It’s nice, isn’t it?
That’s because it’s one of our most basic needs and essential to the existence of us humans.
And while summer is the best time of year to get this particular need met, it can still get cool when the sun goes down.
Popular in beer gardens the world over, you can also have this little slice of luxury in your own home. So, I’ve put together a list of the best outdoor patio heaters on the market.
A buyer’s guide and FAQ section will follow to cover all the bases of buying the ultimate backyard comfort.
Or, you could just put on a warm sweater – the choice is yours.
- 13 Best Outdoor Patio Heaters 2020
- 1500W Free Standing Infrared Electric Patio Heater
- Versonel Electric Infrared Heater VSLWMH100
- Legacy Heating Table Top Gas Patio Heater
- Dr. Infrared Heater 1500W Carbon Infrared Heater
- Hiland HLI-1P Electric Parasol Patio Heater
- FDW Outdoor Patio Propane Heater
- Star Patio Electric Patio Heater
- AmazonBasics Commercial Outdoor Patio Heater
- Black and Stainless Steel Natural Gas Patio Heater
- Hiland Pyramid Patio Propane Heater
- QSTOVES Outdoor Wood Pellet Patio Heater
- Whiskey Barrel Propane Gas Patio Heater
- Sorrento C-Line Propane Patio Heater
- How to Choose the Best Outdoor Patio Heater
13 Best Outdoor Patio Heaters 2020
1500W Free Standing Infrared Electric Patio Heater
Let’s start with a simple, free-standing electric heater that is offered at a seriously budget-friendly price, especially when you consider just how expensive patio heaters can get.
This tall infrared model can be used internally or externally as it generates variable heat of up to 1500 Watts. Less expensive than a propane version, it offers three heat settings, can be adjusted to a maximum of 79-inches in height and is fully CSA certified.
Safety bars are included and automatic overheat protection ensures you don’t have to worry about it ever burning anything up – if you use it as intended, that is.
- Unbeatable price.
- Durable, aluminum construction.
- Smart, black finish.
- Highly portable.
- Not as powerful as other entries in the review.
- A remote control would have been nice.
Versonel Electric Infrared Heater VSLWMH100
For the most part, at the budget end of the outdoor patio heating world, you’ll find electric, wall-mounted versions. This model also won’t break the bank if you’re just looking to add a little warmth to proceedings in a smaller area.
Ideal for covered indoor or outdoor environments, it includes an easy-to-install universal wall and ceiling mount, with a six-foot cord for a standard 110-volt outlet.
Save up to 30-40% on electricity compared to a normal heater, and the safe operation will give you peace of mind with no odors, chemicals, or fumes when in use.
- Budget friendly.
- Lightweight unit.
- Perfect for spot heating.
- 10,000 hour lifespan.
- Limited range.
- Uses a lot of energy.
- Will give out eventually.
- No remote control.
Legacy Heating Table Top Gas Patio Heater
Next up is this table-top version of the more familiar outdoor patio heaters – which you’ll no doubt see more of as we progress further into the review.
This compact design is fully portable, standing at a maximum of 38-inches tall, with a heat output of 11,000 BTUs. For safety, it includes anti-tilt devices so you won’t accidentally knock it over, and the base is weighted for extra stability.
The heater uses a one-pound propane tank (which is sold separately) and will look attractive and stylish in any outdoor setting. And even if it doesn’t, you can always move it somewhere else easily.
- Highly portable.
- Choice of two finishes.
- Adjustable control.
- Burner screen guard.
- Short running time.
Dr. Infrared Heater 1500W Carbon Infrared Heater
Suitable for outdoor and indoor installation, here we have a 1500 Watt infrared heater that comes with a wall or ceiling mount so you can attach it somewhere that best suits your heating needs. It’s constructed with durable, weatherproof aluminum.
Offering safe, clean, and odorless infrared warmth, the heater also comes with a remote control for variable heat settings, so you’re not inconvenienced when it needs adjusting from the comfort of your chair.
Ideal for a garage workshop to keep you toasty when the temperature drops, this is a good option for strong, localized heating.
- Solid, anodized construction.
- Three heat settings.
- Affordable price.
- You might need more than one – depending on the size of the space.
- Limited range.
Hiland HLI-1P Electric Parasol Patio Heater
This Hiland electric heater is designed for umbrellas. No, not the kind you use on your commute to keep the rain off, but the larger parasol-style shades that are part of outdoor furniture sets.
You simply slide the support pole through the central hole and hook the heater onto the runner. Once there, the fan-style three burners will give you variable temperature control of up to 1500 Watts, it’s IP certified to be waterproof, and it can fold down when not in use.
The unit will heat up to 15 square feet, so anyone lucky enough to be sitting under this parasol is going to remain nice and toasty.
- Instant heat.
- Easy to install.
- Indoor and outdoor use.
- Durable, stainless steel construction.
- You really need to be in close proximity to feel the benefit.
FDW Outdoor Patio Propane Heater
Here we have the first of our more recognizable, free-standing, propane patio heaters – the likes of which you’ve no doubt encountered in bars and restaurants before.
Bring that ambiance to your home with this model that offers a generous 41,000 BTU heat output, with a 20 lbs gas tank (not included) that will keep you and your squad warm for hours.
CSA-certified, it’s made from a tough, durable stainless steel that is corrosion and rust-proof, with a good range of heat that you will feel from around five feet away. The wheel assembly makes it easy to move and position and the auto shut-off ensures it will automatically power down when the gas runs out.
- Excellent heat strength.
- Patio fixings included.
- Attractive bronze finish.
- Lasts 10 hours on a 20lbs tank.
- It’s quite large and bulky.
Star Patio Electric Patio Heater
This ceiling patio heater can be used indoors or out – providing, of course, you have something suitable to attach it to.
It offers two power settings of 600/1500 Watts and can heat up to 12 square feet when used as directed. Safe and environmentally friendly, the halogen tube design gives 360-degree heat with the pull of a string cord, with up to 8000 hours of efficient life.
The durable steel construction is fully weatherproof and dust resistant, and the unit produces a snug 5100 BTUs of heat output. Ideal for use all around the home, this is a versatile heating lamp that you can use wherever you need it the most.
- Easy to assemble.
- Quiet operation.
- All fixing hardware included.
- No use without overhead support.
- Not as powerful as gas.
AmazonBasics Commercial Outdoor Patio Heater
AmazonBasics is always a popular choice so it was hard not to include their version of a propane outdoor patio heater – especially when it comes so highly recommended.
Coated with a durable powder-finish, this simple but effective unit offers a heating output of 46,000 BTUs, stands at 89-inches tall, and comes with a safety auto shut-off tilt valve that will kill the fuel supply if the heater breaks a certain angle.
The base has built-in wheels to provide maximum portability, and you can easily move the heater where it’s most required. But perhaps best of all, is it’s available in a choice of color options – so you can suit your heater to your particular patio aesthetic.
- Great price for what you get.
- Piezo ignition.
- Durable construction.
- Very highly rated.
- It’s at the budget end of propane outdoor patio heaters – and that might be obvious to some.
Black and Stainless Steel Natural Gas Patio Heater
Now here we have an example of a natural gas patio heater, which offers some great advantages over propane versions.
Featuring a built-in safety valve should the unit ever be tipped over, this beautifully designed, stainless steel heater produces 41,000 BTUs of output, which is ample for covering a maximum 15-foot radius.
It stands at a height of 85-inches in total and comes with four ground-mounting brackets for permanent installation if you so wish. You’ll never need to replace a propane tank again, but it’s advisable that you get a professional in if you don’t know what you’re doing around your house gas supply.
- Push button ignition.
- Attractive, durable construction.
- Adjustable thermostat.
- Unlimited power supply.
- Professional installation advised.
- Will significantly increase your gas bill.
Hiland Pyramid Patio Propane Heater
Here we have an example of the more refined and stylish patio heaters, this one standing at 87 inches tall with a hammered silver finish.
Popular in cafés, restaurants, and bars across the world, pyramid heaters are significantly more attractive than free-standing propane versions, with their enticing central flame that will provide your patio with a warm and welcoming ambiance you just don’t get with other versions.
Boasting a heat output of 40,000 BTUs, a two-piece glass quartz design, wheels on the base for added portability, and safety auto shut off tilt valve to prevent accidents, this model has plenty of features to back up its beautiful and enticing look.
- Stylish design.
- Easy access door.
- CSA approved.
- Ambient light.
- The heat range is limited.
- They don’t come cheap.
QSTOVES Outdoor Wood Pellet Patio Heater
Now for something slightly different when it comes to fuel sources. This is a wood pellet patio heater, that has all the benefits of electric or gas-powered units, and none of the downsides.
Offering three times the heat of a regular patio heater with a maximum of 106,000 BTUs of output, the figures certainly are impressive.
Detachable sections make it easy to transport – meaning you can load it up on your next car camping trip for a luxury outdoor experience, and it’s even available with a grill for cookouts.
No fans, no fumes, and no pricey propane required, this is an eco-friendly, cost-effective patio heater that will give you peace of mind while keeping cash in your pocket.
- Easy to assemble and operate.
- Green operation.
- Tough, durable construction.
- No smoke output.
- Attractive ambiance.
- Sustainable fuel.
- Very expensive.
Whiskey Barrel Propane Gas Patio Heater
If you’re really concerned with aesthetics and you don’t want a tall, unsightly steel heater ruining the view of your well-designed patio and garden, then perhaps this is the product for you?
Made to look like a large whiskey barrel, it will add a unique look and feel to your outdoor space – as well as being practical.
Boasting an excellent 43,500 BTUs of heat output, the stainless steel burn system is built to last, with integrated storage for a standard 20 lbs propane tank. The magnesium oxide construction provides years of weather-resistant durability, and the glass firestone finish adds an attractive ambiance that really makes it pop.
- Beautiful flame effect.
- Electronic piezo lighting system.
- Conversation starter.
- A must if you like whiskey.
- It’s not cheap.
- Some issues with the ignition lighter.
Sorrento C-Line Propane Patio Heater
Let’s end on another propane patio heater that smacks of style and class, with this stunning bronze cantilever model that has been beautifully designed.
With a solid steel structure and weighted base for safety and stability, the seven-foot, arching cantilever arm allows you to manipulate where you want the heat to go. That heat runs up to 32,000 BTUs which will last 12 hours with a 20 lbs propane tank, and cover approximately 144 square feet of patio space.
It feels expensive, it looks expensive – and it is expensive, but this is the Cadillac of patio heaters if ever there was one.
- Touch to start ignition.
- Large coverage area.
- Attractive design.
- Versatile head positions.
- Built to last.
- Outrageous price.
How to Choose the Best Outdoor Patio Heater
There’s a lot to consider before purchasing a patio heater – especially if it’s your first time. Below you can find a helpful buyer’s guide to point you in the right direction.
This is what you should be looking out for.
Unless it’s a balmy 80 degrees, you’re starting a fire, or wearing several layers of clothes, to have heat outdoors you’re going to need some kind of power source.
Pulling the strings behind outdoor patio heaters will be one of three types.
Electric heaters – are usually budget-friendly options (at least, initially). They’re also more eco-friendly, giving off zero emissions, fumes, and odors, and with a near-silent operation.
However, they don’t provide nearly as much heat as their gas counterparts and can be costly to run overtime. They also won’t last as long and will give out eventually, usually after 8-10,000 hours of use or so.
Propane heaters – using a canister of liquid gas, propane heaters are more portable than electric versions, and more powerful with it. They’re very easy to use, with a tank sitting in the base of the heater.
The downside is that canisters need regular replacement as a 20 lbs tank will last around 10 hours, give or take. This is where they can be costly – as well as not being the most healthy for the environment.
Natural gas heaters – are connected to a natural gas line, which means they are more permanent installations than the previous two options. Once in place (and providing you pay the bills on time), you have a constant supply of fuel that never runs out.
Unless you’re confident in fooling around with gas lines, you’ll need to have a professional installation, and set up can be costly.
Wood patio heaters/stoves are also available, but they’re not as common and are usually much more expensive for a good quality version.
Size and Style
Patio heaters come in all shapes and sizes, and you should pick the one that is right for you which will fit into your patio vision.
Wall or ceiling mounted heaters are nearly always electric. They can be easy to set up and install and are useful for smaller areas.
Table-top heaters are super portable and convenient, but some might find they obstruct the view and get in the way of conversation.
Standing heaters are best for heating larger areas – but they’re nearly always more expensive than any other option, although offering decent portability.
And of these different varieties, you can get all kinds of designs and visual looks so you can be sure to find one that won’t look out of place in your yard.
How far the heat will travel is very important when choosing the best patio heater – as you’ll want to ensure that you and all your guests aren’t left out in the cold.
Typically, outdoor patio heaters will have a range of anywhere that’s less than five feet, to upwards of 20.
Before purchasing, make sure that your chosen heater is capable of heating the space you’re buying it to heat. When you’re entertaining, think about how many people on average will be coming over – and what you need to keep them comfortable.
For heating other spaces, such as a workshop or garage, take into consideration the size of that space before purchasing.
As a rule of thumb, the bigger the range, the larger and more expensive the heater – and the more power you’ll need to operate it.
And speaking of entertaining, I do hope you’ve managed to clear your patio or driveway of weeds before inviting the guests round.
Check out the best weed killers for driveways if you still have some pesky vegetation poking through where it’s not wanted.
When it comes to outdoor patio heaters, the heat output is also very important, and it will give you an indication both of the range of the unit, and how warm you’re likely to feel standing within its toasty reaches.
The temperature of patio heaters is measured in BTUs – British Thermal Units. One BTU can heat one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.
This number should be listed somewhere on the product description of the heater. The higher the number, the hotter/warmer the output of the device.
Check out the video below for a more detailed – and humorous explanation on this measurement system.
Like any product worth its salt these days, there’s usually a whole host of other features incorporated – some of which can be useful, some not so useful.
Outdoor patio heaters are no different, and some or all of these extras might come with the model that you choose in the end – so keep a look at that to see which you would find the most useful.
- A safety shutoff that can be switched to instantly cut the fuel supply and kill the heat.
- Tip-over shutoff technology that will do the same thing if the unit somehow moves past a certain angle.
- A thermocouple that switches off the gas automatically should the flame be extinguished – designed to prevent gas leakages.
- Wheels that allow for easy transport and improved portability around your patio or yard.
- The ability to be used indoors or outdoors – always check to make sure where it is safe to use before installing.
- Adjustable heating levels.
- A remote control for the ultimate in lazy, care-free operation.
- A protective cover for when not in use. If it doesn’t already come with one – it’s a good idea to pick on up. Check out this waterproof cover (link to Amazon.com) as a great example.
Patio heaters don’t come cheap, and you have to bear that in mind whether it be the initial payment for the device itself, the startup cost, or the running cost – you will likely be parting with a pretty penny over time.
It’s always worth spending a little more initially – in order to get the most efficient, cost-effective model you can.
And remember to suit the model you choose to the size of the space – there’s no need to blow the bank on a restaurant-standard outdoor heater if it’s overkill for the square footage you need to cover.
Do outdoor patio heaters really work?
Yes, is the short answer. If you’ve ever been outdoors at a bar or restaurant when the sun goes down, and they turn these babies on – you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Providing, of course, that you get one powerful enough to heat the space you need it for.
Many complaints and bad reviews stem from customers not taking this into consideration properly after purchasing a match in an attempt to heat an aircraft hangar.
Are outdoor patio heaters safe?
Patio heaters are perfectly safe – so long as you make sure your chosen model comes with relevant safety features, and is passed by a third-party evaluator and has been deemed fit for use in North America (or in your own country if you happen to be elsewhere).
Additionally, a heater will only remain safe if correct operating procedures are adhered to, so make sure you are installing and using the device in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
How much does a patio heater cost?
It depends on the type of heater. Electric models tend to be less expensive, usually starting around the $60 mark.
Propane gas heaters will set you back anywhere from around $100 to over $1000 – sometimes more.
Running costs vary, and you should seriously research this for the long term – so you know you can afford to keep it over time.
Can you put a patio heater under a covered porch?
I would err on the side of caution and use a patio heater that has been deemed safe for use undercover.
Some of the free-standing patio heaters emit quite a lot of heat and it’s a risk that it could melt – or even set fire to – anything overhead.
Don’t forget that a propane patio heater requires adequate ventilation for safe operation.
With these thoughts in mind, it’s better to use this type of heater out from undercover and in the open air – as they were designed.
Check out this article for more of the best electric patio heaters for undercover solutions, and consider table-top versions as a viable alternative, too.
Can you leave a patio heater outside?
Providing the weather is fine, there should be no problem. Make sure you protect your heater with a cover if it has been supplied with one – and pick one up if it has not.
However, while many outdoor patio heaters are weatherproof, the elements will take their toll after time, so it’s a good idea to store your heater somewhere sheltered and dry when it’s not in use.
How long does a 20lb propane tank last on a patio heater?
Generally speaking, a 20 lbs propane gas tank will last 10 hours when used with a compatible patio heater.
This might vary depending on the type and quality of the heater you purchase – so be sure to check reviews and product specs to confirm before going ahead.
Do patio heaters work in winter?
Yes, they will work all year round if you want them to.
In the outdoor cafe-culture of Europe, heaters are regularly used in bars and restaurants – even through the winter months – usually to keep smokers happy when they’re not allowed to light up inside.
They are effective, but if the temperature is too low, it’s unlikely that any outdoor heater will keep you comfortable for long.
If that’s the case, then an outdoor heater can certainly help, but it’s best used in conjunction with warm clothing and blankets where possible.
It’s not a magic wand that will suddenly make the outdoors feel like indoors – but it’s better than nothing!
Outdoor patio heaters are useful additions when it comes to the pubbing, clubbing, and restaurant scene – and you can easily recreate that atmosphere in your own home.
Help keep the early-evening chills away when the sun goes down with one of the best outdoor patio heaters on the market.
Personally, I’d prefer a fire pit, but if I had to choose one it would definitely be the wood stove version. It’s initially pricey, but over time you’re likely to save a lot of money – and it’s kinder to the environment.
Let me know which patio heater you would choose and why.
Stay toasty out there!