Buyer’s Guide: Patio Heaters
Introduce warmth to your outdoor living area with a patio heater suited to your needs and budget.
A quality patio heater enhances enjoyment of outdoor living. Ahead, we explain the ins and outs of patio heaters and highlight why the below made our list of top recommendations!
- BEST ELECTRIC PATIO HEATER: Trustech Infrared Patio Heater
- BEST PIT-STYLE PATIO HEATER: Outland Living Firebowl Deluxe
- BEST FLOOR-STANDING GAS PATIO HEATER: PAMAPIC Outdoor Patio Heater
- BEST WOOD-BURNING PATIO HEATER: Solo Stove Ranger Outdoor Fire Pi
- Have realistic expectations. Patio heaters are meant to ease the chill of cool weather. You are outdoors, not in a sauna! In very cold weather, they will not keep you warm very long.
- Give your patio heater some help. Since hot air rises, some heated air will be lost to the atmosphere, but you can conserve by placing your patio heater at a safe distance beneath an umbrella or awning. Avoid exposing a propane unit to wind, however, as breezes will make it difficult to light.
- Safety first. Always keep pets and children away from patio heaters, and consider only models that feature an automatic shutoff, which cuts the heat in the event that the unit gets knocked over.
- Propane: Propane patio heaters can warm up a space quickly. Some are quite big, holding a propane tank as large as 20 gallons—a boon when you wish to heat a large area for an extended period of time. Due to the risk of carbon monoxide buildup, a patio heater of this type should never be used in an enclosed area, such as a greenhouse or garage.
- Electric: There’s no need to buy fuel for an electric patio heater, but its bulbs must be replaced occasionally—factor this into its running costs. With no open flame, electric patio heaters may be safer than the alternative for some families. But they are usually smaller, so an electric may not match the power of its propane cousin. When shopping, compare the heat output of different models. Also, remember that an electric heater comes with a power cord; having at least one outdoor outlet is a plus, if not a prerequisite.
- Wood: For an authentic campfire feel, there’s nothing quite like a wood-burning patio heater. This type of heater can generate quite a bit of heat, depending on the size of the firebox and the amount of wood. Because wood fires can create smoke and ash, a wood-burning patio heater cannot be used in an enclosed patio. To reduce smoke, burn only seasoned hardwoods, such as hickory, birch, and white ash.
Patio Heater Style
- Stand-alone: Most freestanding patio heaters are seven to eight feet tall; typically, the fuel source is at or near the bottom, and the heat emanates from the top. Available in electric or propane versions, these patio heaters can warm a 5- to 10-foot radius, which makes them a great option for yards and larger patios.
- Tabletop: Smaller than freestanding heaters, tabletop units must be secured to a patio table (usually through the hole where a sun umbrella would fit). Either electric or propane, they offer the advantage of portability but tend to be less powerful, making them well suited for smaller gatherings.
- Mounted: Whether wall- or ceiling-mounted, these patio heaters are, in most cases, infrared and electrically powered. They are excellent if you have limited floor space but wish to heat a larger area.
Investing in a patio heater is an outstanding way to enhance your outdoor lifestyle. Breathe more fresh air. Hear more crickets. See more stars. And stay comfy cozy while you’re at it.
Our Top Picks
1. BEST ELECTRIC PATIO HEATER: Trustech Infrared Patio Heater
This quiet-running patio heater outputs radiant heat that warms nearby objects rather than warming the air. This makes the Trustech a good choice for breezy days, and because it doesn’t produce smoke fumes, it can also be used in an enclosed patio. Mount the 26.4-inch-long Trustech on a wall with the bracket provided or stand it on a holder (sold separately) and set the time and power level with a remote.
2. BEST PIT-STYLE PATIO HEATER: Outland Living Firebowl Deluxe
The Outland Living Firepit comes with a 10-foot propane hose, so you can position your propane tank out of sight while you enjoy the lava rocks and glowing flames inside this rustic firebowl. Measuring just 11 inches high and 19 inches in diameter and weighing in at 22 pounds, this patio heater is compact and portable, not least thanks to its cover and carrying straps make.
3. BEST FLOOR-STANDING GAS PATIO HEATER: PAMAPIC Outdoor Patio Heater
This floor-standing heater tops out at an impressive 88 inches tall and with a 32-inch overhead dome that directs heat downward and outward. Though it may look narrow, its coverage is far—up to 18 feet in diameter around the heater. Available in white, bronze, or hammered silver, this patio heater achieves its sleek style by keeping its fuel tank tucked neatly into a built-in chamber in the heater’s base. Smooth-rolling wheels make it portable when not in use, and a waterproof cover will protect the tall patio heater from the elements.
4. BEST WOOD-BURNING PATIO HEATER: Solo Stove Ranger Outdoor Fire Pit
The Solo Stove burns real wood (seasoned hardwood varieties are recommended), and its specially perforated double-wall design both allows more oxygen to enter the firebowl and reduces smoke output. At 14 inches high by 19.5 inches in diameter, this modern stainless steel firebowl is ready to travel (carrying case included) to wherever you desire a real wood fire.