Millions of Americans begin to settle indoors during fall and winter as cold weather strikes and outdoor activities start to slow down. If you have a patio or screened-in porch on your home, those areas typically remain vacant until the weather warms again. Well, that doesn’t have to happen if you keep that space properly heated, and we’re here to help you find the best outdoor patio heater for your home.
- The Best Outdoor Heaters for Porches and Patios
- How to find the Best Outdoor Patio Heater
- Types of Patio Heaters
- Outdoor Patio Heater Warranties
The Best Outdoor Heaters for Porches and Patios
- Style: Natural Gas
- Installation: Floor Standing
- Heat Rating: 45,000 BTU
- Size: 91"H x 12"
- Weight: 19 lbs.
- Style: Electric
- Installation: Ceiling or Wall
- Heat Rating:1,500 watts
- Size: 35"L x 8"W x 4"D
- Weight: 8 lbs.
Hiland Table Top
- Style: Propane
- Installation: Tabletop
- Heat Rating: 11,000 BTU
- Size: 38"H x 13"W
- Weight: 19 lbs.
- Style: Electric
- Installation: Ceiling or Wall
- Heat Rating: 6,000 watts
- Size: 56"L x 8.5"D x 3.5"H
- Weight: 22 lbs.
- Style: Propane
- Installation: Floor Standing
- Heat Rating: 40,000 BTU
- Size: 91"H x 19"
- Weight: 68 lbs.
Endless Summer 83443
- Style: Propane
- Installation: Fire Table
- Heat Rating: 30,000 BTU
- Size: 24" x 30"W
- Weight: 61 lbs.
You don’t have to look hard to find a heater that you can use on a deck or porch during colder weather, but doing so safely is a completely different story. The heaters on our list were all selected with that in mind, and we’ve included styles and price points that will suit every homeowner's needs.
#1 Fire Sense Stainless Steel Patio Heater
The Best Propane Patio Heater
Fire Sense is a leader when it comes to propane patio heaters and one of a few companies that produce natural gas heaters for decks as well. The Fire Sense 61445 is our top pick and one of the more affordable porch heaters around.
Patio heaters come in all shapes and sizes, but the 61445 has one of the more recognizable form factors. This popular style of heater is often found in outdoor areas at restaurants, bars, and other venues. They are perfect for porches as well, and this one is 91” tall with a stainless steel body. The base is 12” wide and has a decorative cap but is not weighted.
While tall, this heater only weighs 19 pounds, and it’s not top-heavy despite a wide 33” hood on the top. Consumers found it easy to assemble, although it’s not a free-standing model. You will need to secure the heavy-duty mounting plate on the base of this heater before connecting a gas line. That’s easy to do, however, considering there’s 15” of gas line that extends from the base.
Fire Sense designed this heater to warm areas up to 120 square feet. It has a rating of 45,000 BTU at maximum power, and you can adjust the heat through a dial on the top. The only other features to note are an electronic push-button ignition and tip-over protection. This heater is backed by a standard 1-year guarantee.
If you already have natural gas at your home, the Fire Sense 61445 is a heater we highly recommend for patios and porches alike. It’s simple to use and very effective in smaller areas with a design that should hold up well on an outdoor patio. It has an attractive price point as well, especially considering its power and size.
#2 Dr. Infrared Heater DR-238
The Best Budget-Friendly Patio Heater
Whether you’re looking for a forced-air heater for your garage or an electric model for your nightstand, Dr. Infrared has a solution. That includes consumers that want something affordable for their patio, like the DR-238 Carbon wall heater.
With a rating of 1,500 watts, this heater is perfect for areas around 150 square feet. It’s not as powerful or sturdy as other models on our list but has some unique features that set it apart. The first would be the heat settings, as you’ll get three with this heater. You can choose from 900, 1,200, or 1,500 watts depending on your needs, although you don’t control this system with dials.
A small remote control lets you set the temperature from a distance but also gives you access to a timer. You won’t have any trouble mounting or hanging this heater as it weighs 8 pounds and is easy to manage at 35”L x 8”W x 4”D. They kept the weight low by using aluminum for the body, and it has an IPX4 weather rating. The heater will plug into any standard 120-volt outlet and has overheat protection.
The Dr. Infrared DR-238 is the best budget heater on our list and one that doesn’t disappoint indoors or on your patio. The fact it comes with a remote control and timer are big advantages over comparable systems, and it’s incredibly easy to install. Some consumers complained about the quality of the mounting hardware, but that’s an issue a quick trip to the hardware store can overcome.
#3 Hiland Tabletop Patio Heater
The Best Tabletop Patio Heater
You don’t have to look hard to find a tall heater for your deck, but they aren’t exactly ideal for covered porches and patios. That’s where a table top heater can come in handy, and our favorite is the small but powerful HLDS032 from Hiland.
This little patio heater has a design that will be familiar to most consumers, and it’s compact at 38” tall with a 13” base. The wide base on this heater increases the stability, although an anti-tilt switch is included as well. It’s a bit hefty for its size at close to 19 pounds, but that’s due in part to the build quality of this tabletop heater.
Given its size, this heater resembles a large lamp, albeit one with a hammered metal exterior and door in the base. The heater discreetly holds a 1-pound tank of propane behind that door, and larger tanks are an option as well if you purchase an adaptor hose. The heater is rated at 11,000 BTU, which is good for small enclosed or open spaces.
As you might suspect, there aren’t many features on this heater. It has a thermocouple and anti-tilt mechanism, which are standard, but essential features on propane heaters. The regulator behind that trap door swivels, however, which makes the small propane tanks easy to install and replace. We also like the weighed plate on the bottom of the heater that helps keep it stable on your table.
Most patios are small, personal spaces, and this heater is an excellent choice when you need table height warm for 2-3 people. The weighted base is a nice touch, as is the ability to hide a 1-pound tank out of sight. Negatives for this heater include poor customer support and the price tag, which is comparable to heaters twice the size.
#4 Bromic Smart Heat Electric Patio Heater
The Best Electric Patio Heater
If you’re in the market for a high-end patio heater, Bromic has always been a name consumers can trust. While the company has a variety of systems geared towards covered patios and open decks, their Tungsten line of electric heaters are among the best on the market.
The BH042033 heater from Bromic may not have a design that stands out like propane-based pole heaters for your porch, but it’s engineered to have a low profile and leave a minimal footprint behind. This heater measures 56”L x 8.5”D x 3.5”H and can be mounted on the ceiling or wall. The included brackets allow you to adjust the heater to a degree as well, but it can also be mounted recessed with a proper installation kit.
Bromic built this heater to withstand the elements, so the stainless steel exterior has been coated to keep it resistant to corrosion. A spectral reflector ensures better heat distribution from this heater while increasing the overall output from the heating elements. Those dual frosted elements emit a soothing glow on chilly nights and perform as advertised.
We chose the 6,000-watt Tungsten heater from Bromic, which requires a 220-volt outlet and needs to be hardwired. While that will raise the overall cost of this heater, the elements can be controlled independently through an optional dimmer switch. Unfortunately, that dimmer has less than stellar reviews and costs as much as the heater itself.
Bromic heaters typically receive high marks across the board, and their electric Tungsten heaters are no exception. This model is available in four different wattages as well, although the price difference is minimal between the 4,000 and 6,000-watt models. These heaters are ideal for direction heat but costly and will require a professional installation.
#5 Hiland Pyramid Patio Heater
The Best Glass Tube Patio Heater
Hiland may not have the brand name recognition of company’s like Bromic or Hampton Bay when it comes to patio heaters, but they are the only company that managed to make our list twice. The Hiland HLDS01 is a patio heater with a unique sense of style and enough power to heat up small to medium spaces outdoors.
This quartz glass tube heater puts on quite the show when lit as you can safely view the visible flames. It has a durable steel exterior that’s available in several colors, although we chose Hammered Bronze for its price and availability. While this heater looks great, it is large, so you’ll need to consider clearance if you have a covered patio.
At 91” high, it’s hard to miss this patio heater. It’s fairly slim; however, at 19” in diameter, and has a wheeled base, which makes moving it around a breeze. That’s good, considering it weighs 68 pounds without propane. This system works with a standard 20-pound propane tank, which provides 8 to 10 hours of operating time on high.
While Hiland has this heater rated at 40,000 BTUs, the design doesn’t put off as much heat as similar units. It only has a handful of features as well, including a manual thermostat dial and a tip-over switch that will shut this propane heater off it becomes tipped over. It has a 1-year warranty from AZ Patio Heaters and is available in five different colors.
If you’re looking heater that will be the highlight of your patio, the Hiland Pyramid patio heater is a unique alternative. Due to its height, you will want to consider clearance beforehand, but consumers have been blown away by the style of this outside heater. It’s best suited for smaller patios, however, as the design doesn’t allow you to take full advantage of 40,000 BTUs of heat.
#6 Endless Summer Outdoor Fire Pit Table
The Best Propane Fire Pit Heater
If you have the room and want an eye-catching heater that your family or guests can gather around, it’s hard to go wrong with a fire pit heater. The style is an acquired taste, but this 30” system from Endless has a design that will go with any patio décor.
This large patio heater has a sturdy steel base with decorative panels and a stone-like top. The table that goes around the top of this heater was handcrafted with resin for a realistic appearance and is wide enough to actually be useful. The height is ideal at 24”, and while it weighs 60 pounds, it’s not the type of heater you’ll move very often.
A 20-pound propane tank can be stored behind those decorative side panels. That keeps unsightly tanks hidden, while a push-button ignition makes this system easy to light. It’s listed with a heat rating of 30,000 BTU, which sounds powerful, but those numbers can be misleading. Due to the design of the Endless Summer 83443, you’ll need to sit close to this heater to feel its effects.
According to the company, you can get up to 10 hours of burn time from a 20-gallon tank from this propane table heater. The all-weather steel fire bowl is something you’ll be thankful for down the line, and we like the fact the heater comes with a PVC cover. While we chose the copper fire glass variant of this heater, there is another version with blue fire glass as well.
As long as you keep the heat radius of the Endless Summer 83443 in mind, you’ll be happy with how it performs and thrilled with how it looks outdoors. It’s one of the more affordable table heaters of this size and will hold up very well when maintained. Some homeowners did have trouble with assembling this model, however, and there are sturdier fire pit heaters if you’re willing to move up a few tiers.
How to find the Best Outdoor Patio Heater
Unless you live in an area that doesn’t experience winter, there’s a good chance your patio goes unused for a good portion of the year. That doesn’t have to be the case if you purchase the best patio heater, and in this guide, we’re going to tell you what to look for to keep your porch warm and usable in the colder months.
What type of patio do you have?
The term patio can be used rather loosely depending on what part of the United States you live in. In some parts of the country, people refer to patios as porches, and these outside areas can be covered or open-air as well.
For some homeowners, a patio could be a simple concrete slab with a table and room for a few chairs. In other cases, it’s an area where people entertain or lead into a pool area. While the goal of this guide is to help you keep warm on your outdoor deck or patio, you need to consider its size and how you use it in the fall and winter before thinking about a style of heater.
Patio Heater Power
In most cases, there are three options when it comes to power and patio heaters. Each has its own distinct advantages and disadvantages, and your choice could be limited by your budget or power access outdoors as well.
Electric Patio Heaters
For homeowners with tight budgets, an electric outdoor heater is an excellent choice. They are available in a range of sizes with floor standing models and heaters you can mount to the wall. You’ll often find more features on these models as well, including remote controls, electronic thermostats, and timers.
Any electric heater requires access to a power outlet, so you will need to have a 120-volt or 240-volt outlet nearby. That means you also have to consider the cord length and placement of these heaters unless they are hardwired. Upkeep is minimal on electric heaters, but they may not hold up as long as a gas-based system that’s built for the outdoors.
Propane Patio Heaters
Propane heaters are a great alternative to an electric porch heater and provide several advantages that show why they are the top-selling type of outdoor heater. These heaters use propane tanks, which can be concealed within the heater itself or hooked up to a gas line. They have considerably more power than an electric model and are ideal when you need heat quickly outdoors.
The downside to propane heaters is pricing. Propane heaters are more expensive up front, and you will need to supply gas to the system as well. You can use small 1-pound tanks with tabletop heaters but may need to pick up 20-pound tanks frequently during the winter for larger heaters. Gas leaks and safety are also concerns, even if the heater receives ample ventilation outdoors.
Natural Gas Outdoor Heaters
Last, but certainly not least, are heaters that use natural gas. If you already have natural gas in your home for your stove or HVAC system, you’ll want to strongly consider this type of heater as they are efficient and affordable to run when cold weather begins to set in. You will be somewhat limited when it comes to form factors, however, as most of these heaters are mounted.
The obvious drawback to natural gas heaters is the cost to run a new line for your patio heater. Even if you have an existing gas line, tapping into it for a new line isn’t exactly cheap. Carbon monoxide detectors and other safety measures should be in place when using natural gas heaters as well.
What size patio heater do I need?
In order to understand how powerful a heater is, you need to look at the wattage for electric heaters or the BTU rating if it uses natural gas or propane for fuel. If you are unfamiliar with BTUs, otherwise known as British Thermal Units, our guide can help you understand more about these measurements are used.
Things can get tricky if you are purchasing a heater for large indoor areas, where insulation, windows, and doors can greatly affect a heater’s efficiency. Well, decks, patios, or porches are open areas with ample airflow, which tends to simplify things as you know you’re going to lose some heat.
The best way to figure out how large of a heater you need for an outdoor space is to consider the size of the patio itself, along with how many people you’re trying to keep warm. Large patios will require a larger heater, but if you only need to warm a few people, placement and the style of the heater is just as important.
The Cost to Operate a Patio Heater
The cost to operate a heater is one of the top questions we receive from our readers on a regular basis, and for a good reason. Some heaters are more efficient than others, and if you plan on using the heater daily, it’s a good idea to know how much it will cost to run.
Electricity is sold by the kilowatt-hour, and that price varies depending on where you live and the time of year. A consumer living in Louisiana with a rate of $0.08 per kWh can run an electric heater cheaper than someone on the West Coast that pays $0.13 per kilowatt-hour. How long you actually run the heater matters as well, but you can figure up the rough cost of any electric heater quickly as long as you know the rate for electricity in your area.
Things are different with propane, which is typically sold in prefilled tanks. A small 1-pound canister is inexpensive but may not last long, depending on the BTU rating of the heater and your settings. 20-pound tanks provide more burn time, but you still have to consider the cost of propane itself. You can expect to pay anywhere between $2.00 to $4.00 per gallon to have the tank refilled, depending on where you reside.
Natural gas is an affordable source of heat, and just like propane, it’s price will fluctuate throughout the year. It’s billed as therms on your utility bill if you already have a gas line to your home. Otherwise, you will need to check the natural gas rates in your area to find the cost of operating a patio heater powered by natural gas.
Types of Patio Heaters
Do you want a heater that can double as a table on your patio or something you can mount overhead for directional heat? When it comes to patio heater styles, there are countless options to choose from, including smaller portable systems and more permanent solutions.
Free-standing or standalone heaters are incredibly popular and don’t take up much floor space on a patio or deck. Most are easy to move around, and you can find tall or heavy models which wheeled and weighted bases.
Propane heaters are the most common style of free-standing patio heater, but electric tower heaters fall into this category as well. Any heater in this class should have a tip-over switch to shut things down if an accident occurs, and you need to keep clearance in mind with any tall free-standing heater if you have a covered patio.
Any heater we refer to as mounted or mountable can be installed on the wall or ceiling. These heaters are the perfect choice for directed heat or homeowners with smaller porches and patios. They are often lightweight but can cost more than other styles of outdoor heaters depending on the build quality and size.
There are mountable models geared to work with natural gas, propane, and electricity. The range on these heaters may not be sufficient for larger spaces, and the styles are also limited. There are also a number of flush-mounted and thin wall heaters that would look great on any patio, but they often come with a premium price tag.
As the name implies, any tabletop patio heater is small enough to sit comfortably on a table outdoors. While an electric heater may seem ideal, they are the least popular option due to the power cord. Propane heaters are usually the best choice for an outdoor table, and there are some very attractive units on the market as well.
Unfortunately, you can pay more for a miniature propane tabletop heater than you will for a full-sized model. While highly efficient at heating small areas or groups of people, these heaters should always be safe and stable with a wide sturdy base and tip-over protection.
Fire pits have been used outdoors for centuries, and thanks to technology, you can now enjoy a wood-free fire pit on your patio. These systems use propane more often than not, although there are also a handful of high-quality natural gas and dual fuel models available. When you want a large, decorative addition for your outdoor space, this type of heater is the best option.
There are two drawbacks to using a fire pit on your porch, and the first is a deal-breaker for some. These systems are borderline “heaters” and don’t put out nearly as much warmth as regular outdoor heaters. They can also be quite expensive, even if they are perfect for entertaining and give you a place to congregate or simply rest your drinks.
Whenever you’re using a heater, safety should always on your mind regardless of the style or how it’s powered. Some types of heaters are considered safer than others, and there are a few other things you’ll want to consider with outdoor patio heater safety.
The first thing to keep in mind when using or operating an outdoor heater is clearance. You need to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to the letter and make sure you have enough space around the heater. Keep anything remotely combustible away from the heater, along with anything that could potentially melt like plastic cups or toys.
With floor-standing heaters, you need to make sure they are heavy enough to not topple or secure them in place. That’s true for both tall heaters and tabletop models, regardless of safety features like tip-over switches. If using natural gas or propane, consider ventilation as well. That shouldn’t be an issue with open porches, but proper ventilation is a must if you want these heaters to operate safely and efficiently.
The last area we want to touch on has to do with assembly. Many heaters will require some assembly, and putting a propane or natural gas heater together wrong can be disastrous. While that shouldn’t be an issue with a good instruction manual, sharp edges on solid metal heaters will slice your hands open in seconds. That will definitely slow down the installation process and happens more often than you think.
Outdoor Patio Heater Warranties
Normally when we cover any product, we like to include warranty information in our table along with other technical specifications. We didn’t do that this time around because every heater on our list has a standard 1-year warranty. Some may offer longer guarantees on certain parts of their systems like the burner, but a short warranty certainly isn’t ideal given the price of some of these heaters.
Our best advice when purchasing any of the heaters on our list of an expensive model, in general, is to consider an extended warranty. It’s something you can purchase through almost any retailer online or locally, especially when you’re dealing with major companies like Amazon, Home Depot, or Lowes. Replacement parts are also an option, although usually only available for high-end heaters.
Firing up a heater on your patio in the fall is a great way to extend its usefulness when the temperature drops. That said, choosing the best patio heater can turn your favorite outdoor area into an oasis during winter and make it a great place to spend time with friends and family all year long.