Shopping
Advertiser Disclosure

Best Patio Heaters To Stay Warm and Toasty In the Outdoors

best patio heaters
iStock

Our evaluations and opinions are not influenced by our advertising relationships, but we may earn a commission from our partners’ links. This content is created independently from TIME’s editorial staff. Learn more about it.

Updated January 14, 2024

Whether you’re dining al fresco or you want to cozy up in your backyard, a patio heater can add much-needed warmth so you can enjoy the outdoors even longer. But finding the best patio heater may not be as simple as you think–they come in a variety of fuel sources, shapes, sizes, and, most importantly, vary on how much heat they can actually put out. I reviewed and examined several options to bring you our top picks for the best patio heaters out there.

What to consider before buying a patio heater

If you’ve chosen your outdoor furniture and hung your outdoor solar lights, but found it’s too cold to actually enjoy the outdoor ambience, a patio heater is almost certainly the solution. However, before investing in a patio heater, consider the following major factors to help you narrow down your selection.

Heating fuel source

You can choose from three different fuel sources for heating your patio: Electric, propane, and natural gas.

  • Electric: An electric heater allows you to simply plug the heater into the standard 120-volt outlet; however, it may not produce as much heat as propane or natural gas and can increase your electric bill. These operate in a similar way to an electric fireplace that you use indoors.
  • Propane: You can also purchase a propane patio heater, which is powered by a propane tank (typically 20 gallons). You can purchase these propane tanks easily at most gas stations, hardware, or grocery stores. This is usually an affordable option for fuel, although it does depend on the cost of propane. If you have an outdoor grill that uses propane, you may already have a spare tank or two sitting around outside your house (don’t store them indoors!)
  • Natural gas: If you have a natural gas line installed in your home, you may prefer a patio heater powered by natural gas. While convenient, it could mean you have to have an additional gas line installed, plus it could increase your monthly natural gas bill. It’s also not as portable as electric or propane options, since the location of the natural gas line determines where you can place it.

BTUs

Another indicator of the amount of heat a patio heater puts out is by its BTU measurement. This is short for British Thermal Unit, and it tells you how much heat your patio heater puts out per standard cubic foot. The higher the BTU, the higher the heat output—a typical propane patio heater, for example, puts out about 40,000 BTUs. While BTU is an essential indicator you should look for, keep in mind that the weather and location of your patio heater can impact the heat output, too, so BTU may not always be the most accurate measure.

Coverage area

Look for the coverage area a patio heater offers and compare it to your outdoor space. Most will tell you how large a radius it covers, such as nine or 10 feet. If your space is much larger than the listed area, you may consider getting two patio heaters to adequately heat your space.

Ease of setup and use

Look for a patio heater that’s not only easy to assemble (you can usually find more information in the reviews), but also how simple it is to operate on a daily basis. The type of fuel you have may contribute to this, too, which should be taken into account when selecting the best patio heater.

Our top picks for best patio heaters

Best electric patio heater: EnerG+ 5,100 BTU Electric Standing Patio Heater

An electric heater doesn’t need an additional propane tank and doesn’t rely on a natural gas line on your property, so if you’re looking for a convenient electric heater option, the EnerG+ 5,100 BTU Electric Standing Patio Heater checks many boxes. Its sleek, contemporary design makes it easy to place in different areas outside the home. It’s also made of weather-resistant materials, so you don’t have to worry about moving it too much during inclement weather.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 11 inches (depth) x 11 inches (width) x 51.5 inches (height)
  • Heat source: Electric
  • Heat output BTUs: 5,100
  • Coverage radius: Up to 10 feet
  • Price on publish: $268.78

Pros:

  • Weather-resistant materials
  • Large heat radius
  • Sleek, compact design

Cons:

  • Doesn’t include a cover
  • Not as high of a heat output compared to other models

The bottom line:

If you prefer an electric patio heater due to safety and space concerns, the EnerG+ 5,100 BTU Electric Standing Patio Heater offers thoughtful design and a large heating radius.

Best electric patio heater
EnerG+ 5,100 BTU Electric Standing Patio Heater

EnerG+ 5,100 BTU Electric Standing Patio Heater

Best propane patio heater: Hampton Bay 38,200 BTU Heat-Focusing Propane Gas Standing Patio Heater

The Heat-Focusing Propane Gas Standing Patio Heater by Hampton Bay covers an impressive area–up to 120 square feet–with its 38,200 BTU output. It has plenty of other attention-grabbing features, too, including an adjustable heat reflector, which allows you to direct the heat in the direction you want, and several safety features such as fast ignition (no pilot light), a weighted base for added stability, anti-tilt design, and automatic shut-off.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 34 inches (depth) x 34 inches (width) x 86.60 inches (height)
  • Heat source: Propane (propane tank sold separately)
  • Heat output BTUs: 38,200
  • Coverage radius: Up to 120 square feet
  • Price on publish: $299

Pros:

  • Robust heat coverage radius
  • You can use the built-in heat reflectors to adjust the heat the way you want it
  • Includes wheels for added portability
  • Weighted base for added stability

Cons:

  • Pricier option

The bottom line:

If you want a propane heater that does it all–adjustable heat, has wheels and safety features, and provides serious heat coverage–then this is one deserving of consideration.

Best propane patio heater
Hampton Bay 38,200 BTU Heat-Focusing Propane Gas Standing Patio Heater

Hampton Bay 38,200 BTU Heat-Focusing Propane Gas Standing Patio Heater

Best natural gas patio heater: AZ Patio Heaters 41,000 BTU Stainless Steel Natural Gas Patio Heater

If you have natural gas in your home and you’d like to hook up a patio heater to an existing line, then check out the AZ Patio Heaters 41,000 BTU Stainless Steel Natural Gas Patio Heater. It has plenty of the same features that the propane and electric heaters have, including safety features like anti-tilt and a thermocouple device (which helps you detect if the pilot light is on). Plus, you can easily “fire” it up with its integrated ignition mechanism.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 20 inches (depth) x 20 inches (width) x 87 inches (height)
  • Heat source: Natural gas
  • Heat output BTUs: 41,000
  • Coverage radius: Up to 10 feet
  • Price on publish: $216.68

Pros:

  • Includes anti-tilt safety device
  • Integrated ignition system
  • Large heat radius

Cons:

  • Gas line sold separately

The bottom line:

The AZ Patio Heaters 41,000 BTU Stainless Steel Natural Gas Patio Heater offers a fantastic solution for anyone looking to add a patio heater to their existing natural gas line.

Best natural gas patio heater
AZ Patio Heaters 41,000 BTU Stainless Steel Natural Gas Patio Heater, Silver

AZ Patio Heaters 41,000 BTU Stainless Steel Natural Gas Patio Heater, Silver

Best hanging patio heater: EnerG+ 5100 BTU Electric Hanging Patio Heater

A hanging option, such as the EnerG+ 5100 BTU Electric Hanging Patio Heater, offers radiant heat for your outdoors without taking up the large amount of space a traditional patio heater would. This hanging heater offers LED ambient lighting, three different heat levels, and a filament lamp light lasting 5,000 hours. As a bonus, it even includes a remote control to change the settings with a simple touch of a button.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 19.75 inches (depth) x 19.75 inches (width) x 13.75 inches (height)
  • Heat source: Electric
  • Heat output BTUs: 5,100
  • Coverage radius: Up to 8 feet
  • Price on publish: $159.99

Pros:

  • Compact design
  • Three varying heat levels
  • Includes remote control

Cons:

  • Not as much heat output versus freestanding models

The bottom line:

If you’re looking for a space-saving hanging option, then the EnerG+ 5100 BTU Electric Hanging Patio Heater is not to be missed.

Best hanging patio heater
EnerG+ 5100 BTU Electric Hanging Patio Heater

EnerG+ 5100 BTU Electric Hanging Patio Heater

Best tabletop patio heater: Fire Sense 10,000 BTU Stainless Steel Propane Tabletop Patio Heater

A tabletop patio heater is an ideal option for anyone who needs a smaller heating radius, and wants a unit that’s much easier to maneuver than a larger, full-size patio heater. The Fire Sense 10,000 BTU Stainless Steel Propane Tabletop Patio Heater offers 10,000 BTU of heat output, which is enough for a six-foot heating radius. It includes other useful features though, including a tip-over shut-off safety switch and a weighted base.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 13 inches (depth) X 13 inches (width) X 35 inches (height)
  • Heat source: Propane (propane tank sold separately)
  • Heat output BTUs: 10,000
  • Coverage radius: Up to 6 feet
  • Price on publish: $189.99

Pros:

  • Compact, lightweight tabletop design
  • Includes tip-over shut-off safety switch
  • Ample heating radius

Cons:

  • Doesn’t include many other safety features

The bottom line:

If you want a patio heater offering a smaller, compact tabletop design you can easily transport, then the Fire Sense Tabletop option may be just what you’re looking for.

Best tabletop patio heater
Fire Sense 60262 Portable Patio Heater Outdoor Tabletop Lightweight Propane 10,000 BTU Auto-Shutoff Valve CSA Approved - Stainless Steel

Fire Sense 60262 Portable Patio Heater Outdoor Tabletop Lightweight Propane 10,000 BTU Auto-Shutoff Valve CSA Approved - Stainless Steel

Best patio heater with wheels: East Oak 50,000 BTU Patio Heater

Propane patio heaters are already the most portable among the patio heaters, but adding wheels to it can be a game-changer for mobility. The East Oak 50,000 BTU Patio Heater offers a more budget-friendly option with plenty of worthwhile features, including wheels for easier transport. This heater has several safety features, too, such as greater resistance to the wind with a stable water tank, tip-over valve, and automatic shutoff.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 33 inches (depth) x 18 inches (width) x 87 inches (height)
  • Heat source: Propane (propane tank sold separately)
  • Heat output BTUs: 50,000
  • Coverage radius: Up to 20 feet
  • Price on publish: $179.99

Pros:

  • Includes wheels for easier transport
  • Loaded with safety features
  • Large heating radius of up to 20 feet

Cons:

  • Doesn’t include a cover

The bottom line:

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly, feature-packed patio heater that also includes wheels so you can easily move it throughout your space, then this is a top contender.

Best patio heater with wheels
EAST OAK 50,000 BTU Patio Heater with Sand Box, Table Design, Double-Layer Stainless Steel Burner, Wheels, Triple Protection System, Outdoor Heater for Home and Residential, 2023 Upgrade, Black

EAST OAK 50,000 BTU Patio Heater with Sand Box, Table Design, Double-Layer Stainless Steel Burner, Wheels, Triple Protection System, Outdoor Heater for Home and Residential, 2023 Upgrade, Black

Best budget patio heater: Amazon Basics 46,000 BTU Outdoor Propane Patio Heater

The Amazon Basics 46,000 BTU Outdoor Propane Patio Heater is sure to impress with its output and features, many of which you find in pricier patio heaters. This propane heater offers up to a nine-foot heat coverage radius, and you can get it started with a simple touch of one button. It includes safety features, too, such as auto shut-off, and you can add extra water to the base to weigh it down even further.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 32.1 inches (length) x 32.1 inches (width) x 91.3 inches (height)
  • Heat source: Propane (propane tank sold separately)
  • Heat output BTUs: 46,000
  • Coverage radius: 9 feet
  • Price on publish: $149.99

Pros:

  • One-touch ignition button for quick startup
  • Safety features such as auto shut-off and water box
  • Includes wheels for extra portability

Cons:

  • Doesn’t include anti-tip design
  • Cover not included

The bottom line:

The Amazon Basics 46,000 BTU Outdoor Propane Patio Heater offers a budget-friendly solution for anyone who wants a decent outdoor patio heater that doesn’t skimp on features.

Best budget patio heater
Amazon Basics 46,000 BTU Outdoor Propane Patio Heater with Wheels, Commercial & Residential, Slate Gray, 32.1 x 32.1 x 91.3 inches (LxWxH)

Amazon Basics 46,000 BTU Outdoor Propane Patio Heater with Wheels, Commercial & Residential, Slate Gray, 32.1 x 32.1 x 91.3 inches (LxWxH)

Best splurge patio heater: Sundry Patio Heater by Frontgate

The Sundry Patio Heater by Frontgate is definitely a more expensive pick compared to others on this list, but it includes both a unique design and multiple clever features. It starts with a 50,000 BTU heat output and includes at least a six and a half feet radius. What makes this propane patio heater stand out, though, is its concrete base, ideal for those who want as stable of a patio heater as possible. It also includes a unique glass tube design, which is weather-resistant and helps diffuse the heat even more.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 21.5 inches (diameter) x 72.75 inches (height)
  • Heat source: Propane (propane tank sold separately)
  • Heat output BTUs: 50,000
  • Coverage radius: 6.5 feet
  • Price on publish: $1,299

Pros:

  • Unique glass tubing and reinforced steel case design
  • HIgh 50,000 BTU output
  • Easy assembly
  • Concrete base and storage compartment

Cons:

  • Heating radius isn’t as high compared to other, much less expensive options

The bottom line:

While it’s definitely a splurge, the Sundry Patio Heater by Frontgate includes features you won’t find anywhere else, such as a glass tubing design for better heat distribution and a concrete base.

Best splurge patio heater
Sundry Patio Heater - Frontgate

Sundry Patio Heater - Frontgate

Best patio heater with built-in table: East Oak 48,000 BTU Patio Heater

If you’re looking for a way to increase the amount of tabletop space your outdoor patio offers, then take a look at the East Oak 48,000 BTU Patio Heater. You can add warmth and ambiance to your outdoors, since it offers up to 18 feet of heating radius, plus an extra spot to place smaller items. You can set your drinks, keys, and cellphones down while you enjoy the toasty warm air.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 31.9 inches (depth) x 86.6 inches (width) x 31.9 inches (height)
  • Heat source: Propane (propane tank sold separately)
  • Heat output BTUs: 48,000
  • Coverage radius: Up to 18 feet
  • Price on publish: $149.99

Pros:

  • Added table so you can place small drinks, keys, or cell phones on top
  • Includes several safety features
  • Large heating radius
  • Has wheels for easier transport

Cons:

  • Doesn’t include a cover

The bottom line:

Having a built-in tabletop with your patio heater like this option from East Oak is a great way to save space and add surface area to your outdoors.

Best patio heater with built-in table
EAST OAK 48,000 BTU Patio Heater for Outdoor Use With Round Table Design, Double-Layer Stainless Steel Burner and Wheels, Outdoor Patio Heater for Home and Commercial, Gray, 31.9 x 31.9 x 86.6 inches

EAST OAK 48,000 BTU Patio Heater for Outdoor Use With Round Table Design, Double-Layer Stainless Steel Burner and Wheels, Outdoor Patio Heater for Home and Commercial, Gray, 31.9 x 31.9 x 86.6 inches

How we selected the best patio heaters

To find the best patio heaters, I compared a wide selection of options, including electric and propane, with and without built-in tables, and those including wheels, plus several other models. I compared the coverage area, safety features, and setup, plus pored through countless reviews to find out what people love (or don’t love) about a particular patio heater.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How long do patio heaters last?

The amount of time your patio heater lasts depends on a few factors. First, it depends on how many BTUs it produces, as well as the square footage of the space you’re heating. The outside temperature also makes an impact. A propane patio heater can last anywhere from nine to 15 hours with 20 pounds of propane.

How many patio heaters do I need?

How many patio heaters you need depends on how large of a space you’re trying to heat up. Measure the space you’re using the patio heater in and then check the heating radius of the heater (most are up to 10 feet). If your space is larger than the heating radius, then you’ll need to purchase more than one. You should also keep in mind that if you are using other outdoor heating elements, like a smokeless fire pit, you may not need as many patio heaters.

How well do patio heaters work?

Patio heaters can offer a great source of additional heat and can last for years when properly taken care of.

Is a propane heater or an electric heater cheaper to run?

Propane is typically less expensive to run and more efficient than an electric heater or one powered by natural gas.

What safety features should I look for when purchasing a heater?

There are several safety features you can look for in patio heaters, including a thermostat that monitors the temperature and alerts you when it’s time to shut it off. You can also look for automatic shut-off features, which cut it off if a unit gets overheated. Some units may also include tip-over switches, which shut off the patio heater if it’s accidentally tipped over.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

1.1011.944+1.62.33