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Outdoor Patio Heater Buyer's Guide

Jun 17th 2020

Outdoor Patio Heater Buyer's Guide

Outdoor patio heaters extend your outdoor experience by providing a comfortable blanket of radiant heat so outdoor areas can be enjoyed longer into the colder seasons. Whether you are a restaurant or bar owner trying to expand seating capacity to your outdoor area, a hotel manager trying to create a luxurious pool side atmosphere or a homeowner trying to spend as much time as possible in the outdoor oasis you've spent so much time creating, outdoor heaters are guaranteed to improve the quality of life of you and your guests.

Like any other outdoor heating appliance, there are a few factors to keep in mind when choosing the right outdoor patio heater for your home or business.

1. Outdoor Heating Fuel Types

Outdoor heating with an outdoor patio heater provides a few different fuel options including liquid propane, natural gas and electric. Outdoor heating units that use liquid propane are available in free-standing, table top, and wall and ceiling mount units. Liquid propane outdoor heaters offer a mobile approach to outdoor heating. They are portable and can be placed anywhere within the clearance measurements of the outdoor heater. Propane is easy to get and is available in areas where Natural gas may not be plumbed or available. Propane outdoor heaters are not to be used in enclosed areas.

Outdoor heating units that use natural gas are a more permanent outdoor heating option.Natural Gas, if plumbed to your desired location, is less expensive to run, never has to be refilled and is a little bit cleaner to run. Natural gas outdoor heaters are available in free-standing and wall and ceiling mounts however, natural gas outdoor heating units that use quick disconnects are available to allow the outdoor heater to be more mobile and placed in a variety of locations. Outdoor heaters that use natural gas should be installed by a qualified service technician. Natural gas outdoor heaters are not to be used in enclosed areas.

Outdoor heating units that use electricity can be placed virtually anywhere and provide instant heat with very little warm up time. Electric outdoor heaters radiate maximum power and operate at high efficiency levels, making them economical, efficient, and effective. Outdoor patio heaters that use electricity for outdoor heating are available in table top, free-standing, and wall and ceiling mounts. Electric outdoor patio heaters can be used in garages, workshops and enclosed patio areas.

2. Outdoor Heater BTUs or Watts

The amount of heat that outdoor patio heaters give off is measured in BTUs for gas outdoor heating units and in watts for electric outdoor heating units. To figure out which outdoor patio heater you will need, take the cubic feet of the area that you are heating and multiply it by the desired temperature you wish to raise the room by. That will give you the amount of BTUs you will need your outdoor heater to produce.

3. Cost of Outdoor Patio Heaters

Depending on what fuel type your outdoor heater uses, prices will vary. Outdoor heating units that use gas are going to be a little bit more expensive than outdoor heaters that use electricity. Of the two gas options, natural gas is cheaper to use with outdoor patio heaters overall. Based on a 40,000 BTU rating the average cost of natural gas usage is estimated at $.476 per hour in an outdoor patio heater. Propane outdoor heaters that produce 40,000 BTUs per hour will cost on average $1.60 per hour to operate. Natural gas outdoor patio heaters can range anywhere from 200 dollars to around 900 dollars while outdoor heating units that use propane can cost anywhere from less than 100 dollars up to 900 dollars. Generally electric outdoor patio heaters are the cheapest type of outdoor heater to purchase and operate. Electric outdoor heaters will typically range in price from 100 to 500 dollars and based on the required (3) 4000 Watt (4KWh) for 40,000 BTUs the average cost of electrical usage is $1.316 per hour.

4. Outdoor Patio Heater Placement and Environment

When choosing an outdoor heating appliance taking your environment and where you wish to place your outdoor patio heater into consideration is crucial. If you plan to heat your workshop or garage and have limited space, a wall or ceiling mount outdoor heater would best suit your needs. If you are thinking about buying an electric outdoor patio heater, make sure that you have an electricity supply within reach of the outdoor heating unit's cord. With free-standing outdoor heaters, make sure that you have enough height clearance and check restrictions for awnings. All outdoor patio heaters will have clearances to combustible materials that must be maintained for safe operation. Always check your owner's manual and make sure that you follow those guidelines for placement of your outdoor heater.

Some outdoor patio heaters will have superior operating features. You should pay attention to the features of the outdoor heater as some may be the deciding factor in which outdoor heating unit you choose.

- Safety tilt valve - Outdoor heaters are available with a wide range of safety features the most basic of which is a safety tilt valve. Outdoor patio heaters that have a safety tilt valve will automatically turn off if the outdoor heating unit is tilted more than a set degree or if the patio heater is tipped over during outdoor heating.

- Ignition - Most outdoor patio heaters come with some form of piezo electric ignition which produces sparks that interact with fuel. More modern outdoor heaters might have an automatic or electronic ignition. It is also important to note that some ignitions will require electric power to operate.

- Dome - Outdoor heaters will come with either one large single dome or multiple domes which plays a big role in how the outdoor heating unit heats the area around it. Outdoor heaters with one large single dome direct heat in one direction to heat the area directly below the dome. Triple dome outdoor patio heaters direct the heat into three separate areas.