Reviews

The Best Outdoor Heaters (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021

Stay toasty and enjoy the outdoors, no matter how cold the winter weather is.

Entering our 7th season of /DRIVE on NBC Sports, and with millions of YouTube and Facebook followers, The Drive is a leading authority of all things automotive.

The Drive on NBC The Drive on YouTube The Drive on Facebook

The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.

BY Andra DelMonico / LAST UPDATED ON February 11, 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.

Best Overall
Hampton Bay Stainless Steel Patio Heater
LEARN MORE
Summary
Summary

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.

Pros
Pros
  • Heat control valve
  • Heats up to 200 square feet
Cons
Cons
  • No wheels 
  • Requires assembly
Best Overall
Hampton Bay Stainless Steel Patio Heater
Best Value
Mr. Heater Propane Heater
LEARN MORE
Summary
Summary

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.

Pros
Pros
  • Heats up to 450 square feet
  • Automatic low oxygen shut off
Cons
Cons
  • No fan assembly or switch included 
  • Small size
Best Value
Mr. Heater Propane Heater
Honorable Mention
Member's Mark Patio Heater with LED Table
LEARN MORE
Summary
Summary

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.

Pros
Pros
  • Adjustable table with LED Light
  • Easy-start electronic ignition
Cons
Cons
  • Not durable construction material 
  • Less stylish
Honorable Mention
Member's Mark Patio Heater with LED Table
Outdoor Heater Close Up
Amazon

Why Trust Us


All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

Learn more

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

Quartz Tube  

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. 

Mushroom 

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. 

Bromic Tungsten

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. 

Top Brands

Hampton Bay

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. 

Gorilla Gadgets

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. 

Member's Mark

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.

Key Features

Power Type

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. 

Wind Resistance 

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. 

Coverage Area

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.

Other Considerations

  • 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

Best Overall
Hampton Bay Stainless Steel Patio Heater

This mushroom-style outdoor heater stands just under eight feet tall and has a beautiful brushed stainless steel finish. The high quality and durability of this heater will add to your patio decor. It has an adjustable BTU output that ranges from 40,000 to 48,000 BTUs per hour. To power your heater, connect a standard 20-pound propane tank. The tank tucks neatly into the base of the heater, which keeps everything looking beautiful and stabilizes the heater. You’ll effectively heat up to 200 square feet. There’s an easy-to-use dial for controlling the heat intensity and a push-button igniter. 


Unfortunately, this heater doesn’t have wheels. This can make it challenging to move around. You’ll also need to assemble it upon arrival, and the instructions can be a bit confusing. 

Best Value
Mr. Heater Propane Heater

Choose from either black or red for your portable outdoor heater. It measures 16.7 x 11.2 x 12 inches, making it easy to move. There are three heat level settings to choose from: 4,000, 9,000, or 18,000 BTU per hour. You can heat up to 450 square feet with a single unit. Two safety features are built in, an automatic low oxygen shut-off system and an accidental tip-over safety shut-off feature. There’s a single control knob to make using your heater easy. What makes this heater nice is the two connections for one-pound propane cylinders. You can also connect a 20-pound cylinder with the optional hose. 


Unfortunately, this unit doesn’t come with a fan assembly or switch. This can limit its functionality, but you can always buy it separately. It’s also small, so you’ll need to set it on a table. 

Most Versatile
Member's Mark Patio Heater with LED Table

This gas-powered heater is constructed from durable stainless steel. It measures 31.5 x 31.5 x 86.6 inches. This mushroom-style heater has an easy-to-use electronic ignition. Power your heater with a 20-pound propane tank that conveniently stows away in the base of the heater. What makes this heater stand out is the LED table. This creates a stable place to gather and set drinks or plates while enjoying the heat. You can adjust the heat up to 47,000 BTUs. The two wheels on one side at the base of the heater makes it easy to move. 


One drawback of this unit is that it isn’t very durable. The metal can easily dent and scratch. You’ll want to be careful when moving it or leaving it outside.

Most Portable
Briza Infrared Patio Heater

This carbon infrared heater has a stylish design and comes in sleek black. It measures 35.5 x 4 x 4 inches. To keep you safe, there’s a protective metal sheath to prevent burns and an automatic shut-off if the heater tips over. The heating element is designed in a circular pattern to create even heat across the unit’s length. It also directs heat back towards you with the polished metal reflector. The tripod stand is adjustable up to seven feet to give you a custom setup. What’s nice about this heater is that it comes with a remote so that you can adjust it from anywhere. 


Unfortunately, you won’t feel as hot with this heater. It emits warmth, which is nice, but it doesn’t get the air as hot as other heaters. It can also break if it falls over. 

Best Looking
Gorilla Gadgets Patio Heater

This mushroom-style heater can warm up to 176 square feet. The professional-quality build of the unit ensures its durability. This heater stands out because its weight is evenly distributed, making this heater stable in even windy conditions. It also has a dark finish that will help it to blend in with your patio décor. If the heater does happen to tip over, the automatic shutoff feature will turn the heater off. While it can achieve a maximum BTUs of 48,000, there’s a variable heat control knob that lets you adjust how much heat it produces. You’ll be able to easily move your heater thanks to the two smooth-rolling wheels. 


The downside of this unit is that It doesn’t heat as large of an area. You can account for this by placing more than one heater. They look so nice you won’t mind having more than one.

Honorable Mention
Dr. Infrared Heater

Install this heater on your wall or ceiling thanks to its low-profile design. The length is 35 inches, the height is 8 inches, and the depth is 4 inches. It uses carbon electric technology to warm you at 1,500 watts. You’ll find this heater nice to use thanks to the remote control, overheating protection, and time. It’s also incredibly safe as it’s ETL listed. There are three heating levels to choose from — 900, 1,200, and 1,500 watts. It has a wide-angle range to help it heat a larger space. The construction is a durable and lightweight aluminum, which also makes it weather and corrosion-proof. 


Unfortunately, if you’re too far away from the heater, you may not feel the warmth from it. This means you’ll want to install it closer to where you plan to be and not high up on a rafter.

Honorable Mention
Raoccuy Patio Heater

You’ll be able to enjoy the heat created by this unit when standing three to eight feet away from it. Powering this heater is propane as a 20-pound tank fits in the base of this heater. The base is wide to give it stability. If it does happen to tip over, the automatic shut off will turn the heater off. It’s constructed of durable stainless steel and has two wheels. A temperature switch lets you adjust the heat output up to 48,000 BTUs. Included with your heater is a waterproof dust cover. 


One drawback of this heater is that the controls are located high up. They can be hard to reach for shorter people, and it puts the controls right next to the heating element, making it hot to your hand when adjusting. 

Honorable Mention
Eprosmin Outdoor Patio Heater

This tall mushroom-style heater uses infrared technology to heat your outdoor space electrically. There are three power levels to choose from: 600, 900, and 1,500 watts. The oversized reflector cap helps to direct the heat out and down. What’s nice about this heater is that the center pole telescopes so that you can adjust your heater to the ideal height. You’ll appreciate the quality build of this heater, with its double halogen heating tubes, IP44 waterproof rating, and detachable stainless steel table. It also has a built-in safety feature where if it senses a tilt of more than 45 degrees, it will automatically shut off. 


Unfortunately, you may find that this heater doesn’t feel as hot as other heaters on this list. However, this is expected since infrared technology heats objects under it and not the air surrounding it.

Honorable Mention
Raoccuy Outdoor Propane Powered Patio Heater

This sturdy and reliable outdoor heater can achieve a heat output of 48,000 BTUs. This will deliver 3-8 hours of warmth. This heater measures 88.1 x 31.9 x 17.8 inches. There are dual wheels on the base to make moving it easy. To power your heater, you’ll hook up a 20-pound propane tank. You’ll be able to heat a 200 square foot space effectively. There are several nice features on this mushroom-style heater, including a large control valve, power switch, pressure reducing valve, and sturdy base. What makes this heater stand out is the included cover. This keeps your heater protected when it’s not in use.


One drawback of this unit is that the assembly instructions are hard to follow and confusing. This can make it difficult to put your heater together. 

Honorable Mention
Remington Outdoor Heater

This cannon style heater comes in two strengths, 60,000 and 125,000 BTUs. It has a rugged design with steel construction. Don’t discount its small size—it’s capable of heating 1,500 square feet. It has an electronic ignition for easy starting. The heat angle is adjustable, and there’s a fan assembly to keep the hot air moving. Included with the heater is a 10-foot hose and regulator. Located on the side of the heater is an easy-to-use large dial to control the level of heat output. The top of the heater has a large carrying handle to make moving your heater easy.  


The downside of this unit is that it’s a strong directed heat. This can make it too strong when directly in front of it.

Tips

  • 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. 

FAQs

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. 

Final Thoughts

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.