How to Decide: Patio Heater VS Firepit

When updating your outdoor space, the big question is how to keep the area warm and safe while also keeping costs down? Whether you’re looking to update your home patio or your business’ outdoor area, there are two main options for heating a patio: patio heaters and firepits.

When temperatures drop, having an outdoor heating source means everyone can enjoy the outdoors longer without a fireplace, which can be expensive, or digging a massive firepit which can be messy, dangerous, and expensive. Let’s take a look at patio heaters and firepits individually to see which fits your needs the best.

Patio Heater or Firepit?

Take your patio or backyard to the next level with these tips.

Patio Heaters

93'' Exige Stainless Steel Deluxe Patio Heater
The 93” Exige Stainless Steel Deluxe Patio Heater

Patio heaters are commonly used at events and outdoor sections of restaurants, since they are capable of heating a large area at once. Patio heaters use either fuel or electricity. Patio heaters are safe to use around children and pets; there are no flying sparks or embers. Safety features like automatic shut off, are key. Low maintenance and quick heating, patio heaters are an ideal choice for anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors year-round.

Some models are safe for tent and garage usage, for parties and events, but not all. The most common style of patio heater is pole style, but other styles include wall mounted, table top, and flame heaters.

Pros of Patio Heaters

  • Versatile—excellent for commercial or home use
  • Safe to use around children and pets
  • Temperature control
  • Warms large area
  • No embers or sparks
  • Low maintenance & quick heat
  • Easy to Move
  • Certain Models Approved for Garage/Tent Use

Cons of Patio Heaters

  • Limited design choices
  • Commercial appearance
  • Require fuel or power source
  • Cords create trip hazard
  • Propane fuel is constant expense
  • Not a significant light source

For more tips on patio heaters, check out our Patio Heater Buying Guide!

Fire Pits

Let’s say you want something cozier, more intimate than a patio heater. On a smaller patio, or in the backyard, a firepit fits the bill. As an alternative to expensive in-ground firepits, or open fires, a contained firepit offers everything in warmth, light, and flame, plus the safety and assurance you need. Imagine toasting marshmallows, making memories, and staying warm on chilly nights as you chat with friends and family.

Firepits can use different types of heat sources, including propane, coal, and wood. Some models even include electric ignition for easy-start fires.

Unlike patio heaters, fire pits are available in a wide variety of styles from table fire pits to bowls to sculptural pieces, rustic, modern, and everything in between. To create a certain aesthetic, look for firepits with colorful fire glass. Your backyard will become a magical playland. Transform your city balcony into a mini escape with a mini firepit. Add a firepit to your lakeside home for that comfy country atmosphere, or stack driftwood at the beach for relaxing seaside. Get that campfire feel with extra safety and less mess to clear up. Firepits provide a small circle of warmth, ideal for warming chilly hands and toasting snacks. If you need a big area of warmth, consider a patio heater, instead. As with any live fire, extra caution needs to be taken with fire pits. Mesh covers can help with leaping sparks. Children and pets should always be supervised around firepits.

Pros of Outdoor Fire Pits

  • Plentiful design options
  • Warmth and light for entertaining
  • Roasting Capability
  • Inexpensive alternative to in-ground firepit
  • Can be moved easily
  • Less mess than campfires

Cons of Outdoor Fire Pits

  • Danger of sparks and embers
  • Limited heat range
  • Open flames
  • Minimal temperature control
  • Require fuel source—propane, coal, or wood
  • Cannot be used indoors

Now that you’ve got a good idea about both patio heaters and fire pits, which do you think will work best for your outdoor space? Browse our full collection to find more inspiration, including outdoor fireplaces. With the addition of a heater or firepit, your back porch will become an outdoor living space you’ll be proud to show off. Invite friends over for a night of star gazing, s’mores, and games, and you’ll be set.

Have questions about outdoor heating options or our patio heaters? Contact our sales team, we’re available seven days a week!

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