The Best Patio Heaters: 2018 Buyers Guide

It is so very easy to get used to the comforting warmth of summer. Enjoying the soothing ambience of the outdoors from afternoons can be wonderful. Who wouldn’t want to do it every day?

Late into the fall and early into winter, this will become harder to enjoy, and may even become an impossibility in no time… unless you invest in an outdoor heater.

An outdoor heater extends your enjoyment of the outdoors well into any time of year. For a couple more months, you and any guests you may have can continue to take advantage of patio parties or a tête-à-tête without ending up with the shivers.

You have a few different options for keeping your patio nice and toasty on these cold days. This review will take a closer look at five top patio heater models with the aim to help you pick the best one for you.

Quick Take: The Best Patio Heaters

Here’s our top picks for the best patio heaters:

  1. Golden Flame 46,000 BTU (XL-Series) Matte-Mocha Patio Heater
  2. AmazonBasics Havana Bronze Commercial Patio Heater
  3. KingMys 1500W Remote controlled Carbon Infrared Indoor/Outdoor patio Heater

Read on to learn more about what to look for and what models will serve you best.

What to Look for in a Patio Heater

Where to begin when considering the best-for-needs in patio heaters in the market? Below are critical factors one ought to consider in any patio heater investment.

Area

Consider the size of your patio or outdoor area where the heater is to be installed. Is the area small, medium or large? Will you be using the heater on your patio, the front porch, on a small or large dining table, on your pool deck, or in a gazebo?

One of the most important things to remember is that although freestanding heaters (which is the most common type) may generate a lot of heat, patio heaters still work the best when situated in a covered outdoor area.

Power Source

What kind of power source do you prefer or would be most ideal for your heater needs? Electric, propane or natural gas?

For Propane Heaters, propane tanks are available to purchase in many local stores, and all you need to do is to connect the tank to the heating unit, turn on the valve, and ignite the element. The best outdoor propane heats will give off up to 10 hours of heating power for every 20 lb. tank.

Patio heaters powered by natural gas are best for users who have a natural gas line in their homes or facilities. Natural gas patio heaters are easier to use and prove to be more affordable than propane heaters because you will not need to purchase or swap out tanks periodically. You don’t need to worry about running out of fuel. However, where you can place the patio heater is limited by the proximity to your natural gas source.

Electric outdoor heaters are relatively more convenient since these do not require any form of fuel; they simply plug into a power outlet. Electric heaters are more portable as they are not weighed down by gas tanks nor are they limited by gas lines. However, electric heater units can run up your electric bill pretty quickly. And, yes, proximity to power outlets will likewise limit your installation possibilities.

Design

Freestanding patio heaters are the most common type of outdoor heaters. These freestanding units tend to be the biggest and most powerful models available. These heaters are usually between 7 and 8 feet tall and come in two general styles: tapered and pyramid.

Tapered patio heaters typically have a heavy base and a long shaft, with the heating element situated at the top covered by a small metal umbrella. Pyramid heaters, on the other hand, are triangular. The heating element is actually a flame inside a tube.

The best freestanding patio heaters will typically heat a radius of up to 9 feet. Bear in mind, though, that wind and other environmental conditions are factors affecting actual heat output.

Because freestanding patio heaters are typically powered by gas, they generate generous amounts of heat and are most suitable for medium-sized patios or pool decks. You can find a number of freestanding patio heaters fitted with wheels to make them easier to move around as needed. However, freestanding patio heaters tend to be heavier, too, and so it might take more people to move them around, even with wheels. They also tend to be more difficult to assemble. And because freestanding patio heaters are best suited for stationary outdoor use, one will likely need to invest in a cover to protect it from the elements, as well.

Wall-mounted electric patio heaters are your best bet if you have a small entertaining area. They let you leave floor space clear and uncluttered. These do not produce fumes and this makes them safe for places with small children and environment-friendly.

They’re also easy to power since you can connect them directly to your home’s wiring system. The best mounted patio heaters come with remote controls.

A tabletop patio heater is most convenient for heating small spaces. They can provide ample heat for guests around a small dining table of up to four or five people. Tabletop patio heaters may likewise provide extra decorative function. They are lightweight, portable, and typically stylish in design.

Hanging patio heaters give out a small amount of heat up to nine feet and are ideal for heating small enclosed spaces (like a porch or a gazebo). A hanging patio heater may need to be professionally installed or adeptly DIYed to the ceilings, rafters, or wooden beams. Hanging patio heaters are great for enclosed areas like garages or toolsheds and will not take up valuable floor space.

Finally, fire pit heaters look and function like conventional fire pits, but there is no need to gather and actually burn wood. Fire pit heaters can warm a central area nicely and add to your patio décor without the smoke from regular fire pits. However, you should expect that they are generally more expensive, much harder to move around and will require more maintenance than their smaller, more portable counterparts.

Portability

If portability or mobility is a consideration, there are several freestanding patio heaters that are fitted with wheels which make them easy to move around, giving you more flexibility with your entertaining needs in the space available.

Safety Features

Different types of patio heaters will feature various safety features and these should be top on your list of “Must Have”’s. One example is, for a freestanding patio heater, a built-in safety valve for the gas tank. This automatically shuts off the fuel supply if the heater unit is tilted or is knocked over.

The Aesthetics of a Patio Heater

Patio heaters are typically designed with either a smooth, stainless steel finish or the more common hammered bronze finish. The former tends to be pricier than the latter. Stainless steel-finished patio heaters are usually preferred by users with style demands (like fine dining al fresco restaurants or upscale resorts).

If you are setting up your patio heater in a place where you entertain guests or host gatherings, you might want to take a look at patio heaters that add to the theme or décor of the area. Many tabletop heaters are stylish and decorative. Fire pit heaters add a touch of Scandinavian or rustic design to your area. Some hanging heaters are designed like ceiling fans or they can look like elegant chandeliers that also cast a beautiful ambient glow. And because they are powered by electricity, you need not worry about fumes.

How Much Heat Can You Expect from a Patio Heater

If you are going with either a gas-powered freestanding or tabletop patio heater, then the amount of BTU’s generated becomes a major consideration. British Thermal Unit or BTU is a traditional unit of heat. It measures the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of 1 lb. of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit.

Small patio heaters (typically tabletop) can generate anything from 3,000 to 10,000 BTU’s, which will be sufficient for a small patio or a small table that fits about four to five persons. Larger, more powerful patio heaters like gas-powered freestanding units can generate more heat suited for a larger area. Around 38,000 BTU’s is ideal for small to medium-sized entertaining areas or patios. Anything from 48,000 to 58,000 BTU’s will be suitable for medium to large-sized patios or decks.

Fuel Sources and Effectiveness

Propane heaters are relatively easy to install on your patio or deck. They will usually not require professional installation, so it’s just a matter of assembly, attaching the gas tank, and turning them on. Propane-powered heaters heat up fast. They are typically portable or mobile – they can easily be moved to where you need it the most. However, propane costs more than natural gas and the gas tanks need to be replaced periodically. Propane heaters shouldn’t be used in covered or enclosed spaces.

Natural gas-powered heaters will usually require installation by professionals, since you’ll need them to be safely and effectively connected to your gas line. Because of this, natural gas patio heaters can cost quite a bit more upfront than other types of outdoor heaters. You’ll be paying for the unit itself and the installation services. However, in the long run they’re more cost-efficient to use once you have them installed and they’re incredibly easy to maintain. Bear in mind that natural gas-powered heaters are not ideal for covered or enclosed spaces.

Electric outdoor heaters are the popularly convenient option. With the exception of hanging and wall-mounted models, electric outdoor heaters will not require professional installation as these will simply plug in to an electric power source. The most inconvenience you may experience is having to keep your electric heater close to a power outlet. Electricity costs more than gas and wood in the longer run, but electric heaters are very easy to use and maintain. It’s the only type of outdoor heater that is safe to use in an enclosed or covered space.

Wood is a favorite choice for the atmosphere it provides. Fire pits and chimineas are popular for the ambience of sitting by a fire and the aroma of burning wood. They can be a little bit more difficult to ignite than other patio heater types however, especially on a windy day. Furthermore, you will be unable to regulate the amount of heat that is generated.  It requires more maintenance than your other mechanical heating options.

Safety Principles

All patio heaters, regardless of type or power source, need to be situated in a safe place, keeping them away from anything combustible. Keep awnings, parasols, trees and bushes at a safe distance from the heater, particularly if there is a breeze. Make sure that flammable materials are kept as far away from the heat source as possible.

Be careful to keep patio heaters away from buildings, too. Although heating up a stone or brick wall will not cause much problems, fittings like drain pipes, guttering, soffits or window frames may possibly get damaged. Most patio heaters give off direct heat. They heat objects rather than the air around them, so items near the heater will get hotter the longer the heater is on.

Quick Comparison Chart of the Best Patio Heaters

Product

Our Rating

Price

Golden Flame 46,000 BTU (XL Series) Matte-Mocha P​​​​atio Heater

AmazonBasics Havana Bronze Commercial Patio Heater 

KingMys 1500W Remote Controlled Carbon Infrared Indoor/Outdoor Patio Heater 

Fire Sense Hammer Tone Bronze Commercial Patio Heater 

Belleze 42,000 BTU Outdoor Pyramid Patio Heater 

Reviews of the Best Patio Heaters

Now we know that there are several things to consider before finally investing in the best outdoor heater for your needs. Patio size, power source, design, and safety features are but some of the top factors to look into. Here, we list some of the top alternatives available in the patio heaters market with their features, advantages, and benefits.

Golden Flame 46,000 BTU (XL Series) Matte-Mocha Patio Heater 

The Golden Flame 46,000 BTU (XL Series) Patio Heater features the Advanced “Pilotless” Burner System which eliminates the need for the disliked fuel-wasting, standing pilot of most other patio heaters. By eliminating the standing pilot, this patio heater is not vulnerable to the wind blowing out the pilot flame which would cause the heater to shut down.

The traditional thumb-aching, single-spark manual push-button igniter has been replaced with an easy-press, easy-start, “Rapid-Spark” ignition system.

An impressive 46,000 BTU’s of heat output makes the XL-Series one of the most powerful heaters on the market. The new XL-Series Patio Heaters from Golden Flame come standard with a Bottom Sand Reservoir (sand not included) which, when filled, adds 25 lbs. to the base of the heater. This provides stability and safety during windy conditions.

In the event the heater tips or is knocked over, the built-in Tilt-Switch will immediately shut the unit off. Convenient mobility wheels are also included. This model has been applauded for its easy assembly and the stylish color and finish allows it to blend very well in modern patio settings.

AmazonBasics Havana Bronze Commercial Patio Heater

The AmazonBasics Havana Bronze Commercial Patio Heater is a heavy-duty patio unit that offers 46,000 BTU’s heat output and can heat up a wide area of up to 18 ft. in diameter. This model features the user-friendly Piezo ignition system that gets it to power up with a simple push of a button.

The AmazonBasics Havana Bronze Commercial Patio Heater comes built with a safety auto-shutoff tilt valve and includes a Wheel Assembly for easy mobility.

This gas-powered patio heater delivers quiet, consistent heat without having to worry about smoke, fumes or open flames. This unit features a base reservoir system which can be filled with either water or sand for a secure, steady base weight.

A challenge on this model may be the incompatibility with larger propane tanks, with a slight difficulty in finding adapters.

KingMys 1500W Remote Controlled Carbon Infrared Indoor/Outdoor Patio Heater

The KingMys 1500W Remote Controlled Carbon Infrared Indoor/Outdoor Patio Heater heats silently with no fans or motors. This model is maintenance-free, safe, and clean. It does not generate carbon dioxide output as do typical propane or natural gas-powered heaters.

This electric patio heater delivers 1500 Watts of heating power and includes a remote control for 3 heat modes and timer. It comes with an easy-to-install universal wall/ceiling mounting bracket and a 6 ft. cord compatible with any standard 110-120V outlet. The package includes an offset adjustable pole that allows the heater to be freestanding.

The KingMys 1500W features Reflective heating technology that delivers direct warmth to the front of the heater unit and can heat up to a 9 ft. area.

This model has been called out for the noise it purportedly makes when operating. While it’s louder than many other units, however, it’s really no noisier than a quiet hair dryer.

Fire Sense Hammer Tone Bronze Commercial Patio Heater

The Hammer Tone Bronze Commercial Patio Heater is a powerful propane-powered patio heater, with a heat output of 46,000 BTU's. It comes in a beautiful dark bronze finish which gives it a decorative quality for any patio or deck. This heavy-duty unit features a Piezo ignition system. It’s also fitted with wheels for easy mobility.

It has been reported that this model is prone to a huge flare up upon ignition, but it could have been isolated, exceptional occurrences.

Belleze 42,000 BTU Outdoor Pyramid Patio Heater

The Belleze 42,000 BTU Outdoor Pyramid Patio Heater features a unique pyramid design by Belleze. The pagoda-shaped top casts a diamond pattern firelight across your patio.

Combining functionality and style, the heavy-duty propane-powered Belleze Pyramid Patio Heater delivers 42,000 BTU’s of heating power with variable control. With a simple turn of a knob, you can raise a column of flames behind the safety mesh panels. The hammered bronze finish is elegant and perfect for any modern patio or outdoor deck. It also features a safety tilt-shutoff valve.  

Conclusion

Patio heaters are now fast becoming a functional necessity rather than just a luxury in colder climates. Before a patio heater investment is finalized, one needs to seriously consider the size of the area, the power source, the design, and the safety controls of a heating unit.

 Hopefully, this review has reiterated to everyone that a functional, heavy-duty outdoor heater with all its ignition, heating, and safety features need not lose its aesthetic values.

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