Welcome to the website about Outdoor Patio Heaters. We will help you decide which product is the best one for your needs.
When you build a patio, it is normally an outdoor space that is linked to your home. But generally without any doors or windows and is often exposed to the outside weather. This can make these areas quite cold in winters and require you to be properly covered with sweaters, blankets, or shawls so that you can stay warm and yet be able to take advantage of being outside. This is not the only way you can enjoy your being outside and not cooped up in a home, like most of us would be on cold, wintery days. You can take advantage of the many devices in the form of patio heaters that can provide you the needed warmth. They leave you free from the constriction that blankets, shawls, and sweaters inevitably bring with them.
A patio heater is one that heats the outdoor area of your patio and works by using some kind of fuel to warm the open space. You can use them outdoor only. But many models will be of great use in porches and similar outdoor spaces that are covered, and thus less affected by the outside weather. Most of these heaters are mushroom-shaped or pyramid-shaped and can bring the needed warmth to your favorite outdoor spot. Then you can spend time with family and friends, or just by yourself, enjoying a good book or some music.
Types of Patio Heaters
All patio heaters need some sort of fuel to provide the heat that can create the necessary warmth on your patio. They have to be designed for use outdoors but can equally be of use in heating large covered areas. You can get models that are floor mounted, which is the most common, or even models that can be mounted on walls, kept on a tabletop, or even hanging from the ceiling. If the design of your patio is for preparing meals like barbecues, fire pits can also serve to heat the patios as long as you have them working.
Another form is a chiminea, which is a clay pot with fire inside like a fireplace. Chimineas nowadays may also be made of cast iron or steel, and be equally effective as an outdoor fireplace. A chiminea has a wide bottom base that narrows to a vertical chimney that allows smoke to leave the fire created in the chiminea. It will have a wide opening on its side that allows you access to the fire pit in the heating device. Its design allows you to use it even when it rains, as the flame is protected from being extinguished.
Chimineas are later designs of the original potbelly stoves. Those were widely used in East Europe in the previous centuries and burned wood. Some of these types of stoves were used not only for providing warmth but also for cooking meals. It is a form of a contained fire pit and the use of aromatic woods to burn in them for providing the needed heat makes them quite desirable on patios. Modern-day chimineas burn gas or propane and you can use them in areas where the burning of wood is banned.
Chimineas work best if they have their back to any breeze or wind that your patio direction regularly has to contend with. It is advisable to position the chiminea in a way that the flames in it are visible from inside the house. If any embers or sparks fly out, you will be immediately aware of the danger. You should also place them far away from anything that can catch fire from its warmth.
When you use a patio heater, whether it is a chiminea or other heating device, you need to make sure to position them in safe areas protected by preferably fireproof materials. This may be difficult if your patio has a wooden deck. But you can get fireproof mats on the floor, where you will be placing the heater. Also, make sure that none of the furniture or other things near the heater are those that will not catch fire, or get damaged or distorted by heat. Take the same precautions that you would for the area around a fireplace in the house.
Patio heaters are usually radiant heating appliances that generate the needed heat for use in outdoor spaces. Most of them have burners on top of poles that can burn LPG, propane, or butane. The flames created by the burner are covered by a circular metal screen that then radiates the heat in a circular pattern all around the heater. To take advantage of the heat that travels upwards from the flames, the heaters can have reflectors that reflect the heat. You can also have models that use electrical heating elements for providing the heat.
Commercial Outdoor Patio Heaters
Patio heaters are also used by restaurants and cafes in their sections which are outdoors so that their customers can be warm while enjoying their meals. When you choose a product you must take into consideration the heating area and the distance of the heater from the seating area in the patio. You can heat-up a small patio with just one heater, but larger spaces may require more than one, or larger capacity models. You can always calculate the thermal output needed to warm your patio and then buy the heaters accordingly.
Propane and natural gas heater outputs are measured in BTU or British Thermal Units. Patio heaters will have outputs in thousands or tens of thousands of BTUs. The volume of air you need to heat-up in the patio needs to be first estimated. You then need to know the difference in temperature that you need to heat-up the patio compared to the normal temperature in your region. In winters this can be quite low and the difference can be as much as 30 degrees to reach a cozy temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
These two figures, the volume, and the temperature difference tell you the BTUs you need for the heating. You can then look for one or several heaters that can give you this required BTU. If you need heaters for an occasional outdoor event you can even rent the needed device and save yourself the expense of buying them.
Patio heaters can cause damage or injury, and also result in fires, if not used correctly and safely. Most manufacturers give detailed instructions for the safe use of their heaters, and the spaces and ways you can use them. It is always best to follow these down to the letter and take additional precautions. Consider having fire extinguishers, sand buckets, or plenty of water around when you use these heaters. The safest way of using them is to create plenty of space around a heater. And at all times avoid being in direct contact with them.
You need to be extra careful if children or pets are on the patio. See that they always remain far away from the heaters. This is where positioning the heater in a protected area, or having them at a height or on the wall can increase the degree of safety. Models that use gas or wood are not safe for use on covered patios. You always have to watch fire pits or chimineas for embers from the burning material. You also need to see that the heaters are always stable and firm. Never in danger of tipping over, as they can then start a fire. Some models use extra weight to prevent this, but if you can anchor them, this reduces the chances of accidents.
For additional safety guidelines take a look at the National Fire Protection Association’s Fact Sheet.
You should always cover the patio heater when you do not use it. You can also take them into the home if they are easily portable. A cover would prevent dust and debris from getting into the heater, as also any rainwater or insects. Like all devices, you need to regularly clean and maintain your patio heaters, so that they work at their maximum efficiency. When you use a patio heater, you must make sure that it has at least two or three feet of clearance from all sides, including the top. It should never be close to the ceiling of your patio. Ventilation is a must for models that use gas, or wood. But at the same time, this must in no way expose the heater to high winds or sudden gusts. Those could cause the flames from the heater to spread.
The most common heaters for patios are those that burn propane. They will often have a space that can safely store a cylinder of the gas. Such a device is compact and self-contained. These models have a reasonable price and you can easily move them from place to place. You can’t use high output propane heaters in covered settings. Ventilation, as well as clearance, are important for their safe use.
Heaters that use natural gas, are quite cheap to use, as the gas will cost less than bottled gas. But they require a connection to a source of natural gas and will require piping and other work to be in a fixed place. There is no chance to move them later easily. This makes it very important to take a lot of care in deciding where to place them, as to make any changes, which would require redoing the piping. It will also in a way prevent you from in any way changing your seating arrangements, as the area that it will heat will be defined.
The heaters that are the best for heating a patio in your garden are those that use electricity. All that they need is an electrical outlet. They will require the same care in positioning as other heaters but need to have an outlet nearby. As the power consumption of these is quite high, depending on the heat they produce, you must take a lot of care in having proper electrical wiring of the right capacity, and constantly check the wiring.
Electric heaters are expensive to run but you can safely use them even in covered patios. There is no need for any added ventilation for burning flames. Using infrared devices will ensure most of the heat is absorbed by objects around the heater rather than lost in the air. You need to take the same care for providing the heater with space. And we care to see that they are not vulnerable to rainwater or spilled liquids, as this can be a cause of a short-circuit. The electrical outlet to which these heaters are connected should be linked to a separate circuit. Ideally with its own circuit breaker will shut-off in case of any current overload.
Wood (Fire Pits)
You might prefer a traditional atmosphere with a fire in a fire pit. Nothing can replace watching flames burning wood. It is also great if you appreciate the physical activity it brings. You need to collect and cut wood. Also, consider that fire pits leave a bit of a mess in form of ashes. After you finish, there is some clean-up to do.
Patio heaters, like chimineas, or others like fire pits are the cheapest options for heating your patio. They will give off smoke that will need to be led away. This makes them unsuitable for covered patios. The smoke from fires can at times also make it uncomfortable, but it is similar to a fireplace in a home. If you have been using fireplaces in your home, you will know well all the care and precautions that you need to take for wood burning patio heaters.
Outdoor patio heaters can make it very pleasant to use your outdoor spaces like patios, decks, or gazebos. Even in the coldest of winters. Make sure you always turn off the heaters when you retire for the night. Gas models need to have the gas taps closed off, and electric heaters need to have the controls switched off, even if they are off the automatic variety. Fire pits need to have the fires properly quenched and embers removed. Your heaters will have some residual warmth even after you turn them off. Be careful to see that they are not near anything that can be damaged by heat.