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Patio Heater Buying Guide









Want to step into a world of cozy comfort and year-round outdoor enjoyment with the perfect patio heater? From sleek designs to powerful performance, let’s help you find the ideal heating solution that turns your outdoor sanctuary into a welcoming oasis with this comprehensive buying guide.

What is a Patio Heater?

Patio heaters are radiant heating devices perfect for keeping your outdoor spaces, porch, deck, and patio warm, especially during the colder months. Whether you're hosting a backyard gathering, relaxing on the patio with a book, or simply enjoying a meal under the stars, a patio heater ensures that you can make the most of your outdoor sanctuary year-round.

Image of a woman in a white room with Heatscope Vision 65-Inch Dual Element 3200W 240V Infrared Electric Heater

In photo: Heatscope Vision 65-Inch Dual Element 3200W 240V Infrared Electric Heater

These heaters come in various styles and sizes, catering to different preferences and space requirements. From freestanding models that can be easily moved around to tabletop versions perfect for intimate gatherings, there's a patio heater to suit every setting. 

With a reliable and effective patio heater, you can take full advantage of your outdoor spaces and create an ambiance conducive to relaxation and socialization in any season. 

How do Patio Heaters Work?

Patio heaters, much like traditional indoor heaters, operate using either fuel or electricity to provide warmth to outdoor spaces. Emitting radiant or infrared heat, these heaters create a cozy environment within a specific range from their location, akin to the comforting warmth of sunlight.

Regardless of the power source, patio heaters outdoor offer immediate functionality once powered on, ensuring prompt and reliable heat for your gatherings and leisure time.

Patio heaters are generally made up of these parts:

  1. Heater Regulator
  2. Glass Tube
  3. THP-Burner
  4. Thermocouple
  5. Pilot Assembly
  6. Thermostat
  7. Failure Safety Control Valve Kit
  8. Quick Disconnect Hose Set
  9. Head Assembly
  10. Spark Ignition
Parts of a patio heater with labels

In photo: Most common parts of a free standing patio heater

Types of Patio Heaters

There are three common types of patio heaters based on the gas used: Natural Gas, Propane, and Electric. Each type has its advantages and considerations, catering to different preferences and outdoor setups.

Natural Gas Heaters

In homes that already have a gas line, natural gas heaters provide abundant warmth on well-ventilated patios and decks.

The combustion of natural gas results in a higher heat output than its electric counterparts.

Natural gas patio heaters come in a variety of styles.

They can be free-standing like propane heaters but a more popular setup would be wall-mounted or ceiling mounted. 

All of them have one thing in common: they're all fixed in place because they're powered by natural gas lines.

Natural gas heaters cost less over time than a propane heater and you don't have to buy fuel constantly. However, they are not very portable, and you'll need professional installation for these types.

Electric Patio Heaters

Electric heaters are excellent choices for outdoor spaces without the adequate ventilation needed to use natural gas or propane heaters.

They're one of the most affordable and safest ways to heat a barn or ballroom during the dead of winter. You can use them indoors as needed as well. 

Electric outdoor heaters are very convenient to use. Except for hanging and wall-mounted units, electric outdoor heaters require no installation and need only be plugged in. 

Bromic Platinum Smart-Heat Electric Patio Heater

In photo: Bromic Platinum Smart-Heat Electric Patio Heater

More so, electric heaters offer more design flexibility for your spaces. They are more discreet and can be installed in the ceiling, making them practically invisible.

Generally, electric heaters are built to be portable. But plugged-in models’ power is limited to your wall socket’s 120 volts. If you need more power, a hardwired heater is needed. However, hardwired heaters aren’t portable, and require professional installation. 

Compared to propane or natural gas, electric heaters are environmentally friendly and almost as affordable as natural gas (depending on local electricity and gas prices).

Pellet Heaters

Wood pellet patio heaters are an efficient and eco-friendly alternative to gas heaters. Instead of relying on gas or electricity, they use wood pellets to generate heat. The said pellets typically came from waste materials from logging and furniture-making industries, making pellet heaters a more sustainable option.

Timber Stoves Big Timber Elite Stainless Steel Pellet Patio Heater

In photo: Timber Stoves Big Timber Elite Stainless Steel Pellet Patio Heater

One of the key advantages of these heaters is their impressive efficiency. Once lit in the morning, they can continue burning throughout the entire day without the need for constant relighting. Plus during summer months, pellet heaters can also be used as a grill or pizza oven with optional accessories.

With their long-lasting and consistent heat output, wood pellet patio heaters are a fantastic option for those who enjoy spending extended periods outdoors and want to create a comfortable environment in their outdoor living areas.

Propane Heaters

Harnessing the power of a liquid propane tank, a propane patio heater operates effortlessly, much like a propane grill. You just need a propane tank and a regulator, and you're all set to experience its warmth.

With straightforward connections to propane tanks, these outdoor heaters typically provides heat within minutes.


IR Energy Evenglo GA201M2 Portable Propane Heater

In photo: IR Energy Evenglo GA201M2 Portable Propane Heater

To ensure uninterrupted enjoyment, you may want to keep two sets of propane tanks on hand in case you run out of gas.

While wall or ceiling-mounted heaters might require a permanent line installation, most propane heaters are thoughtfully designed with portability in mind, allowing you to conveniently move them to wherever the need for warmth arises.

Types of Patio Heaters

Infrared Heaters

Infrared patio heaters are a popular and efficient outdoor heating option that utilizes advanced infrared technology to provide warmth. 

Unlike traditional heaters that heat the surrounding air, infrared patio heaters emit infrared rays that directly warm people and objects within their reach. This targeted heating method ensures that you feel the warmth instantly, even in cooler outdoor conditions.

Infrared patio heaters are highly energy-efficient since they do not waste energy heating the air. Instead, they deliver focused heat directly to the people and objects in their path, resulting in minimal heat loss.

Infrared heaters are also generally electric, which means they produce no emissions, making them an eco-friendly heating option for your outdoor space.

Infratech WD Series 61-inch Flush Mounted Infrared Electric Heater

In photo: Infratech WD Series 61-inch Flush Mounted Infrared Electric Heater

Styles of Patio Heaters

Patio heaters come in various styles, each catering to different preferences and outdoor setups. Understanding these styles can help you choose the most suitable heater for your specific needs.

Freestanding Patio Heaters

Freestanding patio heaters are popular and versatile options, designed to stand on their own without the need for mounting or installation. They offer portability, allowing you to move the heater to different locations as desired. These heaters are perfect for larger outdoor areas, such as open patios and spacious decks, where a fixed installation may not be practical.

Image of RADtec Small Bistro Square 24-Inch 1500W 110V Infrared Table Heater by the pool

In photo: RADtec Small Bistro Square 24-Inch 1500W 110V Infrared Table Heater

Wall Mounted/Ceiling/Flush Mounted Patio Heaters

For those looking to save space or prefer a permanent heating solution, wall-mounted, ceiling, or flush-mounted patio heaters are excellent choices. 

These heaters are directly installed on walls, ceilings, or other structures, providing a fixed and efficient heating source. They are ideal for smaller outdoor spaces, as they maximize floor space while delivering targeted heat to specific areas.

Image of Dimplex DIR Series 51-Inch 3000W 240V Infrared Electric Heater

In photo: Dimplex DIR Series 51-Inch 3000W 240V Infrared Electric Heater

Portable Patio Heaters

As their name suggests, portable patio heaters offer the ultimate flexibility and convenience. These heaters are lightweight and often come with wheels or handles, making them easy to move around your outdoor space. Portable patio heaters are perfect for versatile setups, allowing you to position them wherever warmth is needed at the moment.

Portable propane heater in an outdoor dining area

In photo: Patio Comfort Portable Propane Patio Heater

Tabletop Patio Heaters

Tabletop patio heaters are compact and designed to sit on outdoor tables, providing localized heat for smaller gatherings or intimate dining experiences. While not as powerful as larger heaters, they add a cozy touch to your outdoor ambiance, allowing you to enjoy your outdoor meals comfortably.

AZ Patio Heaters Hiland Round Hammered Bronze Tabletop Propane Patio Heater

In photo: AZ Patio Heaters Hiland Round Hammered Bronze Tabletop Propane Patio Heater

When choosing a patio heater style, consider factors such as the size of your outdoor space, your heating preferences, and the level of permanence you desire. With the right style, your patio heater will not only provide warmth but also enhance the overall look and feel of your outdoor sanctuary.

Materials Used in Patio Heaters

When choosing a patio heater, considering the material is crucial, as it impacts durability, appearance, and overall performance. There are four common materials used in patio heaters: Steel, Aluminum, Stainless Steel, and Copper.


Steel patio heaters offer a practical and cost-effective heating solution. Their sturdy construction ensures durability, and they efficiently distribute heat to keep you warm. However, steel heaters are prone to rust and corrosion, necessitating regular maintenance to prolong their lifespan.


For those seeking lightweight and portable patio heaters, aluminum is an excellent choice. Resistant to rust and corrosion, aluminum heaters are perfect for coastal and humid environments. Their portability makes them easy to move around, but they may have slightly lower heat retention and can be prone to dents.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel patio heaters blend elegance with functionality. They are highly resistant to corrosion, ensuring longevity, and offer excellent heat retention and distribution. While more expensive than some options, stainless steel heaters require minimal maintenance, making them an attractive choice for those seeking a polished look.

Portable Stainless Steel Propane Heater in a Restaurant

In photo: Parasolschwank Portable Stainless Steel Propane Heater


Patio heaters made of copper bring a touch of luxury to outdoor spaces with their stunning aesthetic. Copper is an exceptional heat conductor, providing efficient warmth. It resists corrosion and rust, promising long-lasting durability. However, copper heaters tend to be the most expensive and may develop a patina over time, which can add to their unique charm.

Choosing the right material for your patio heater depends on factors like budget, style preferences, and environmental conditions. By understanding the pros and cons of each material, you can make an informed decision that enhances both the functionality and visual appeal of your outdoor space.

Different types of materials used in patio heaters

Benefits of Patio Heaters

Enjoy the great outdoors throughout the year with the warmth and comfort provided by patio heaters. Here are some reasons why patio heaters are a valuable addition to your outdoor space:

Extended Outdoor Enjoyment: Patio heaters enable you to make the most of your outdoor space, providing warmth during cooler weather and extending your outdoor season.

Comfortable and Cozy Atmosphere: With their radiant heat, patio heaters create a cozy ambiance, making outdoor gatherings, dining, or relaxing more comfortable and inviting.

Versatility and Style: Available in various designs and fuel types, patio heaters offer versatility to match your outdoor decor and cater to different heating preferences.

Easy Operation: Patio heaters are user-friendly, typically featuring simple ignition systems or electric switches for hassle-free operation.

Social Gathering Hub: The warmth provided by patio heaters encourages social interaction, making them ideal for entertaining guests or spending quality time with loved ones outdoors.

Diverse Placement Options: From freestanding to wall-mounted or ceiling-mounted models, patio heaters can be positioned strategically to suit your space and heating needs.

Portable propane heater in outdoor setting

In photo: Patio Comfort Portable Propane Heater

Outdoor Dining Experience: Patio heaters enhance outdoor dining experiences, allowing you to enjoy al fresco meals comfortably regardless of the temperature.

Professional and Commercial Use: Patio heaters are popular in restaurants, cafes, bars, and event venues, as they create inviting outdoor spaces for patrons.

Economical Space Heaters: Patio heaters offer targeted heat, allowing you to heat specific areas efficiently without needing to warm the entire outdoor space.

Entertainment Value: Patio heaters add a touch of elegance and charm to your outdoor setting, elevating the overall ambiance of your backyard or patio.

Whether for residential or commercial use, patio heaters provide a range of benefits that enhance outdoor living and entertainment, making them a valuable addition to any outdoor space.

Are Patio Heaters Safe?

When it comes to enjoying the warmth of patio heaters, safety is of paramount importance. Fortunately, modern patio heaters come equipped with several safety mechanisms to ensure worry-free use.

Safety Mechanism

Most patio heaters are designed with safety features to prevent accidents and mishaps. One common safety mechanism is the tip-over switch, which automatically shuts off the heater if it accidentally tilts or falls. This prevents potential fire hazards in case the heater is knocked over.

Another crucial safety feature is the auto-shutoff function, which activates if the heater's flame goes out unexpectedly. This ensures that gas or fuel is not released into the air, reducing the risk of fire or gas leaks.

Moreover, many propane and natural gas heaters have built-in oxygen depletion sensors (ODS) that monitor the oxygen levels in the vicinity. If the oxygen levels drop below a safe threshold, the heater automatically turns off to prevent potential suffocation or carbon monoxide buildup.

Stainless steel gas patio heater

In photo: Calcana High Output Stainless Steel Gas Patio Heater

Safety Clearance

Maintaining proper safety clearance around the patio heater is essential. Most manufacturers recommend a certain distance between the heater and any flammable materials, such as furniture, curtains, or plants. Adequate clearance helps prevent accidental fires and ensures efficient heat dispersion.

Additionally, it's essential to position the patio heater on stable ground to prevent tipping, and to keep it away from crowded areas to minimize the risk of accidental contact.

By adhering to safety guidelines, such as providing proper clearance and being aware of the safety features available, you can confidently enjoy the cozy warmth of your patio heater without compromising on safety. 

Choosing a Patio Heater 

When considering a patio heater, several factors come into play to ensure you find the perfect match for your outdoor space. Here are key aspects to look for when choosing a patio heater:

Fuel Type

Decide on the fuel type that suits your needs and preferences, whether it's propane, natural gas, or electric. 

Heating Capacity

Consider the heating capacity of the heater, measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units). Choose a heater with sufficient BTUs to cover the area you want to keep warm. Outdoor space size, wind exposure, and ambient temperature will influence the required heating capacity.

Safety Features

Ensure the patio heater has essential safety mechanisms, such as a tip-over switch, auto-shutoff function, and oxygen depletion sensor (for gas heaters). These features protect against accidents and promote worry-free use.

Portability and Installation

Decide whether you need a portable heater that can be moved around or a fixed, mounted heater that requires installation. Freestanding and tabletop heaters offer portability, while wall-mounted or ceiling-mounted heaters provide a permanent heating solution.

Bromic Tungsten Smart-Heat Portable Gas Heater

In photo: Bromic Tungsten Smart-Heat Portable Gas Heater

Materials and Aesthetics

Consider the material of the heater, such as steel, aluminum, stainless steel, or copper, based on durability, appearance, and how well it complements your outdoor decor.


Determine your budget and choose a patio heater that meets your needs while staying within your price range.

How Many Patio Heaters Do You Need?

The number of patio heaters required for an area depends on the size of the space and the heating capacity of each heater. 

As a general rule, for smaller areas, a single powerful heater may suffice. However, for larger or more open spaces, multiple heaters are often necessary for even heat distribution. 

Consider the total BTUs required for the area and divide it by the BTU output of each heater to determine the number needed.

Best Areas to Put Patio Heaters

The placement of patio heaters plays a crucial role in their effectiveness. Here are some ideal locations to position your patio heaters:

Seating Areas

Place the heaters near seating arrangements, such as dining tables or outdoor couches, to ensure that you and your guests stay warm and comfortable.

Ceiling Mounted Infrared Electric Heater

In photo: Bromic Eclipse Smart-Heat 2900 W Ceiling Mounted Infrared Electric Heater


If your patio has an entry point or exit, positioning a heater nearby can create a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

Gathering Points

Place heaters strategically in areas where people tend to gather, such as around a fire pit or outdoor bar.

Under Cover

If your patio has a roof or pergola, consider mounting heaters on the ceiling or walls to provide effective and space-saving heating.

Away from Obstructions

Ensure that the heaters have ample clearance from flammable materials, furniture, or any potential obstacles to maintain safety.

By taking these factors into account and carefully positioning your patio heaters, you can create a cozy and inviting outdoor environment, allowing you and your guests to enjoy your patio even in cooler weather.

Environmental Impact of Patio Heaters 

Patio heaters that use propane or natural gas emit greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), contributing to environmental concerns. While electric patio heaters have no direct emissions, their impact depends on the energy source used to generate electricity. To reduce environmental impact, consider using energy-efficient models of patio heaters.

Installation Guide

Before installing your patio heater, carefully read and follow the instructions and safety guidelines. Here's a general installation guide to help you set up your patio heater safely:

Step 1: Choose the Right Location

Select a stable, flat surface for freestanding patio heaters or a suitable mounting area for wall/ceiling-mounted models.

Ensure the location is away from flammable materials, furniture, and other potential obstructions to maintain safety.

Step 2: Assemble the Heater (for Freestanding Models)

Follow the provided assembly instructions to put together the heater's components securely.

Step 3: Connect the Fuel Source

For propane and natural gas heaters, attach the gas supply according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Check for gas leaks using a soapy water solution, which creates bubbles at any leak points.

Step 4: Secure the Heater (for Wall/Ceiling-Mounted Models)

Use appropriate screws and mounting brackets to secure the heater firmly to the wall or ceiling, ensuring it can support the heater's weight.

Step 5: Position the Reflector (for Gas Heaters)

Adjust the reflector to direct heat where needed while avoiding direct contact with the heating element.

Step 6: Plug in Electric Heaters

 For electric patio heaters, simply plug the heater into a standard power outlet.

Step 7: Test the Heater

Test the heater according to the manufacturer's instructions to ensure proper functionality.

Verify that safety mechanisms, such as the tip-over switch or auto-shutoff, are working correctly.

Step 8: Maintain Adequate Clearance

Ensure there is sufficient clearance between the patio heater and any nearby objects to prevent accidents.

Step 9: Install a Safety Barrier (optional)

For added safety, consider installing a safety barrier around the heater, especially if there are children or pets present.

Step 10: Regularly Inspect and Clean

Periodically inspect the heater for signs of wear, damage, or gas leaks. Clean the exterior and heating elements regularly to maintain optimal performance.

Remember, if you are unsure about the installation process or have any concerns, it's best to consult a professional for proper setup and safety. Improper installation can lead to accidents and damage, so always prioritize safety when setting up your patio heater.


Proper maintenance ensures the longevity and efficiency of your patio heater. Regularly clean the heater's exterior, reflectors, and heating element to remove debris and dust. For gas heaters, check gas connections for leaks and ensure proper ventilation. Electric heaters may require occasional bulb replacement. 


Patio heater prices vary based on fuel type, material, heating capacity, and brand. Budget-friendly options start around $200 for electric tabletop heaters, while premium heaters can range from $300 to $4000 or more. Choose a patio heater that aligns with your budget and meets your heating requirements.

Top-rated Patio Heaters

Explore best selling patio heaters from reputable brands known for quality and performance. 

Top Rated Value Finds Patio Heaters

All Weather Infrared Electric Heater

When contending with the challenge of wind disrupting outdoor heating, infrared heat emerges as a resilient solution. 

Take, for instance, the Victory HLWA30BG Black All-Weather Infrared Electric Patio Heater, a budget-friendly yet effective answer to your outdoor heating requirements. Silent, odorless, and maintenance-free, it delivers a low-cost heating solution, creating warm and inviting outdoor spaces. 

All Weather Infrared Heater Against a Brick Wall

In photo: Victory 38-Inch All Weather Electric Infrared Heater

Pyramid Tabletop Propane Patio Heater

The AZ Patio Heaters Hiland Bronze Tabletop Patio Heater offers a charming focal point while providing a gentle and inviting warmth for those gathered around. Its vertical flame adds a captivating touch, elevating the ambiance of any table arrangement.

Remarkably portable, this patio heater is designed for effortless relocation, allowing you to bring its cozy embrace wherever you go. In addition to its convenience, the heater arrives fully assembled, speeding up your setup process. 

Bronze pyramid tabletop propane patio heater

In photo: AZ Patio Heaters Hiland Bronze Pyramid Tabletop Propane Patio Heater

If you have a 1-lb propane tank at home, you're just moments away from enjoying its comforting glow. Simply activate the control knob, turn it once the pilot is ignited, and voilà – your delightful outdoor dinner is accompanied by a cozy and soothing atmosphere.

Plug-in Infrared Electric Heater

The Dimplex Plug-in Outdoor/Indoor Infrared Wallmounted Electric Heater swiftly heats up any space with its powerful 1500 watts. Its modern aesthetic is enhanced by Schott Nextrema ceramic tinted glass, making it a perfect complement to any decor.

Simplifying installation, the heater comes with the pre-installed element, reducing the risk of element damage, breakage, or misplacement during delivery.

Outdoor infrared electric heater

In photo: Dimplex Plug-in 36-inch 1500W 120V Infrared Electric Heater

Top Rated USA-Made Patio Heaters

Discover the perfect blend of quality and craftsmanship with our USA-Made Patio Heaters. Crafted with pride and precision, these heaters are designed to elevate your outdoor experience. 

Standard Output Stainless Steel Gas Patio Heater

Calcana Standard Output Gas Patio Heaters are a versatile and potent heating solution designed for both indoor and outdoor use. This long-lasting heater is perfect for various settings, even in spaces with low clearances or at high altitudes.

One standout feature of this heater is its modulating control panel, allowing you to easily adjust the heat output to suit your preferences. Moreover, it boasts the distinction of being the only gas patio heater equipped with temperature control, providing you with the utmost convenience and comfort. 

Image of Calcana Standard Output Stainless Steel Gas Patio Heater

In photo: Calcana Standard Output Stainless Steel Gas Patio Heater

Available in three sizes - 10', 15', and 20' - these patio heaters are ideal for commercial use and offer reliable performance. Proudly manufactured in the USA using high-quality Stainless Steel, they are built to withstand the test of time. Embrace the warmth and coziness on your patio with the Calcana Standard Output Gas Patio Heaters.

Two Stage Stainless Steel Infrared Gas Heater With Remote

The Sunpak S34 TSR Black Gas Patio Heater uses state-of-the-art Infrared Heating Technology, ensuring that the heat remains effective and is not affected by the wind. Built with durable stainless steel, it guarantees long-lasting use with excellent corrosion resistance.

This versatile gas heater can be easily mounted on the wall or ceiling, seamlessly blending with any outdoor setting. It comes with a mounting kit and power adapter for straightforward installation.

Stainless Steel Infrared Gas Heater

In photo: Sunpak S34 TSR Two Stage Stainless Steel Infrared Gas Heater 

This Sunpak heater also features a fully automatic on/off system and a convenient remote control, allowing you to adjust it effortlessly from the comfort of your seat. Enjoy the warmth and comfort on your patio with ease!

Single Element Infrared Electric Heater

Experience comfort and warmth with this contemporary stainless steel electric patio heater, delivering 2000/2500 Watts of soothing heat whether you're indoors or outdoors. It's incredibly versatile, compatible with almost any control option, and can even integrate with smart home systems.

Infratech C Series 39-Inch 2000/2500 Watt Single Element Infrared Electric Heater

In photo: Infratech C Series 39-Inch 2000/2500 Watt Single Element Infrared Electric Heater

The C Series heater is a fantastic choice for both residentials and commercial spaces and even various installations - whether you prefer it on a pole, wall, or ceiling. Its mounting brackets cleverly concealed at the back create a floating effect, ensuring a sleek and minimalistic appearance. For an even more seamless look, consider the optional flush mount kit to flush it to the ceiling.

Experience the extraordinary warmth that patio heater brings. Shop a patio heater today.

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