Do Outdoor Patio Heaters Really Work?

Leaves start falling and the warm nights slowly turn into chilly nights. What will you do to still enjoy your night on your beautiful patio? You may opt to go for a bonfire, but that may get a bit too messy. An outdoor patio heater is your best friend in this case. To add on, it has a sleek and elegant look to fit on your patio.

Yes, the outdoor patio heaters really work and some give incredible unexpected results. Just like other products, you may come across good and bad outdoor patio heaters. Several factors determine the choice of your heater. The space you need to heat, fuel type, and cold temperatures are just a few of the things you need to pay attention to. 

How Do Outdoor Patio Heaters Work?

The outdoor patio heaters produce heat by either using electricity or burning fuels like natural gas or propane. Either way, the heater units produce radiant heat traveling through the air to keep you warms. They are effective as compared to space heaters which produce heat by blowing hot air into space between the occupants and the heater. 

British Thermal Units (BTU) are often used to determine the size and number of patio heaters needed. Your patio will give you a direction on how to choose the correct unit. How big is your patio? How much do you want to raise the patio temperatures?

As an example, to raise a 10-square feet patio temperature from 60 to 70 degrees, you will need an 8,000 BTUs patio heater. 64,000 BTUs heater is enough to raise temperatures from 50 to 70 degrees in a 20-square feet patio. 

If you live in a place with high wind speeds, it is advised to use wind protection to reduce the cooling effect of wind. Design your patio in a way that you reduce the cost of heating as much as possible.

Types of Outdoor Patio Heaters

There are various options for outdoor patio heaters and it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. Some of the heater units are portable while the others are meant to be fixed. Some are freestanding while others are mounted on the ceiling or the wall. 

Below are different types of outdoor patio heaters depending on the type of fuel used;

  1. Propane Heaters

Propane patio heaters are probably the most common and effective heater units for a patio. The chances that you have come across one in a bar or restaurant are high. They produce an orange and blue glow at the top by burning propane in a storage tank. 

The upside with these heaters is that they have a high heating capacity, do not need any insulation, and are portable. The cons include the cost of propane and replacing the propane tanks when the fuel is used up. Go get one and keep your patio warm for the night events.

  1. Natural Gas Heaters

Natural gas heaters are deemed the cheapest heater units in this bunch. They are suited for a house with an existing gas line to the patio. Once you install the heater, you do not have to worry about supplying fuel. 

The good side of such heaters is that they are convenient and cheap. As said, the gas supply is permanent and you do not have to interrupt your night on the patio to replace the fuel supply. The only downside is the high initial cost of installation as you need a professional to set it up. 

  1. Electric Heaters

The electric patio heaters have been on the lower side of BTUs for a long time. They cannot generate as much heat as their propane and gas counterparts. However, with advancements in technology, electric patio heaters are getting better and efficient. You will find them in different styles and thus you can choose the right one for your patio.

These heaters have zero emissions thus environmental-friendly. They are also efficient and convenient as they only need to be plugged in an electric outlet to get going. The downside may include the low burning capacity compared to gas heaters and the high initial cost to acquire one. 

  1. Infrared Heater units

This is a new technology in the market but has proved to be an effective way of heating patios. They are connected to an electric outlet like the traditional electric heaters and most of the time wall-mounted. They are more efficient because they produce radiant heat instead of heating the air. 

Safety of Outdoor Patio Heaters

Injuries or fire breakouts are possible with any outdoor patio heater if used improperly. You will get a burn if touch them in the wrong place. However, most outdoor patio heaters are very safe. Just follow the manufacturers’ instructions and use common sense. 

Here are some safety tips to observe to provide a safe environment;

  • To prevent house fires, keep the outdoor patio heaters away from walls and ceilings or anything combustible. Experts advise maintaining a 3 feet radius of clearance for a single heater
  • Use your patio heater on a flat surface as on an inclined surface, it may tip over and cause a fire
  • For propane or gas patio heaters, you need to do regular checks for leaks
  • Follow the right procedure when lighting an outdoor patio heater often given in the manual.
  • Always have a fire extinguisher on your patio in case of any accidents
  • Do not leave a running patio heater unattended because anything can happen.
  • Lastly, remember to cover the heat up when not in use so that it is not clogged by bugs and debris or agents of rust. 


Patio heaters are your best friend during a cold winter night on your patio. Sometimes, they can produce convection heat but use radiant heat most of the time to heat the space. The location of the heater and BTUs produced are important aspects that you need when getting a patio heater. You can find them in the nearest home supplies shop and invite friends over for a warm night.