The Best Outdoor Heaters (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
Stay toasty and enjoy the outdoors, no matter how cold the winter weather is.
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BY Andra DelMonico / LAST UPDATED ON February 16, 2021
You love your outdoor living space. It has comfortable couches for relaxing during cocktail hour and a sizable table for hosting dinners. During the summer, you soak up the sun and embrace the outdoor living lifestyle. But when the temperatures drop it can be too cold to spend hours outside on your patio.
It doesn’t have to be this way. A few well placed outdoor heaters can make your patio a comfortable place to hang out, even if the weather is chilly. Outdoor heaters come in various sizes and styles, from small and portable to large stationary units. This guide will guide you through the process of choosing the best outdoor heater for your patio.
This tall heater is made of durable stainless steel and runs on propane. It reaches a maximum of 48,000 BTUs with a control valve to adjust the heat level.
- Heat control valve
- Heats up to 200 square feet
- No wheels
- Requires assembly
This portable heater is gas-powered and comes in either red or grey. There are three heat levels, 4,000, 9,000, and 18,000 BTUs.
- Heats up to 450 square feet
- Automatic low oxygen shut off
- No fan assembly or switch included
- Small size
This gas-powered stainless steel heater comes with an LED table. It has adjustable heat that’s capable of a maximum of 47,000 BTUs.
- Adjustable table with LED Light
- Easy-start electronic ignition
- Not durable construction material
- Less stylish
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Benefits of an Outdoor Heater
- Comfort. No one wants to hang out on your patio and shiver. Placing a few outdoor heaters creates a radiant warmth that makes your patio a pleasant place to be when the weather gets cold. Now you can use your outdoor space throughout more of the seasons.
- Efficient. Several outdoor heater options offer affordable and efficient heating methods. This makes them affordable to purchase and run. You’ll also appreciate that you won’t have to pay to heat a space bigger than what you’re using. This makes you more likely to want to use your heaters.
- Portability. You can move your heaters around. Position your tall stand heaters around your outdoor dining table to keep everyone warm while eating. Have them by your couches and coffee table for outdoor cocktail hour. Move them to your front garage area to stay warm while working.
Types of Outdoor Heaters
You’ll like the modern appearance of these outdoor heaters, and they’ll add to the ambiance of your patio. They are useful in heating smaller areas and are affordable. This style features a square or round base with the heating element extending the heater’s length vertically.
The downside of this style is that it’s not as efficient and heats a smaller area than the other types. They also lack wind resistance, which makes them ineffective in windy conditions. There are also no directional controls, so they’re great at atmospheric heat but inadequate at directional heating.
This heater style features a large round base designed for holding a propane tank, a long pole, and the heating element on top with a mushroom cap on top. They come in a wide range of sizes. This makes them ideal for small spaces. The tall height makes them ideal for areas where you’ll be standing or walking. They’re also the least expensive type.
The downside of this type is that they can get easily tipped over, and they are only effective at heating the space immediately around them. You also can’t control the direction of the heat.
If you’re willing to invest in your heater, then consider this type. It’s the most expensive, but also the most modern, efficient, and wind-resistant. You can set the heater off to the side and point the heat in the direction you want it to go. It will take fewer of this type of heater to warm a space than the other types.
The downside of this heater is that it has a larger footprint than the others. This makes it less than ideal for tight spaces.
The Hampton Bay brand is a product of Home Depot. Its products are of good quality with affordable pricing. Since Home Depot stores are found across the country, you can easily shop these home decor and appliance products, both in-person and online. The Hampton Bay Pyramid Patio Heater is both stylish and effective.
The Gorilla Gadgets product line features high-quality and innovative items for your home. The brand stands out for having some of the best prices you can find. The products sold are heaters, batteries, chargers, smartphone cases, and health gadgets. The Gorilla Gadgets Patio Heater features quality construction and dependable heating performance.
Sam’s Club distributes the Member’s Mark brand. You’ll need to be a member to shop at Sam’s Club to purchase products under this brand. You’ll find everything from food to home goods in the product line. You’ll like the Member's Mark Patio Heater with its stylish design and convenient table.
Outdoor Heater Pricing
- Under $200: These are small heaters that will be very portable or can mount on the wall or sit on the table. They’re affordable and effective at heating smaller spaces.
- $200 to $350: There are many heaters in this price range that either wall or ceiling mount or stand-alone. You'll find a variety of features, power types, and sizes.
- $350 and up: These are high-end heaters that can heat the largest amount of space. They’re freestanding and made of the most durable materials.
This is the fuel that runs your outdoor heater. You have the option of choosing electric, natural gas, or propane. Electric heaters tend to have the smallest profiles but are also the most expensive to run. Natural gas heaters have the highest BTU outputs and are the most affordable to run. Propane is great if you want a portable heater and value convenience and versatility.
This doesn’t refer to the heater’s ability to avoid getting tipped over. It tells you the heater’s ability to warm the area around it when there’s a slight breeze. If you live in a windy area, you’ll want to consider an infrared heater. They warm objects and not the air, making them very wind resistant. Natural gas and propane heaters warm the air, so they’ll work harder to keep an area warm when there’s wind.
Measure the size of your patio and the square footage of the area you want to keep warm. The heater you buy needs to warm this space effectively. You may need more than one heater to accomplish this. The BTU rating and wattage can help you determine a heater’s coverage area, but you can also check to see if it’s specifically listed.
- Stages. You won’t want the same amount of heat every time you use your heater. During the coldest days, you may want it on full blast. On spring and fall days, you may only want a little bit of heat. Multiple stages let you control the amount of heat it produces.
- Controls. Look for a heater that has easily accessed controls. Some have the controls on the unit, which makes them simple but sometimes hard to reach. Others have remotes, which are easy to use from far away. However, if you have multiple heaters, you may end up with several remotes to keep track of.
- Construction Material. Choose a heater that’s made of a durable material that won’t corrode. Aluminum is an excellent choice because it’s corrosion-resistant, affordable, and lightweight. Coated stainless steel is durable and gives you color options. Marine-grade stainless steel is great for harsh conditions and is very durable, but these models look more industrial and are expensive.
Best Outdoor Heater Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Try to shelter your heater and patio from the wind. This will help your heater warm the air more effectively.
- Always read the safety warnings when deciding where to place your heater. Propane and natural gas heaters can create a fire risk. Your heater should never be placed near anything flammable.
- Maintain your heater to keep it running. Bring your heater inside or cover it during inclement weather. If there are strong winds, tie your heater down or move it to a wind-protected area.
Q: What is the most efficient outdoor heater?
The most efficient outdoor heaters are electric ones. They use infrared heating and aren’t susceptible to wind. This means they don’t have to work harder in windy weather like other types of heaters.
Q: Which is better, a gas or electric outdoor heater?
Electric heaters give you more versatility in how you install them. Gas heaters are more affordable to run. Which one is better will depend on what your priorities are. Limited space makes electric heaters better. If you’re on a tight budget, then gas heaters are better.
Q: How long do outdoor propane heaters last?
How long your propane tank lasts will depend on the level of BTUs it’s running at. You could expect your heater to run for about ten hours. Run your heater on a lower stage, and it will heat for longer. Running your heater at high BTUs will shorten the heater run time.
You can’t go wrong with the Hampton Bay Stainless Steel Patio Heater with its range of heating temperatures, tall height, and large heating radius. If you’re looking for a more affordable option, consider the Mr. Heater MH18B Propane Heater; its small size makes it portable, and it’s loaded with safety features.