Best Patio Heaters of 2018

John Carlsen ·
Smart Home & HVAC Editor
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

We've evaluated patio heaters since 2014, spending over 100 hours researching the best manufacturers in the industry. We evaluated several types of patio heaters from 10 of the best brands. This guide summarizes our research to help you make an informed decision when buying a patio heater. As we wrapped up our evaluation, we chose the AZ HLDS01 series as the best value for patio heaters.

Best Value
AZ HLDS01
The AZ Patio Heaters HLDS1 tall propane heater comes in a variety of colors and costs less than $200, making it an excellent value for a freestanding patio heater.
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Best Premium
Sunglo A242
Sunglo patio heaters are an attractive, reliable option for your deck, though they are much more expensive than most patio heaters we looked at.
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Best Electric
Infratech
Infratech's electric patio heater has a handy remote control and is a good alternative to using natural gas or propane to heat your patio.
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Best Value
Of the models from the AZ Patio Heaters that we evaluated, we liked the HDLS01 series of freestanding heaters in particular. These models come in six colors including black, stainless steel and two variations each of silver and bronze. This 87-inch propane heater can produce up to 40,000 BTU and heat an area up to six feet away from the main unit. This is smaller than the heating range of some premium patio heaters, but is an excellent range for a budget patio heater. This heater has an adjustable built-in table for guests that want to stand close to the heating element.
Online customer reviews state that this product can be difficult to put together, though the assembly instructions can help you with the process. As with all patio heaters you will need to store this AZ patio heater needs to be kept from moisture when not in use as it can rust, and you can extend the life of your heater by buying a cover. This heater only has a one-year warranty, which is the standard length many brands offer. Fortunately, you can buy replacement parts from AZ Patio Heaters, which means you can replace parts as they wear out. AZ Patio Heaters also sells other types of heaters, including pyramid, mounted and tabletop models.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Adjustable built-in table
  • Six-foot heating radius
Cons
  • Can be hard to assemble
  • Vulnerable to the elements
  • One-year warranty
$111.72Amazon
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Best Premium
The Sunglo line of heaters has been around since 1961 and includes four models, which each come in a variety of finishes including stainless steel, black, green and bronze. These are expensive patio heaters compared to most of the market, costing over $1,000 on average, though they aren't as expensive as some models from Calcana.
Of the Sunglo models we looked at, we liked the A242 because it uses natural gas, which makes it an excellent option if you want a slim profile and have a more permanent place for it on your patio. However, you can also get slightly more portable models that use propane instead. The A242 is a freestanding patio heater that can produce up to 50,000 BTU of heat. To prevent someone from tipping it over, you can buy a tie-down kit to secure it in place. Under average weather conditions, you can place multiple A242 heaters 12 feet apart, as they have a heating radius of about six feet each. There are some limitations to this heater, mainly the fact that you need to connect it to a natural gas fuel source that is within 20 feet of the unit. Additionally, although Sunglo makes its heaters out of durable materials, you still need to protect them from excess moisture. The company only offers a one-year warranty on the heaters it sells.
Pros
  • Natural gas models available
  • Slim profile
  • Six-foot heating radius
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Must place near natural gas outlet
  • One-year warranty
$1284.00Amazon
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Best Electric
Infratech electric patio heaters are an excellent option if you want to heat a covered patio without using liquid fuel. These heaters can be mounted on a wall or ceiling and can connect directly into your home's electrical system. The design blends into its surroundings and doesn't take up any space on the patio itself, though they aren't portable like freestanding patio heaters are.
These electric heaters include remote controls, which make them more convenient than patio heaters that use propane or natural gas. You also don't need to remember to fill up fuel tanks like on propane-powered patio heaters. Infratech's WD series of heaters start at 3,000 watts, though you can get models with up to 6,000 watts or heating power, but these larger models will have a significant effect on your electric bill. Although it's possible to install these heaters on your own, it's a good idea to hire an electrician to avoid making costly and dangerous mistakes. Since most Infratech heaters mount to a ceiling or wall, they'll be protected from moisture better than freestanding models. Infratech's heaters only have a one-year warranty, which is average among the patio heaters we looked at.
Pros
  • Permanent installation
  • Don't need to refill propane tanks
  • Remote control
Cons
  • Professional installation recommended
  • Large models increase electric bill
  • One-year warranty
$574.00Amazon
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Widest Selection of Patio Heaters
Fire Sense has the widest variety of best-selling outdoor heaters available, ranging from standing patio heaters to a healthy selection of tabletop, mounted and hanging heaters.
Most models have multiple colors to choose from including black powder, copper, bronze and aqua blue to mention a few. Unfortunately, Fire Sense does not make natural gas heaters, but they do have propane and electric models. Propane is great for areas without easy electrical access, such as patios, campsites or picnic areas. Electric heaters are best for having nearer to your home and doesn’t require a fuel tank to be refilled. We recommend buying a matching protective cover if you are going to leave your patio heater out year-round as the elements will take their toll on the heater and its more delicate parts.
Pros
  • Wide variety of propane and electric heaters in many styles.
Cons
  • No natural gas options.
$288.88Amazon
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Best for Commercial Use
Solaira has several product lines of outdoor patio heaters that are not only best for commercial use but can provide stylish heat at your home as well.
Chances are that you’ve experienced an outdoor heater if you’ve eaten at an outdoor café, restaurant or found a warm spot at a chilly sporting event. Solaira’s mountable models are designed to provide warmth while staying out of the way. The ICR line can be mounted as low as 4.5 above the ground, but you’ll most likely want to install it higher to increase the heating radius. Speaking of heating radius, our research has shown that while the Solaira outdoor patio heaters provide excellent warmth, they generally have a lower coverage area compared to other brands of heaters. Solaira does have a freestanding model that stands 7.5 feet tall and it’s necessary to make sure you have a ceiling clearance of at least 12 feet if used on a covered patio.
Pros
  • Mounted heaters are designed to blend in with your décor.
Cons
  • Most units have smaller heating areas.
$198.16Amazon
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Why Trust Us?  

Since 2016, we've tested fans and programmable thermostats in our lab at Top Ten Reviews. Through these tests, we've gained valuable experience that helps us reach our conclusions concerning other heating and cooling equipment, including patio heaters. As we test, we hold ourselves to precise standards, mainly centering on value and convenience. We design our tests to match consumer expectations and not those of product designers.

When, as in the case with patio heaters, we can't test the product in person, we use the same attention to detail to verify our research and interview industry professionals so our informational guides echo the mission of Top Ten Reviews.

How We Evaluated

We've studied and evaluated patio heaters since 2014. We researched 10 major patio heater brands and assessed the specifications of multiple models from each brand. Due to installation requirements, we don't test patio heaters in-house at Top Ten Reviews. Instead, we provide helpful information about each brand to help you know what's available. We also provide advice on the many types of patio heaters and the fuel sources they use. The conclusions we reached come from years of experience, evaluations and product testing in other categories we review.

The online publication Trendir, which chronicles developments in modern home design and decorating, has hailed the move toward more diverse, imaginative and aesthetically appealing patio heaters.

“When the first mushroom-topped residential outdoor space heaters arrived on the market – we were all so happy that we could heat up our patio and sit outside later into the season. It was a way to stay warm without putting a bonfire together. No one worried about the design. That’s certainly changed and for the better! Disguised as lamps, disguised as tables – what will they think of next? There’s an outdoor space heater for every patio and yard, no matter what style you call your own," according to Trendir.

We also cannot overlook the practical side of having a heater in your outdoor space. Jamie Blundell of Utah certainly knows the value of patio heaters. She remembers great times when her children were young, and the family would make use of her parents’ pool and spacious backyard.

“The kids would swim every day. We’d just start the heaters up, particularly in spring and fall. My parents would open the pool around May 1st and keep it open into mid-October,” Blundell recalls. “Those things would heat for a pretty good distance. We’d sit out there with our guitars and sing – it was nice.”

Blundell's parents installed a swimming pool in 1980 along with fire pits, and added propane patio heaters in 1993. This made the area nicely warm for at least half the year. Everyone could enjoy barbecues, parties and just getting together, even after the sun went down and temperatures cooled markedly outside their comfy area.

How Much Does a Patio Heater Cost?

The initial purchase price for a patio heater can vary dramatically from one type to another since there are so many different styles. An attractive patio heater that stands 87-inches tall with a small table where you can set drinks can cost about $135.00, while a ceiling mounted gas heater can run closer to $2,400. The wide price range depends on several factors, including the type of heater you choose, its power, the size of the area it can heat, the materials and design aesthetics. In addition, the operational costs will vary depending on what your local electrical or gas company charges, as well as how often you use your patio heater.

Types of Patio Heaters

Standing Heaters
Freestanding patio heaters are the biggest and most powerful models you can buy. These heaters are usually between 7 and 8 feet tall and come in two general styles: tapered and pyramid. Tapered patio heaters have a heavy base, a long shaft with the heating element on top and a small metal umbrella cover. Pyramid heaters are triangular and use an actual flame covered by a cylindrical tube to generate heat. The best freestanding patio heaters have a warming radius of up to 9 feet, though wind and other outdoor conditions affect this.

Although standing patio heaters are perhaps the most effective at warming large spaces, they have limitations. They’re the heaviest of all the outdoor heaters you can buy, making them difficult to move. If the model you buy one with attached wheels, you’ll need more than one person to move it. They’re also the hardest to assemble. Expect to spend at least an hour on assembly when you take it out of the box. Since it will most likely stay outside all year long, you’ll want to invest in a cover to protect it from the elements when it’s not in use.

Mounted Heaters
Mounted patio heaters are great for heating the area nearest your home. Since they must be attached to a wall or ceiling, they’re less portable than other patio heaters, but they can effectively warm their surroundings. Mounted heaters also save space, and you don’t have to rearrange your patio furniture around a large fixture to keep warm. They’re also easy to power, since you can wire them directly into your home’s wiring. The best mounted patio heaters come with remote controls.

You should be cautious about installing a mounted patio heater yourself. Depending on where you live, there may be restrictions on where and who can install these devices. Furthermore, a certain level of expertise is needed to install them safely and correctly. If you’re not skilled in measuring, drilling, wiring and other electrical work, consider hiring a professional to make sure it’s all done right.

Tabletop Heaters
Tabletop patio heaters are the most convenient way to heat small spaces. These outdoor heaters are miniature versions of the freestanding models mentioned above. They’re lightweight and portable, and you can place them on a table or another surface. This makes them ideal for meals and small get-togethers when you don’t need to heat a large area. You can also take tabletop heaters on the road to campouts and picnics.

Hanging Heaters
Hanging outdoor heaters need to be suspended from a roof, so are limited to using them in places like covered patios, gazebos and other covered spaces. They’re also useful as space heaters in enclosed areas like garages and toolsheds. Once you set them up, they are great at distributing heat evenly throughout the surrounding area. Since they sit off the ground, they don’t take up valuable space like freestanding and tabletop heaters.

Fire Pit Heaters
Fire pit heaters look like and perform the same function as conventional fire pits, but you don’t need to gather and burn wood. They also all but eliminate the smoke put off by regular fire pits. Fire pit heaters can warm a central area nicely and enhance your patio decor. Still, you should keep in mind that they are generally more expensive, much harder to move and require more maintenance than their smaller, more portable counterparts.

Safety Tips

Using any heating device, especially one with an open flame, can be dangerous. "You want to make sure you can regulate the heat. That's an important part too. You don't want to overheat the room. Every day is a fire prevention day," said Chief Michael Whitzel, with the Franklintown and Community Fire Company in York County, Pennsylvania to WHTM news.

"Make sure it has an automatic shut off on it, so if it does get tipped over, it shuts off for you," Whitzel said. "Make sure you're plugging them into an outlet and not an extension cord if it's electric."

Space heaters should be turned off and unplugged when you leave the room. For patio heaters, turning off the propane tank valve and making sure it is secured from tipping is a key safety point. Additionally, making sure you keep combustibles three feet or more away from the heater reduces the chances of fires significantly. Firefighter Robert Pomeroy, also with the Franklintown and Community Fire Company recommends following the heater's manufacturer guidelines, as well as keeping an eye on small children to keep them from burning themselves or knocking over the heater.

Fuel Types

Propane Heaters
This type of outdoor heater connects to a propane tank to power the warming element. You can buy propane tanks at many local stores, and all you need to do is connect the tank to the heater, turn on the valve and ignite the element. The best outdoor propane heaters provide 10 hours of warming power per 20-pound tank.

Natural Gas Heaters
These patio heaters are a good choice for customers who have access to a natural gas line. They’re easier to use and less expensive than propane heaters because you don’t have to buy and swap out tanks regularly. However, because they must be connected to a natural gas source, you’re limited to where you can place them on your patio or in your yard. The tradeoff is that you don’t have to worry about running out of fuel or changing a tank.

Electric Heaters
Electric outdoor heaters are convenient because they don’t require special fuel. There are no tanks and no special lines – you can simply plug them into the outlets in your home. They’re more portable than propane models because they aren’t weighed down by a tank and more convenient than natural gas heaters since you don’t need a special connection for fuel. However, like most space heaters, they can run up your electricity bill quickly, and you can only place them as far away from an outlet as their cord or an extension cord allows. You can read about our top space heater recommendations here.

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