Patio Heater Buying Guide

Patio heater is a device which is used for outdoor use in order to create heat radiant in a circular way to heat up a preferred location. It is very useful for those home owners who like to spend more time on their patio and the hotels or restaurants that have their seating capacity expanded outdoors. We all know the effects of cold winter and no one would like to freeze outside. For this particular reason, in order to make the people feel Paradise outdoors even during cold weather, the patio heaters are used. There are varieties of patio heaters available at the market and a buyer can easily get confused. Our motive is to help you with some useful guidelines that would be helpful while choosing a patio heater. Here are some common factors that one can consider;

Location of use

Before choosing the patio heater it is very important to consider the weather of the location where it is to be installed. Patio heaters work best in mild weather conditions. For colder climatic area you might need multiple heaters for enough amount of warmth. Some patio heaters won’t work and would be risky if the area is too windy. Due to wind, the patio heater can encounter tipping issue, especially if the unit is light. For areas where there is likely to be strong wind blows, it’s best to choose a heavy patio heater in order to avoid tilting. Rain is also another element that can highly affect the heater. For areas where it rains frequently, you would like to consider going for a patio heater with corrosion resistant feature, so that the outer look of the heater doesn’t get spoiled due rusting.

Mounting Style

When you are selecting a patio heater always remember to make sure the type of heater you want according to mounting style. When referred to the type of mounting, there are four types of patio heaters;

  • Portable: These are the full sized heaters with no fixed gas or fuel line. Most of those have built-in compartment for installing fuel tanks. This type of heater is able to spread warmth about 20 ft diameter range. The best part about the portable patio heater is that it can be moved around according to the area of the heat needed.
  • In-ground: These patio heaters are designed full-sized like portable model but these are fixed and stable and can produced larger radius of heat. This type of model is best for commercial use.
  • Table-top: These are small and are able to radiate heat around a small circle range. Most of the table-top patio heaters have built-in compartment at the base for fuel tanks. These are inexpensive and also portable. The table-top patio heater can be placed on top of a table.
  • Ceiling mount: The ceiling mount models are quite a different innovation. Most of these run on natural gas hooked to those. This type of patio heater is designed to be permanently installed on the ceiling of a fixed settlement. If you have very less space for table-top or full-sized models, then the ceiling mount model is a perfect choice as it can provide the same amount of warmth and comfort like other types. These can be used only on outdoors with established ceilings.

Type of fuel

The type of fuel the patio heater runs on is a necessary factor to be considered. You would like to purchase a heater that uses a fuel which is affordable and abundant. Basically patio heaters are designed to run on three types of fuel;

  • Propane: Patio heaters that run on propane are easy to use and moveable. The propane fuel tanks are placed within the unit, so no external setup and installation for fuel tank is necessary. Though the propane fueled patio heaters need no cost of fuel tank installation, but the fuel is less abundant and much pricier, which can be very expensive for daily use.
  • Natural gas: Patio heaters running on natural gas are inexpensive and the fuel is abundant and easily affordable at very lower price than propane. However, for using the heater that runs on natural gas, the fuel tank must be plumbed professionally. The patio heaters of this type must be installed and used with extra care as there is a higher risk of fire accidents.
  • Electric: Patio heaters that run on electricity are environmental friendly as they don’t emit any gas of their own. The cost is average and runs efficiently. It produces efficient heat. Electric patio heaters are also cleaner and safer. Professional installation is necessary as the voltage and wiring must be taken care of. Electric patio heaters are much better than fueled patio heaters.

Most of the patio heaters are designed to run on any of the three fuels, but there is also some high quality and expensive models that have been designed with optional fuel usage for user convenience and can run on more than one type of fuel.

Power rating

Power rating is also a vital factor as it indicates the range of heat that will be radiated. It is very important for you to know the amount of power you require or up to how much broad diameter range you need your patio heater to radiate heat. The power rating of a patio heater is expressed in British Thermal Units or BTUs. The more is the BTUs rating of the patio heater, the larger range will it be able to spread the warmth. There is a simple way to calculate the BTU required for a particular area; BTU equals to the cubic feet of the area multiplied by the amount of temperature desired to be raised. All you need to know is the measurement of the location and temperature comparison. You can select the heater according to the required range.

Material and construction

Most of the patio heaters are made from steel material. A good material determines the durability of the unit. The high quality units are made from stainless steel, which are designed to withstand the various weather elements. Though almost all the patio heaters are made of steel but it depends on the quality and price. Some of the cheaper units have few parts made of low quality aluminum. For portable heaters, the size of the base varies widely and so is the diameter of the pole.

All the patio heaters have a dome construction. Some have large and some small. Most have single dome construction, but some have double-dome or triple-dome construction, which protects from heavy wind. You would want to consider the dome in case the location is windy and if strong wind blows frequently.


There are many portable patio heaters that are too heavy to carry around; especially those propane fueled units are heavier ones. Models like the in-ground patio heaters are designed to be installed permanently and don’t allow the user to carry around. Portability of the heater should be considered if you need to move the heater frequently to different places. You can go for a lighter unit.

Installation and use

Most of the patio heaters require two people for installation, despite the assurance offered by the manufacturers. Setting up the complicated heater alone can be very problematic. If you are likely to assemble and install the unit all by yourself more often, without the help of a second person then you can consider choosing a patio heater with simple construction and easy to assemble.

Ignition feature must also be considered, as using the patio heater can be much difficult if the ignition process is not easy. Most of the models come with an ignition feature that needs to form sparks in order to interact with the fuel. Only few of the high quality patio heaters have push button ignition feature and automatic feature.

Safety traits

As patio heaters deal with high amount of heat and vulnerable fuel, you would also like to consider a patio heater with some safety features. Patio heaters come varieties of safety features such as automatic on-off switch in order to avoid overheating of the unit, automatic tipping shut-off feature that shuts the device off in case the patio heater tilts, in order to prevent accidental fires, and many other features like shut off switch that protects the device from severe weather, tipping resistant construction, heat adjustment feature and many more. You can select a featured patio heater according to the liability. Safety features provides the user a feeling of security and will let you have a worry free relaxation time.


For further considerations, there are many more factors such as, how safe the unit is, the durability, design and shape and other accessories included with the particular patio heater. For better knowledge, you can also seek advice from a sensible experienced friend. Keeping all the considerations in mind, you can select the best one out of the hundreds of models available out there. Whatever your budget is, just go for the highest quality patio heater which is affordable at your estimated budget.