Updated: November 2017

Patio Heater Reviews:

One of the nicest things about having a deck or patio is being able to enjoy it year-round. Summer time is usually no problem, although evening can sometimes be chilly. The perfect answer to keeping you patio or deck comfortable most of the year is with an outdoor patio heater. They are also called umbrella heaters or mushroom heaters due to their shape. You've seen these at outdoor cafes, restaurants, and promenades. They look like gigantic metal lanterns, standing about 7-8 feet tall, with a propane tank hidden in their base. How do patio heaters works? They are normally powered by either natural gas or propane fuel, and like a giant heat lamp, their heating element radiates a large amount of heat into a 15'-25' diameter area around them, often raising surrounding temperatures by 15-25 degrees F. Their domed, shielded tops help radiate the heat downwards rather than allowing it to escape immediately upward. You'll see the flames flicker and hear the gentle roar of the gas fire, and you will be warm! You can browse the up-to-date list of best-selling outdoor heaters here.

Best Patio Heaters

EliteDeals.com has a full selection of commercial and residential patio heaters. The commercial patio heaters are normally a little more rugged, more expensive, and put out more BTUs of heat. Expect to pay $150-$450 for a patio heater. As an example, they sell the Endless Summer ES Patio Heater for $479, decribed thus: "The deluxe commercial Patio Heater offers a unique triple dome design that more evenly distributes heat across the entire heat shadow. Packing the power of a commercial Patio Heater, the design makes it a favorite among business owners and discerning homeowners seeking to minimize temperature variations within the heat shadow." This is a 40,000 BTU heater, with a safety shut off switch (if it is tipped over), stainless steel design, a ceramic core heat shield, and 20 foot radius. You can but a matching patio heater cover for an additional $27. You can also get a table-top patio heater which is smaller and portable. For example the ES 60000 Patio Heater has a 10 foot heating radius, 14K BTU power output, Peizo Electric ignitor for easy start, stands about 36", and costs $219. These are well suited for a small deck or patio where they will be placed on a table to warm the surrounding area.

PatioExperts.com is another good site to look for patio heaters. They offer ceiling mount and permanent patio heaters. They also offer some higher-end patio heaters from Sunglo, DCS, Dayva, Sunpak, Infratech, and Patio Comfort, costing upwards to $600-$1000.

What to look for when buying a patio heater

Your first consideration when buying a patio heater is how much heat you need? How large is the area you are trying to heat? How many people will normally be sitting there? What kind of temperatures will you be battling? These questions will help you decide how large and powerful of a patio heater you need. Secondly, do you have a natural gas outlet you plan on connecting this to, or are you looking for a propane based model? Also consider mobility. Most good patio heaters will have wheels inside the base so you can tilt and move them around with relative ease. If you are going to keep yours permanently in one place, this may not be a big factor, but these units can be heavy and awkward to move without wheels. Style tends to be the next buying factor - are you into the stainless steel look, black, or some textured finish? Most patio heaters have essentially the same physical design look, with a hidden storage tank in the base (also acts as a counterweight to prevent tipping), upright pole leading to heat shield on top. Safety is also an issue - make sure your heater has an automatic shutoff feature in case it is knocked over. Then consider your budget. Can you afford the higher end commercial grade heaters, or are you limited to a table top design to save money?

Patio Heater Safety Tips

First, patio heaters are for OUTDOOR USE only. Do not use inside. Do not MOVE heaters when they are alight. Make sure your patio heater is positioned somewhere where there is no risk of contact or fire from nearby objects, hanging materials, or anything else. If possible, position patio heaters so that they are in a shielded area and will not blow out. Do not use during high winds - wind can blow out the flame and tip over the heater, both of which could be dangerous. Follow your manufacturers warnings related to wind conditions. When you are not using your patio heater, it should be covered and stored away out of the elements if possible. Check the hose connections regularly and replace and retest when needed to ensure no leakage of gas. Of course children should not operate patio heaters or be left unattended near one.