Outdoor Patio Heater Buying Guide
A Hot Commodity
Outdoor patio heaters are becoming increasingly popular as restaurants and homeowners both adjust to the changing needs of customers, family, and friends. Fortunately, these impressive units can be just as useful for the homeowner looking to extend their patio season as they are for the restaurateur looking to create a year-round outdoor dining experience. In both cases, a patio heater can make the difference between comfortable guests and no guests.
Not all patio heaters are the same, however, so we’ve put together this guide to help you decide if a patio heater is right for your space. Whether you’re looking for a powerful outdoor gas heater to warm a large space, a small electric patio heater to take the chill out of the air, or something in between, we have you covered.
Perks of Outdoor Heaters
Outdoor heaters make an excellent option for outdoor heating because they use radiant heating to warm a space. While the warmth from forced-air or convection current heaters can be carried away by the wind on a breezy day, a radiant heater works differently—think the heat from the sun on a clear day.
Patio heaters are available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and price points to meet the needs of your installation. These products are also fairly low maintenance, so while your initial investment may be high depending on the area you’re looking to heat, a properly installed heater should last you many years—even in unforgiving weather.
Types of Outdoor Heaters
Natural Gas Heaters
Arguably the most “heavy-duty” option, natural gas patio heaters come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are designed to be connected to an existing gas line. These units are affordable to operate for long periods of time, so they make an excellent choice for those looking to heat large spaces for long periods of time.
However, because these units will be connected to a permanent gas line, they require a professional installer to ensure proper operation, which will add to installation costs.
Propane heaters can be found in both permanent and portable configurations. Permanently installed units offer the same benefits as a permanent natural gas installation, including an always-ample gas supply. With a portable design, you can always have heat where you need it—or somewhere in storage if the unit isn’t needed.
On the downside, permanent propane heaters will also require a professional installation, while portable units will need to have their fuel levels monitored.
A quality electric patio heater offers several advantages over gas heaters. First, electric heaters do not require special ventilation like gas heaters. As a result, these heaters can be used indoors in addition to outdoors. If you have a screened-in patio or a similar space, an electric heater may make an excellent choice for your room.
Unfortunately, electric heaters do not produce as much heat as their gas counterparts, which means you’ll be limited in the amount of space you can heat. Electrical supply can also be an issue for some. While some units can plug into a standard 120-volt socket, most will require higher voltage for proper heat output. This will require the unit to be professionally hardwired to ensure safety.
The Best Patio Heater for Your Situation
The “best” patio heater will depend on your specific needs. There are several important factors you’ll need to consider when selecting the best option for your space. While this list is far from complete, it’s a good place to start.
Make sure your heater can adequately heat your space. An improperly sized heater will leave your guests cold and uncomfortable. If one heater won’t do the job, consider adding multiple heaters spaced far enough apart to maximize heating capabilities.
If you’re adding multiple gas heaters to your outdoor space, you’ll also need to make sure you have an adequate gas supply to fuel all of your heaters. Again, you’ll want to hire a professional gas plumber to handle this process.
Consider your floor plan. This will determine whether your heater will be freestanding, wall-mounted, or portable. Be sure to take into account details like foot traffic, floor or wall space, and any gas or electrical connections you’ll need to make use of. If these connections are unavailable, you’ll need to ensure new lines can be run to your desired location.
One of the primary details you’ll need to be aware of when installing a patio heater is distances to combustible materials like wood. Always follow the manufacturer’s installation guidelines to ensure proper safety.
In addition, look for units carrying UL listings, CSA approval, or other signs of quality assurance. These certifications signify the heater has undergone extensive testing for reliability and safety. Although certified units may cost slightly more on the front end, they will save you time and effort in maintenance costs later.
Finally, consider your control options for your patio heater. Whether you’re looking for a simple on/off switch, timer control, or some kind of remote capability, many heaters can be set up in multiple ways to meet the needs of your space.
Learn More About Patio Heaters
We hope you’ve found this buying guide helpful, but if you have any other questions, we’re here to help. Give us a call at 877-374-6777 to speak with one of our product specialists about the patio heating options we have available. We’re here from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Prefer email? You can contact us via our website, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.