How to Choose an Outdoor Patio Heater
Expert Advice

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Don’t let the cold weather prevent you from enjoying your backyard outdoor entertainment space. Instead, get an outdoor patio heater. These appliances extend the backyard BBQ season and provide an ambience that is welcome by all.  Most patio heaters are designed to warm the immediate area and some even have wheels for easy mobility. We’ve put together some things to consider as you pick the right outdoor patio heater  essential for your backyard space.

Outdoor Heating Area

One of the first questions you need to ask is what is the size of your backyard area that you want heated. This determines the BTUs needed to heat the space. One patio heater is probably enough to heat 1,500 to 2,000 square feet of covered space. In an uncovered space, expect a freestanding patio heater to warm a 20-foot diameter space.

Outdoor Heater Fuel Type

Next, you need to determine what type of fuel you want to use for your heater. This decision plays a major role in which outdoor heater you select since some fuel types have specific installation requirements.

Natural Gas Patio Heaters

Patio heaters fueled by natural gas are often pricier than propane versions, but they are easier to maintain. If you already have natural gas piped into your home, then it’s probably the best fuel option. Keep in mind the placement of your outdoor heater and the distance from the gas main. This will play a large role in how much pressure the gas lines will need.

Natural gas patio heaters are more widely available as standing units. They are not as portable because they must remain connected for operation. These are best for larger and more open outdoor areas, so the fumes have space to safely dissipate.

Propane Patio Heaters

Propane patio heaters tend to put out more heat than electric heaters—about eight times as many BTUs on average. This radiant heat does more to warm the ambient air, instead of heating you directly. These are convenient and portable options for many patios since operation is not tied into a natural gas line.

These models use 20-pound propane tanks paired with freestanding or tabletop units. Freestanding units are great for outdoor spaces of all sizes and are easily moved as needed. The tabletop units are ideal for dining tables and patio sets, designed to heat smaller surface areas. Propane cylinders are hidden from sight and located in the base of the heater.

Electric Patio Heaters

Electric patio heaters offer efficiency, portability and are extremely eco-friendly. Electric patio heaters that operate below 1500 watts can sometimes be plugged straight into a standard, 120-volt circuit. Some may require hardwiring into their own circuit. If you are installing multiple outdoor heaters, they can be controlled from the same circuit.

Infrared heaters release energy using infrared rays. The energy is absorbed by people and objects nearby, then dispersed to keep temperatures warm and comfortable. This quickly and efficiently warms your outdoor space without using excess electricity.


Patio heaters are an essential accessory for extending the use of your outdoor space during the cooler months. Just imagine how warm and cozy your guests will be after finding just the right outdoor patio heater for your backyard gatherings.