability and ease of use. The Thermo Tiki outdoor propane and Bali Outdoors portable patio heater exemplify the convenience and efficiency that propane models offer. These heaters are easy to move around and provide ample heat, making them a favorite for many homeowners.

Electric Patio Heaters: Efficiency and Convenience

Electric patio heaters are gaining popularity as they are considered to be more environmentally friendly than their propane counterparts. The best electric patio heaters, including wall-mounted and freestanding options, offer adjustable heat settings and can be more cost-effective in the long run. An electric patio heater is cheaper to operate, and unlike electric heaters of the past, modern versions provide powerful heating performance without the need for a propane tank mechanism.

Natural Gas Heaters: A Permanent Solution

For those with a natural gas line, natural gas heaters are a convenient and permanent heating solution. These heaters, such as the AZ patio heaters and other patio heaters we tested, are directly connected to your home's gas supply, offering continuous heat without the need to refill propane tanks. The British thermal units (BTUs) ratings heating performance of natural gas heaters is often higher, providing more heat for larger outdoor spaces.

Safety Features: A Top Priority

When selecting a patio heater, safety features should never be overlooked. The best patio heaters come equipped with an automatic shut-off feature, sturdy bases to prevent tipping, and protective screens to keep you safe from the heating element. The Frontgate commercial patio heater is an example of a model that combines high heat output with essential safety features.

Heating Power: What to Look For

The heating power of a patio heater is measured in BTUs. A good patio heater will have a high BTU rating, indicating a high heat output capable of warming your outdoor space effectively. When comparing different patio heaters, consider the size of your patio and the amount of heat needed to ensure adequate heating.

Infrared Heaters: Advanced Heating Technology

Infrared heaters are a type of electric heater that emit radiant heat, warming objects and people directly rather than heating the air. This technology can provide more even heating and is often found in high-end models like the Basics outdoor patio heater. Infrared heaters are efficient and can heat up your outdoor space quickly.

Propane vs. Electric: A Comparative Analysis

When deciding between propane and electric models, consider factors such as the availability of power outlets, the need for portability, and ongoing fuel costs. Propane heaters offer high heat output and portability, while electric models are typically more convenient for screened-in patios or areas with accessible power strips.

Design and Aesthetics: Beyond Functionality

Patio heaters are not only functional but can also serve as a design element in your outdoor space. From the sleek glass tube designs of certain propane models to the discreet appearance of wall-mounted electric heaters, there's a style to suit every patio. The tabletop patio heater, for example, can add a touch of elegance while providing heat.

Convenience Features: Enhancing Your Experience

Modern patio heaters come with a variety of convenience features, such as adjustable heat settings, built-in tables, and easy ignition systems. The patio heater with table offers a place to set drinks or snacks, while models with adjustable heat allow you to customize the emitted heat to your comfort level.

Durability and Maintenance: Long-Term Considerations

The longevity of your patio heater depends on its construction quality and how well you maintain it. Stainless steel propane models, like the AZ patio heaters, are known for their durability. Electric heaters, on the other hand, have fewer moving parts and may require less maintenance over time.

Smart Technology Integration: The Future of Patio Heating

With the advent of smart home devices, outdoor heaters are not left behind in the technological revolution. Imagine controlling your powerful patio heater with just a few taps on your smartphone. This convenience is not a far-fetched idea anymore. Many modern heaters now come with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth capabilities, allowing you to adjust the heat setting or turn the heater on and off remotely. This feature is particularly handy when you've settled into your cozy chair and don't want to get up to make adjustments.

Moreover, smart technology integration extends to safety features, such as automatic shut off when the surface body temperature gets too high or if the heater is tipped over. This adds an extra layer of security to your outdoor space year-round, ensuring that your relaxation time is not only comfortable but also safe. As technology continues to evolve, we can expect even more innovative features that will make using outdoor heaters like the tiki outdoor propane patio heater or an electric patio heater even more user-friendly and efficient.

Smart Controls: Simplifying Your Outdoor Heating

Outdoor heaters have evolved significantly, and one of the most convenient advancements is the integration of smart controls. These intuitive systems allow users to manage their patio heaters with ease, often through a smartphone app or a remote control.

With smart controls, you can adjust the temperature, set timers, and even control multiple heaters at once, ensuring your outdoor space is comfortable year-round. This feature is particularly useful for those who entertain often or enjoy the spontaneity of outdoor gatherings, as it allows for quick adjustments without interrupting the fun.

Moreover, the addition of smart technology often includes safety enhancements, such as an automatic shut-off feature. This is a critical component for most patio heaters, as it provides peace of mind by automatically turning off the heater in case it tips over or overheats. The convenience of smart controls, combined with these safety measures, makes modern outdoor heaters a user-friendly and secure choice for any patio.

Zone Heating: Overcoming Uneven Heating Challenges

When it comes to heating an outdoor area, one common issue is uneven heating, where certain spots receive more warmth than others. To combat this, many outdoor heater models now offer zone heating capabilities.

This means you can direct the heat to where it's needed most, ensuring that all your guests are comfortable, regardless of where they're seated. This targeted approach not only improves the overall experience but also increases the efficiency of the heater, as energy isn't wasted on warming unused areas.

In addition to zone heating, some outdoor heaters are designed to be connected to a power strip, allowing for multiple units to be controlled simultaneously. This setup is ideal for larger patios or when hosting bigger gatherings, as it ensures consistent warmth throughout the entire space. By strategically placing and controlling multiple heaters, you can create a cozy environment that invites guests to enjoy your outdoor space year-round, without the worry of cold spots or uneven heating.

Customization Options: Tailoring Your Heat Experience

Customization is key when it comes to personalizing your screened in patio or open-air terrace. Most patio heaters, whether they're propane heater models or electric patio heater units, now offer a range of heat settings to cater to different comfort levels and weather conditions. This means you can enjoy a gentle warmth on a cool summer evening or crank up the heat during a chilly winter gathering. The ability to adjust the heat ensures that your guests are always comfortable, no matter the season.

In addition to heat settings, some heaters offer the option to be wall mounted, saving valuable floor space and adding to the aesthetic appeal of your outdoor area. Others come with a table home depot feature, which integrates a small table around the heater, perfect for placing drinks or small plates.

This level of customization not only enhances the functionality of your heater but also transforms it into a stylish centerpiece that complements your outdoor décor. Whether you're using liquid propane, an electric patio heater cheaper alternative, or infrared heat, the right customization options can make all the difference in elevating your outdoor heating experience.

Fuel Efficiency: Cost-Effective Heating

Fuel efficiency is an important consideration, especially if you plan to use your patio heater frequently. Electric patio heaters are generally more energy-efficient than propane models, as they convert almost all the energy they consume into heat. However, the initial cost of electric models may be higher.

Portability: Moving Heat Where You Need It

Portability is a significant advantage of propane heaters. The Bali Outdoors portable patio heater and other similar models can be moved to different areas of your patio, providing heat exactly where it's needed. Electric heaters, especially wall-mounted ones, are less portable but can offer a more permanent heating solution.

Environmental Impact: Eco-Friendly Heating Options

For those concerned about the environment, electric patio heaters are a greener choice. They produce no emissions, unlike propane heaters, which burn fuel and release carbon dioxide. If environmental impact is a priority for you, an electric model may be the best type of heat for your patio.

Heat Distribution: Ensuring Even Warmth

A well-designed patio heater will distribute heat evenly across your outdoor space. Infrared heaters are particularly good at providing even warmth, as they heat objects directly. Look for models with reflectors that help to disperse the heat in a wide radius, ensuring that no corner of your patio is left cold.

Installation: Setting Up Your Patio Heater

Installation requirements vary between different types of patio heaters. Propane heaters typically require minimal setup, while electric and natural gas heaters may need professional installation, especially if they require hardwiring or connection to a gas line. Consider the installation process when choosing the best heater for your patio.

Weather Resistance: Withstanding the Elements

Outdoor patio heaters should be built to withstand various weather conditions. Look for models with weather-resistant finishes and materials that can handle rain, snow, and sun exposure. Some heaters also come with covers for added protection when not in use.

Cost Comparison: Balancing Budget and Performance

The cost of patio heaters can vary widely, from affordable propane tank-top models to high-end natural gas heaters. When comparing costs, consider not only the initial purchase price but also the long-term operating expenses. Electric heaters may have a higher upfront cost but can be cheaper to run over time.

Space Considerations: Finding the Right Fit

The size of your patio will influence the type of heater you choose. For smaller spaces, a tabletop patio heater or a compact electric model may be sufficient. Larger patios may require a freestanding patio heater with a higher BTU rating to provide adequate heating.

User Reviews: Learning from Others' Experiences

Before making a purchase, read user reviews to learn about the real-world performance of different patio heaters. Reviews can provide insight into the reliability, heating power, and ease of use of various models, helping you make an informed decision.

Warranty and Support: Protecting Your Investment

A good warranty can provide peace of mind when investing in a patio heater. Look for manufacturers that offer comprehensive warranties and responsive customer support in case you encounter any issues with your heater.


Choosing the best type of heat for a patio involves considering various factors such as heating power, fuel type, safety features, and design. Propane heaters offer portability and high heat output, while electric models are convenient and eco-friendly. Natural gas heaters provide a permanent heating solution for those with a gas line. Safety features are paramount, and the heater's design should complement your outdoor space. Fuel efficiency, portability, and even heat distribution are also important considerations. By weighing these factors, you can select the perfect patio heater to extend your outdoor space's usability throughout the year.

FAQ Section

Q: Are propane patio heaters safe to use on a patio?

A: Yes, propane patio heaters are safe when used according to the manufacturer's instructions. Look for models with safety features like automatic shut-off and tip-over protection.

Q: Can electric patio heaters be used in covered patios?

A: Electric patio heaters are suitable for use in covered patios, as long as there is proper clearance and ventilation. Always follow the manufacturer's guidelines for safe use.

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 propane, and how often you use it. Electric heaters are generally cheaper to operate than propane models, but the initial purchase price may be higher.

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