If you’re in a hurry and just want to know our top outdoor heater, it’s the Mr. Heater Hero Forced Air Propane Heater.
During the cooler days of the year, such as spring and fall, it becomes hard to spend time outdoors because of the dropping temperatures. You may want to invest in an outdoor patio heater to enjoy your time outside without shivering. Patio heaters are great for homes and workplaces – they’re also great for when you’re entertaining guests or working on an outdoor project.
These are our top 5 best outdoor patio heater recommendations:
- Mr. Heater Hero Forced Air Propane Heater
- Thermo Tiki Outdoor Propane Patio Heater
- Fire Sense Hammer Tone Bronze Patio Heater
- Hiland HLDS01-GTSS Quartz Glass Tube Patio Heater
- SURJUNY Electric Wall-Mounted Indoor/Outdoor Patio
Features in Outdoor Patio Heaters to Look For
There are numerous heater options on the market today and to pick one that suits your needs, you should look at details like the size, fuel source, design, portability, and safety features of your patio heater.
The more British thermal units (BTUs) a heater has the better; meaning, you’ll get more heat for your money. However, you need to consider the size of the area you want to heat before making a decision. You need to get a heater with the correct number of BTUs in order to heat a space properly. Too many BTUs will overheat the space and increase the overall cost of heating, while too few BTUs will underheat the area. You can use the table below to make an estimate of how many BTUs you need.
|Area in Square Feet||Recommended BTUs||Corresponding Watts|
So an area of 100-200 feet will need about 9,000 or less BTU. The table above is a slightly higher estimate for BTUs because higher estimations ensure that your space is properly and sufficiently heated. We recommend that if you have a large area you use multiple space heaters and situate them at the corners of your perimeter, which will help evenly distribute heat.
There are three main types of fuel or energy sources for outdoor heaters: propane, natural gas, and electric. Your fuel source will depend on your needs and the area you want to heat.
Propane Patio Heaters
Propane heaters require you to buy a propane tank. These are easy to find in stores and even at gas stations. Connecting your heater to your propane tank is straightforward and easier than for natural gas. The benefits of propane are that it is much more portable and mobile than natural gas or electric.
On the downside, you have to buy propane gas tanks, store them in the proper temperature and ensure you have enough gas for your event. It’s best to always have a backup propane tank to use if you run out.
Natural Gas Patio Heaters
Natural gas is our favorite of the three choices. Most homes have access to this type of fuel through natural gas lines provided by the city. It’s likely the cheapest and most economical of the three options. However, you will need to position your heater quite close to your gas connection, which limits the heater’s portability.
Electric Patio Heaters
Electric patio heaters require an electric supply and keep your heating solution simple as most just require you to plug a cord into a power outlet. Electric heaters are quite portable but you will always need an extension cord or be in close proximity to a power outlet. You should try to keep the cord and heater in dry areas and ensure that you store the heater in an appropriate temperature when not in use as the rubber around the wire may shrink, burst or crack due to low or high temperatures.
There are four types of patio heaters: freestanding wall mounted, tabletop, and hanging. Examine the area you plan to use your heater and see what works best for you.
Freestanding Patio Heaters
As the name implies, these heaters stand by their own. They’re also called floor heaters and they’re good for general area heating. They usually use fuel which is stored in the base. These are tall and are aesthetically pleasing. You can easily move these around by lifting and carrying them whenever needed.
Wall Mounted Patio Heaters
If you want a heater that’s fairly stationary and out of the way, you can choose a wall mounted heater. Generally these are electric, produce no fumes, and great when there are small children around since they’re out of reach. You can easily change the settings with a remote control.
Tabletop Patio Heaters
If you have a table for entertainment or work, this heater sits right in the space you need to heat. For that reason, they use less power and are more efficient.
Hanging Patio Heater
Hanging heaters are good for gazebos and smaller spaces that you want to heat the area underneath or around, such as a porch. You would need a sturdy overhang or ceiling to the outdoor space. These are generally electric and easy to set up.
Portability & Other Considerations
Portability might be an important factor to consider in a heater before you buy. If you plan on using your outdoor heater far from a house where there is no access to a gas line, then you may want to use a propane gas heater or an electric heater with an extension cord. If you’re not close to an electric outlet at all, then a propane heater is the best solution for you. You will likely need to keep a backup gas tank with you if you’re going with propane though.
Other things to consider include the weight of the heater and any necessary accessories, if it has wheels, its size, and the length and durability of the cord. Generally, freestanding heaters will have wheels, but you will need to look at the height and width of the heater to ensure that it will fit in your space.
For hanging heaters, make sure that the place you intend to hang the heater can take its weight. The length of the cord is also important because you might need some extension wires if the cord is too short.
When buying a heater, especially a freestanding or tabletop heater ensure that there’s a safety tilt switch. This switch will automatically turn the fuel supply off in case the heater is tilted. If you have glass panels, make sure they’re cool touch glass so that no one gets burned if they touch it. The heater should also shut off automatically in the case it becomes overheated. This is a great mechanism that can prevent a fire.
Common Questions People Ask
How Much Heat Can I Expect from my Patio Heater?
This depends on the size/BTU of the heater. You can increase the heat by having multiple heaters around the area. You can also move the heater closer to you if needed, but generally this is only possible in freestanding and tabletop heaters.
How Much Does It Cost to Operate A Patio Heater?
This depends on how long you’re running the heater. Natural gas is cheaper than propane generally, especially if the area you want to heat has natural gas supply. Electric is cheaper when there is no natural gas supply in the area. Propane can get expensive because you need to buy propane tanks and will likely have backup tanks as well.
Should I use Propane or Kerosene?
We suggest using a propane heater because kerosene has an off-putting smell that can get into your clothes. Propane has no smell and is easier to find in stores. It’s also cheaper than kerosene.
Can I use a Patio Heater Indoors or in my Garage?
We do not suggest using a propane or natural gas heater inside an enclosed space such as a garage. This is because these heaters can give off carbon monoxide which is poisonous. You never want to use an outdoor heater inside. However, if you’re using an electric heater you don’t have to worry about this.
You do want to keep any heat away from flammable gases that you store in your garage, such as gasoline. These gases release fumes which you want to keep away from being overheated, since this could lead to a fire. You also have to keep the area surrounding your heater open and free of items, which is usually difficult in an area such as a garage. Overall, we don’t recommend it.
Where Can I Use my Patio Heater?
You’ll want to use your heater on an even surface like concrete rather than grass. You can use an outdoor heater on your patio, gazebo, backyard, porch, covered porch, and deck. It’s better to choose a well-ventilated area when using any gas heaters. You never want to use your outdoor heater inside or in an enclosed space.
Our Top Outdoor Heater Choices
The Thermo Tiki Propane Patio Heater is highly durable against harsh climates due to its fade, rust, and corrosion resistant finish. It has 38,000 BTU, meaning it can easily service about 600 square feet. Its safety features include an automatic shut off valve in the case of a tilt, as well as a few other safety features. Its wheels paired with the propane fuel means that its highly portable.
One drawback to this heater is during windy days, it gives off less heat.
This Fire Sense outdoor heater has 46,000 BTU output, so it can heat up around 800 square feet of area. This is highly mobile as it has wheels and runs on propane gas. The coating is high grade powder steel, which means its durable even in unseasonable conditions. Its main safety feature is the tip over protection system, which reduces the overall fire hazard.
One drawback is that it is not stable, and you might need to weigh it down with sandbags or something heavy during windy days. It is also on the pricier end of the spectrum.
This Hiland 40,000 BTU outdoor standing heater is propane fueled and has a stainless steel finish. This is one of the most aesthetically pleasing standing heaters on the market, which will make your patio look great. It also has some great safety mechanisms, like its auto-tilt shut off system. It’s highly mobile since it’s propane fueled and has wheels.
One of the drawbacks is that you may need more than one of these to heat a larger space.
This SURJUNY wall mounted heater is an electric indoor/outdoor heater. It heats the space directly in front of it. It’s waterproof and has a power and timer remote control, which means you can easily change the settings anytime. It’s 1500 watts (approximately 5,100 BTU) and only 6 pounds, meaning you can mount it to an indoor living room wall.
A drawback to the SURJUNY electric heater is that you need to be close to it to feel the heat. If you’re using it outdoors, the wind may take away some of the heat, requiring you to move closer.
This small, indoor/outdoor Mr. Hero propane heater is our top choice when it comes to both patio and industrial heating for HVAC work. In fact, this is our go-to heater and the one we’ve owned for years and we highly recommend it, as it’s useful for rooftop work as well as backyard work.
On a low setting, this heater can run up to 14 hours with a 20-lb propane tank, and it comes with a 12v lead acid battery as well, meaning you can definitely use it for at least a full day’s work in the frigid cold. It has a high BTU range of 30,000-60,000 BTU and heats up to 1500 square feet, which is quite a lot.
There’s no cable to worry about, so you can use it anywhere and its highly portable. It’s 40% less noisy than other heaters of this variety, which is important. If you’re looking for something heavy-duty, the Mr. Heater is it.
One drawback to this heater is that it is unidirectional, which is only a problem if you need to heat opposite sides of an area. Another issue that comes up with this heater is that the hose can get stiff in super cold weather.
There’s clearly a lot to consider when purchasing an outdoor patio heater, but hopefully this guide made your choice easier. There are different fuel sources and different designs for outdoor heaters and are built for different needs.
Our top pick is the Mr. Heater Hero Forced Air Propane Heater. We’ve used ours for years and it’s got a great range of heat, going up to 60,000 BTU. It’s highly portable and great for a variety of uses. It’s safe and uses both battery and odorless propane, which means you likely won’t run out of heat when you need it the most. Most importantly, it keeps an area full of heat.