How to Buy a Patio Heaters

Park a patio heater in your outdoor space to add precious weeks to the "sitting out" season. Attractive, efficient models come in a variety of sizes and fuel sources, and radiant heat systems warm the people, not the air, for greater comfort.


1. Decide whether you want a patio heater to be permanent or not. Natural gas heaters make perfect companions to existing gas grill installations, but bottled fuels make it easier to put the heat right where you want it.

2. Shop for patio heaters where you buy patio furniture, natural gas or butane heaters and in specialty shops for home decorating.

3. Pick a heater for its ability to warm the area you use most, usually a 20-foot circle around the unit. Read product information carefully - the biggest and most expensive units do not always provide the most heat for your dollar.

4. Be sure the patio heater you choose is carefully engineered for safety. Industry-approved designs feature safety tilt switches, sealed burners, flame controls, electronic ignitions and emergency cut-off valves.

5. Choose the heater that uses the bottled fuel most economical and available in your area. Patio heaters can operate on kerosene, butane or propane as well as natural gas.

6. Look for infrared heater elements with sturdy aluminum reflectors to direct the radiating heat down and out. You'll find them described as "mushroom" or "umbrella" designs on poles from 3 to 7 feet tall.

7. Plan to enjoy many more nights out on the patio or deck warmed by your stylish cast iron or stainless steel heater. Most raise the temperature a good 10 degrees, and you'll feel a substantial difference between, say, 50 degrees and 60 degrees Fahrenheit.


Some patio heaters are just clunky - they look like aluminum foil over coat hanger wire - but if you shop around, you'll find useful and attractive patio heaters in every price range.

Patio heaters range widely in price from small portable units less than $100 to permanently installed natural gas units in the $300 range.

If you cook out a lot, consider an outdoor range that can easily double as a patio heater.

Look for heater bases with wheels inside and poles with tables attached; you'll use both more than you might think.


Use caution around portable or hanging patio heaters; keep flammables at a safe distance.
Patio heaters are not toys; do not allow children to operate them.

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