How to Choose a Patio Heater

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August 25, 2021 10:00:00 AM PDT August 25, 2021 10:00:00 AM PDTth, August 25, 2021 10:00:00 AM PDT

Extend your evenings on the patio with the right patio heater keeping you warm. Choosing the right one will provide you with the right amount of heat for your space and needs, so you don’t overheat or freeze!

But it’s not always as simple as going to the store and bringing one home, one that looks good. There are several options to consider depending on how and where you will be using it. 

To help you get started buying your first (or next) patio heater, here are a few tips: 

Gas vs Propane vs Electric 

Patio heaters can be powered or fueled by natural gas, propane, or electricity. Propane is the most popular as it makes your patio heater portable. Tabletop models often have a compartment for a small one-pound tank, and the larger, freestanding ones use a standard 20-pound tank for longer use and higher heat output.

If you choose an infrared heater, those are powered by electricity only, so you need to ensure safe access to a power outlet.

Heating radius based on BTU output

A feature you see often in patio heaters is the BTU (British Thermal Unit). It is a measure of the heat output based on how long it takes to heat (or cool) 1 pound of water 1 degree Fahrenheit. 

When it comes to patio heaters, you may not need a high BTU unit for smaller spaces. Most freestanding units will heat a 5-6 foot radius. Tabletop versions are lower BTU and heat only a couple of feet. 

To base your BTU needs on the space you need to heat, here are some sample ranges when there are zero wind or external conditions affecting the heat distribution: 

  • 100 - 150 sq ft = 5,000 BTU
  • 350 - 400 sq ft = 9,000 BTU
  • 1,000 - 1,200 sq ft = 21,000 BTU
  • 2,000 - 2,500 sq ft = 34,000 BTU

Because patio heaters are outdoors and are affected by wind and weather, you often need a higher output than the suggested BTUs above. Here are some common BTU outputs for patio heaters and how much they can heat under good conditions. 

  • 40,000 BTU = 5 feet radius
  • 46,000 BTU = 5-6 feet radius
  • 66,000 BTU = 6 feet radius

Tabletop vs Freestanding 

Patio heaters are available as freestanding units or as ones that sit on a tabletop. Tabletop models put out lower heat (around 11,000 BTU) than their freestanding counterparts (40,000 to 50,000 BTU).

Freestanding units can be moved around easily, and many units have a set of 2 wheels attached to the bottom to make moving it around more manageable, but they can be cumbersome if you plan to move it around often rather than keeping it stationary most of the time. 

Here’s how to choose between freestanding and tabletop patio heaters:

  • For higher heat but less portable, choose freestanding heaters. 
  • For lower heat but more portable, choose tabletop heaters.

Our most popular tabletop heater: Paramount Stainless Steel Tabletop Patio Heater

Our most popular freestanding heater: Paramount Propane Patio Heater, Mocha

Infrared Heat vs Flame

You can also choose between patio heaters with visible flames or ones that give off infrared heat. Many people enjoy the ambiance that a flame heater provides. To add extra intrigue, get a freestanding heater with a spiral venturi flame and watch as the fire spiral up within a tempered glass tube.

Each type of heater distributes heat differently and is a key feature to consider. For example, Infrared heaters provide a blanket of heat within its range that is unaffected by wind. It’s an excellent choice for windy patios and backyards. In contrast, propane heaters do a great job of heating the air around you, but the heat can easily be blown away from you in the wind or a light breeze. 

Here’s how to choose between infrared heat or flame patio heaters:

  • For use in potentially windy conditions, choose infrared heaters.
  • For use in calm or no-wind, choose flame heaters.
  • For added ambiance, choose a spiral venturi flame.

Our most popular infrared patio heater: Paramount Telescopic Infrared Patio Heater

Our most popular spiral venturi flame heater: Paramount Venturi Spiral Flame Heater (in Bronze)

The right patio heater is enough to take a chill off a cool evening outdoors. It will create functional heat and ambiance so you can spend more time outdoors. 

If you’re looking for a patio heater, start looking now because in 2021, we’ve seen a significantly increased demand, and many manufacturers are struggling to keep up. Check out the Paramount Patio Heaters we have at JR Home and put your order in today, so you’re not left out in the cold.