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Patio heaters are a great addition to an outdoor space because they allow for entertaining and comfort outdoors to continue after the sun goes down, and throughout the year. It is important to pick the right one for your patio, and some of the main considerations include the weather that is experienced, the size of the patio area, and the type of heater needed in that space. If there are large events that will occur during the cold months, you will need to have as specific heater to to meet the need.

Different types of patio heaters to choose from

There are a few different types that are safe and user friendly for your outdoor patio area. The most important consideration is the type of fuel that it will burn. The fuel type can dictate the size and any smells associated with the heater. The fuel options include:

  • Butane
  • Propane
  • Oil
  • Gasoline
  • Electric

Butane patio heaters

Butane is a clean burning fuel in the form of a gel that has a slight odor, but produces a clean heat. The flame is self contained, the fuel is in a canister, and it can last up to eight hours. The nice part about this type of fuel is that it is easy to find, readily accessible, and is water proof. The fuel burns inside the unit, which heats a core that produces an even, external heat.

Propane patio heaters

Propane is another type of clean-burning fuel, but unlike butane, the size of the flame has to be regulated through a valve that restricts the flow of the gas. Propane can produce a hot burning flame, which is funneled into a core that releases the heat without fumes or smoke. The internal metal of the heater is warmed by the flame produced, therefore, regulating the temperature is manually controlled.

Oil patio heaters

Oil is a somewhat antiquated fuel source by this point in history, but is still reliable and burns well. The major problem with this type of fuel is that it can create a sludge inside the heater, requiring maintenance, and it is extremely flammable on external surfaces. This type of product works well with industrial sized heaters, and those that are used in large open areas.

Gasoline patio heaters

Many of the heaters that use gasoline are also being used in conjunction with a compressor or generator, which makes them harder to come by. These types of heaters are used in wide spaces that require a large, free-standing heater. For a better idea of the size, heaters like these are often used in orange groves to keep the trees warm during a frost. For a patio area, however, a gasoline heater is palced on the edge of a large section property to provide heat for the entire area.

Electric patio heaters

Electric heaters are the most popular of all the heater types, because they are inexpensive, easy to use, and fuel does not have to be prepared in advance. Using an indoor/outdoor cord is important in helping to prevent fire hazards. The core of the heater is heated through electricity, and can be adjusted via settings on the unit.

The size that matters

After researching the type of fuel you are most comfortable with, the next step is to investigate the actual style that will work in the patio area in question. There are a few styles, and they include:

  • Dome covered, or roofed units, that range in height from three to 12 feet
  • Open core heaters that have a perforated core that allows the heat to escape, but can have an open top exposing the core to the surface
  • Enclosed tube or canister heaters where the entire unit is encased in aluminum and radiates heat off of the entire surface of the heater

It is important to pick the right one so as to prevent burns, or potential fire hazards.

Photo:jasonwoodhead23

Choosing the right heater for your patio

The key to making the right choice for you patio is to take the size of patio into consideration. If the patio area is 10 x 10, then a three foot dome covered heater would be perfect. It would let off enough heat to make the entire space comfortable, while remaining safe for guests or even children. The unit has a presence with its shiny aluminum, and would be easy to tuck away in a corner while remaining a safe unit to operate.

Larger spaces would accommodate big heaters that run on any of the fuel choices listed. They do need more room and open space available, as they get quite hot. The best heater for a large open space would be a dome covered, 12 foot, propane fueled heater. It creates a lot of heat quickly, and can easily warm an area of 150-200 square feet.

Climate considerations

Climate can also prove to be a factor for space heaters. For electric use heaters, it is a good idea to ensure that the external outlets are up to code, that there are no building codes or city guidelines for burning certain types of fuels with heaters, and to check for inclement weather restrictions. This is for the safety of your home and of your neighbors.

Fuel source availability

Before making a final decision on a heater, make sure that the fuel source you prefer is readily available. For instance, oil heaters may require a specific heating oil that may not be available in certain areas, so check to make sure that the fuel product needed is easy to find.

Cool summer evenings, and into autumn!

Enjoy the warmth after the sun goes down this year with your patio heater. You’ll be able to entertain and enjoy the outdoors by starting your outdoor living as summer warmth ramps up, while also extending the comfort of summer into the autumn months. By choosing the best unit for your needs, you are guaranteeing satisfaction and relaxation for many seasons to come. Of course, keep safety in mind for all use with these units, for an event free, user friendly experience.

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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.