How Much Clearance is Needed for a Patio Heater?

A patio heater radiates heat to any object, animal, and person close to it. This is why any combustible item should be placed at a safe distance away from the patio heater. All manufacturers indicate on the users-manual the safe distance of each heater.

The clearance distance varies with the amount of heat a patio heater can radiate. In short, the higher the amount of heat released the larger the clearance distance. 

In general, patio heaters that radiate heat between 35,000BTUs and 50,000BTUs require at least 30 inches of clear space away from combustibles. On other hand, small heaters that can radiate heat between 10,000BTUs and 35,000BTUs require at least 24 inches of clear space on all sides of the patio heater (the emitter screen and the reflector). 

Types of Patio Heaters and the Clearance They Require 

  1. Wall mount patio heater

It is a patio heater that can be installed on the wall. It is a good option if you want to save space, but it still needs a lot of clearance distance of about three feet

Generally, this type of heater is electric that uses infrared heat to warm up your patio. Use the brackets to mount it on the wall. The brackets allow you to adjust the position of the heater. 

The type of wall you have is a very important consideration while installing this wall patio heater. Drywall and a sheetrock wall are the best for this type of heater because the mounting brackets fit on this wall perfectly. 

Concrete walls or brick walls are not the best because they do not allow the brackets to mount perfectly.

  1. Table-top patio heater 

This is a type of patio heater that is usually small and can be placed on the table. It can either use propane or electricity. 

This type does not produce a lot of heat hence it does not need a lot of clearance distance. Two feet of clear space is enough for this heater. 

It can also come with an anti-tilting feature that prevents it from falling over if your guests get rough around the table. 

  1. Free-standing patio heater

This is the oldest type of patio heater. It can use gas or electricity, but mostly it uses propane. It is known to produce a lot of heat over long distances, this means that it should have a bigger clearance distance of about 30 inches away from combustibles. 

This type of patio heater can easily fall over hence it needs to be anchored down with sandbags and water bags. 

  1. Hanging patio heater 

This is a heater that is hanged from the ceiling of your patio. Hanging heater saves a lot of furniture space and movement space. 

But it requires a good clearance distance of about 2 feet and a hard ceiling. Most of the time this hanging heater is electric. It is cheap to buy and easy to install, but it is very expensive in the long run with high electric bills.

  1. Indoor-outdoor patio heater

It is a patio heater that can be used both indoors and outdoors. This patio heater is best for an enclosed patio space. It is known to circulate heat around small spaces so it does not need big clearance space. 

Keep it 1.5 feet away from any combustibles. You will find several of these heaters on one patio because it radiates low amounts of heat. 

  1. Lighted patio heater 

This is a heater that has two uses, it provides heat on your patio and adds elegance (aesthetics) to your patio. It is made with art that brings beauty to your patio, and this is why it is mainly used in restaurants and commercial outdoors. 

It is normally electric because it has an LED base. It also needs a clearance distance of about three feet and it should be raised up to disperse heat over a wider range. 

  1. Fire-pit patio heater 

This is the original heating style in human history. It is the cheapest way to heat up your patio, but it is not environmentally friendly. You will have to build a real concrete fire pit that maintains the heat source.

It produces enough heat that allows you to burn up some eatables, however, gives the fire pit some clearance distance of about a foot

The foot distance prevents the fire sparks from reaching you and keeps combustibles like jackets and patio rugs/cushions away from the pit. In short, give the patio furniture a safe distance away from the fire pit. 

  1. Mobile/movable patio heater 

This is a free-standing patio heater that has good wheels that allows you to move it around. It can either be an electric or a propane user with an extra-long propane hose pipe or electric cable which is also extra-long. Make sure you move it and place it in an area with adequate clearance space of about 30 inches on all sides.

  1. Umbrella-mount patio heater 

This is an electric patio heater that is mounted under a patio umbrella. It needs a tall umbrella pole so that there can be a good clearance space of about three feet away from the umbrella canopy. 

This type of patio heater is normally waterproof and can withstand the rough winter season. Enjoy your patio in winter with an umbrella-mount patio heater. 

  1. Modern smart patio heater

This is a patio heater that uses modern digital technology, the user uses digital signals to control it. It has a smart control system that uses phone apps or remote controls. 

An example is a patio table fitted with a heater. This type of smart heater needs a clearance distance of about 1.5 feet


Any type of patio heater that can produce heat between 35,000BTUs and 50,000BTUs should have a clearance distance of about 30 inches. While any type of patio heater that is small and radiates heat between 10,000BTUs and 35,000 BTUs should have a clearance distance of about 24 inches on all sides. So, stay safe now that you know the clearance you should be working with.