So you have a lovely patio to host parties and gatherings. But there’s one thing that stops you from doing so. It’s simply too cold to have a party outside.
This was probably the situation before patio heaters were around. Nowadays, you see a lot of these outdoor heaters in restaurants that offer outdoor dining. But what exactly are patio heaters?
A patio heater is an appliance that radiates heat in an outdoor space. It comes in different forms and fuel types. Likewise, you can also find patio heaters powered electrically emitting infrared radiation. Either way, a patio heater provides warmth similar to what you get when you stay under the sunlight.
Get to know more about patio heaters as we look closer into this highly functional and aesthetically pleasing device suitable for your outdoor space.
What Are Patio Heaters?
Patio heaters are exactly what their name suggests – a heating device for patios. The only thing is that you can use it not just on your patio but on your deck and all around your backyard as well.
Simply put, you can use your patio heater in any outdoor space provided that it doesn’t pose any danger in the area.
Likewise, patio heaters are sometimes called mushroom or umbrella heaters due to their form and the fact that they emit heat via a radiant heating method.
One advantage of patio heaters is their ability to spread heat in the area. This means you don’t have to flock on one space the same way you do with fire pits making it a suitable device for gatherings, outdoor dining, or hangouts.
Do Patio Heaters Keep You Warm?
Yes, absolutely. Patio heaters are designed specifically to keep you warm. And we’re not just talking about providing heat for only one or two people.
Patio heaters can provide heat to a group of people outdoors, depending on the size and form of the appliance. But of course, this depends on the type of heater you have.
How Do Patio Heaters Work?
Patio heaters rely on radiant heating to provide warmth. Radiant heating is when heat travels through the air in multiple directions.
Fuel-generated patio heaters derive the heat from open-air combustion while electrical patio heaters are set to reach a specific temperature to emit heat in the form of electromagnetic waves.
With both types of patio heaters, the heat is released from multiple sections. Therefore, you can feel the warmth from a specific distance.
However, the amount of heat distributed by the patio heater will ultimately depend on its BTUs.
But what exactly are BTUs?
So, BTU stands for British Therma Unit. It is used to measure the amount of energy required in heating one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. Simply put, BTU represents the thermal energy needed to heat a space or item.
In the context of patio heaters, the BTU capacity is the specification you need to check so you can get the heat coverage of the device.
For example, if your patio heater has an average output of 40,000 BTUs per hour, it should suffice to heat up an area with a circumference of 20 ft.
You can go for patio heaters with higher BTUs if you have a larger area. However, it could be a better choice to simply have two patio heaters with the same BTUs for safety and efficiency reasons.
Different Types of Patio Heaters
Patio heaters typically come in three forms. They differ in design, capacity, and sometimes coverage.
Free-standing Patio Heaters
The free-standing patio heater typically looks like a giant umbrella or mushroom that has four distinct parts.
First, you have the base that keeps the entire structure fixed on the ground. It also houses the tank for propane-fueled patio heaters.
Then you have the pole that supports the heat source. It is extended to ensure that the heat spreads out across the area.
The third part is the heat source or heater itself, responsible for naturally dispersing the heat.
And finally, you got the reflector. This component goes on top of the heater preventing upward heat loss by reflecting the heat back to the scope of the heater.
It’s easy to distinguish a free-standing patio heater not just due to its form but because it is pretty common in outdoor bars and dining areas.
Likewise, given the size of these patio heaters, you can expect free-standing patio heaters to have higher BTUs.
Tabletop Patio Heaters
If you’d like a patio heater that can also double as a table centerpiece, then surely the tabletop patio heater is something you can highly consider.
A tabletop patio heater is a smaller version of its free-standing counterpart in terms of crucial components. It can be powered by propane or electricity.
But aside from the size, there’s also the difference in terms of form and designs. Some tabletop patio heaters even work as lamps marking a three-point functionality.
Wall-mounted Patio Heaters
Not all patios and outdoor areas are spacious enough for a free-standing patio heater. So, as an alternative, you can go for the wall-mounted patio heater.
Simply install this heater on the wall or post of your patio using the bracket that comes with it. You can adjust the heat source by tilting the bracket.
Wall-mounted patio heaters produce infrared waves and thus, use electricity instead of fuel.
How Are Patio Heaters Powered?
Heat, as you know, is a by-product of energy use. The same principle applies to patio heaters. It needs to have a source of energy first before it could disperse the necessary heat to warm up the patio.
In this sense, you can rely on three types of power sources required to operate patio heaters.
Larger free-standing patio heaters sometimes use natural gas to generate higher BTUs and produce heat enough for a crowd. But this is only feasible if you have a natural gas outlet.
The good thing about this power source is that the natural gas continues to flow once the heater is ignited. So you don’t have to think about sudden interruptions due to a sudden need for fuel replenishment.
A typical home patio heater uses propane to supply the heat. It comes in a portable tank which is kept hidden in the base of both a free-standing and tabletop patio heater.
If you run out of propane, you simply take out the tank and exchange it for a filled one, usually in grocery stores or gas stations (if they are available).
Electrical patio heaters are already making rounds in various homes. They are easier to install and operate as you simply plug in the heater.
But of course, you need to take extra precautions as not to expose the electric patio heater to water or moisture. It could damage the device beyond repair.
Do Patio Heaters Work in Winter?
Yes, patio heaters work during winter. In fact, it can effectively combat the cold weather brought by the season, keeping you warm even outdoors. However, the amount of heat produced by the patio heater will naturally depend on its type and power source.
For example, electrical patio heaters tend to provide less warmth than propane heaters. This could be due to the limited energy produced by the electricity as opposed to the increased heat generated by propane.
Nevertheless, you can rely on a patio heater to keep you warm. This allows you to spend more time outdoors instead of cocooning inside your home throughout the season, which isn’t exactly ideal.
Will a Patio Heater Melt Snow?
Infrared heaters are known to melt snow. Since patio heaters use infrared, there’s a good chance that they can also melt some snow depending on the amount of heat they release and how much snow there is.
However, prolonging the heater to snow exposure can cause damage, so you also need to be careful and use good judgment when using the heater outdoors.
If you’re hoping this device is going to get you out of having to do snow removal duty, sorry but that’s probably not the case. You’re still going to have to shovel snow off your outdoor space.
Do Patio Heaters Work in the Wind?
Yes, patio heaters can withstand steady wind in the open space. But if it exceeds 10 miles per hour, that’s the time you turn off your heater.
High winds can potentially knock down your patio heater or significantly reduce its performance. Hence, keeping it on is simply futile.
But if it only involves light to moderate wind speed, you can still make use of your patio heater, especially if it comes with tip-over protection. Still, even with a regular free-standing patio heater, the weight and form of the base can suffice and withstand wind strength.
Can You Use Patio Heaters in the Rain?
Yes, you can use your patio heaters to resist the cold of the rain, but only if it is well protected from the water.
For example, if your patio has a working cover, you can place your heater inside and still hang out in the area while it’s pouring outside. With your heater around, you don’t have to worry too much about the cold.
On the other hand, if you lack the necessary physical protection against the rain, it’s best not to expose your patio heater. Water can cause some damage to the device, especially with electrical patio heaters.
And on the subject of protecting your patio, if you live in the Loveland, CO area you can easily have a patio cover installed by TNT Home Improvements. A patio cover can add aesthetics to your patio and keep the space functional even when it’s raining.
Can You Put a Patio Heater on the Grass?
No, it is highly recommended that you do not place your patio heater directly above the grass or lawn. This is to reinforce safety and protection while using the device.
Your lawn is usually not a stable surface that can support the entire patio heater. As a result, it opens up the risk of the free-standing or floor patio heater tipping over and then hitting the ground.
Nevertheless, if you’re adamant about placing your patio heater on the lawn, there is an apparent caveat. Just place it on a flat solid surface like bricks that will serve as a barrier between the base and the grass.
Can I Leave My Patio Heater Outside?
Despite being an outdoor device, leaving your patio heater outside when not in use is not recommended.
If you do so, you will be exposing your patio heater to elements that can cause drastic deterioration, such as moisture.
Most patio heaters are made of durable materials. However, regardless of these materials, overexposure to factors that cause damage, such as corrosion, will reduce the longevity of your patio heater.
Moreover, it could even get worse with electrical patio heaters. Moisture can corrode wiring, which eventually leads to short-circuiting.
What Safety Measures Should I Consider When Using a Patio Heater?
Using a patio heater is not necessarily complicated. As long as you follow the steps and keep it far from harm, you can enjoy a warm night with family and friends.
Nevertheless, it couldn’t hurt to take extra precautions when using a patio heater, so here are the tips you can follow.
- Keep the patio heater stable.
- Place the patio heater in an area free of a potential hazard.
- Handle the fuel operation with care and according to the manual.
- Do not move the patio heater when it’s turned on.
- Keep children from directly touching the patio heater.
How Close Can a Patio Heater Be to the Ceiling?
Patio heaters should maintain about 2 to 3 feet of distance from the ceiling of the patio cover. However, this will still depend on your patio cover, the type of patio heater you have, and its BTU capacity.
Naturally, patio heaters that have higher BTUs will need more space for heat circulation.
Likewise, if you have pergolas for your patio covers, you get more ventilation as it has open spaces in between. This can be ideal for your larger patio heaters.
On the other hand, you need to be extra careful with the vertical clearance if you have a solid patio cover, as the structure can be limiting when it comes to heat circulation.
Can Electric Patio Heaters Be Used Indoors?
There are electric patio heaters designed for both outdoor and indoor use. If that’s the case with your device, then you can safely use the heater indoors.
However, if it’s not indicated in the product that you can actually use it in an enclosed space, it’s best to keep your electric patio heater outside. As a good safety measure, you should consider most patio heaters are designed to be used outdoors only.
It is imperative never to use a patio heater running on propane or natural gas indoors. This could cause some unfortunate consequences.
These types of patio heaters are designed for well-ventilated open spaces to allow the free flow of gas.
If you bring it inside a closed room, the gas may circulate in the air and affect the health of those around.
For example, one of the gases it can generate during combustion is carbon monoxide. If humans inhale this gas, it can have severe medical consequences.
Is the Patio Heater Worth It?
Yes, having a patio heater is worth it, especially if you’re into regular outdoor family bonding or social gathering. But even if you’re not, having a patio heater allows you to spend more time outdoors and enjoy the natural atmosphere.
You can catch some daylight outside with a patio heater set up in the backyard or on your deck during the winter. That way, you can tolerate the cold while basking in vitamin D from the sun.
Naturally, a patio heater is not just useful during winter. It’s highly functional all throughout the year. You can hang out anytime outdoors without worrying about the cold.
Patio heaters are great additions to your outdoor space, deck, or patio. They provide warmth and encourage outdoor stay for you and your social group.
So, the next time you’re thinking of reinventing your patio, consider getting a suitable patio heater.
And if you are planning for a major patio or deck renovation, let TNT Home Improvements help you with everything you need for this project.
If you are located in the Northern Colorado/ Southern Wyoming area, then give us a call today at 970-663-2868 or visit the home page and fill out the contact form to make an appointment to discuss your next home improvement project.