Discovering Outdoor Patio Heaters: Expert Answers to Your Top 21 Questions

Published: June 11, 2023

Exploring Outdoor Patio Heaters: Insights and Solutions for Your Top Concerns

As the colder months approach, many homeowners turn to Outdoor patio heaters to extend their outdoor living season. These heaters can provide warmth and comfort, allowing you to enjoy your patio, even in cooler temperatures. This guide will answer some common questions about outdoor patio heaters to help you make an informed decision. 

Read these FAQ’s alongside our Buyers Guide to Patio Heaters to help decide on what patio heater will best suit your home.

1- What is the best heater for an outdoor patio?

The best heater for an outdoor patio depends on the size of your space, your preferred fuel type, and your budget. Both gas and electric heaters can be effective, with infrared heaters being particularly efficient. Brands like Bromic, Infratech, and AZ Patio Heaters are known for producing high-quality heaters. You can read our product reviews on outdoor patio heaters to help you narrow your search.

When selecting the best heater for your patio, consider factors such as heat output, coverage area, ease of installation, and safety features. It’s also essential to think about the aesthetics of the heater and how well it will blend with your outdoor decor.

2- Do outdoor patio heaters really work?

Yes, outdoor patio heaters effectively heat outdoor spaces by producing radiant heat. They can raise the ambient temperature in the area, making it more comfortable for people to enjoy the outdoors in cooler weather. The efficiency of the heater depends on the type, with infrared heaters being particularly effective at directing heat towards the area you want to warm.

Keep in mind that factors such as wind, ambient temperature, and insulation play a role in how well a patio heater performs. To optimize the heater’s effectiveness, choose a model with adjustable heat settings and consider adding wind barriers or using outdoor curtains to help retain warmth.

Outdoor patio heaters

3- What is the warmest outdoor patio heater?

Gas-powered patio heaters, such as propane or natural gas heaters, typically produce the highest heat output, with some models generating up to 40,000 to 50,000 BTUs.  Infrared electric heaters are also highly efficient and can provide significant warmth in a concentrated area.

Although gas heaters generally produce more heat, it’s essential to consider factors such as fuel cost, maintenance, and ease of use when choosing the warmest outdoor patio heater. Additionally, the warmth produced by the heater is not solely dependent on heat output but also on factors like coverage area and heat distribution.

4- Is a patio heater worth it?

A patio heater can be a valuable investment if you frequently use your outdoor space and want to extend its usability during colder months. Patio heaters can make outdoor gatherings and dining more comfortable, encouraging you and your guests to spend more time outside.

That said, it’s important to weigh the cost of the patio heater, fuel expenses, and maintenance against the potential benefits. If you only use your outdoor space occasionally or live in a mild climate, but still have the benefits of a patio heater, consider a lower priced option so you don’t overinvest. 

5- Where should you not use a patio heater?

Patio heaters should not be used in enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces, as this can lead to a buildup of harmful gases, such as carbon monoxide, in the case of gas heaters. Additionally, avoid using a patio heater near flammable materials, such as curtains, upholstery, or wooden structures, to prevent the risk of fire.

It’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for safe operation and clearance distances from walls, ceilings, and other objects. Always place your patio heater on a stable and level surface to prevent it from tipping over.

6- Is a 2000W patio heater good?

A 2000W patio heater can be suitable for small to medium-sized outdoor spaces, providing adequate warmth for a cozy atmosphere. Electric patio heaters, especially infrared models, are known for their energy efficiency and ability to heat targeted areas effectively.

However, the effectiveness of a 2000W patio heater depends on factors such as the heater’s design, heat distribution, and the specific conditions of your outdoor space. To determine if a 2000W patio heater is sufficient for your needs, consider the size of your patio and how well-protected it is from wind and other elements.

Outdoor patio heaters

7- Do infrared patio heaters use a lot of electricity?

Infrared patio heaters are generally energy-efficient compared to other types of heaters. They convert approximately 90% of the electrical energy they consume into radiant heat, which is directed towards the area you want to warm. This targeted heating means less energy is wasted, reducing electricity consumption.

However, the overall electricity usage of an infrared patio heater depends on factors such as the heater’s wattage and the amount of time it is in use. To minimize electricity consumption, consider using a timer or a thermostat to regulate the heater’s operation.

8- Can you use a patio heater under a covered patio?

Yes, you can use a patio heater under a covered patio, but it is crucial to ensure proper clearance and ventilation, as well as to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for safe operation. Electric infrared heaters are typically the safest option for covered patios, as they do not produce an open flame or emit harmful gases which occurs with propane or natural gas heaters.

When using a patio heater under a covered patio, make sure there is sufficient space between the heater and the ceiling or any combustible materials. This will help prevent potential fire hazards and ensure the heater operates efficiently.

9- How big of a heater do I need for my patio?

The size of the heater required for your patio depends on factors such as the size of the area you want to heat, the desired temperature increase, and the level of insulation or protection from wind. As a general rule, you’ll need about 5,000 to 10,000 BTUs of heating power for every 100 to 150 square feet of patio space.

To determine the most suitable heater size for your patio, consider the heat output, coverage area, and efficiency of the heater. It’s also essential to think about the type of heater (gas or electric) and its compatibility with your outdoor space.

10- Which is hotter: gas or electric patio heater?

Gas patio heaters, specifically propane and natural gas models, tend to produce higher heat outputs compared to electric heaters. Some gas patio heaters can generate up to 40,000 to 50,000 BTUs, while electric heaters typically have a maximum output of around 6,000 to 8,000 BTUs.

However, electric infrared heaters can be more efficient at directing heat towards specific areas and may provide more concentrated warmth. The choice between gas and electric patio heaters ultimately depends on factors such as fuel cost, ease of installation, and personal preferences.

11- Are infrared patio heaters better?

Infrared patio heaters offer several advantages over other types of heaters, making them an attractive option for many homeowners. Infrared heaters are energy-efficient, as they convert a large portion of the electricity they consume into radiant heat, which is directly absorbed by people and objects in the area.

In addition, infrared heaters provide instant heat, unlike other types of heaters that may take time to warm up. They also produce a more comfortable and even heat, as they don’t rely on heating the air. However, factors such as cost, aesthetics, and the specific conditions of your outdoor space should be considered when deciding if an infrared patio heater is the best choice for you.

12- How long can you leave a patio heater on?

The duration for which you can leave a patio heater on depends on the type of heater and the manufacturer’s guidelines. Some patio heaters are designed for continuous use, while others may have a recommended maximum operating time.

It is essential to consult the user manual for specific instructions and safety precautions. Regardless of the heater’s design, always ensure that the patio heater is attended to when in use and turn it off when leaving the area to minimize the risk of accidents.

13- Can patio heaters keep you warm in winter?

Patio heaters can provide warmth and comfort during winter, depending on the outdoor temperature, wind conditions, and the heater’s heat output. High-quality patio heaters with sufficient BTUs can effectively raise the ambient temperature, allowing you to enjoy your outdoor space even in colder weather.

However, patio heaters may not be enough to counter extreme cold or windy conditions. In such cases, consider additional measures like wind barriers, outdoor curtains, or heated furniture to enhance comfort and retain warmth.

14- Do patio heaters need ventilation?

Proper ventilation is crucial when using gas patio heaters, as they produce byproducts like carbon monoxide. It is essential to use gas patio heaters in well-ventilated outdoor spaces to prevent the buildup of harmful gases.

Electric patio heaters, including infrared heaters, do not produce harmful emissions, making them a safer option for enclosed or semi-enclosed spaces. However, always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and safety precautions when using any patio heater.

15- How far should a patio heater be from the house?

The recommended distance between a patio heater and the house depends on the type of heater and the manufacturer’s guidelines. Generally, a clearance of at least 2-3 feet from walls and other combustible materials is advised. 

For gas patio heaters, a greater distance may be necessary to ensure proper ventilation and prevent the buildup of harmful gases.

16- Can I use a patio heater under a gazebo?

Using a patio heater under a gazebo is possible, but caution and proper safety measures must be taken. Ensure that the heater is placed at a safe distance from the gazebo’s walls and ceiling to prevent fire hazards or damage to the structure.

Electric infrared heaters are generally safer for use under gazebos, as they don’t produce open flames or emit harmful gases. However, always consult the manufacturer’s guidelines for safe use and clearance distances before using a patio heater under a gazebo.

17- Can outdoor heaters be left out in the rain?

Leaving outdoor heaters in the rain is not advisable, as water can damage the heater’s components and pose a safety risk. Some patio heaters may have weather-resistant features, but it’s best to store the heater in a dry, sheltered location when not in use or during inclement weather.

Investing in a protective cover can help prolong the life of your patio heater and protect it from the elements as well as dust. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for care and maintenance to ensure the longevity and safe operation of your outdoor heater.

18- Is a 2000W heater better than a 1500W heater?

A 2000W heater will generally provide more heat than a 1500W heater, making it more suitable for larger outdoor spaces or colder conditions. However, the effectiveness of a patio heater also depends on factors such as heat distribution, efficiency, and the specific conditions of your outdoor area.

When choosing between a 2000W and a 1500W heater, consider factors like the size of your patio, the desired temperature increase, and the level of insulation or wind protection. Also, keep in mind that a higher-wattage heater will consume more electricity, which could result in higher energy costs.

19- What size patio will a 2000W heater heat?

A 2000W heater can effectively heat an outdoor space of approximately 60 -100 square feet. If the room is enclosed, a 2000W heater should heat a space of 200 to 250 square feet. 

The size of the room that can be heated will depend on factors such as insulation, ambient temperature, and heat distribution. Infrared heaters, known for their energy efficiency and targeted heating capabilities, can provide a comfortable level of warmth in such spaces.

20- Is it permissible to use natural gas patio heaters in all states, particularly in California, given the potential phasing out of natural gas usage?

While natural gas patio heaters are currently available for use in California, it’s essential to stay informed about changing regulations due to the state’s ongoing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. California has been considering phasing out natural gas in new buildings and encouraging the transition to cleaner energy sources, such as electricity.

As these policies develop, natural gas patio heaters may become less available or face restrictions in the future. It’s crucial to consult local regulations and stay updated on any changes to ensure compliance with the law. If you are concerned about the future availability of natural gas, you might consider alternatives like electric patio heaters, which are both energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.

21- What safety features should you look for when purchasing outdoor patio heaters?

When purchasing an outdoor patio heater, it’s essential to consider the safety features to ensure a secure and enjoyable outdoor experience. Here are some key safety features to look for:

  • Tip-over protection: This feature ensures that the patio heater automatically shuts off if it accidentally tips over, reducing the risk of fire hazards.
  • Flame failure device: For gas patio heaters, a flame failure device cuts off the gas supply if the flame goes out unexpectedly, preventing gas leaks and potential hazards.
  • Overheat protection: This feature automatically turns off the heater if it gets too hot, protecting the heater’s components and reducing fire risks.
  • Safety certifications: Look for patio heaters that have been tested and certified by recognized safety organizations, such as CSA (Canadian Standards Association), UL (Underwriters Laboratories), or ETL (Intertek). These certifications indicate that the heater meets specific safety standards.
  • Protective guards: Patio heaters should have protective guards around the heating elements to prevent accidental burns or contact with hot surfaces.
  • Secure base: A stable and secure base is essential to minimize the risk of the patio heater tipping over, particularly for freestanding models. Some heaters may also feature weighted bases or the option to anchor them for added stability.

By ensuring your outdoor patio heater has these safety features, you can create a comfortable and secure environment for your family and guests while enjoying your outdoor space.

Final Thoughts on Outdoor Patio Heaters

Outdoor patio heaters are a versatile and practical solution for extending the usability of your outdoor living spaces during colder months. By understanding the different types of patio heaters, their features, and their benefits, you can make an informed decision that best suits your needs. Check out further details in our Patio Heater Buyers Guide. Remember to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for safe operation and maintenance to ensure the longevity and safety of your patio heater. With the right patio heater, you can enjoy cozy, warm gatherings with friends and family all year round.


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