An outdoor heater is a helpful addition that can make outdoor entertaining more comfortable and allow you to enjoy your deck or patio for longer in the season. If you’re looking for the right heater for your space, read on to get the details on all the most frequently asked questions.
Outdoor heaters are available in four installation types that offer a full range of choices for placement. Check out these different options to find the right one for your needs:
• Freestanding heaters are tall installations that sit directly on the ground and provide area heating. Depending on the fuel type, freestanding options can be portable or permanently installed.
• Mounted heaters can be installed on walls or ceilings, and typically point downward at an angle to provide heat to a wide area.
• Hanging heaters are designed to hang above the area that requires heating. These are frequently similar in shape and style to outdoor pendant lights, so they can be one of the less intrusive additions in terms of appearance.
• Tabletop heaters are small, portable options that can sit on dining or side tables, and provide a smaller area of heating for more intimate gatherings.
The most common fuels for outdoor heaters are propane, electricity and natural gas. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks, so choose the one that best matches your intended use and location.
Electric • Pros: Electricity is a convenient power source, and hooking up an electric heater is as simple as plugging it in. Because you don’t have to carry the power source with you, these are easier to transport than other fuel options. • Cons: You’ll need to make sure your heater has access to outlets. While this is not normally an issue, you may need an extension cord if you’re using your heater for an outdoor event. Electric models also have the aesthetic drawback of not having a real flame.
Propane • Pros: Propane heaters offer a beautiful real flame, simple installation and a self-contained fuel source that makes them the most versatile option in terms of placement. • Cons: Because the fuel sits inside the base, propane heaters can be heavy. They also require more time and money to maintain, as propane tanks will need to be replaced as they run out.
Natural Gas • Pros: Natural gas heaters also offer a real flame, and connect directly to your home’s gas lines so you never have to take time to refuel. Natural gas is also less expensive than propane, so these are both inexpensive and low maintenance. • Cons: The permanent connection to gas lines means that most natural gas heaters are not portable.
• A tilt auto shutoff is a safety feature that ensures your heater will not pose a fire danger.
• Wheels are a handy addition that can make it simple to reposition or store even a large heater. Most are positioned off to the side of the base so you can tilt the unit back at an angle to wheel it away.
• Automatic ignition makes it so that no lighter or matches are required to light the flame. The integrated ignition system works at the push of a button or twist of a knob, meaning you and your guests can warm up that much quicker.
No one wants to sacrifice the style of their outdoor space to stay warm, so there are actually quite a few stylish designs. From industrial and craftsman designs, to sleek modern outdoor heaters, there’s a style to complement almost any home.
The size of your space is the biggest factor in determining how many (or what type) of heaters you need. Generally, a large freestanding heater can warm up a space around 9 feet in diameter, while a tabletop model will warm an area around 4 feet. Wall-mounted and hanging options will widely vary in their heating range based on their size and shape, but most products will specify their capability.
The actual heat output is measured in BTUs, or British Thermal Units. Patio heaters come in a variety of shapes and sizes that offer a range of BTU outputs from just 5,000 to over 70,000. The average standing model offers around 40,000 BTUs, while most tabletop heaters produce between 5,000 and 10,000 BTUs. More BTUs means higher temperatures, but it does not necessarily increase the range that the heat can reach, so a large space will still require multiple heaters to match its size.