Choosing and Using a Patio Heater

You have a wonderful outdoor space, and it’s fun to be in your yard or patio during the Summer. Maybe you grill, use a kiddie pool, or find other ways to make use of your outdoor space. When the Winter arrives and things get chilly, why should you have to stop? Adding a patio heater to your outdoor space is a great way to extend the use of your yard or patio into the Winter, so you can make use of that outdoor space year-round.

Propane Patio Heaters

There are a few things to consider when choosing a patio heater. The first is the type of fuel it uses. The most common type of patio heater is propane. If you have a propane tank on hand, or if you’re willing to have one installed, a propane patio heater is a good option.

Many people have become familiar with propane patio heaters because they’ve seen them used on restaurant patios for outdoor dining during Covid-19. Most models consist of a metal base, a vertical column, a burner surrounded by mesh, and a big metal reflector to direct all the unit’s heat downwards. The great news is that you can buy these type of commercial heaters for use in your own yard, and many companies now make them.

Propane patio heaters are easy to set up and use portable, so you can move them around as needed. They’re efficient, putting out a lot of heat for their size. They’re also relatively cheap to operate.

However, there are a few downsides to propane patio heaters. First, they can be a fire hazard if they tip over, so you need to be careful when using them. Second, they produce carbon monoxide, so you should only use them outside. You’ll also need to swap out the propane cylinder frequently.

Natural Gas Patio Heaters

Natural gas patio heaters are similar to propane ones, but they required a dedicated gas line. You’ll need a plumber or another professional to install one, and adding a new gas line can be expensive. Also, these heaters are usually mounted on an overhang or roof instead of being free-standing.

Electric Patio Heaters

Electric patio heaters are the cheapest to operate, as they use your home’s electrical supply. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from small tabletop models to large, freestanding ones. Some have a built-in fan to help circulate the heat, while others must be placed near an external wall to get the most heat. Electric heaters are a good choice if you don’t have a propane tank or if you want to avoid the potential hazards of using a gas-powered heater.

No matter which type of patio heater you choose, be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. All heaters have specific safety instructions that must be followed to avoid fires or other dangerous situations.

Where to Buy a Patio Heater

There are two main options for patio heaters–buying locally or buying online. If you’re planning to go with a natural gas patio heater, your best option is usually to buy locally, through the same professional who will install the heater. These heaters need pro installation, and you want to ensure that the heater you choose is one that your pro recommends and can install.

If you’re going for a fixed electric model, the same thing applies. Work with a professional, especially if you’re added a dedicated electrical line for the heater.

If you’re getting a propane heater, you can usually go it yourself. Lots of people like to buy these heaters at a local home improvement store. Lowes and Home Depot both offer the heaters, often for local pickup, and Costo sells them during the Winter months, too. You can even buy the heaters online since they fold into a surprisingly small package.

You can read our full review of the four best patio heaters for your Winter patio.

You can rent patio heaters, too. Often they’ve available from local party rental companies. Still, if you’re planning to use the heater for more than a few days, it often makes sense to buy one. Prices have come down dramatically during the pandemic.

How to Light A Patio Heater

The specific instructions for lighting propane patio heaters differ based on the model. Make sure to look at your own heater’s instructions carefully. Still, there’s usually a basic process.

Most patio heaters have a gas knob near the top of the heater. With most models, you turn the knob to a Light setting while pressing the knob in. You then press an ignition button until the heater lights.

Now comes the crucial part. In most cases, you’ll need to hold down the gas knob for 10-30 seconds in order to keep the patio heater lit. If you don’t do that, it might go out.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. I may get a commission if you make a purchase through a link, at no cost to you, which helps to support my reviews.

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