A patio is a great place for entertaining and unwinding. But the cold evening air can kill the good atmosphere. A good solution is a patio heater that will allow you to make the most of your time outdoors both in summer and cold winter. They have become quite popular the recent years and now there is a big choice of models available. There are also many variations in style and the power source. You can find heaters that use firewood or artificial logs, as well propane and natural gas powered heaters.
To get the best quality and most efficiency, look for the best patio heater. Below we have provided patio heater reviews of the top picks in 2014. Choosing a patio heater, consider a power sources that would be more suitable for you as well as the design, with the look of which you will be happy all year long. But keep in mind that patio heaters are designed to affect only the area that’s in close proximity. So don’t expect your whole patio to be flooded with heat.
Top Patio Heaters on the Market
1. AZ Patio Heaters HLDSO-WGTHG Quartz Glass Tube Patio Heater
The HLDSO-WGTHG by AZ Patio Heaters is a pyramid shaped unit with a bronze finish. It features a 40,000 BTUs output produced by 2 quartz tubes. The tubes create a 2 feet flame that adds an ambiance with a beautiful light and fills the patio with heat. The heating radius of the unit is around 5 feet.
The heater is powered by propane, the tank of which is located in the bottom of the tower. This also makes the part of the unit near ground cool to the touch, so you don’t need to worry if you have children around. The propane tank is sold separately. 1 propane tank provides you with up to 8 hours of heat.
The HLDSO-WHTHG also provides easy mobility as it has a wheeled base. So you can easily move it around your patio to the place where you are entertaining.
The total height of this heating tower is 91 inches with the height of the heating tubes being 87 inches..
2. Fire Sense Hammer Bronze Commercial Patio Heater
The Fire Sense commercial patio heater is a 66 inches tall unit that also comes in an attractive bronze finish. It is made from high grade stainless steel and built with a strong construction. The heating grid has a double mantle and with the stainless steel burners this unit is designed for long lasting durability. This best propane patio heater is commonly used in restaurants and other commercial as well as home settings.
The unit also uses propane, the tank for which the buyer needs to purchase separately. One propane tank for this heater lasts about 10 hours of heating.
The Fire Sense radiates the heat with a radius of around 18 feet, providing a good coverage of a patio area during chilly evenings. At the top of the unit it features an aluminum reflector for pushing the heat down and preventing it from slipping upward.
The heat output for this patio heater is 46,000 BTUs. For easy lighting up it features a Piezo ignition, which makes it a simple single stage process. Same as the previous model, this heater also comes with the wheels. For safety, the Fire Sense is designed with an auto shut off tilt valve.
Lava Heat Italia EMBER-COP Outdoor Patio Heater
The Lava Heat Italia EMBER-COP is one of the top rated patio heaters. It’s got a beautiful design and a solid durable construction that is fully made of stainless steel with a copper finish. It’s one of the more priced best outdoor patio heaters on our list, but it definitely brings good value for the money.
Its features include an easy start electronic igniter and adjustable heat settings. The power source is also the propane, giving heating for up to 14 hours. It’s a compact unit measuring 72 inches in height, but it provides an impressive amount of heating. Its 51,000 BTUs can provide warmth for areas of up to 400 square feet.
The EMBER-COP features a Borosilicate glass tube that creates a unique spiral flame, adding elegance to the look of the unit and ambience to the natural flame.
For convenient storage during the warmer times, the unit is collapsible from 6 feet to 4. For safety in case the heater gets tilted over, it features an auto switch.
3. Fire Sense Stainless Steel Deluxe Patio Heater
One more Fire Sense patio heater review made to our list of top picks. It’s also a propane based heater that offers a heating radius of its 47,000 BTUs to about 18 feet. Like the previously mentioned Fire Sense heater, this unit also comes with dome shaped top that pushes the heat down instead of upward, providing better heating of the area.
The Fire Sense Deluxe heater is made with optimal durability with its stainless steel heating grid and burners. As most of the Fire Sense heaters, it has the safety feature for shut off in case of the unit tilting over.
The Piezo igniter makes the lighting up process easy and fast. It also offers easy mobility with the attached wheels.
4. Deckmate Corona Outdoor Chimenea Fireplace 30075
If you prefer vintage designs, then you can add a chic look to your patio or decking area with the Deckmate Corona chimenea fireplace. The durable construction of this unit features heavy-duty iron casting with designer embossing. It has a bulb shape and wire mesh screening that gives a 360-degree view of the fire.
This Deckmate fireplace is fueled by firewood and artificial logs, which you can add to the fire through the large sliding door. You can fit inside the firebox a standard 16-inch log.
It’s an inexpensive patio heater that has a solid but simple to put together construction. It’s compact but provides efficient heating.
5. Heininger 5995 Portable Outdoor Fire Pit
The Heininger 5995 is one of the best rated patio heaters. It’s not a traditional patio heater, but fire pits are also a great way to heat an outdoor area and they becoming more popular. It’s only 19 inches in diameter but works providing whopping 58,000 BTUs.
It looks like a real fire but works on propane, for which it has an attached 10-foot hose and a regulator for adjusting the heat. It doesn’t have an internal storage for the propane tank, so it might be difficult to hide it.
The lava rocks of the Heininger 5995 fire pit look great even when it’s off. When it’s working, you can enjoy the warmth without the annoying smoke and sparks. It’s perfect for patios, tailgating and camping.
6. UniFlame WAD820SP Slate & Marble Fire Pit
One more great fire pit is the UniFlame WAD820SP model. Unlike the previous unit, this model works of firewood.
This fire pit is a beautiful addition to any patio or decking with its design made from marble and slate. The firewood is loaded into the black porcelain firebowl. It measures 22 inches in diameter, so it’s enough to load about 3 standard firewood logs. The total diameter of the unit is 34 inches, so it’s also not too bulky.
It’s easy to put together and in no time you can have a cozy fire burning. If you have kids around however, you should be careful, as the bottom of the firebowl can get hot.
7. Endless Summer GWT801B Tabletop Patio Heater
Among the tabletop patio heaters the Endless Summer GWT801B heater stands out. It also works on propane and as with some of the previously mentioned tower patio heaters its drawback is that you need to purchase the propane tank separately.
It is well built with strong stainless steel construction. For lighting up it features the Piezo ignition and heats up a 10-foot circle around the unit.
The unit includes a fire protection feature, as it automatically turns off of gets tipped or knocked over.
8. Fire Sense Mocha Finish Square Flame Heater
One more from our Fire Sense patio heater reviews is of the Square Flame heater. This stylish unit adds a new dimension to outdoor heating. The artistic centerpiece provides a unique visual flame that sends the heat in every direction.
The durability of the heater is provided by the stainless steel base, burners and heating grid, and aluminum grill.
It uses a 20 lb LPG tank, which is not included with the heater. Approximate time of one tank is 10 hours. It features the same as for all the other Fire Sense patio heaters the Piezo igniter.
9. Fire Sense Hanging Halogen Patio Heater
The last but not least pick on our list is the Fire Sense hanging heater, which is a great option for those looking for the best electric patio heater. However, to use this unit you will need a ceiling, so you can hang it over the area where you would like to use it.
It is powered by the standard household electric current and comes with an 8-foot electrical cord.
It works really quietly and can provide not just heat but also light. However, this heater is recommended more for mildly cold weathers. In really cold conditions it won’t provide enough heat.
The Buying Guide
A great way to extend the season of the use of the outdoor patio, poolside or deck, is with the help of a patio heater. Above you can check the reviews of the best models available this year. However, if you are not sure where to start in choosing the right heater, this buying guide will help with the all the information on the features to look for in order to make sure you get the best quality for money.
Choose the Type of Fuel for the Patio Heater
All patio heaters use either propane or natural gas type of fuel. One more type of patio heaters uses electric power. Each of the tree types has its benefits and downsides. You can read on each one below to understand which one would be the best for you.
- Propane. This type of patio heaters is one of the most commonly chosen due to some of the advantages it offers. One of the benefits you get with a propane fueled patio heater is the ease of use. There’s no complicated installation to be done that would require a professional plumber’s help or any difficult maintenance. The propane tank is usually placed inside the heater unit and stays out of the way and sight. Propane also provides unparalleled mobility of the heater since you can place it anywhere the tank will stand. Propane provides efficient operation of the heater and gives instant heat.There’s also a downside to using propane as fuel for the heater. Propane is more costly compared to other types of fuel and requires regular maintenance and refills of the tank. Also, if you are using the patio heater for commercial application, the unit can run out of fuel and stop providing heat at inopportune moments.
- Natural gas. With a natural gas fueled patio heater there’s even less maintenance as there’re no regular refills of the tank to be done. To get it working you will need to attach to the natural gas line. After you hook it up, you will have constant supply of fuel and continuous heat. Natural gas heaters are also considered to be the more efficient type and the fuel is cheaper compared to propane.The downside of this type of fuel is that more care should be taken for the installation. So you will probably need the help of a plumber to help set up the lines. One more disadvantage is that after connecting the heater to a gas line, you will not be able to move it around.
- Electric patio heaters. If you choose an electrically powered patio heater, the benefits you will get include ease of use and the ability to use them in partially enclosed areas. An electric patio heater can be placed at any place where there’s access to an outlet, so it can be used almost anywhere. They are also extremely low maintenance in comparison to heaters fueled by propane. As for the cost of operation, it’s in between propane and natural gas. Electric patio heaters are very efficient and they can quickly warm up your patio or deck.As with the above ones, there’re also some disadvantages. Though for some people these might not be an issue. There’re not always outlets available around the poolside and it’s not very convenient to run a long electrical cord through the area. Also, some of the people might prefer the other two types because of the flame effect that they give.
The Size of the Area You Need to Heat
Patio heaters are available with different heating capacity and different sizes. Knowing the heating capacity you need is one of the most important factors in choosing your patio heater. The heating power is usually measured in watts or BTUs (British Thermal Units). The higher number of BTUs the heater has, the greater its heating ability. An average freestanding patio heater will have a power output of about 40,000 BTUs. Other types of patio hears, such as table top models, ceiling or wall mount heaters, have a less power output and are designed to heat smaller areas.
Check the Safety Features
A portable outdoor heater should be equipped with some essential safety features to keep you safe from fire. Below are some of the basic safety features a patio should have.
- Automatic shut-off. In order to prevent overheating that could potentially cause a fire hazard, the heater should have an automatic switch that turns the unit off if it gets too hot.
- Tilt-over protection. This safety feature prevents fire by switching off the heating element in the case if the unit gets knocked over.
- Cool to the touch housing. An important features especially if you have pets or kids around. Some of the heaters come with special glass on the furnace that keeps it cool to the touch.
- Approved. Check the description of the heater if it is listed and approved by such safety organizations as UL or CSA. Having a safety approval means that it has been evaluated and it has met all the safety standards.
Most of the patio heaters don’t require much maintenance, which is one of their benefits. To clean the unit you can just wipe the surface with some water and mild soap. Just be careful with using the abrasive cleaner. For some of the heaters it can cause damage. Check the owner’s manual to see what are the cleaning requirements for your specific model.
Other than occasional wiping of the surface, the only other maintenance required is only if you have a propane heater. You will to regularly refill the fuel tank.
Check the assembly type of the patio heater. A lot of the heaters will come fully or at least partially assembled. So almost right out of the box you can set it up and at once put it to use. For other models, you will just need to attach the dome to the lower part. Some heaters come fully unassembled. So unless you want to spend a lot of time assembling the unit, check that it has at least partial assembly.
Ignition type. Most of the modern patio heaters will have ignition with just a push of a button. Most of the models use a piezo electric ignition. It works by producing sparks which interact with the fuel. More high-end heaters offer electronic ignition.
Controls. On some of the models you will find electronic controls for adjusting the heat level. You might even want to get a heater that comes with a remote control. Look for a heater that has simple setting controls.
The flame effect. If you are using a propane or natural gas patio heater, the unit will have some type of flame. On most of the models there will be settings for adjusting the ambiance and the desired heat level.
How Do Patio Heaters Work?
Most of the patio heaters use either propane or natural to warm the air. However, there’re also some electric options available as well. Patio heaters can have the power of up to 4000 watts. Some of the dual element heaters use up to 8000 watts.
Patio heaters feature propane cylinders located at the base of the heater and a gas line that runs into the burner assembly of the unit. A regulator is connected to the cylinders in order to control the flow of gas from the cylinder to the burner. The regulator is also connected to the gas burner via a high pressure hose. The gas line and the burner assembly are both attached to a post which is topped with a dome emitter that is located at the very top of the lamp. The propane travels up from the tank and goes through the hose, the gas line and regulator. Following through the burner to the top of the post, the propane is burned and is emitted through the dome emitter.
Patio Heater Safety
- Patio heaters should not be used in confined spaces. If you want to use the heater on your patio under a roof, it’s recommended to choose an electric patio heater.
- Make sure that there’s plenty of fresh air available.
- Follow all safety precautions as advised by the manufacturer’s safety instructions.
- Have the heater serviced on a regular basis.
The Bottom Line
There are many different options available, so you can choose according to your preference or needs. More fire safe options are the tower heaters like Fire Sense or AZ heaters. They usually have the base stay cool to the touch and the flame protected in a glass tube. Moreover, most of them have a safety feature included for shut off in cases if the heater gets knocked over.
Fire pits add a really nice touch to patios or decking, and some can also be used for camping. However, they are less child and pet safe, as they have parts that get hot.
The patio heaters we have mentioned in this article were chosen based on their performance, efficiency, design, features and ratings. We hope that with our best patio heater reviews you have been able to find the perfect model that will keep you warm in the outdoors.