What is the best patio heater? There are two types of patio heaters: propane and electric or radiant heaters. The former ones are more cost-efficient and portable while the latter ones are safer and more environmentally friendly. These devices also differ by their installation method and can be freestanding, tabletop, wall- and ceiling-mounted. When choosing a propane heater, make sure that it produces enough BTUs. For example, to warm a patio measuring 20 by 20 feet, you will need at least 40,000 BTUs per hour.

Why various manufacturers provide different figures of heating capacity of propane patio heaters: from 10 sq.ft. up to 200 sq.ft?

What’s the reason for such a wide variation? The thing is that it is impossible to calculate the exact outdoor heating area since too many different factors influence heating capacity. The major ones are wind and temperature. You have to admit that when it is plus 2 degrees Celsius outside, the heater’s thermal effect will be significantly lower than when it is plus 16 degrees.

For this reason, many manufacturers of outdoor patio heaters with a power output of 40,000 to 46,000 BTUs indicate the smallest possible heating area — just 10 sq. ft. Therefore, if you are going to warm up a windy space, such as a restaurant by the sea, count on a minimum figure of 10 sq.ft., which will allow you to heat one table for 2 to 3 persons. If you have a fenced, calm, and windless place, a patio heater with the same output of 40-46,000 BTUs will be able to warm up to as many as 200 sq. ft.

Unfortunately, standard BTU calculations will not work for patio heaters, as they are meant for enclosed spaces. So while an indoor propane heater with an output of 34,000 BTUs/hour is capable of heating an area of up to 2 500 sq.ft., these calculations would not be suitable for an outdoor model.

For outdoor heating, nobody can tell you exact figures because too many different factors affect the heater’s capacity. That is why many manufacturers of outdoor patio heaters with a power output of 40,000 to 46,000 BTUs indicate the smallest possible heating area — just 10 sq.ft.

Last update on 2022-12-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Weather Conditions & Other Factors that Affect the Heating Area of Outdoor Patio Heaters | Heat Loss

  1. You can warm up an enclosed veranda: there are walls and the roof but without proper insulation, meaning drafts will take heat away. But in general, the coverage will be good enough.

  2. It is possible to heat a veranda with a canopy but without walls. A portion of the heat will then be retained under the canopy while the rest of it will go to the sides. The coverage will be worse compared to the former case.

  3. A backyard surrounded by a high fence can also be heated, and then, the heat will go only upward. The coverage will be inferior to that in the second case.

  4. When warming up an open veranda in a restaurant by the sea (without walls and a canopy), with a strong wind blowing, the wind will blow out the heat vigorously. A minimal area will be covered.

  5. If you are going to heat a patio with a swimming pool, the water in the pool will then take on the thermal energy as well.

  6. You can warm up your patio when it is plus 10 degrees Celsius outside or you can do it when the temperature is plus 2 degrees Celsius. With the same heater but at different outdoor temperatures, you get absolutely different coverage.

As you can see, one cannot take into consideration all the factors influencing heating capacity. That is why if you are planning to warm up a windy place, such as a restaurant by the sea, count on a minimum figure of 10 sq.ft., which will allow you to heat one table for 2 to 3 persons. If you have a fenced patio, a heater with an output of 40-46,000 BTUs will be able to warm up an area of up to 200 sq.ft.

Last update on 2022-12-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The calculation of BTU/kW per hour helps to determine how much heat is needed for your particular space. In simpler terms, you wouldn’t want to buy something that doesn’t heat up all the area, just as you wouldn’t want to buy something too huge for a small space. Bear in mind that if you live in a windy area, the inflow of cold air can affect the patio heater’s efficiency. Propane patio heaters are available in two heat output options: floor standing 40-48,000 BTU/h and tabletop 11,000 BTU. As for the power output of electric heaters, you can choose between 900W, 1200W, and up to 1500W.

When comparing propane vs electric/infrared heaters, it could be said that propane heaters are handier for long-term heating, while the electric models are more effective when used only for several hours.

Best Patio Heaters Compared

1. Propane Powered Patio Heater | Best Value Under $200
Stainless steel floor standing propane patio heaters like AmazonBasics, Garden Treasures, Hampton Bay or Fire Sense have a heat output of 46,000 BTU's and measure 18"x89". They feature a powder-coated finish and a safety auto shut-off tilt valve. AmazonBasics is available in 8 colors.


2. Hiland Pyramid Patio Propane Heater with Mesmerizing Dancing Flame
Built-in the shape of a pyramid, the 40,000BTU heater covers min. 10 sq. ft. The device is 91” in height and has wheels for easy transportation. It uses a 20lb propane tank lasting up to 10 hours on high settings.


3. Hiland HLDS032-B Table Top Portable Heater
A tabletop heater is very convenient when you need to warm a specific area, such as around the table. Made from stainless steel and with a weight plate, this 38-inch propane heater has an 11,000 BTU output.


4. Dr. Infrared Heater 1500W Carbon Infrared Heater | Best Infrared Outdoor Heater
This infrared heater can be mounted to the wall or ceiling, both indoors and outdoors. It is made from aluminum, is weatherproof, and can be controlled remotely. The device has 3 settings: 900W, 1200W, and 1500W.


We all know lots of people who love spending their leisure time on their patio and read their favorite books there, spend time with their guests or throw BBQ parties there. A lovingly furnished patio often becomes a favorite spot for both children and grown-ups lounging. The summer is about to be over, a warm blanket is not going to be helpful in a while, so you are probably looking for a patio heater.

We have selected the best outdoor patio heaters, ranging from compact designs for 1-2 persons to more powerful ones for a large company or bars and restaurants. Which one will you pick: a portable or full-size one, table, floor, or hanging, electric or propane-powered heater, or maybe even, patio fire pit?

Table of Content:

Best Outdoor Patio Heaters: Types | How it Works

To pick a proper patio heater you have to first figure out how heaters work in general. Space heaters, including patio heaters, specifically are classified into two types based on the heating method:

  • convection (they use air surrounding the device for heating) 
  • propane patio heaters;
  • radiant heating (infrared radiation directly heats objects and people within the device’s action radius)
  • electric patio heaters.

Gas (propane) heaters lead the outdoor heaters market while the electric patio heaters follow them.

All of the propane heaters are rated with an AFUE. This efficiency rating indicates the percentage of the useful heat generated from 100% of the fuel consumed. The greater the heat output (Btu/hr) is, the greater is the efficiency.

Another measurement that you have to consider when choosing a patio heater is the BTU (British Thermal Unit) per hour that’s used to describe the power capacity of heating appliances. BTU, in its essence, measures the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. To determine BTU/hr of a particular space, you have to multiple 20 BTU by one square foot.

Best Floor Standing Patio Heaters for a Large Patio

To heat a large patio, you need to choose a powerful floor model with high thermal power output, preferably from 40,000 Btu/hr and up. This ensures that the rate of the heat generated will be sufficient to keep warm even a big company chilling on a large patio. Only propane devices marked "commercial" will cope with the task as they can also be used in outdoor cafes and restaurants.

Still, bear in mind that there is a relationship between the heat output (Btu/hr) and the operating time of the heater on a standard 20lb gas tank. The more the heater’s Btu/hr is, the greater the heating area is, and the sooner you’ll be running out of gas.

1. Hiland Pyramid Patio Propane Heater | Best with Mesmerizing Dancing Flame

AZ Patio Heater

✔ Uses a 20lb Propane Tank
(Lasts 8-10hrs. on High)
✔ Heat output: 40,000 BTU’s


This is a device for those who want to own an exclusive designer item able not only to heat up but also to become a decoration on your patio. Such heaters are, as a rule, higher-priced but they are worth the price tag. The manufacturer didn’t opt for hiding the propane combustion flame inside the device and instead confined the flame in a heat-resistant glass tower with a bronze foundation. It looks so impressive that you’d hurry to install it on your patio, and wait for the night to throw a party!

 Excerpts from buyers’ reviews 

«After 3 minutes or so when the top receiving burner and top plate heat up very hot. Estimate 5-6 foot diameter from unit of heating, more than adequate. You can't expect the same heat out of this that you get from the other heaters that have the large satellite dish thing at the top. Flames go 1/2 way up glass tube on low, all the way to the top on high setting. Aesthetically pleasing».

«It took me about 30 minutes to put the unit together. Once the unit is ignited, the heat distribution is minimal, but after 10 minutes you can feel the heat 8 to 10 feet away. This unit looks better and heats much better than the traditional patio heater».

The heat output of 40 000 BTUs will be enough for about 10 hours of heating from the standard 20lb propane tank. And the glass case will not only provide for heat, but also for great night lighting. This shall be an excellent choice for esthetes.

Pyramid Patio Propane Heater: Check the current price

2. Amazon Basics Outdoor Propane Patio Heater with Wheels | Best Value Under $200

This heater was designed to warm up all the guests when you host a huge patio party. This powerful propane patio heater will manage this, as we’re speaking of the 46 000 BTU heat output!

Such parameters provide for about 9 hours of performance of a 20 lb propane tank. The heater is promised to emit heat within the diameter of 18 ft. It does indeed seem great.

The auto-disable, as well as safe piezo-ignition, convenient temperature control knob, absence of open flame, and gentle heat, will all be appreciated. The lower block of the heater can be filled with water or sand for greater stability of the structure. You’d better do as the heater can tip over if the wind is strong enough… which, incidentally, happens as in some cases the wind throws off the heater even in the swimming pool.

For transportation convenience, the device is equipped with tiny wheels at the bottom so that you could easily reach your destination. The heater is powered by a standard 20-pound propane tank.

What about using it in the patio? Amazon Basics Outdoor Propane Patio Heater is extremely popular with those who spend plenty of time there: “We bought this for our patio area. It's perfect! It gives just enough heat, was easy to assemble, and arrived in two days. It makes watching TV outdoors on a cold rainy day fun! We couldn't be more pleased.” This outdoor heater comes in 3 different colors so it won’t be too difficult to match it with your patio furniture design.

Bear in mind that this heater is to be only used outdoors as it requires lots of oxygen for removing combustion leftovers. 

 Excerpts from buyers’ reviews 

«I work from my home office that's my garage and been freezing..space heaters didn't work so I stepped my game up! My space is 24x22 and now it's almost to HOT! It's WELL».

«This thing is really tall. I cut 12" off the upper steel support post, pre-drilled holes, and it now puts out at least 10x more heat on me where before it was almost useless in sub-zero temperatures. Installation is easy and common sense, there are only like 10 parts, I have no idea why people are complaining about this».

«I decided to lower the top tubing by 4 inches. Holy Mother - what a difference, easily twice as warm. Keeping the unit at the open front created a kind of heat wall that really slowed the cold from getting in. Sitting in chairs the whole space started warming up. (10x12). I own the tools to cut the steel tubing and redrill the mount holes. The conclusion is to get the shorter version unless it's used for a "standing" only area. I'm 6' 2" and this one 4" shorter is perfect now».

Last update on 2022-12-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Amazon Basics Patio Heater: Check the current price

Best Outdoor Electric Patio Heater for a Couple of Persons: Table Top, Hanging & Wall-Mounted Infrared Heaters

What should you do if you barely go outside (and when you do, you don’t stay there long)? Suppose, you love reading or working at your laptop or chatting with your significant another outside at night, but the cold would surely ruin your plans. In such cases, portable propane or an outlet-powered heater will solve the problem. Such devices will easily warm up a couple.

There are the following portable patio heaters: Tabletop, Hanging & Wall-mounted.

Hanging and Wall-Mounted Infrared Patio Heaters

Do you have a picnic table with a parasol on your patio or do you own a street café? In either case, it makes sense to maximize the use of space and to install the electric heaters under the sun umbrella or mount them on the wall. They are safe as the heat is provided by infra-red lamps, so you only feel the gentle breeze of the heat. This trick will also remind you how cool it is to spend time outdoors not only in summer. Pay attention to the following 3 models:

3. Dr. Infrared Heater 1500W Carbon Infrared Heater | Best Outdoor Electric Patio Heater Under $150

It is a wall-mounted patio heater. It’s wind-resistant and you don’t need a parasol to hang it. You can mount it on the wall (or even a beam), turn it on, and enjoy the warmth. This outdoor heater covers the area within 9 ft which makes it a decent option for smaller patios.

Last update on 2022-12-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Infrared Heater: Tabletop Patio Heaters

4. Ener-G+ | Best Indoor/Outdoor Ceiling Electric Patio Heater

It is a waterproof heating lamp of 1500 watts with a significant advantage over its predecessor on our list. It has wireless remote control equipped with 3 buttons: 2 help you set the heating temperature while the third one turns the light on and off. All you have to do is hang this heater where you spend most of the time. The lamp life is promised to last as long as 5 000 hours, so it will take long before you are challenged with replacing it. You’ll see that this is a profitable investment in heating any patio or gazebo.

Last update on 2022-12-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Ener-G+ Patio Heater: Check the current price

5. Hiland HLI-1P Electric Parasol/Umbrella Patio Heater | Best Electric 1500 Watts


It runs at 1500 Watts and has temperature control. Such a heater can be is securely fastened under the dome of the parasol and is able to warm up to 15 square feet with the help of 3 burners!

In addition, this heater is waterproof and is equipped with a safety anti-tilt switch. There is heat, light, and comfort, all creating the perfect atmosphere for spiritual conversations.

Last update on 2022-12-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Parasol/Umbrella Patio Heater: Check the current price

Tabletop Patio Heaters

We have found 2 models which deserve your attention in this category. The first one resembles a regular electric light, and has an elegant design. The second is fuelled by gas and is constructed of metal. Despite their differences, one thing they both have in common is their purpose to warm you. Which one will you choose?

6. Endless Summer New Orleans Indoor/Outdoor Electric Tabletop Heater

At a first glance, this seems to be a mere pretty lamp, but in reality, this is a portable electric heater that starts to warm you as soon as you have it plugged in. 1200 watts of power provide heat up to 115 sq. ft. of outdoor space - you can use it both at home and on the street.

This thing has become a treasure for the fans of chilling on patio; some even call it “a lifesaver for my patio”. This outdoor heater seems to be liked by everyone, reading or small gatherings fans, and lovers of stylish and functional devices, smokers who fume outside… It is often presented as a gift as few people stay indifferent to this sleek device. Relative fragility is considered to be the only drawback of the gadget, so think carefully about where you are going to place the heater as the wind might flip it over and break it.

Last update on 2022-12-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Endless Summer Patio Heater: Check the current price

7. AZ Patio Heaters Portable Table Top Stainless Steel Patio Heater

This stainless steel patio heater resembles large commercial patio heaters: it’s just smaller in size. It is indeed very similar to them, as this tiny device is also fuelled by gas (propane or butane), but its tank capacity reaches only 1lb. The heat output of 11,000 Btu/h will only provide the amount of gas sufficient for staying in the patio for up to 2 hours given that either of the two fuels is used.

The heater is supplied with a weight plate for added stability, burner screen guard, thermocouple and anti-tilt safety devices, so don’t worry about your safety, everything has been thought through for you.

Last update on 2022-12-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

AZ Patio Heater: Check the current price

A Patio Fire Pit for Real Flame Fans

Last but not least, we’ve got an interesting heater which will be appreciated by both natural heat fans and connoisseurs. It is simply impossible to ignore it!

8. A Stylish Outdoor Heater – Sunnydaze Sienna Flaming Ball Fire Pit, 30 Inch Diameter Sphere

If you want to enjoy natural warmth or you love warming your hands near a fire, this heater is for you. It doesn’t require an outlet or a propane tank, you’ll only need to throw some firewood in it and get cozy nearby. Of course, it won’t heat up much space, but you’ll surely appreciate the pleasant time spent at night in your patio while watching the flames flutter in this fire pit. This isn’t simply beautiful, but also safe as the heater is made of steel and is fully enclosed which allows you to use it without fear. There are 24-inch and 30-inch models available, and they even have the moon and stars on their dome. Perhaps, this is just what your patio is missing.

Last update on 2022-12-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Sunnydaze Black Flaming Ball Fire Pit: Check the current price

Products with a 5-star rating


Product5 Stars Votes
Hiland HLDS032-B Table Top Portable Heater694(8.7%)
Sunjoy 47,000 BTU Avanti Propane Heater348(4.4%)
Hiland HLDS01-SSHGT 48,000 BTU Propane Patio Heater295(3.7%)
Hiland HLI-1P Electric Paras ol/Umbrella Patio Heater102(1.3%)
Hampton Bay 48000 Btu Stainless Steel Patio Heater83(1%)

Expert Opinion: Arlo Guthrie, Editor of Information-Sharing Communities

Arlo Guthrie, Editor of Information-Sharing Communities

Arlo Guthrie is an editor of information-sharing communities, VetSurgeon.org and VetNurse.co.uk. His other passion is technology and gadgets that facilitate our lives. Arlo runs a YouTube channel, sharing his experience with the audience.

I would like to try and make sure my patio heater is as eco-friendly as it can be. I know that sounds a bit ridiculous like saying I want my superyacht to be as eco-friendly as it can be... But there we have it. Now the thing to bear in mind when you burn the fuel is that it transfers heat by convection and radiation and, if you are actually sitting on the fire, by conduction. The problem with gas heaters is all that convection disappears up into the sky, completely wasted. Electric heaters, on the other hand, deliver more heat by radiation, which does not blow away in the wind. Another advantage of electric heaters is convenience. Gas bottles only last a few hours, so it is quite a big advantage not having to go backward and forward from the garden center. Not to mention that fact that you won't ever find yourself running out of electricity.

Best Patio Heaters 2020 | Comparative Table


What is the required clearance around my patio heater?
Please, refer to your user’s manual to see how much space is required around your heater. Usually, patio heaters with 35k to 50k  BTU will require at least 30 inches of clearance around it, whereas smaller units (10k-25k BTU) will require at least 24 inches.

Last update on 2022-12-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Can I use the patio heater on my enclosed patio?
Gas patio heaters can never be used indoors (in an enclosed space). On the contrary, electric heaters can be used both indoors and outdoors.

Can I use the patio heater on grass or does it have to be on concrete?
No, please, do not set up your patio heater on grass as it can fall or tip over. Always place it on a stable ground (concrete, if you like).

Can I leave my patio heater out all year round?
Yes, you can. However, if left unattended and unused for long periods of time, the heater’s elements can deteriorate over time.

Last update on 2022-12-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Can patio heaters be used indoors?
Only if it’s electric.

Will a patio heater melt snow?
Patio heaters are not intended to melt snow or ice. However, radiant heating systems can melt snow, if that’s what you want.

Do I have to clean a patio heater?
If left unattended for a long time, then make sure you indeed clean your heater, otherwise, it won’t be functioning just as well.

Are patio heaters safe?
Outdoor gas heaters are never safe indoors, however, they are safe while using outdoors. The reason behind this is that outdoor heaters generate carbon monoxide and thus, require unrestricted ventilation. The electric heaters are safe both for indoor and outdoor use.

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