8 Best Outdoor Patio Electric & Gas Heaters of 2023
If you're looking to enjoy your outdoor space all year round, it's best to invest in some heat source for those potentially chilly afternoons or evenings.
Many homeowners and renters gravitate towards a fire pit, however, they're certainly not for everyone. Purchasing an outdoor heater is a great option for those who want to stay warm but not bother with starting a fire, smoke, or ash clean-up. An outdoor patio heater makes keeping warm outside easy without making it the centerpiece of your yard or patio.
PropertyNest made shopping for a patio heater easy with our list of the best outdoor heaters for the year.
Hampton Bay 48000 Btu Stainless Steel Patio Heater: Best Overall
This patio heater is made from stainless steel, making it look stylish and professional. The durability and high quality of stainless steel allow you to keep the heater outside because it can withstand the elements without worrying it may get damaged. We chose this Hampton Bay as the best overall for three reasons.
One, the 48,000 BTU burner that runs on liquid propane keeps you warm for up to 200 square feet, extending life outdoors during cool months. Two, it’s powerfully warm. The unit includes an adjustable heat control system that lets you set its heat output to the temperature you prefer. Three, it’s reasonably priced.
Essentially, what you are getting is a heat lamp that restaurants with outdoor seating use. So, you know you are getting a professional quality heater.
Pros and Cons of Hampton Bay Patio Heater
- Sleek modern appearance
- Easy assembly
- Light in weight but completely durable, you can easily pick the heater up to move it without any help.
- May require additional stakes or sandbags for windy days
- Also may require sandbags when the tank is nearly empty. If not, the hearer will tip over or even fly away.
- Doesn’t come with wheels.
AZ Patio Heaters 48,000 BTU Stainless Steel Propane Patio Heater: Best for Safety
Beyond the impressive heat output of 48,000 BTUs, we chose this AZ model for safety. The aluminum construction feels heftier than other comparable models. This is good because this outdoor heater won’t tip over in the wind.
The mushroom-style heater is also safe due to three anchor ports that you can secure to the ground. This AZ also comes with a pair of wheels so you can easily move it inside your home or anywhere it will be safe if there is high winds and hurricanes. Another safety measure is that if the heater starts to tip over, it will automatically shut off.
Pros and Cons of AZ Patio Heaters Stainless Steel Propane Heater
- Excellent customer service.
- Comes in a variety of finishes, so you can find something that fits your home.
- Even if the propane tank weighs down the base, it’s easy to move and the wheels help.
- The mushroom top deflects the heat downwards, which results in uneven heating.
- Cover is needed, but you have to buy that separately.
- Can be tricky to light.
Thermo Tiki Deluxe Outdoor Propane Patio Heater: Best For Design
This Thermo Tiki deluxe pyramid-style patio heater is of commercial-grade value and is stylishly designed to fit in with any exterior décor. Made from steel and aluminum, this heater has a dancing flame in a pyramid column. The beautiful glowing flame is a conversation piece and will entice you and your loved ones at night. Meanwhile, the 38,000 BTUs will keep you warm when the weather is cool.
This commercial-quality heater is more expensive than similar models and has a lower BTU output than most. But that’s because the heater was created to last season after season. For example, the heater was designed to withstand extreme climates, from harsh sun to falling snow. And the rust, fade, and corrosion-resistant finish makes the pyramid very durable.
Pros and Cons of Thermo Tiki Deluxe Patio Heater
- Withstands abrasive salt air.
- 4" diameter ceramic-glass column.
- Safety shut-off valve and pilot lighter for safer startup/shutdown.
- Propane tank not included.
- Heat radiates straight out and isn’t directed down to heat the area.
- Sleek modern design may not complement traditional homes and traditional outdoor furniture, including sofas, tables, and chaises, for example.
- Trim pieces like wheels and the wire mesh covering the glass cylinder are harsh white, not stainless steel.
Fire Sense Telescoping 1500 Watt: Best Adjustable Electric Patio Heater
This popular Fire Sense heater has a slim pedestal base that’s much less bulky than other similar outdoor heaters.
We chose this patio heater because of its telescoping feature, which allows you to adjust the heater’s height with its tension knobs. That way, you can adjust the heater on your porch to the height of an outdoor sofa so you and your guests who are sitting on the sofa can be covered with rays of heat.
And if you are having a party and everyone is standing, you can easily adjust the height to the tallest setting so that the heat is in line with everyone. Operating at 90% heating efficiency, this infrared patio heater runs on regular household electric current and is substantially less expensive to operate than propane patio heaters. This model also has wheels for portability and a protective cover that many heaters lack.
Pros and Cons of Fire Sense Telescoping Electric Heater
- No UV rays, silent operation.
- 100% heat production within seconds.
- No wasteful heating of the air.
- Automatic Safety Shutoff.
- 5,000 hours lamp life.
- Keeps the chill away, but most likely you’ll have to wear an outdoor jacket to feel warm.
- Difficult to assemble.
- The electric cord could be longer.
EnerG+ Infrared Electric Outdoor Heater: Best Outdoor Weather-Resistant Heater
This free-standing infrared heater features 1500 watts of radiant energy. Because this heater receives its power from electricity, it can be set up in no time after you plug it into a standard 120V AC wall outlet. So that means no more gas or other flammable fuels to worry about.
We chose this model because it can oscillate heat to everyone nearby. Most heaters we looked at didn’t have this feature. There are three heat settings: 500, 1000, and 1500 watts of instantaneous radiant heat. We also chose this model because it’s not affected by the wind, as well as some rain.
That’s because this heater is IP44 certified. This means it’s weatherproof and was made for the outdoors. It is very hard to wear against extreme weather conditions. And it is safe to use in wet or rainy environments and is protected from low-velocity sprays of water. The IP44 rating also means that this heater will remain rust and corrosion-free.
As an added plus, you don’t have to get up to adjust the heat setting. The handy remote control allows you to change the setting from a distance. It also has tip-over and overheating protection, making the heater very safe.
Pros and Cons of EnerG+ Infrared Electric Outdoor Heater
- Water and dust resistant.
- Silent operation.
- Just plug it into an electrical outlet; no need for an electrician.
- Durable carbon coil bulb can resist a fall.
- Low operating cost, only pennies per hour.
- Bulb lasts an average of 5, 000 hours, providing years of enjoyment.
- Daunting to be put together.
- Customers complain that the manual is indecipherable.
- Won’t work in wide areas; designed for small spaces.
Hiland HIL-1500DI Electric Patio Heater: Best Budget Patio Heater
We chose this Hiland because it’s the least expensive outdoor heater on the market. At below sixty-five in cost, the freestanding heater works just as well as higher-cost heaters. And it doesn’t skimp on features.
The most important feature of this heater is that it’s tall and can adjust up to 79 inches in height. Black in color and with an oval LED head that glows bright orange, this heater feels sophisticated despite its low price. Featuring variable control, the heater comes with an anti-tilt switch for safety.
Because it’s electric, it is less expensive to operate than a propane or gas heater. And you don’t have to keep changing the propane whenever the flame goes out. The Hiland is safe to use indoors, not just outdoors.
Pros and Cons of Hiland HIL-1500DI Electric Patio Heater
- At its lowest height, it can stand on a table and will still be over your head to warm you.
- Automatic overheat protection.
- Safety bars included.
- The heating element is a fixed head and not adjustable.
- Customers complain that the heater can trip a circuit breaker even if it is powered by a dedicated outlet.
- Some parts are plastic, making it flimsy.
- Assembly required.
- 8-inch electrical cord is too short.
Infrared 1500 W Electric Heater by Dr. Heater: Best Mounted Outdoor Heater
- Fuel Type: Electric
- Output: 1500 Watts Heating Area: 9.8' Sq Ft.
- Includes wall and ceiling mounting brackets, and remote control
If there is a particular spot you know you'll need to be heated, a mounted heater may be the right choice for you, especially if you don't have a lot of ground space or a tabletop. Dr. Heater's Carbon 1500 Watt Mounted Heater gets the job done.
It comes with three heat settings, a remote control, and even safety features- automatic power shutoff if it overheats. It's also safe for indoor mounting and heating. The best part of Dr. Heater's mounted heater is electric is that not only can you mount it on the wall or ceiling, but you can also purchase a separate tripod from the manufacturer to make this a mobile-mounted heater.
Pros and Cons of Carbon 1500 Watt Electric Mounted Heater
- Include remote control with timer and 3 heat settings
- Good quality
- Automatic safety shutoff
- Must be mounted to ceiling or wall by customer or professional.
- Stationary--cannot swivel or move once mounted.
Star Patio 1500 Watt Electric Heater: Best Electric Tabletop Patio Heater
Tabletop heaters are ideal for dining out on a cool night. We chose Star Patio's 1500 Watt Electric Tabletop Heater because it heats up to a diameter of 12 feet and can sufficiently warm up 4 to 5 people at a time.
We also like the safety features which include an automatic shutoff in case of a tip-over and an extra heavy base to prevent tip-overs. This heating unit is a no-frills unit that turns on and off simply with the yank of a chain. Its simple domed design also makes this a stylish choice for indoor or outdoor settings.
Pros and Cons of Star Patio 1500 Watt Electric Tabletop Heater
- Minimal Assembly
- Safety features
- No remote
- Only one heat setting
What Are Patio Heaters?
A patio heater is designed to heat up an outdoor space when the temperature drops or when summer nights are a little chilly. Patio heaters use fuel (propane or gas) or electricity to provide heat. If you get a model with wheels, you can easily move it around your outdoor space, such as when you want to move it from the garden so you can place it on your patio.
However, keep in mind that patio heaters are an expensive investment costing around $200 or $300 and can go up to the thousands. Prices go up depending on how high the BTU is. And the higher the BTU, the more heat the unit will give off.
There are many styles of patio heaters to choose from, with the most popular being the mushroom-shaped models you frequently see on restaurant patios. But which patio heater should you get? There are many considerations to be made.
Do you want a heater that covers more square footage to extend the heat?
What fuel type do you want to use? Propane or electric?
How safe is a patio heater?
Does it come with safety features like if the heater tips and it automatically shuts down?
Figuring Out What Size Heater You Need
Before you buy an outdoor heater, you need to decide on the size of the area you want to heat. Look for a model that’s 200 square feet or more, which means a model that can heat your entire outdoor dinner party.
Patio heaters have a heat radius of 6-10 feet from the base of the heater, so you can gauge the amount of heat to each sitting area based on the proximity to the heater. If it’s just you and a few friends covered in outdoor clothes on your patio, you possibly only need a table heater. But if you’re dining out with a large group of family and friends on a long table and underneath a pergola, you’ll need a big freestanding outdoor heater or two standard ones, all of which will emit more heat than a table heater.
What are BTUs?
Patio heater output is measured in British Thermal Units or BTUs. A BTU is a standard unit of measurement for heat. For a patio heater, the BTU refers to the amount of heat that the heater can generate.
As mentioned earlier, the higher the BTUs, the higher the heat output. So, as a general rule, the higher the wattage or BTU, the better it is to heat or cover a large area. And the more BTUs you have radiating, the warmer you’ll feel.
So look for an outdoor heater that has at least 1500 watts. This wattage comes standard in models that cost over $200, but you can still find that wattage in less expensive models. The standard wattage that a heater comes with is 500, 1000, and 1500 watts.
What is Radiant Heat?
It’s best to get a model with radiant or infrared heat. This means more heat coverage for you.
Radiant or infrared heat is when the heat comes out to absorb your clothes or skin without distributing it into the air that surrounds you and where the air is constantly moving, such as wind. But this only works if there are no obstacles in the way. Say you’re seated at a table, and your upper body is warmer than your lower body. That’s because the table is in the way. It will be stricken with infrared energy.
To eliminate this, don’t let furnishings get between you and the heat, and try to stay near the heat but not so close that you can almost feel the flame.
Electric vs. Propane
Before you buy, you need to determine the fuel type that heats your unit. There are three fuel types on the market. Propane fuel, electric, and gas. We focused on electric and propane-fueled heaters as both are the most common and user-friendly options. In addition, both electric and propane heaters dominate the market.
Electric Outdoor Heaters
Customers choose electricity because these heaters offer ease of use, portability and can be safe to use in enclosed spaces. Electric heaters are a good choice because they are more reliable than propane-fueled heaters. All you need to do is plug the heater into a standard 120-volt wall socket to make the heat work.
But keep in mind that some heaters may require higher voltage so they can create an abundance of heat at once. The bad news is that if you have a heater that requires higher voltage, you need to hire a professional to have the wiring installed.
Electric is convenient, as there’s no need to refill a propane tank. Electric patio heaters can be used both indoors and outdoors because they don’t require ventilation. And since they create zero carbon emissions and greenhouse gases, they are good for the environment. Propane heaters need ventilation because it gives off carbon dioxide.
However, electricity has forced-air heat, which means the heater warms the air around it. To be effective, you need to be in front of the heater. Electric heaters require little maintenance. A fuel-type heater needs to be inspected and cleaned to make sure that debris and bug nests, for example, are not blocking the burner or the burner screen. Plus, the wind can easily blow out the burner.
The bad part about electric heaters is that they need to be close to an outlet. Many homeowners may not have too many outlets outside. This may result in having to use a long extension cord plugged into your interior outlet to just plug in and power your electric heater outdoors.
Propane Outdoor Heater
A standard 20-pound propane tank (which is what you need, regardless of the model) lasts for about 10 hours. That’s a short period, which means you have to keep buying more propane, which drives up the cost of your propane heater. The good news is propane is easy to get. Most gas stations will offer propane tank exchanges.
More good news. No matter what the model or price, propane tanks come hidden in the base of the heater, which means they are not visible to you and your guests. Propane emits more radiant heat than an electric model. It tends to cover more people, and if you put everyone in a circle, for example, the radiant heat will cover everyone.
The downside is that assembly and hook-up are required, and you can’t just plug it in like an electric heater.
Types of Patio Heater Models
Patio heaters come in different forms and models. Freestanding patio heaters are the most popular and most wanted.
Free-standing heaters are easy to use and don’t require any special equipment to set them up. They usually come with a pole and a top. They have stable bases that allow them to stand on their own, and some models are adjustable so you can choose the height of the heater.
Below are the most commonly found ones.
|Freestanding||The most popular and easiest to set up and place. They usually come with a stand, pole and top.|
|Tabletop||Smaller unit meant for smaller spaces.|
|Mounted||Intended to be a permanent unit installed by a professional.|
Where Should You Place the Patio Heater?
If you want to be safe, you need to know the proper placement of your patio heater. Electric patio heaters are designed to also work in covered areas, such as if you have some sort of covered space on your deck or patio. Other covered areas include screened porches and garages. Garages typically have no heat source, so putting a patio heater inside of it is an added plus.
In contrast, propane heaters are designed for open spaces or uncovered patios and decks. They are specifically designed for outdoor use. That’s because the heat output of propane heaters produces carbon dioxide that can be harmful if you breathe it in. So, your propane heater should be placed in a well-ventilated space. In addition, you should keep your heater away from materials susceptible to flames, such as nearby bushes and trees, furniture, and outdoor pillows, to name a few.
Design and Materials
Freestanding patio heaters come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. But two different designs are the most popular and most coveted.
They are the mushroom-top outdoor heater or the pyramid tower heater. Some pyramid towers have a dancing flame in a pyramid column, allowing for a beautiful glow that’s sure to be a conversation piece. The mushroom top heater is what you’ll see in restaurants that have outdoor seating. In this way, if you buy the same one, you know you are getting a professional quality heater that will last for years.
Whatever design you choose, your patio heater is usually constructed from steel or aluminum and has weighted bases (for sand, for example) so that they don’t tip over or fly away.
How Much Do Patio Heaters Cost?
Prices range from $150 to upwards of $2,000. At $150, you can get a patio heater that covers around 100 square feet.
But you don’t have to spend a lot to get the best heater. We found a model that we put on our list that costs less than $70.00 and was comparable in quality and in features (such as safety measures) to a model that costs around $250.
Obviously, because we're discussing an appliance that gives off heat, it's always critical to consider safety features.
Look for heaters that have been approved for safety. UL- and CSA-tested labels are common safety approvals. These heaters have been evaluated to ensure all safety requirements have been met.
The best outdoor heaters have safety features. The last thing you want is combustible materials near the heater that can catch fire.
Here are some examples.
If the heater gets knocked over, a tilt shut-off valve will shut off the heater. Some models come with anchor ports that you can nail to the ground so the heater won’t move.
A switch on the heater shuts it down if it gets too hot and becomes a fire hazard.
This is recommended if you have kids or pets. A cool-touch glass heater makes it safe to use around your children and dog.
Keep in mind that you should place your patio heater on a level and stable surface, like directly on your patio or deck.
Is Your Heater a Fire Hazard?
If your heater has bursting flames and is hotter than usual, this is an unsafe heater and a fire hazard. If the heater is new or fairly new, you should return it and get a refund. And the fire should not cause burns when handled.
Also, the ignition switch should be easy to handle and should not hurt the skin. And remember to never leave your heater on when unattended.
How We Decided
A few considerations went into deciding which outdoor patio heater was going to make the cut.
These are important factors that most consumers would weigh when making a shopping decision.
We specifically looked for models of either heat source that were weather-resistant, had high BTUs, and had high surface coverage.
Whenever possible we looked at the affordability of an outdoor heater. If a model costs $400 or more, we narrowed our list to include those that were under that cost, specifically targeting the $150 to $300 range.
It’s possible to get a patio heater that’s less than $150, but then you have to look at the details to see if the lower-priced models have the same or similar features in comparison to more expensive models.
These include portability and if the unit has safety features.
Obviously, when you are dealing with outdoor heaters, you need to consider how safe they are.
Electric heaters are generally safer than propane heaters because they were designed to be used in covered areas, such as a covered porch, and you can use them both indoors and out.
So, we considered heaters only if they were designed with safety in mind.
A few propane models were removed from our list if they were hot to the touch or delivered flames that were higher than normal.
If a model had a good amount of safety features, such as a tilt shut-off or automatic shutoff, we put it on our list.
Real customer reviews are always an important consideration when choosing any product. We looked carefully not just at positive reviews but also negative ones to assess how well-rounded a heater is.
We focused on outdoor heaters that were made of durable materials. Most come in stainless steel or aluminum and since they are hard-wearing, we did not include heaters made from inferior materials.
How high can a patio heater get? With that in mind, we kept track of BTUs and wattage, as well as the claimed coverage area.