Buying Guide

How to Choose a Patio Heater

Natural Gas Patio Heaters
a standing outdoor patio heater on a back porch

Patio heaters fueled by natural gas are often pricier than electric versions, but the long-term ownership costs are considerably less, and they’re easier to maintain. These are connected directly to your gas line and offer continuous heat for as long as needed.

Natural gas patio heaters are most widely available as standing units. They are not as portable as other versions, as they need to remain connected at all times for operation. Use these for larger and more open outdoor areas so the fumes have space to safely aerate.

Tip: Energy output for gas-fueled patio heaters is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs).

Propane Patio Heaters
two propane patio heaters next to two outdoor patio chairs

Since operation is not dependent on a gas line, propane heaters are convenient and portable option for many patios.

These heaters usually feature a basic shape and a larger base that houses the LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) tank. The LPG tank connects to removable propane tanks which must be purchased separately as needed. 

There are two common types of propane patio heaters to choose from: 

  • Standing – great for outdoor spaces of all sizes, can be moved as needed to accommodate your setup
  • Tabletop – ideal for outdoor dining tables and patio sets, designed to heat a smaller surface area
Electric Patio Heaters
a collage of tabletop, hanging, and wall-mounted electric patio heaters

Electric patio heater energy output is measured by the wattage.

Infrared heaters release energy using infrared rays. The energy is absorbed by people and objects nearby and then dispersed to keep temperatures warm and comfortable. This quickly and efficiently warms your outdoor space without using excess electricity.

Halogen heaters use halogen bulbs warmed by an electrical current to release shorter heat waves. They can operate at higher temperatures, but the exterior remains cool to the touch. This makes them a safe option for pets and young children.

There are various styles of electric patio heaters to choose from: 

  • Hanging – great for overhead heating on smaller patios or gazebos
  • Umbrella-mounted – perfect addition to patio seating, attaches to standard umbrella center poles
  • Wall-mounted – can be installed using a bracket mount on your deck or against the siding of your home
  • Standing – great for outdoor spaces of all sizes, can be moved as needed to accommodate your needs

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