The 8 Best Patio Heaters of 2023

Our best: the Amazon Basics 46,000 BTU Outdoor Propane Patio Heater With Wheels

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The Spruce / Lecia Landis

Cold winter days don't need to mean an end to outdoor entertaining. Enjoying your winter wonderland can also be comfortable and cozy with the help of a patio heater. Today’s homeowners are “using their outdoor spaces more and extending usage earlier in the spring and later in the fall,” says design expert Tim Bakke. Lowering temperatures in the fall led to “a run on patio heaters to the point where they were almost impossible to get.”

We tested and researched the best outdoor patio heaters available, evaluating their ease of setup, effectiveness, ease of use, and value. The Amazon Basics 46,000 BTU Outdoor Propane Patio Heater With Wheels combines affordability with a high BTU rating, key safety features, and ease of use, making it our top pick.

Here are the best patio heaters, researched and tested by The Spruce.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall

Amazon Basics Outdoor Propane Patio Heater With Wheels

4.2
Amazon Basics 46,000 BTU Outdoor Propane Patio Heater

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Setup
    3/5
  • Heating Performance
    5/5
  • Ease of Use
    4/5
  • Safety
    4/5
  • Value
    4/5
What We Like
  • Plenty of heat

  • Built-in wheels

  • High-quality materials

  • Multiple finishes

  • Tip-over shutoff

What We Don't Like
  • Price depends on color

The Amazon Basics 46,000-BTU patio heater is easy to set up and move around your outdoor space. It has built-in wheels and comes in six colors, although the price varies based on the color. Turning it on is easy, with a one-button starter. Once it is on, you can control the temperature with a knob.

This budget-friendly patio heater gets attention for its affordability, as well as the quality of materials and construction. It is made of aluminum, plastic, and steel that is powder-coated for durability and design. The heater also includes safety features, notably a shutoff that engages if the unit tips over.

This is a propane heater, so you need to purchase separate propane to use it. Fortunately, propane is sold in most hardware stores and even some gas stations and grocery stores. Just keep in mind it adds to the overall cost.

Price at time of publish: $132 (varies by color)

Dimensions: 33 x 18 x 89 inches | Material: Aluminum, plastic, steel | BTU: 46,000 | Heat Range Diameter: 9 feet

Best Budget

Hanover 800-Watt Electric Patio Heater

4.4
Hanover 800-Watt Electric Patio Heater

The Home Depot

Our Ratings
  • Heating Performance
    3.8/5
  • Safety
    4.5/5
  • Value
    4.5/5
  • Setup
    5/5
  • Ease of Use
    4/5
What We Like
  • Simple to set up and use

  • IP rating of 65

  • 360º heat distribution

What We Don't Like
  • Needs elevated location

The good news about this electric infrared heater: It costs nearly $100 less than virtually all the other outdoor patio heaters we have tested and performed about as well. "If someone wanted an electric heater and didn't want to spend the extra money on something fancy, but just wanted to get the job done, especially if it were in an area where they would be seated, this would be a good pick," our tester reported. "The fact that the heat was evenly distributed 360° around the heater, rather than in one direction, was a nice touch," she added.

We should note that every heater we tested, including this product, is recommended for temperatures no cooler than the mid-40s Fahrenheit; when we tested outdoors, on a bright, sunny day in mid-October, the temperature was unseasonably cold, in the mid-30s, and accompanied by a moderate breeze. "The wind was a fierce competitor to this heater," our tester acknowledged. "With every slight breeze I could no longer feel any heat from this heater." We acknowledge that the weather conditions may have impacted the unit's effectiveness, which included a minute and a half to feel any heat (the manufacturer claims that the radiant infrared unit generates heat immediately), and a lack of heat beyond 3 feet away (the manufacturer claims a 44-square-foot range).

However, we still recommend this product for its ease of assembly (which took only 6 minutes from out of box to operation), simplicity (a single on-off toggle switch and one heat setting), its IP rating of 65 (meaning it's considered dust-tight and reasonably protected against water), and most of all, its 360-degree heat distribution, which effectively warmed folks sitting a short distance away from the unit. Owing to the product's 8-inch height, we recommend that you position it on an elevated surface, such as a patio table, to heat everyone from the waist up. "If you set it in the center of a group of chairs for warming people while they were seated outdoors, I could see the appeal," our tester said.

Price at time of publish: $90

Dimensions: 8 x 24 x 8 inches | Material: Aluminum housing with 304 stainless steel mesh | BTU: 2,729 | Heat Range Diameter: 44 square feet

Best Natural Gas

Fire Sense 61445 Natural Gas Patio Heater

Fire Sense 61445 Natural Gas Patio Heater

Amazon

What We Like
  • Easy to start and adjust

  • Efficient heat

  • Sleek design

What We Don't Like
  • Top-heavy

  • Natural gas source may need adding

If you want endless heat, look at the Fire Sense 61445 patio heater, which hooks right up to a natural gas line. All you need to do is push the start button and adjust the heat output using the knob. It is quite tall and creates considerable heat. It has a sleek design without a lot of extra bulk or components. This is a top-heavy heater, but a tip-over protection mechanism is included.

The gas-line hookup, which extends the height of the heater an additional 15 inches from the base, presents considerable challenges, however. You need to position the heater near a gas source, which may require costly professional installation. Make sure to check with your local building codes. Also, making use of gas adds to your utility bill.

Price at time of publish: $264

Dimensions: 12 x 33 x 91 inches | Material: Stainless steel | BTU: 45,000 | Heat Range Diameter: 120 square feet

Best Wall Mounted

Dr. Infrared Heater 1500W Carbon Infrared Outdoor Heater DR-238

Dr. Infrared Heater 1500W Carbon Infrared Outdoor Heater DR-238

Amazon

What We Like
  • Easy to set up

  • Multiple settings

  • Remote control included

  • Heats quickly

What We Don't Like
  • Not good for large spaces

This electric patio heater is easy to set up and can be mounted directly on a wall. It puts out 5,200 BTU, enough for small patios and workspaces. It is also ideal for garages and workshops because it starts heating right away. It comes with everything you need to use, including mounting brackets and a remote, to make adjusting it even easier.

The unit only extends 4 inches from the wall, so it shouldn't take up a lot of space. You can choose from 900, 1,200, and 1,500 watts of power. You can also set a timer to have it turn off automatically, so you don’t have to worry about whether you left it on if you leave the house.

Price at time of publish: $127

Dimensions: 35 x 8 x 4 inches | Material: Aluminum | BTU: 5,200 | Heat Range Diameter: 150 square feet

Best Ceiling Mounted/Overhead

AllModern Romano Electric Hanging Patio Heater

AllModern Romano Electric Hanging Patio Heater

Wayfair

What We Like
  • Stylish design

  • Wide heat range diameter

  • Starts heating right away

  • Bulbs included

What We Don't Like
  • Similar products have lower prices

The AllModern Romano fixture combines aesthetics with function, looking like a modern farmhouse fixture while putting out 5,100 BTU of heat, which comes from the included two halogen bulbs. A permanent fixture, which can hang from terraces, balconies, and gazebos, this electric patio heater needs to be hardwired, much like a ceiling fan or chandelier. (An adjustable 19.7-inch chain is included.) If you are not comfortable around electricity, we strongly recommend professional installation.

The round design ensures that it provides total-surround heat, limited to its dedicated space. To increase that, you could hang multiple heaters, although that does become expensive when you consider the cost of the heater and running extra electrical lines.

Price at time of publish: $155

Dimensions: 30 x 16.5 x 16.5 inches | Material: Steel | BTU: 5,100 | Heat Range Diameter: 12 feet

Best Tabletop

Star Patio Electric Tabletop Patio Heater

4.6
Star Patio Tabletop Electric Patio Heater

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Setup
    5/5
  • Ease of Use
    5/5
What We Like
  • Simple to turn on/off

  • Heats up quickly

  • Withstands moderate breeze

What We Don't Like
  • Only one heat setting

Tabletop heaters shouldn't require more than a simple way to turn them on and off. A simple pull string—which struck our tester as overly long—does the job for the Star Patio Electric Tabletop. For further simplicity, the infrared product has one power setting, 1,500 watts, which the manufacturer says results in 5,100 BTUs, enough to heat a 12-square-foot area.

In examining this product on an unseasonably cold, 35-degree morning outside our Des Moines Lab, we used an IR thermometer to record testers' surface body temperatures. This unit raised our tester's temperature by nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit in just 5 minutes. This felt just fine to our tester, who believed it would adequately warm four or six people sitting around it. "The heat feels warmish when I am sitting within 18 inches of it," our tester agreed.

The unit's over two-feet height struck us as tall, but necessary to provide a substantial heating surface while remaining compact enough to withstand stiff breezes without falling over. "If the table was bumped it would fall over," our tester noted, "but it should stay up through wind and minor bumps." As with many units we tested, this product includes a safety that shuts it off when it's tipped over.

Price at time of publish: $170

Dimensions: 16.9 x 16.9 x 26.5 inches | Material: Not listed | BTU: 5,100 | Heat Range Diameter: 12 square feet

Best Electric

EnerG+ Infrared Electric Portable Outdoor Heater

4.6
Infrared Electric Portable Outdoor Heater

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Heating Performance
    5/5
  • Value
    3.5/5
  • Setup
    4/5
  • Ease of Use
    5/5
What We Like
  • Heats fast

  • Simple, 2-button remote

  • 3 heat settings

  • Stylish

What We Don't Like
  • Confusing assembly

If you want to quickly warm up family and/or guests enjoying the crisp fall air on your patio or deck, this is a great option: On an unseasonably cold autumn day outside our Lab in Des Moines, our tester recorded that her surface body temperature increased from 66ºF, to almost 93ºF in just 5 minutes. The manufacturer says the UL and ETL-approved unit effectively heats folks within a 10-foot radius.

We liked the unit's 4.5-foot height. "The tower is tall, so it would heat people from toes to top of head when sitting," our tester remarked. We also liked that we didn't have to get up from our comfy patio or deck seats to turn on the unit, thanks to its simple two-button remote. (The ON button activates the 500-watt low setting; a second click toggles the heat to the medium 1,000-watt setting; and a third click throttles the heat to the 1,500-watt high; the OFF button turns the system off.) But we would have preferred that the design include a dedicated spot to store or clip the remote. "It has a shelf that you put the remote on," our tester reported, "but I fear that would get knocked over."

The unit itself shouldn't get knocked over by light to medium breezes, thanks to its 18-pound weight. Assembling the base, and snaking the power cord through the shaft took took our tester more than 20 minutes, more time than most products we tested. The package comes with all the hardware, including screws, washers, and an Allen key; you need a Phillips screwdriver, which is not included. Assembly wasn't difficult, our tester reported, but noted that the diagrams didn't prevent her from assembling the unit backwards.

Price at time of publish: $291

Dimensions: 51.5 x 11 x 11 inches | Material: Aluminum | BTU: 5,100 | Heat Range Diameter: 10 feet

Best Portable

Frontgate Commercial Patio Heater

4.7
Frontgate Commercial Patio Heater

Frontgate

Our Ratings
  • Setup
    5/5
  • Heating Performance
    4.5/5
  • Ease of Use
    5/5
  • Safety
    4/5
  • Value
    5/5
What We Like
  • One-person movable

  • Sturdy

  • Easy to operate

  • Heats reasonably well in the cold

  • Stylish-looking

What We Don't Like
  • Lacks auto shutoff

  • Lacks included cover

Nothing says a patio heater has to stay on a patio. In fact, our at-home tester needed no help to move this ETL-certified propane-fueled model from her patio to her driveway. "The wheels made this very easy to move around from spot to spot," she said, noting that one person can move this product around despite its nearly 7.5 feet in height. Despite the height, our tester was confident that the heater would remain upright in anything less than a gale. "It has a spot to load in sand to give us extra peace of mind on the sturdiness," she said. "It would take a lot to knock this over."

Operating instructions are printed directly on the heater, which is fueled by a standard propane tank, held in place with a chain. Even though the user manual warns of the heater's reduced efficiency once the temperature falls below 40 degrees, our tester found no issue with its heating effectiveness on an autumn evening when the temperature sank to an unseasonable reading of 31 degrees Fahrenheit. "Even with that temp, it did a good job of keeping me warm when I stood underneath it," she reported. (With a stated output of 46,000 BTU, it should.) We noted that although the manufacturer-supplied information doesn't list an effective heat range, we found it to be around 4 feet. But again, this was on a night when the temperature was well below the recommended low range.

The Frontgate is an elegant product, in silver and mocha tones, with controls that have a solid feel to them. "Nothing seems flimsy," our tester agreed. And while similar products seemed to confound other testers with setup and assembly, this one didn't. "The setup time quoted on the instructions was just at 1 hour," she told us, "and I was able to do it in just under that." Removing the plastic seal from the metal shield seemed to take the longest. Assembly tools are included with the packaging, so no rummaging around for tools is necessary.

On the downside, we noted a lack of safety features, such as automatic shutoff, which seem to come standard with most patio heaters we tested. Also, the height of this product would seem to require a cover, which isn't included either. And you can pay more for other products. However, we recommend the Frontgate Commercial Patio Heater as a product that is versatile enough to suit your outdoor gathering, wherever you decide to locate it.

Price at time of publish: $339

Dimensions: 89 x 33 x 18 inches | Material: Not. listed | BTU: 46,000 | Heat Range Diameter: Not listed

Final Verdict

Our top pick is the Amazon Basics 46,000 BTU Outdoor Propane Patio Heater With Wheels, one of the most affordable for its heat output. This heater also comes with safety features such as tip-over shutoff, plus it comes in seven colors for added style. For a less pricey alternative, we recommend the Hanover 800-watt Electric Patio Heater for its ease of assembly, simplicity, and 360-degree heat distribution.

The Spruce / Madelyn Goodnight

What to Look For in a Patio Heater

Power Source

Patio heaters come in electric, propane, or natural gas options. Electric-powered patio heaters are usually the easiest to install but may not emit as much heat as their propane or natural gas counterparts. A propane patio heater does both, with an easy connection to a 20-pound tank. A natural gas patio heater almost always requires an installed line, which can have a hefty cost.

Range

Most patio heaters provide heat in a space around 9 feet in diameter. As expected, smaller units don’t reach as far, while large units can reach farther. Consider the size and layout of the space you want to heat. If your landscape includes something close to a wall, a wall-mounted or directional unit might be best. For eating areas, an overhead unit over the table can work great.

Heat Output

The actual heat of the patio heater is measured in British thermal units (BTUs). The higher the number, the more heat the unit gives off. A good patio heater can typically produce a maximum of 30,000-50,000 BTU per hour. Propane and natural gas heaters tend to give off more heat but may not last as long as their electric-powered counterparts.

BioLite FirePit

The Spruce / Stephanie Vermillion

FAQ
  • Are patio heaters safe on decks?

    The base of a freestanding patio heater shouldn’t get hot, so most patio heaters are safe to use on wooden decks (as long as they aren't left unattended). Always double-check the instruction manual to be sure.

  • How do I choose the right patio heater fuel source?

    There are three common fuel sources for patio heaters: liquid propane, natural gas, and electricity. To figure out which is right for you, think about what’s most readily available, convenient, and affordable.

    • Propane: Many heaters are powered by 20-pound liquid propane tanks. The fuel is quite affordable, but you have to refill your tank, which typically entails taking a trip to a local convenience store, gas station, or home improvement store.
    • Natural gas: This is another option, but it's only practical if you already have a natural gas line installed in your home. Even if so, you may require additional lines, which a professional should do and which can be costly. Also, adding another appliance to your gas line can add to your utility bill.
    • Electric: Generally, these are the most convenient patio heater models. Most simply plug into standard 120-volt outlets, although some may require adding a dedicated line to your hardwiring. Also, frequent use of an electric patio heater may increase your electric bill.
  • Which patio heaters give off the most heat?

    Propane and natural gas-fueled patio heaters give off much more heat than electric models. The amount of heat produced by propane and natural gas heaters is around 30,000 to 50,000 BTUs per hour, while electric patio heaters give off around 5,200 BTUs per hour.

  • Can a patio heater be used in an enclosed area?

    Only electric patio heaters are suitable for use in an enclosed area. Propane and natural gas heaters require proper ventilation to operate safely and should not be used in an enclosed area.

Why Trust The Spruce?

This article was researched and written by Katie Melynn, a freelance writer specializing in home and family products. Katie has been writing for The Spruce since 2019. To research this list, she looked for patio heaters that would provide plenty of heat, be easy to use and power, and look great doing it. She made special mention of any safety features. She also consulted Tim Bakke, an accomplished design expert. Senior Editor Ira Lacher also contributed to this article, adapting tester insights to several products featured in this roundup.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. IP Ratings. International Electrotechnical Commission.