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As summer winds down, nights start to get colder, but you might not be ready to give up spending evenings on the patio just yet. A patio heater will allow you to keep holding backyard gatherings well into the fall, as they give off the perfect amount of heat to keep your patio toasty warm.
One of the most important considerations you’ll need to make as you shop for a patio heater is its heating source. You can find models that run on propane gas, as well as electrical options, each of which have their own benefits. There are also infrared models, which many people consider safer and more efficient. You’ll also want to think about whether you want a freestanding, wall-, or ceiling-mounted model, depending on the layout of your outdoor space.
Here, the best patio heaters you can buy today.
Due to increased demand for online shopping, items in this article may be out of stock. Updates to this article will be made frequently with products we recommend.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better quality heater than the Frontgate 46,000 BTU Patio Heater, which has a classic and durable stainless steel finish. This heater runs on LPG tanks (sold separately), and it can heat outdoor spaces up to 200 square feet.
This patio heater features a Piezo igniter system to get its stainless steel burners up and running quickly, while an auto shut-off valve ensures that it won’t accidentally be left on overnight. Standing on an extremely stable wide base, the unit is just over 89 inches tall and weighs 42 pounds, and it comes with wheels for added portability. Reviewers say it’s attractive, well-constructed, and easy to assemble—and it kicks off an impressive amount of heat, so you will be able to use it well into the cooler months.
If you already have a patio umbrella set up on your outdoor space, it’s quick and easy to install the ART TO REAL Electric Patio Heater—you can opt to either mount it on the umbrella’s pole or hang down underneath the awning. The electric infrared heater features three collapsible heating panels that extend out from the central ring, and it has three heat settings (500, 1,000, and 1,500 watts) that can warm up to 15 square feet. Although it isn’t as warm as it’s larger, gas-powered counterparts, it’s odorless, a lot less expensive to maintain, and silent.
As mentioned, infrared heaters work by heating objects around your patio—not just the air—which helps the area to stay warm for longer. They're also eco-friendly and safe to use, which is why people love models like the Dr. Infrared Heater 1500W Carbon Infrared Heater. The unit is designed to be mounted to a wall or ceiling (mounting hardware sold separately) and offers three different temperature settings, depending on your needs.
This patio heater comes with a remote control for easy adjustments and can be set up indoors or outdoors. It is also made of weatherproof anodized aluminum, which means it can survive harsh weather conditions.
Many patio heaters have a very utilitarian appearance, but if you’re looking for something a bit more stylish, consider the Lightfire Patio Heaters. While quite pricey, these models look like something you’d find in a high-end hotel, thanks to their sleek lines, built-in LED lights, beautiful glass tubes showcasing the inner flame.
These heaters give off up to 42,000 BTU of infrared heat, which is powerful enough to warm up 450 square feet. They run on 20-pound propane tanks, which are housed in the base, and they come with a remote control for more convenient operation.
Electric patio heaters are convenient, as you’ll never need to run to the store for more propane, and the Fire Sense 1,500-Watt Steel Infrared Electric Patio Heater is a top-rated option. The unit runs on household electricity, and it operates at 90 percent heating efficiency, making it significantly more efficient than propane heaters.
This electric patio heater reaches its maximum heat production in a matter of seconds, and its infrared technology heats items on your patio, not just the air. It has a 12-foot electrical cord and wheels for mobility, and its telescoping stand can reach up to 93 inches in height. These units are inexpensive to operate and get warm instantly, but do need to be somewhat close to an outlet to work.
If you have a smaller patio space, you can probably get away with using a tabletop patio heater. This 2,000 BTU pick from Regal Flame Bay is ideal for smaller outdoor spaces, and only for when temperatures dip down into the 40s to 60s—it's not built for freezing temperatures.
Compared to some other heaters that use bulbs to heat the space and objects around them, this pick uses a real flame, which is just as eye-catching as it is effective. The unit itself is lightweight, so you can easily move it from your front porch to backyard, if needed. And if you're concerned with the safety of an open flame, know that the heater comes with glass paneling to ensure that no one gets hurt.
Note that assembly is required, and it runs on bio-ethanol fuel (not included).
Power source Patio heaters are available with a variety of fuel or power source options. Propane is the most popular fuel source for a patio heater, but if you don’t want to deal with propane tanks, then an electric-powered patio heater may be a better fit. Electric patio heaters can typically be plugged into standard residential outlets, but make sure they’re protected from the elements to avoid electrical hazards or malfunctions.
Range Are you looking for a personal-sized patio heater that will keep you and a friend or two warm or a larger unit that can heat things up for a small crowd? Larger patio heaters generally have a greater range—up to 18 feet or more—while small, tabletop models will only radiate heat for a distance of a few feet.
Heat output The intensity and effectiveness of a patio heater is likely best evaluated by its heat output. This is generally measured as BTUs for gas-burning patio heaters and watts for electric heaters. To compare how well two units will heat your space, compare the BTUs or watts of each model to find the one that will fit your temperature preferences and space.