Best Patio Heaters: Make Your Outdoor Space Warm and Welcoming

Patio Heater


There's nothing better than spending a leisurely evening or a summer Saturday morning on the patio, getting lost in a good book while sipping something yummy. But what happens when the temperature starts to dip? Does the hangout have to move inside? Not necessarily. A reliable patio heater can make sure your outdoor space stay warm and inviting throughout the year.

The ACTIVE Reviews Team has tested some of the best patio heaters on the market today and developed a list of recommendations. We're thrilled to present this guide to you as you seek an outdoor heater that fits your needs.

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The Best Patio Heaters - Our Top Picks

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What to Look for When Shopping for Patio Heaters

As you search for the best outdoor heater, there are a few factors that should weigh heavily on your decision.

Power Source

The three main sources of power for patio heaters are electricity, propane, and natural gas. Of these options, electric heaters tend to be the easiest to install and require the least maintenance. However, they typically don't produce quite as much heat as propane and natural gas heaters. Propane heaters can be used with a simple propane tank, while natural gas heaters will require you to install a line.

Heat Output

The level of heat generated by your patio heater is measured in British thermal units, or BTUs. The higher the BTU rating, the more heat the patio heater will give off when in use. All else being equal, propane and natural gas heaters usually carry higher BTU ratings than electric heaters.

Footprint

Always consider the size and layout of the area you're trying to heat, and keep in mind that most patio heaters will heat a space roughly nine feet in diameter.

Best Overall - Hampton Bay 48000 BTU Stainless Steel Heater

Hampton Bay 48000 BTU Stainless Steel Heater

SPECS

  • Size: 32.25" x 32.25" x 87.25"
  • Material: Stainless steel
  • BTU: 48,000
  • Heat range: 200 square feet

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The Hampton Bay 48000 BTU Stainless Steel Heater is a stellar option for all but the most spacious porches. With a heating range of up to 200 square feet, this heater should provide plenty of comfort for your outdoor hangouts, no matter the season. And with its sleek, stainless-steel design, it's both good-looking and relatively small in its footprint.

We also love the Hampton Bay 48000 BTU Stainless Steel Heater for its easy-to-use control valve, which makes it simple to tweak your temperature settings. This propane-powered heater is made to be weather-resistant, so it will likely serve you well for many years.

What We Like

  • Durable stainless-steel design
  • 48,000 BTUs
  • Heats up to 200 square feet

What We Don't Like

  • Some assembly required
  • No cover included
  • Not a lot of flexibility to adjust the height

BUY: Hampton Bay 48,000 BTU Stainless Steel Heater

Best Propane Patio Heater - Mr. Heater Portable Buddy

Mr. Heater Portable Buddy

SPECS

  • Size: 14.25" x 9" x 15"
  • Material: Metal/high-temperature plastic/ceramic
  • BTU: 9,000
  • Heat range: 250 square feet

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For a portable propane option, look no further than the Mr. Heater Portable Buddy. It can heat spaces up to 225 square feet, which is more than enough coverage for the average patio. It also happens to be very lightweight (barely over 10 pounds), making it easy to take with you to a friend's house or on a camping trip.

Though it isn't the most visually attractive heater, it does have an incredibly easy-to-use control knob, which provides a simple way to toggle between high and low heat. Safety features come built-in, including a sensor that will shut off the unit if it ever tips over.

What We Like

  • Heats up to 225 square feet
  • Extremely lightweight and portable
  • Great safety features
  • Modest price point

What We Don't Like

  • Not very attractive
  • Very basic (high and low) heat settings

BUY: Mr. Heater Portable Buddy

Best Pyramid Patio Heater - Thermo Tiki Deluxe

Thermo Tiki Deluxe

SPECS

  • Size: 90" x 18" x 90"
  • Material: Stainless steel
  • BTU: 38,000
  • Heat range: 15' diameter

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Pyramid-shaped heaters are becoming increasingly popular, not only because they give off a decent amount of heat, but because they double as stylish centerpieces for outdoor spaces. The Thermo Tiki Deluxe is our favorite patio heater in this category, offering a majestic appearance, a high BTU rating, and a sturdy stainless-steel construction.

This heater is built to withstand any kind of element, so it works well no matter the climate. Wheels make it easy to transport and store, and its clean-burning propane fuel source ensures a consistent temperature every time you turn it on.

What We Like

  • Stylish appearance
  • At least 38,000 BTUs
  • Very easy to maneuver
  • Easy to assemble

What We Don't Like

  • Not much flexibility to adjust the height
  • Higher price point

BUY: Thermo Tiki Deluxe

Best Natural Gas Patio Heater - Bromic Heating Tungsten 500 Smart-Heat

Bromic Heating Tungsten 500 Smart-Heat

SPECS

  • Size: 14.1" x 25.5" x 25.5"
  • Material: Stainless steel
  • BTU: 43,000
  • Heat range: 200 square feet

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Natural gas heaters can be a little trickier to install since you'll need to run a gas line, unless you happen to have one that's simply capped off. But the Bromic Heating Tungsten 500 Smart-Heat proves that doing so can be worth it.

With robust heating power and a solid stainless-steel design, this patio heater has many features that make it a strong choice. A high-performance mesh screen helps maximize heat output, while ceramic burners create consistency and efficiency. Indirect ignition ensures that the unit is easy to turn on without having to rely on a pilot. Best of all, this heater can be mounted to the wall, so there’s no need to sacrifice valuable floor space.

What We Like

  • 43,000 BTUs
  • Can be mounted on the wall
  • Consistent temperatures
  • Built-in safety controls

What We Don't Like

  • Requires a natural gas line
  • Higher price point

BUY: Bromic Heating Tungsten 500 Smart-Heat

Best Infrared Patio Heater - Dr Infrared Heater DR-238 Carbon

Dr Infrared Heater DR-238 Carbon

SPECS

  • Size: 35" x 8" x 4"
  • Material: Aluminum
  • BTU: 52,000
  • Heat range: Not listed

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The Dr Infrared Heater DR-238 Carbon runs on electrical power, so you can simply plug it into an outlet and begin heating your patio. At 52,000 BTUs, the heat generation is substantial, consistent, and nearly instant.

We love this electric patio heater because it’s IPX4 weatherproof, wall-mountable, and comes with three heating modes that you can toggle among. Timer and remote-control options are both available, and the aluminum construction is built to last.

What We Like

  • Instant, consistent heat
  • Easy to install and operate
  • Sturdy, waterproof design
  • Modest price point

What We Don't Like

  • Can only be installed close to an electrical outlet
  • Not the most attractive heater

BUY: Dr Infrared Heater DR-238 Carbon

Best Electric Patio Heater - Fire Sense Telescoping Offset Pole Outdoor Heater

Fire Sense Telescoping Offset Pole Outdoor Heater

SPECS

  • Size: 22" x 20" x 92"
  • Material: Stainless steel
  • BTU: Not Listed (1,500 watts)
  • Heat range: 9' radius

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Even though corded patio heaters limit where you can place them (since you'll always need an outlet nearby), they can be the most seamless to install and the easiest to use. The Fire Sense Telescoping Offset Pole Outdoor Heater is our favorite electric patio heater overall for its decent heat production and 90% heat efficiency.

In addition to its stainless-steel construction, this heater comes with a number of nice perks, including wheels for easy transport, a no-tip safety system, and a telescopic design so you can adjust the height of your heater.

What We Like

  • Instant, consistent heat
  • Easy to install and operate
  • Modest price point
  • 90% heating efficiency

What We Don't Like

  • Can only be installed close to an electrical outlet
  • Heating radius is just so-so

BUY: Fire Sense Telescoping Offset Pole Outdoor Heater

Best Tabletop Patio Heater - Fire Sense Outdoor Tabletop

Fire Sense Outdoor Tabletop

SPECS

  • Size: 13" x 20" x 34"
  • Material: Stainless steel, bronze
  • BTU: 10,000
  • Heat range: 100 square feet

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Looking for a heater you can mount on a table? The Fire Sense Outdoor Tabletop is your best option. Though it's compact, this heater produces a reasonable 10,000 BTUs and warms 100 square feet of patio space, the perfect size for an intimate gathering around the table.

One-step ignition makes this heater nearly effortless to use. And it’s highly portable, so you can easily loan it to a friend or take it on a trip. The propane tank will last a good three hours with constant use.

What We Like

  • One-step ignition
  • Compact and portable
  • 10,000 BTUs
  • Modest price point

What We Don't Like

  • Tank life is just around 3 hours
  • Not enough heat for larger porch areas

BUY: Fire Sense Outdoor Tabletop

Best Budget Patio Heater - Mr. Heater MH450T

Mr. Heater MH450T

SPECS

  • Size: 10.4" x 10.4" x 17.5"
  • Material: N/A
  • BTU: 45,000
  • Heat range: N/A

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A decent patio heater for less than a hundred bucks? Totally possible. Case in point: The Mr. Heater MH450T.

Capable of up to 45,000 BTUs, and with three built-in temperature settings, this gas-powered heater doesn't skimp on performance. It can run for up to 43 hours and comes with a tip-over safety switch. It generates instant, quiet heat without the need for an electrical outlet, and for the price point, it's pretty hard to beat.

What We Like

  • Budget-friendly price point
  • 45,000 BTUs
  • Tip-over safety switch
  • 3 heat settings

What We Don't Like

  • May not be as robust or long-lasting as other heaters
  • Not recommended for larger patio areas

BUY: Mr. Heater MH450T

FAQs About Patio Heaters


What are the best patio heaters to get?

While there are a number of great options to choose from, it really comes down to your preferences and personal budget. Our overall pick for best patio heater is the Hampton Bay 48000 BTU Stainless Steel Heater.

Are propane or electric patio heaters better?

Both propane and electric heaters have their pros and cons. Electric heaters tend to be lower maintenance, easier to use, and safer for smaller spaces. However, their heat output isn't quite as impressive, and they require an electrical outlet nearby. Propane heaters, on the other hand, tend to be more portable and are better at generating heat. Their assembly and setup tend to be more involved, though, and having a propane tank on hand is a necessity.

Are patio heaters worth the money?

Patio heaters can be very worthwhile, especially if you have a patio that you'd like to use more comfortably during fall and winter.

Can you use a patio heater under a covered patio?

Yes, but be sure to check the clearance requirements, ensure proper ventilation, and double-check the owner's manual for any additional safety tips.

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