Many homeowners consider extending their outdoor living space as the weather gets colder. One of the best ways to stay outside longer is by adding a patio heater to your backyard or patio.
These heaters can provide warmth and comfort during chilly evenings, allowing you to enjoy your outdoor space even as the temperature drops.
However, with so many different propane patio heaters for sale, it can be challenging to decide which is best for your home.
In this article, we'll explain the different kinds of patio heaters, how to determine the size and heating power of a patio heater that is appropriate for your needs, the importance of safety features, and how to choose a patio heater that is durable and easy to maintain.
We will also discuss how to determine the value of a patio heater and how to choose the best patio heater that fits your budget.
Why Buy a Patio Heater?
There are several reasons why someone might buy patio heaters for their home:
- Extend the use of your outdoor space: A patio heater can allow you to use your backyard or patio even as the temperature drops. It means you can enjoy your outdoor space for more months of the year.
- Comfort and warmth: Patio heaters provide warmth and comfort, allowing you to spend more time outside without feeling cold.
- Entertainment: Patio heaters can make outdoor entertaining more comfortable, allowing guests to enjoy the outdoor space even on chilly evenings.
- Ambiance: Some patio heaters, such as patio fire pit sets, can provide a cozy and inviting atmosphere, making your outdoor space more attractive and enjoyable.
- Cost-effective: Patio heaters can be cost-effective in the long run, especially electric heaters, which are cheaper to operate than propane heaters.
- Safety: Patio heaters can provide safety features such as tip-over protection, safety shut-off valves, and child-proofing mechanisms, which can prevent accidents and injuries.
- Durability and maintenance: Many patio heaters are durable and easy to maintain, providing warmth and comfort for many years.
- Design and styles: Patio heaters come in various styles, which means you can find one that complements your outdoor decor.
Types of Patio Heaters
Several types of patio heaters are available on the market, including freestanding propane heaters, electric heaters, natural gas heaters, and patio fire pit conversation sets. Each type of heater has unique features and benefits, so it's essential to consider which one is best for your needs.
Let's look at the types of heaters available at your local home improvement store, their heating style, the size of the patio they comfortably cover, and what to expect cost-wise.
Propane Patio Heaters
Freestanding propane heaters are a popular type of patio heater due to their ease of use and availability in various styles and sizes.
They are also inexpensive, making them an excellent option for those on a budget. Most home improvement stores, online retailers, and specialty patio and outdoor living stores sell propane patio heaters.
Propane heaters run on propane gas, which is stored in a tank. They are portable, easy to set up, and can be placed anywhere on your patio or outdoor space where you need heat.
They come in various designs, from sleek and modern to more traditional styles, and can be used in both residential and commercial settings.
One of the benefits of freestanding propane heaters is that they can provide instant heat and be used in various outdoor spaces, from small patios to large commercial areas. They are also generally less expensive than natural gas patio heaters and easy to maintain.
However, propane heaters require regular maintenance, such as cleaning and replacing the fuel tanks. They also need to be placed in a well-ventilated area to avoid any potential problems with the gas.
Electric Patio Heaters
Electric heaters are an excellent option for homeowners looking for a more permanent heating solution. They are easy to set up and require no fuel, making them a more environmentally friendly choice. They also tend to be cheaper to operate than propane heaters.
There are many electric styles of patio heaters to choose from, each with its unique advantages:
- Hanging patio heaters are suspended from the ceiling or a beam and provide overhead heating. They are great for smaller patios or gazebos and can create a cozy and inviting ambiance.
- Standing patio heaters are freestanding and can move as needed to accommodate your needs. They are great for outdoor spaces of all sizes and can provide heat for a larger area.
- Umbrella-mounted patio heaters are designed to attach to the center pole of a patio umbrella. They are a perfect addition to patio seating and can provide heat for a small area around the table.
- Wall-mounted patio heaters: These are designed to be mounted on a wall using a bracket mount. They are great for decks or patios where floor space is limited. They also provide heat to a specific area, such as a seating area.
It's important to remember that each style has its specific features and benefits, so it's essential to consider your particular needs and preferences when choosing a patio heater.
Infrared Patio Heaters
Infrared patio heaters are electric patio heaters that use infrared technology to provide heat. They work by emitting infrared radiation, which is absorbed by objects in the area, such as people and furniture. This absorbed heat warms things rather than the air, which makes them feel warmer.
These infrared patio heaters are considered more energy efficient than traditional electric or propane heaters because they heat the objects directly rather than heating the air. They also tend to heat up quickly and provide comfortable warmth.
One of the benefits of Infrared patio heaters is that they can be used in windy or open-air spaces because they don't rely on heating the air around you. They heat the objects directly, so they are less affected by wind.
Infrared patio heaters come in different sizes, and some models include features such as adjustable heat settings and remote controls.
Halogen Patio Heaters
Halogen heaters use halogen bulbs warmed by an electrical current to release heat from infrared radiation. Objects absorb this heat in the area, such as people and furniture, rather than heating the air.
The exterior of the halogen heater remains cool to the touch, even while in operation. This makes them safer for children and pets, as they are less likely to burn themselves on the heater's exterior.
Natural Gas Patio Heaters
Natural gas patio heaters are a type of patio heater that runs on natural gas, piped in from a natural gas line or a propane tank. They offer a more permanent heating solution and are generally more powerful than electric heaters. They are also more cost-effective than propane heaters because you don't have to replace the fuel tanks.
Natural gas-fueled patio heaters are often more expensive than electric ones, but the long-term ownership costs are generally less. This is because natural gas is generally less costly than electricity, and natural gas patio heaters don't require the replacement of fuel tanks.
Patio heaters that use natural gas are typically floor models. Because they require a constant connection to a natural gas line, they can't be moved about as easily as other models.
They are suitable for more extensive and open outdoor areas, as the fumes have space to dissipate safely. They are also great for providing a steady and reliable source of heat.
It's essential to keep in mind that these patio heaters require professional installation and are not suitable for all outdoor spaces. They also require regular maintenance and must be placed in a well-ventilated area to avoid any potential problems with the gas.
Fire Pit Patio Heaters
A fire pit can be used as a heater to provide warmth and comfort to your outdoor space. Fire pits use fuel like wood, gas, or propane, and they come in various designs, styles, and materials, which means you can find one that complements your outdoor decor.
The heat produced by a fire pit is radiant heat, which means it heats objects and people directly rather than heating the air around them. This makes fire pits an efficient and effective way to provide warmth to your outdoor space.
One of the benefits of using a fire pit as a heater is that it provides a natural and inviting ambiance, creating a cozy and comfortable atmosphere for outdoor entertaining.
It's important to remember that fire pits require proper maintenance, and you must use them in compliance with local laws and regulations. They also need to be placed in a well-ventilated area to avoid any potential problems with the smoke.
Size and Heating Power
When choosing a patio heater, it's crucial to determine the appropriate size and heating power for your needs. Factors to consider include
- Size of your patio
- Number of people you expect to entertain
- The climate in your area
A smaller, more compact patio heater may be sufficient for a small patio or balcony. However, You may need a larger and more powerful patio heater if you entertain large groups or live in a colder climate.
Choosing Heating Power
BTU stands for British Thermal Unit, a unit of measurement used to determine the heating power of a patio heater. The higher the BTU rating, the more heat the heater can produce.
When choosing a patio heater, it's essential to consider the size of the area you want to heat and the number of people you expect to entertain. A more extensive patio or a higher number of people will require a patio heater with a higher BTU rating.
Multiply the square footage of the patio (or another area) by 20 to get the BTUs needed for your area. For a 400-square-foot patio, an 8,000-BTU heater is recommended.
For example, a small patio that will be used to entertain a small group of people will require a patio heater with a lower BTU rating, such as around 10,000-15,000 BTUs.
However, a more extensive patio or a higher number of people will require a patio heater with a higher BTU rating, such as around 40,000-50,000 BTUs.
Safety features are essential when choosing a patio heater. Here are some of the most critical safety features to look for when purchasing a patio heater:
- Tip-over protection: This feature ensures that the patio heater will shut off automatically if it is knocked over. This can prevent fires and injuries caused by a falling heater.
- Safety shut-off valves: If the flame goes out, the gas is cut off immediately via these valves. This can prevent gas leaks and fires.
- Child-proofing mechanisms: These prevent children from accidentally turning on the patio heater. This can prevent burns and injuries caused by children coming into contact with a hot patio heater.
- Overheat protection: Some patio heaters have a built-in safety feature that will automatically shut off the heater if it overheats.
- Weatherproofing: Look for weatherproof, rust-resistant patio heaters that can withstand the elements. This will ensure that your patio heater will last for a long time.
- Quality of the manufacturer: Purchase patio heaters from well-known and reputable manufacturers. They tend to have better safety features and better customer service.
- CSA or UL certification: Look for patio heaters certified by CSA or UL. These organizations test and ensure the safety of products.
Even with these safety features, proper usage and maintenance are still necessary to ensure safe operation. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions, keep the patio heater away from flammable materials, never leave it unattended, and ensure it's placed on a stable surface.
Durability and Maintenance
When choosing a patio heater, it's essential to choose one that is durable and easy to maintain. Factors include the materials used to construct the heater, the quality of the manufacturer, and the availability of replacement parts.
Aluminum and stainless steel heaters are the most durable and easy to maintain. They are also rust-resistant and weather-resistant, making them an excellent option for outdoor use.
Cost and Value
When choosing a patio heater, it's essential to determine the value of the heater and how it fits into your budget. Factors to consider are
- The cost of the heater
- The cost of fuel or electricity
- Any additional features or accessories
Propane heaters tend to be less expensive to purchase than electric heaters, but the cost of propane fuel can add up over time.
On the other hand, electric heaters are more costly to buy but are cheaper to operate. It's essential to consider the long-term costs of running the patio heater before purchasing.
Brand and Customer Reviews
When researching patio heaters, it's essential to explore different brands and read customer reviews to get an idea of the quality of the heaters. Look for heaters with a high number of positive reviews and a low number of negative reviews.
Make sure to research the warranty offered by the manufacturer.
When choosing a patio heater, it's essential to consider the size and heating power appropriate for your needs, the importance of safety features, and how to choose a patio heater that is durable and easy to maintain.
It's also essential to determine the value of the heater and how it fits into your budget. By researching different options and reading customer reviews, you can find a patio heater that will provide warmth and comfort for many chilly evenings. Don’t forget about other accessories like a patio fire pit conversation set.