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Factors to Consider When Buying a Patio Heater

East Coast Energy Products of Monmouth County Encourages You to Consider These Patio Heater Buying Tips.

Figuring out which type of patio heater you prefer will do a lot to narrow down your options, but to make the right decision, there are a number of factors you should think through.

Size and Space Heated

One of the most important factors to consider in order to end up with a patio heater that meets your needs is how big the heater itself is, and how big its heating area is. Often the two things relate – small tabletop heaters won’t heat nearly as much space as the much larger freestanding heaters, for instance – but it’s not always a direct correlation.

Every type of patio heater will provide size details in the product specs, so you can make sure that the item will properly fit in the space you have in mind. Take a minute to take measurements of your patio space to be sure – you don’t want to end up with a heater that’s so large it doesn’t leave any space left on the patio for people, or with one that’s too small to make much of a difference on a large patio.

The product specs will sometimes also give you some idea of how much space the heater will warm. If they don’t provide an amount of space in number of feet, you can expect 40,000 BTUs to roughly convert to three to five feet in mildly cold weather. And naturally, the colder it gets, the closer you’ll have to be to the heater to enjoy its benefits.

High-powered mountable patio heaters do the best at providing heat for a full space, while most of the other designs will work well for whoever is standing or sitting close to them, but become less effective the further away people get.

Fuel Type              

Patio heaters use one of four main types of fuel:

  • • Electricity
  • • Natural gas
  • • Propane
  • • Wood

Each comes with its own drawbacks and benefits.

Electricity is generally your safest option (although it still poses certain risks) and is typically one of the most convenient choices in terms of ease of use. Electric patio heaters can be turned on with the flip of a switch and you’re good to go. They’re not always as effective at warming the space as some of your other options though, and they don’t provide the same type of ambience that the other fuel types do either.

For most people, a natural gas patio heater will be very expensive and costly to set up, but cheap and easy to use once it’s installed. The heater would need to be hooked up to an existing natural gas line, so this option is only available to people who live in areas that have natural gas. Once it’s set up, then all you need to do to use the heater is turn it on and off.

Propane patio heaters are fueled with a propane tank. That means every so often, you need to buy and install a new propane tank, which is a bit of a pain. But in between the times you run out, propane heaters are easy to use, and propane tanks don’t cost too much.

The final option, wood, is the usual fuel for fire pits and chimneys. It’s more expensive and more trouble to use, in general, than all of the other options. But it provides a particular atmosphere and experience that aren’t like the other fuel options. Sitting by a fire has always appealed to people and likely always will. With wood, you do have to deal with starting a fire each time you want to use your heater, and you’ll need to continually add more wood to the fire as it starts to die down. It’s also the most dangerous option, if you’re not careful, but all types of patio heaters come with risks.


Where you’ll be putting your patio heater will influence which option makes the most sense for you. If it will go on an enclosed patio, you have to stick with an electric heater, as previously mentioned. If it will be put somewhere where the ground isn’t terribly flat, then a mountable heater makes more sense than a freestanding one. If your patio is very spread out, getting a few smaller heaters may make more sense than trying to depend on one.

You have to consider the space and how you’ll be using it so you can choose a patio heater that will fit in seamlessly without getting in the way or becoming a safety hazard.


  • Heating levels: Many patio heaters provide the option of switching between different levels of heat. This is especially common with freestanding, tabletop, and mountable models.
  • Warranty: A warranty can provide confidence that your patio heater is made to last and you have recourse if there are any issues.
  • Shut off feature: Freestanding and table top models often include a shut off feature that kicks into gear if the heater starts to tip over or is blocked by something, so you face a reduced risk of fire.
  • Weighted base: Freestanding patio heaters with a weighted base are better designed to stay upright in the face of winds (or being bumped into by guests).
  • Cover: A cover can help prolong the life of your patio heater by protecting it from the elements in between uses.
  • Wheels: Some freestanding models come with wheels so they’re easier to move from one spot to another.

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