Do Patio Heaters Really Work?

The patio, or back porch, is the outdoor extension of your living space. Part living room, part backyard, all good vibes. When it’s chilly outside, you want to make the most of your favorite spot in the house. That’s where a good patio heater comes in. Patio heaters are worth the investment! Rather than using clumsy space heaters, live fire or multiple firepits, patio heaters allow you to control the heat for a cozy atmosphere outside. Whether you’re grilling or just chilling, a patio heater from will transform your deck or patio into your favorite “room” in the house.

How Patio Heaters Work?

There are two basic types of heating components that patio heaters use: fuel or electricity. Instead of forcing hot air out, like a space heater, patio heaters use radiant heat. Radiant heat travels through the air to keep you toasty warm. When browsing for patio heaters, look for the specifications in coverage in square feet and BTUs. The size of the heater you need for your space will depend on how large of an area you’re attempting to heat, and by how much you’re trying to raise the temperature.

To calculate how many BTUs you need, let’s use this example. A 10’ patio is 60° and you want to raise it to 70°, up to 8’ from the ground. This keeps you and your guest inside a “bubble” of warmth. You will need 800 cubic feet x 10 ° or 8,000 BTUs. An area of 20 square feet would need 64,000 BTUs to raise the temperature from 50°to 70°.

Keep in mind, that windy conditions change how temperature can feel. We recommend using wind protection to reduce the cooling effect of wind greater than 15 mph.

Types of Patio Heaters

Now that we know how patio heaters work, let’s discuss the differences between propane and electric patio heaters.

Propane Patio Heaters

Propane heaters are the King of outdoor heaters. Did you know that more than half of outdoor appliances use propane? Since propane heaters do not need installation, they can be set up anywhere. This makes propane heaters ideal for events, large patios and backyards.


  • Higher heating capacity than electric heaters
  • Can be set up virtually anywhere outdoors.


  • Propane is a constant expense and more expensive than running on electricity.

Electric Patio Heaters

Electric heaters’ cost of use lies somewhere between propane and natural gas. With zero emissions and no need to refill, electric heaters are the more ecofriendly patio heater. However, you are limited to placing an electric heater where you have outlets. Adding extension cords can get dangerous, especially on dark patios or lawns.


  • Cost as much as standard appliances to run.
  • Most ecofriendly patio heater option.


  • Need power source to run

Natural Gas Patio Heaters

Natural gas patio heaters are usually the least expensive patio heaters available. Once they’re installed, they have a constant supply of fuel. Since they run on natural gas, these heaters will need to be professionally plumbed and installed. This makes the initial cost higher than that of a propane or electric heater. Natural gas patio heaters are considered permanent fixtures.


  • Inexpensive to run.
  • Fuel supply is always available


  • Higher start-up cost.
  • Needs professional maintenance.
  • Permanent fixture.

What Size Patio Heaters Are Available?

Patio heaters are available in an array of shapes and sizes, but the most common style you’ll see is usually on the patio of your favorite restaurant. These full size freestanding units keep diners nice and warm so they can enjoy their meal in the fresh air. Table top patio heaters are also a popular choice, especially if you like to dine al fresco. Hanging heaters or wall heaters might suit a large, open patio best. Consider how you’ll be using your patio heater and that will also help you decide on size and style.

Patio Heater Safety

Each patio heater in our catalogue has been tested and selected for high quality and safety features. These safety features include tilt shut-off valves—just in case! There are no sparks or embers with patio heaters, making them extra safe to use around pets and children. As with any major appliance, reading the manual will help you understand all safety features and how to properly install. Proper planning is also key. When your new patio heater arrives, be sure to remove flammable materials from the immediate area, like blankets, overhanging plants, or dry wood. Safety first, always!

Are you ready to transform your patio into an outdoor living space? Go ahead and find your perfect patio heater by visiting our full catalogue. We also offer outdoor fireplaces and firepits to amp up the cozy factor.

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