Holds a Master’s degree in Engineering and is keen on her own home’s climate. Sometimes we think that Carolina owns every single product she writes about – that’s how profound and insightful her reviews always are.
For 8 years, Richard had been working as an HVAC specialist and AC unit installer since his student years. Now, he’s our main consultant on every technical aspect that may arise during our tests and research.
Last updated: March 21, 2021
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If you are someone that likes to eat outside on your patio, odds are that you don’t want to cut down on the time you can spend there because of the cold. Thankfully, if you get the best patio heater, you can find. These wonderful appliances will keep you and your family nice and warm while you enjoy each other’s company on your patio as the weather turns cold.
In the course of our research, we found ten of the best outdoor patio heaters on the market, with the XtremepowerUS Premium Propane Patio heater being the best of the best. This wonderful propane heater is extremely simple to start and is extraordinarily efficient. It is the perfect heater for your outdoor space, no matter how big or small it might be. Of course, the other models on our list are also great models, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a heater that works for you.
In order to find the best-rated patio heaters available, we spent tens of hours reading through hundreds of user reviews. This careful research has allowed us to not only find the ten heaters for our list but also made it possible for us to put together in-depth reviews for each product. These reviews will help you find the best model for your needs. Of course, if you aren’t quite ready to make your final decision, then be sure to check out our detailed buying guide, which will give you all the information you need to find the right heater for your patio.
If you are in the market for the best overall heater for your patio, then this is a great model to start off with in your search. For starters, this is an exceptionally easy model to put together. There are a few simple connections that need to be slipped together and tightened, and before you know it you will be making plenty of heat for your patio.
Speaking of heat, this model is able to produce a ton of BTUs to keep you, your family, and any guests you might have over nice and toasty on a chilly night. This heater is capable of pumping out a maximum of 48,000 BTUs, which is more than enough to chase the chill away as you relax on your patio.
This is also one of the more efficient propane heaters on the market. While many models can only be operated at one and only one heat setting, this model comes equipped with an easy-to-adjust knob, which will help you to find the perfect temperature. By decreasing the heat output, you will also help make the heater that much more efficient, which is always ideal. The unit operates on propane so it is rather energy-efficient and doesn’t require electricity unlike oil-filled radiators and heat pumps.
Even though this propane heater is on the tall side, it still has a compact footprint. Thanks to this smaller size, you should be able to fit this pretty much anywhere you need it on your patio.
This heater is also quite safe, thanks to its built-in sand reservoir. Once assembled, all you need to do is put some sand into this space and close it back up. This sand will keep it from falling over in stronger winds. Thankfully, this model is still pretty easy to move, even when it is filled with sand. This is thanks to its mobility wheels, which make moving it from place to place nice and easy.
The only thing that you will need to keep in mind with this particular heater is that the hardware (screws) that come with it are not the best quality. They are a bit too small, so it might not be a bad idea to get an extra set for a few dollars so that the pieces stay together better after assembly.
Years and years ago, there were not a whole lot of options when it came to heating an outdoor space. The most popular method was through the use of fire. While a wood fire is very hot, it doesn’t radiate heat all that well on its own. Wood fires are especially inefficient, as they take copious amounts of fuel to keep burning, all while only providing minimal heat to space they are in.
Thankfully, that isn’t the case with this model. While this heater does utilize fire as its heat source, it goes about it in a much more efficient manner. For starters, this model utilizes wood pellets rather than regular wood. These pellets burn much more efficiently than wood, which makes the fire last a lot longer.
The second big advantage of using wood pellets is that they don’t need to be cut up, and they are relatively inexpensive. This is a huge time and money saver over using wood.
Something else that has been improved upon old outdoor fireplaces with this model is its design. This unit consists of a firebox, which has a viewport to watch the flames dance, and vent, which helps to put out a ton of heat to any outdoor space. In fact, this model is capable of producing up to 72,000 BTUs, which is a lot more than any other model on the market. Plain and simple, if you are looking to really warm-up space, this is the heater for you.
The only real trouble with this heater is the instructions. They are extremely vague, which might make putting the heater together trickier than it should be. Thankfully, once you have figured it out, the heater is rock solid, easy to light, and highly portable, making it a great choice to heat your patio.
If you have a porch roof covering your patio area, then you are probably looking for an electric heater that is safe to use under cover. In that case, this is a great model to use, simply because of its design. Infrared heaters are incredibly safe, no matter where you want to use it. In fact, this model could even be used right in your home, so you know that it is perfect for a covered patio. It’s also a great garage heater as well.
Something else that helps to make this such a safe option is its overall design. Infrared heaters, unlike propane, wood/pellet, or standard electric models, do not get hot. The heating element works in a different manner, which heats the air, rather than the unit itself. This helps to make this a great option for anyone with young children, as there is no risk of any burns with this unit.
This heating system is also very effective. Unlike other heaters that need time to warm up, infrared heaters are capable of putting out warm air almost immediately. This makes them a great option if you want to get as warm as possible as quickly as possible.
Another factor that might make this a desirable unit for your family is its coverage area. While many outdoor heaters have a limited coverage area, this unit can heat up an area up to and including 1,000 square feet. This makes it ideal for anyone that is worried about cold spots persisting on their patio, or for anyone that has an exceptionally large area to heat.
Something else that helps to make this such a safe heater is that it can be mounted on a wall or ceiling, which will keep it out of the reach of little ones. After you have this model installed, you will want to let it run for a bit without being present. Due to its advanced heating elements, this heater will produce an odor for a little bit when you first start using it. Thankfully, this will quickly dissipate and should not return.
There is nothing quite like a roaring fire to set the right mood as you sit on your patio at night. While fire pits are not great for large areas, this model will produce more than enough heat to keep you and your family warm as you sit around it and tell stories or roast marshmallows. The design of this fire pit helps to make it a bit of a showpiece as well, as the natural stone surrounding it can really help to tie your outdoor space together.
One of the bigger issues with a lot of larger patio heaters is that they can be a handful to put together. This heater, on the other hand, couldn’t be much easier. All you really need to do is put the legs in place and put the grate on top, and you are finished. Once assembled, this fire pit can be used pretty much right away.
Another nice feature for this heater is that it can be moved from place to place with ease. It is not overly large, and not particularly heavy, so you should be able to pick it up and move it whenever you need to. Of course, it can also be slid quite easily as well, since it has smooth feet.
Speaking of the feet on this heater, they can be screwed up or down. This moveable foot feature is designed to make it easier to level the heater, which is necessary for safety. You certainly don’t want to risk any logs of pellets spilling over the side because the pit wasn’t level.
As you can imagine, with anything that uses a wood fire, this pit can be a bit tricky to keep clean. It is probably a good idea regularly remove the ashes and scrub out the bottom of the tray so that it doesn’t get too dirty in between uses.
While most folks are usually looking for a heater for their patio that has a large coverage area, that can come at a premium. You will usually pay for this convenience in one of two ways. You will either pay with the efficiency of your heater, as a larger coverage area usually means that you will burn through your fuel source a whole lot faster. You can also pay for this extra coverage area in the purchase price of your heater.
If you are looking to save a bit of money, aren’t worried about a large coverage area, and don’t want to waste any fuel, then this is a great option for you. This heater is not terribly expensive in comparison to other models on the market. It also has a much smaller coverage area than some larger heaters, which is, of course, a limiting factor. That is unless you have a smaller patio in the first place.
Something else that helps to make this such an efficient heater is the size of the gas tank. While many propane heaters utilize smaller tanks, this model uses a standard 20-pound tank. That makes the fuel last a whole lot longer than other heaters, which is, obviously, a great deal. The other reason that this is such an efficient heater is due to the fact that it isn’t trying to stretch the coverage area beyond its limits. As long as you are within the limit of 28 square feet, you will never be too cold.
In fact, this model has an outstanding BTU output for how efficient it is. It can pump out a maximum of 40,000 BTUs, which, while not the highest on the market, is more than enough to keep you nice and warm.
While many patio heaters are extremely safe, one of the biggest issues is that they are not always as stable as they could be. This can lead to several issues, especially if you live in an area that gets a lot of storms or wind. If that is the situation you are in, then this would be a good heater for you.
This is, by far, the most stable heater on the market. The biggest reason for this is thanks to the built-in sand reservoir in the base. This reservoir is designed to be filled with sand or water. This extra weight helps to change the center of gravity for the heater down to the bottom, which will keep it from blowing over in a storm. It will also keep it from being knocked over by any careless guests or playing children, which is a big plus.
Now, you might be worried about moving this heater from place to place once it is filled with sand. While many other heaters require you to empty the sand out before you move them, this model makes it much easier. Since it has mobility wheels built into the base, all you have to do is lean the heater back a bit and drive it to its new location. This is a big time-saver, especially if you plan to move your heater around often.
Another positive of this heater is that its bright colors help to make a big statement and can easily be tied into any outdoor décor. You just have to be careful when you are assembling it so that you don’t scratch the paint at all. This is easier said than done, however, because this heater is tough to put together. The parts are very secure, which makes fitting them together difficult. Thankfully, once they are together, they are extremely stable.
The last thing that you want to have to deal with when it comes to heating up your patio space is a complicated starting process. Even though you are, of course, starting up a flame, you shouldn’t have to go through several different steps just to get the heat flowing, yet this is the case with some heaters.
Thankfully, if you are in the market for a supremely easy to start patio heater, then this is the model for you. It comes with a push-button ignition. In order to start this heater up, all you have to do is open the gas valve and press the button. From there, you can adjust the level of heat and get your space to warm up quickly.
This is also a very safe heater. While it does have a small reservoir for water or sand in the base, it is still possible for this model to be tipped over. This tippable nature is exactly why the manufacturer included a failsafe in the form of an automatic shut-off if the heater gets tipped over. This safety feature will keep any propane from leaking or a fire starting.
Something else that makes this heater a good buy is its high BTU output. This model is capable of putting out 46,000 BTU, which, while not the highest on the market, is certainly more than enough for a smaller or medium-sized patio.
The only thing that you are going to need to worry about with this otherwise wonderful heater is that the instructions are not very clear. This is, unfortunately, the case for both the assembly and operating instructions. While you will no doubt be able to figure these out, it will take more time than you want it to. Thankfully, after a bit of practice, you shouldn’t have any issues using it in the future.
As a general rule, infrared heaters are among the most efficient options for heating up any space, including outdoor patios. Even so, this model is hands down the most efficient infrared heater available. Even if you utilize this heater often, you shouldn’t notice too much of a spike in your energy bills. This, when combined with the large overall coverage area, helps to make this a very attractive option for anyone looking to heat up their patio.
Another great feature of this model is that it is completely weatherproof. While many heaters are built to be waterproof, they are not always made to stand up to the rigors of the great outdoors. This model is completely sealed up so that you don’t need to worry about any dust, debris, water, snow, ice, or anything getting into the inner workings of this heater. This weatherproofing will help to keep your heater up and running for a good long time.
As is the case with most infrared heaters, you do have the option to hang this one on the wall. While infrared heaters are not a safety hazard, it might be a good option to get it up and off the ground. That way, you will be able to warm up your patio without wasting any space, which is ideal for anyone with a smaller sized patio where space is already at a premium.
As you would expect with an infrared heater, this unit can be set to several different settings. These settings will allow you to decide how much heat is being generated by your heater, as well as how quickly the heat is dispersed. You also have the option to tilt the vents up and down, though this is somewhat limited in its scale. You can only tilt the vents up to about 45 degrees, which could be an issue if you are looking to warm up the area right underneath the heater.
Even though you, of course, want to heat up your patio, you most definitely don’t want to spend a whole lot of money. This is completely understandable and completely achievable as well, as long as you make some concessions. This model, for instance, is a great budget-friendly pick that won’t cost you a ton of money. It also won’t give you a very large coverage area, which is to be expected with such a cheap option.
As long as you only need a small amount of space heated up on your patio, however, this is a great option. For starters, it doesn’t really even look like a heater. Its elegant design won’t break up the layout of your patio and should instead heighten the overall appeal of your outdoor space. You also don’t need to worry about where you have this heater installed since it is completely weatherproof.
This heater is also very easy to install. All you need to do is choose where you want to hang it, hook it into your home’s electric, and hang it at the correct level. From there, you can use the remote or pull string to set the level of heat that you need so that you are comfortable on your patio.
Another positive for this model is the fact that its heating element will last for a very long time. The carbon fiber tubing that comes installed and ready for use should last for about 5,000 hours of use. Just to put that in perspective, even if you ran this heater all day every day, it would take about 208 days for the element to burn out. Even if you run the element for about two hours every night, this heating element should last for about seven years before it needs to be replaced.
If portability is key for you on your patio, then this is a great option. This is an extremely compact and lightweight device, which makes it perfect for moving from place to place. While you will need to keep this heater plugged in to operate it, it comes with a long cord to make it maneuverable enough to keep with you on the patio.
Its maneuverability is something you will quickly appreciate, as it has a very small heating area. This device can only put out around 3,412 BTUs, which gives it a smaller than average coverage area of 7 square feet. In order for it to work as a patio heater, you will need to keep it nearby. Thankfully, as long as you have it in close enough proximity, you shouldn’t have any issues with the cold.
Something else that makes this a great option for use on a patio is that, even though it is an electric heater, it is completely cool to the touch. While most standard electric heaters can get quite hot, this model remains cool at all times. This makes it a very safe option for anyone worried about children accidentally bumping into the heater and getting burned.
Another factor that makes this a great option for use in an outdoor patio is that it is both weather and dust resistant. These treatments make it so that the heater can operate outside without any big issues based on the weather. Of course, since it is not completely weatherproof, you shouldn’t allow it outside in a soaking rain, as this could still do some damage.
What we liked:
Cool touch design
Easy to move
What could be better:
Small coverage area
Things to Consider
In this section, we will go through everything that you need to know to find the best patio heater for your needs. We have also taken the time to answer some frequently asked questions, so be sure to read through those as well if you are still unsure of any key details in regards to what to look for in your new heater.
Why a heater is a great addition to your patio
There are lots of benefits to getting a heater for your patio, backyard, or deck area. These include the following:
Cost-effective – The first, and perhaps greatest, benefit to getting a patio heater is that it will save you a ton of money over the alternative. Your only other option for making your patio a livable space during the colder months would be to completely enclose it. This is, obviously, a huge expense. Not only would enclosing your patio cost you way too much money, but it would also destroy the aesthetic of outdoor space. By getting a patio heater, you can save all of that money, and keep your patio or other outdoor space just the way you like it, all while keeping yourself nice and warm in the colder months.
Safe – When it comes to warming up an outdoor space, you could also install an outdoor fireplace. Aside from the prohibitive cost with a fireplace, you would also have to worry a whole lot more about safety than you will with a patio heater, especially if you have younger children playing around them. With a fireplace, you would constantly have to worry about keeping your kids away. With a patio heater, however, there are lots of safety features built-in that help to prevent this from happening. For instance, all heaters have an automatic off switch if they are tipped over, which will go a long way in preventing any trouble.
Compact – Another big benefit of getting an outdoor patio heater over installing a firepit is that heaters are nice and compact. While a fire pit or fireplace will take up a ton of room, a heater will only take up as much space as a patio chair. Some models, like the Muskoka Lifestyle Products 1500 Watt Infrared Heater, can also be installed on the wall, which saves even more space. Even if you have a much smaller patio area, your new heater shouldn’t really be all that intrusive, which will allow you to still enjoy your space without being inconvenienced.
Portable – Something else that helps to make a patio heater such a good purchase is that, unlike a fireplace, you can move them wherever you need them. Let’s say that you want to be grilling outside during the fall. You can place your heater right by your grill so that you stay nice and toasty. When you are finished grilling, you can easily move your new heater over to your sitting area and keep yourself warm and comfortable while you enjoy your meal on your patio. The portability and lightweight design of most of the heaters on our list make them ideal for moving from place to place so that you have heat wherever you need it.
Efficient – As we have already mentioned, your only other alternative to getting a heater on your patio is to install a fireplace. While these both are fine heating options that provide plenty of aesthetic value to an outdoor space, they are not very efficient. They burn through wood very quickly, which needs to either be purchased or split on your own. No matter what type of patio heater you choose, they are much more energy-efficient and much easier to operate than that, as you either need to keep them plugged in or refill a propane tank to keep them up and running.
Features to consider while choosing a patio heater
As you can imagine, there are a ton of different factors that you need to take into consideration when you are looking for a new patio heater. In this section, we will go through everything you need to know to find the right model for your home.
Once you have decided that you are indeed going to get the best patio heater for your money, you first need to decide the type of heater you want to buy. There are several different options on the market to choose from, and each model has its pros and cons to consider. When selecting a patio heater, you can choose from the following types:
Propane – Propane heaters are extremely efficient. Propane is also a very cheap fuel source, which helps to make this a very economical choice as well. These heaters are also very portable, which allows you to move them to where you need them. They should not, however, be used in covered areas; however, as the fumes from the burning propane could become a bit too concentrated.
Electric – Electric heaters are usually the cheapest option to buy but will cost the most to keeping running overtime. These models are extremely easy to use since all you have to do to install them is hang them up and plug them in. They can also be used in enclosed spaces or covered areas, making them a great option if you have a roof over your patio. These heaters are, obviously, not very portable, since they always need to stay close to an outlet.
Infrared – Infrared heaters are extremely efficient and also quite quiet. These heaters are also very easy to maintain and install. They are, much like electric heaters, not very portable, since they will need to be plugged into an outlet in order to run at all. These heaters also heat up much faster than standard electric models, making them a great option for a spur of the moment evening on the patio when it is colder outside.
Pellet/wood – While wood is great for aesthetic reasons, it is not very efficient. If you have the option, it is probably a better idea to go with pellets in this case, since they burn for a much longer amount of time while putting out just as much heat as a wood fire. Pellet/wood heaters are highly portable, but much more difficult to get started than other heater types.
BTUs is the unit of measure for any heating appliance. Basically, the higher the BTU output of your new heater, the better it is going to be at keeping you warm during your time on your patio in the cold. Of course, the amount of BTUs you need will depend on the time of year, the temperature outside, and how large of an area you need to keep warm. If you have a smaller space and it isn’t too cold, then you can save yourself a bit of money and get a cheaper option with a lower BTU output, like the Star Patio Outdoor Freestanding Electric Patio Heater.
On the other hand, if you are looking to really warm up space and you are dealing with frigid temperatures, then you should probably spend a bit more money for more BTUs. The Wood Pellet Outdoor Patio Heater is a great option in this instance. It has the ability to put out about 78,000 BTUs, which is more than 30,000 more than the next closest option on our list.
If you are looking to get an electric patio heater, then you need to take the wattage into account. The wattage is the operating power of any electrical appliance. Simply put, this measure will tell you how much energy your new heater is going to need to keep running correctly. This is important for two reasons. First of all, this will tell you how much your new heater is going to cost you on your monthly electrical bill.
The second thing that this will let you know is whether or not your electrical hookup on your patio is up to the challenge. You want to make sure that your electrical service can handle the needs of your heater to ensure the heater and your outlet won’t be damaged during the heater’s use. Infrared models, like the Dr. Infrared Heater DR-238, don’t use as much electricity as a standard electric heater, making them a great option for anyone looking to save on operating costs.
Another big decision that you will need to make concerning your new heater is how much coverage area you need. If you have a bigger space that you want to heat up, then you are going to need a heater with a bigger coverage area. The coverage area of any heater is going to depend on the type of heater.
Infrared heaters, like the Dr. Infrared Heater DR-238, usually have larger coverage areas in comparison to other types. Of course, you will pay a bit more money for a larger coverage area, so be sure to carefully measure out your space so that you won’t have to pay for coverage area that you don’t need. If you are looking for a cheaper model, the SURJUNY Electric Hanging Heater is a great pick, though it does have a limited coverage area.
After you have finalized the type of heater you want and the amount of coverage area that you need, the next thing you need to figure out is just how big you want your new heater to be. As we mentioned before, if you have a smaller patio space, you are going to want to look for something that is more compact or can be hung up on the wall. That way, you won’t need to worry about working around your new heater when you are trying to enjoy your patio in cooler weather.
Many patio heaters have a limited footprint due to their upward design. Even if you get a larger model like the XtremepowerUS Premium Propane Patio Heater, you aren’t going to lose much more space than you would if you got a new patio chair. These models are relatively tall, however, so make sure you take that into account and measure to make sure they will fit under your pergola or any other patio covering you might have.
No matter what type of appliance you are buying, whether it be a new fridge, washer, or patio heater, it is always a good idea to make sure to look for a model that comes with a good warranty. That way, you will be covered if something should break on your new item through its normal use. You need to be careful, however, as many companies will claim that everything is covered under warranty, but will actually only cover certain parts completely.
Even though all of the heaters on our list are made by reliable companies, it is still a good idea to read through the fine print on any warranty information you might receive. That way, you will be able to be certain of what is and what isn’t covered under the terms of the warranty. This certainty will help to keep you from having to pay out any unexpected amounts of money should something break on your new heater.
While patio heaters are relatively straightforward devices, there are several features or functions that, while not essential, will help to make them that much more effective for you when you want to get warm on a cold day outside. The first extra feature you should keep in mind is an automatic shutoff safety feature. This usually comes with propane models like the AmazonBasics Commercial Outdoor Patio Heater. This is a great safety feature, as it will turn the heater off if it gets knocked over, which definitely could happen if you have younger kids.
Another key feature that you might want to look for is an automatic starter. This can come in many forms, depending on the type of heater you purchase. If you get an infrared or electric heater, this will be in the form of remote control. If, however, you select a propane or pellet model, this would be an electric ignition switch. These quick-start systems will keep you from having to struggle to get your patio nice and toasty very quickly.
Some safety tips
Since these devices do use some sort of heating element, it is best to be as careful as possible with them. To do this, simply follow these safety tips so that you can enjoy your heated patio as safely as possible:
Only use outdoor heaters (propane, pellet, or wood) in well-ventilated areas that are not covered.
Always check the connection lines for any rust or loose fittings. This will help to prevent any propane from leaking during operation.
Keep all flammable materials away from heaters.
For electrical models, be sure to keep them dry.
Never touch a heater during or after operation to prevent burns.
Make sure that your heaters are properly installed. For stand-style heaters, you can add sand to the base for added stability.
There are lots of things to like about infrared heaters. They are extremely durable and easy to maintain. These heaters are also quiet. Perhaps the best thing about them, however, is how quickly they can heat up and cool down. Not only does this make them a great option for heating a patio, but it also makes them a very safe choice as well, since you don’t need to worry about them staying hot for a long time.
What you need for installation will depend on the type of heater that you decide to purchase. For instance, if you get a wall-mounted infrared heater, then you will need a drill, level, and screwdriver to properly mount it. On the other hand, if you have a freestanding propane heater, you simply need to place it where you want it and hook up your tank by hand.
This will, again, depend on the type of heater that you are using. Infrared heaters are the quietest, but that doesn’t mean that any of the others are particularly loud. At most, they will sound about as loud as a quiet conversation, which will quickly be drowned out by all of the fun you will be having on your patio.
If you are in the market for the best overall patio heater, then the Xtremepower US Premium Propane Patio Heater is a great option. This propane heater is very efficient, puts out a ton of heat, is simple to assemble, and easy to move from place to place. We highly recommend that you check out this excellent heater.
If you are looking for the highest BTU output possible, as well as the beauty of a wood fire, then the Wood Pellet Outdoor Patio Heater is for you. This wonderful device puts out a lot of heat and will provide plenty of entertainment, thanks to its three viewing windows.
If you are someone that thinks that the best patio heater is the one that has the largest coverage area, then the Dr. Infrared Heater DR-238 is going to be your best option. While other heaters can only cover 300 square feet, this model has a heating area of 1,000 square feet, making it the perfect purchase for anyone with a large patio.