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You know the feeling: It’s summertime and you’re dining outside, but it’s a little cooler than you want it to be. While freestanding patio heaters are a common fixture of outdoor bars and restaurants, they are also terrific additions to a residential patio, helping you make the most of every spring or summer night — even ones when the breeze would normally move the party inside.
Not every outdoor patio heater is built the same way, especially when it comes to how they are powered. When shopping, the main patio heater power sources you’ll come across are propane, gas and electric. Each requires a slightly different setup, and in the case of propane, an extra purchase.
But perhaps the most important thing to remember when choosing the best patio heater for you is the amount of heat it’s capable of emitting. In the case of patio heaters, heat output is measured in BTUs, also known as the British thermal unit. The higher a heater’s BTU, the more power it has and the more heat it can produce. Which amount is best for you will depend on your personal temperature preferences, and the size of your patio.
No matter which kind of heater you choose, these patio heaters will help make sure you never have to cut the night short, even when the temperature drops.
1. Amazon Basics Outdoor Patio Heater
This outdoor patio heater may look just like commercial ones at your favorite bars and restaurants, but it’s actually perfectly fitting for residential use. It uses propane to produce heat within nine feet of the heater. That’s a lot of power, thanks to its 46,000 BTUs. This patio heater can stand on its own and measures 18 x 89 inches. Its weighs 38 pounds, sans propane tank, and it’s easy to assemble and position on your patio. It’s built with rugged steel and has a powder-coated finish so you don’t have to worry about leaving it outside. When you want to use it, you’ll need a 20-pound propane gas tank. To keep it upright, there’s a fillable water box built into the heater’s base. But if it does ever tip over, the propane valve automatically shuts off.
2. Star Patio Electric Patio Heater
Star Patio offers an excellent heater for those who prefer going electric. This patio heater can heat up to 12 square feet on chilly nights or late afternoons with 4,100 BTUs. Thanks to its infrared heating, you should still feel the heat even if the wind is blowing. Plus, it’s water-resistant, so a little rain won’t hurt it. The heater has a square tower design, with a length and width of 5.9 inches. It measures 19.69 inches tall and weighs less than 8 pounds, making it pretty portable, so you can move the heater wherever you want, whether that’s around a patio table or a special seating nook. And thanks to its stylish design, it can even double as a decorative piece.
3. Hiland Propane Patio Heater
With the season of backyard barbecues and parties approaching, you’ll want patio furniture that makes the most of your gathering space. Not only is this Hiland propane patio heater a powerful source of heat (with 48,000 BTUs), but it also has a built-in table ledge, perfect for holding drinks or a small plate. It has a decent heating range of 20 square feet, so even if you aren’t circled up around its table ledge, you’ll still be able to warm up. It takes a 20-pound propane tank (or, 10 hours of use) to operate and has built-in safety features, too; if the heater is tilted, the gas shuts off to prevent accidents. It measures 32 x 87 inches, and weighs 40 pounds without the propane tank. We love that it has wheels at the base to make it easier to move. Plus, its bronze finish gives this patio heater an elegant look.
4. Fire Sense Table Top Patio Heater
Not all patios are the same size, and neither are patio heaters. This propane patio heater is super portable and compact enough that you can place it on top of a table or other stable platform. It weighs less than 15 pounds and measures 13.4 x 20.9 x 34.65 inches. Like its taller counterparts, this patio heater has the technology to shut off if it gets tipped over. For power, it uses a 1-pound propane cylinder. Overall, it’s a good choice for small dinners outside on a summer night.