You can enjoy your outdoor space after the sun goes down with the added warmth of a patio heater. Since theyíre becoming popular additions to many backyard, patio, and pool areas, we find out what you need to know when buying.
Patio heaters can either be table top or free-standing towers.
They can heat between 12-15 square feet of space and increase the temperature by about 10 degrees to help eliminate the evening chill.
Most patio heaters run on propane or natural gas:
Refillable propane tanks (like the ones used for barbecues) consume about 1lb of propane/hr.
Natural gas hook-ups (always call a professional for installation)
There are also electric infrared heaters that can be wall or pole-mounted.
Heaters are usually made from a variety of metals. Stainless steel is your best bet for longevity and rust-free, however they are more expensive.
Make sure the heater has a gas association marker on it somewhere, which certifies it’s up to safety codes.
Check that there’s an automatic shut-off should the heater tip over.
- Patio heaters can deliver anywhere between 4,000 to 150,000 BTUs – short for British Thermal Unit, a basic measure of thermal (heat) energy.
- Propane heaters cannot be hooked up to a natural gas line and vice versa because propane uses copper lines and a natural gas uses steel.
We tested these patio heaters at a backyard soiree:
- Solaira (electric): $349
- Infratech (electric): $500
- Endless Summer (propane, tabletop): $130
- Axxon (propane, powder-coated steel): $460
- Sunglo (propane, stainless steel): $1350
The Axxon and Sunglo heaters were the warmest, and both pumped out about the same amount of heat
Endless Summer only reached 25% of the heat of the Axxon and Sunglo
The electric Solaira got almost as hot as the Sunglo, and expended only one-tenth the energy.
The all-stainless Sunglo looked the most elegant of our test products.
The Axxon had an easy to use dial to control the heat, and was easily portable.
OUR TOP PICK
We really liked the Sunglo but its price tag was a show-stopper. The much less expensive electric heater by Solaira or the portable propane heater by Axxon are both good choices, in our opinion.