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Advantages of Patio Heaters

Updated on July 4, 2013
Table Top Patio Heater
Table Top Patio Heater

Advantages of Buying a Patio Heater

Are you looking for a way to stay warm outside? Want to squeeze more leisure time out of your deck or patio?

If so, I would highly suggest you invest in a patio heater. They are reasonably priced and will make chilly days and nights much more comfortable. You’ll benefit by spending more time outdoors and enjoying your yard far longer than before.

Patio heaters are a great idea for stretching out the enjoyment of hanging out in your backyard. I grew up in the northeast and even a summer night can get very chilly. With an outdoor heater, you can begin your deck or patio season sooner and end it later.

The money you invest in creating your own little oasis in your backyard can now be enjoyed even on chilly fall days or chilly spring nights.

Outdoor heaters come in table top size or full-size, tall models that are heavy and not easy to tip over. You can buy electric or gas depending on your particular conditions and preferences.

Using a patio heater is different than setting the thermostat in the house. It will warm up the air within a certain range. It's perfect for warming up a small patio or deck area but you won't be able to heat your whole yard! It's similar to the concept of a wood fire. You have to sit within a certain range of the fire to feel the heat. With an outdoor patio heater you get the benefit of the warmer air without the mess, fuss and danger of having a fire pit or fireplace.

There are many different types of heaters including outdoor propane heater, portable gas heater, electric patio heaters, gas patio heater, and outdoor gas heaters. Each has its own individual pros and cons, however all are great for staying warm outside. This hub page was created to explain the advantages of a patio heater as well as the different models available and their advantages and disadvantages. An informed shopper is a smart shopper!

Outdoor Table Top Heater Unboxing and Review!

How to Choose a Patio Heater

Choosing a patio heater is often a difficult decision. You want to make sure that the patio heater suits your needs, but is also affordable. Be sure to check out these tips for choosing the right patio heater.

First of all, you want to determine how much area you want to heat. A tabletop patio heater will be perfect for you if you have a small patio or tabletop. They have a heat radius of about 10 feet, which is actually quite sufficient for many different homes. However, if you own a restaurant or larger patio, you might want to check out the commercial heaters which cover a large area.

Next, figure out where you want to place your heater. Some heaters are meant to be placed on a table top, others on a wall. If you have children or dogs or cats, you might want to buy a wall heater to minimize risk.

Other than that you want to consider the price, style, quality, and safety of other heaters. A heater is often an important purchase so don't skimp on your research.

Full Size Patio Heater

Table Top Patio Heaters

A table top heater has the advantage of being portable and easy to store.

It can provide a warm ambience to your outdoor picnic or coffee table. Most are designed to raise the temperature between 10-25 degrees. For safety reasons, all models should have an auto shut off tile valve.

Some people prefer the table top models to floor heaters because it takes up less room and the tank is usually tucked into the heater casing instead of extending off to the side of the unit. Usually the units are designed to be attractive since the manufacturers realize you'll have to place it in plain site.

If you only plan on using the heater for an occasional get together the small tanks that fit with the model is fine. If you plan on using your outdoor heater quite frequently, it's recommended to invest in an adapter hose so you can connect it to larger propane tank.

Now that I live in New Mexico, I find that these heaters are very helpful if you like to enjoy the evening sky in December or January. It can get very cold here in the desert. Even with all of our winter gear on, it's too cold to stay out unless you have a way to heat up your immediate area. With a small table top heater, you can enjoy just about every evening in our area.

Do you have a patio or deck

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Gas or electric heater?

So what are the pros and cons of propane heaters versus electric heaters?

First, let's analyze electric heaters. Many people love electric heaters because they are easy to use. Electricity is also fairly cheap. However unless you have an outlet, electric heaters won't work. On the other hand propane heaters don't need an electric outlet to work. However they are slightly more costly when it comes to operating. While I prefer electric heaters you should pick the heater that suits your needs individually.

Full Size Patio Heater

Full Size Outdoor Patio Heaters

This model of outdoor heater is perfect if you have a low traffic area to place it where it won't get knocked into while heating up the area.

Consider placement and safety especially if you have young children and rowdy dogs in your family.

If you have a large deck or patio, you can find a corner away from stairs and doorways. I'd also recommend setting something in front of the unit to decrease the chance of someone hitting into it by accident. For instance, place a light weight storage bench in front of the heater unit. You can easily move out of the way when you need to reach the heater.

The designs found for these styles are attractive so you won't have a problem with it detracting from your outside décor. Most people like the designs and colors and feel they're attractive.

An outdoor heater for your deck or patio is the perfect way to extend the season by chasing away the chilly mornings and evenings.

In the warmer states you will be able to use your patio year round and in the colder states you can gain an additional month to two months of use!

Protecting Your Patio Heater

Buy Fitted Covers for Outdoor Patio Heaters

Patio heaters of any type should be protected during bad weather.

To avoid having to move the unit in the garage or house when not in use, I'd go buy one of these patio heater covers. They come in all different sizes depending on the unit you buy.

Even if you have a covered patio or deck, a storm with high cross winds can blow rain quite far. These heaters aren't cheap so why not take it one step further and buy a fitted cover?

I believe when you're investing money in a heating unit whether it's the table top or full size models, you should do your best to protect them from nasty weather.

You'll get more years of use out of a heater if you maintain it as per the manufacturers outline.

Covers for Patio Heaters

Fire Sense Full Length Patio Heater Cover
Fire Sense Full Length Patio Heater Cover
Here is a full length patio heater cover constructed with heavy duty 10 guage vinyl. It zips open and closed and extends the entire height of tall full-sized patio heater.

Fueling an Outdoor Patio Heater

Patio heaters can run on propane, natural gas, or electricity.

Patio heaters either burn a fuel or they heat an element using electricity.

Electric patio heaters warm the area by emitting a high quantity of radiant heat. This is more efficient than just blowing out heated air in hopes that the heater can override the outside air temperature.

Radiant heat warms up objects and not the air. If it heated the air, it would be fighting a losing battle.

It's very efficient and you can bring it in the house to use if needed.

We used a radiant heater in our unheated family room during the winter months. It was very handy, lightweight, and did the job. The air felt cold but yet your body warmed up. Radiant heat travels through air to heat objects it can reach which depends on the size of the unit you buy.

Some models of patio heaters, full size and table top, will radiate heat in a circular direction, radiating from the unit. They work best by being placed in the center of the area you're interested in warming up.

Another design of patio heater, referred to as a spot heater, sends the heat in a specific direction. In most cases this design would be best for the full size models.

You want to place your heater in an area where it won't get knocked into but yet you want to utilize the heat the unit generates in the most efficient way.


Propane patio heaters can be set up anywhere. A portable propane patio heater is great if you like to camp or have reasons to use your patio heater somewhere besides in the yard. The fuel tank is usually set inside the unit so to keep the unit looking sharp.

One downside to choosing propane has your fuel of choice is it is the most expensive of any energy sources for patio heaters.

Natural Gas

Natural gas is clean and convenient. I have a friend that has a nice backyard setup. He has a covered patio with an outdoor ceiling fan for muggy nights. He and his wife love to cook so they set up a regular stove in addition to his gas grill. Both run on his natural gas line that he had a plumber install to the patio. It was an expensive initial investment but now he has constant fuel with no refill hassles and the cost efficiency of natural gas.


Electric patio heaters produce zero emissions and the cost to heat your patio with one falls somewhere between the cost of propane and natural gas. Some electric patio heaters need a professional for installation.

Umbrella Outdoor Patio Heater

Electric Patio Heater fits Umbrella

This electric infrared outdoor heater design is very clever and very efficient.

Someone was thinking outside of the box with this design. It's the perfect answer when you already have an umbrella to provide shade in the daylight hours. Just attach the heater when the sun goes down and the evening becomes chilly.

Another reason that the design is appealing, is it doesn't use up any table space. It's completely out of the way.

Your umbrella is most likely in the center of the table. That's where you likely gather round to eat, gather with company and play games. So, it's good placement for the heater.

It's centered which is the most ideal placement for your heater. Most tables are the center of the activity on a patio or deck.

That was the case with the deck I built when I lived in New York. I couldn't afford an awning at the time, so I bought a large umbrella that was centered in my oval resin picnic table. We used to play a card game at night with friends. I had electricity out by the table but wasn't even aware at the time that these heaters existed.

This infrared outdoor heater design is perfect if you have a similar setup. It heats objects and not the air and runs on electric current.

It's out of the way and doesn't even take up the room of a table top heater. It'll never get knocked into or toppled.

Are Patio Heaters Safe?

Patio heaters are perfect for warming up your outdoor living space in a safe way. All units comes with safety features built into the units.

Most patio heaters have a safety feature that kicks in if the unit is accidently knocked over.

You also need to use common sense and place your outdoor patio heater in a location where there is adequate space between the heater and any combustibles nearby. Your unit will come with instructions which I highly advise you read and follow.

You'll want to consider the traffic flow of your deck or patio.

If you buy a table top patio heater, you'll want to place it close to the center of activity if possible. But, first make sure that the placement you choose is not an area vulnerable to people running into it and possibly knocking it over. Safety should be your priority.

A stand-up model may give you more choices in location depending on the type of heater you buy. Some models radiate from the center which means you'll still want to get the unit as close to the middle of the hub of activity.

Some of the standup units are designed to heat in a fan like area. This makes corner placement safer because you can set it out of the way and far from high traffic areas. Placing it in a corner will not deter from the heat projection.


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