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16 of the Best Patio Heaters to Stay Warm Outdoors

Not even Mr. Freeze can stand a chance against these patio heaters.

best patio heaters

While air conditioners are a summer thing, patio heaters are good for practically the whole year. Yes, while patio heaters will probably get the most use in the winter, nighttime in the spring and summer brings lower temperatures and chilly breezes. The market for patio heaters is large and unwieldy, so we reached out to Joseph Boodanian, director of HVAC training at UEI College, a leader in churning out top-flight HVAC techs for over four decades, to help us demystify the world of patio heaters. From the different types of patio heaters to the best ones to buy, here's everything you should know about patio heaters.

      Types of Patio Heaters

      Everything matters when considering your outdoor space: Do you have a concrete or wood deck patio? Is there an awning or some kind of top? Is it enclosed or is it open-air? What do you do with the space when it’s not cold? You have to determine what fuel works best for you, as well. These are the most popular fuel sources for patio heaters, as well as the pros and cons for each.

      Liquid propane: This is almost always the cheapest option for patio heaters, and you can find the fuel source practically anywhere. It helps patio heaters to be both powerful and mobile, but lugging around a 20-pound tank can get old really fast, not to mention the hassle of attaching and detaching the tank. Also, make sure you have proper ventilation.

      Natural gas: Patio heaters fueled by natural gas bring some of the steadiest heat, but it is more expensive than liquid propane. It's important to get a professional to install a natural gas patio heater for safety reasons, and once it's set up, it's pretty much stuck there for life.

      Electric: An electric patio heater is great for small spaces and can be found in almost any size. These types of patio heaters are the easiest to use at the cost of taking a while to heat up. Plus, you have to be close to an electrical outlet to operate.

      Wood pellet: Wood pellets have the lowest environmental impact compared to other fuel sources, and patio heaters powered by wood pellets are super efficient. Heaters using wood pellet fuel are very durable, built to withstand the harshest climates. However, sourcing wood pellets is a pain, and owning and maintaining a wood pellet heater can be a lot of work.

      Patio Heater Safety

      Given that patio heaters are machines on your property that pump out extremely high levels of heat (and in some cases use actual flames to do so), you need to take certain safety precautions. The National Fire Protection Association recommends a few patio heater safety tips that should be followed regardless of what type of patio heater you have. Those tips are to keep any objects at least three feet away from the heating element at all times, never leave a patio heater running in an unsupervised area and follow the manufacturer’s instructions when it comes to things like adequate ventilation, power supply, storage, installation, maintenance and more.

      Outside of the NFPA’s recommendations, there are a few common sense steps to further protect yourself and your family. You should only set your patio heater on a stable surface where it’s least likely to tip over (and never on grass, which is a fire hazard). You should always supervise children and pets around the patio heater to make sure they don’t get burned. Take extra care to make sure that no combustible materials are stored anywhere near the heater. Lastly — and this should go without saying — don’t ever use a patio heater indoors or otherwise in an enclosed space

      How We Tested

      We compiled a list of over 50 patio heaters, which the market had considered the best of the best. From the list, we called in a number of patio heaters we deemed worthy of being tested, and for the rest, we sourced product manuals for each unit, running them through rigorous analysis. After much trial and error, those 50-plus patio heaters were narrowed down to the 16 best.

      The Best Patio Heaters of 2023

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      Best Overall Patio Heater
      Frontgate Commercial Patio Heater
      Best Splurge Patio Heater
      SunFire 150 Radiant Heater
      Best Budget Patio Heater
      Dr. Heater Infrared DR-238
      Now 15% off
      Best Natural Gas Patio Heater
      AZ Patio Heaters Tall Quartz Glass Tube Heater
      Best Propane Patio Heater
      Bromic Heating BH0510001 Tungsten Smart-Heat Portable Heater
      Best Radiant Electric Patio Heater
      Bromic Heating BH0320007 Platinum Smart-Heat Heater
      Now 28% off
      Best Wood Pellet Patio Heater
      Lil' Timber Patio Heater
      Best Heater for Small Patios
      314 Display Portable Infrared Electric Patio Heater
      Most Stylish Patio Heater
      Solo Stove Tower Patio Heater
      Best Portable Patio Heater
      Mr. Heater Big Buddy
      Best Tabletop Patio Heater
      Fire Sense Table Top Patio Heater
      Now 24% off
      Best Patio Heater With a Table Top
      EnerG+ Outdoor Bistro Style Heater Table
      Best Pyramid Patio Heater
      Lava Heat Italia Capri-A-Line Patio Heater
      Best Weather-Resistant Patio Heater
      Big Timber Elite
      Best Discreet Patio Heater
      Bromic BH0820001 Eclipse Smart Heat
      Best Designed Patio Heater
      Galanter and Jones Helios Metreo
      Johnny Brayson is Gear Patrol's associate home editor.
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