You know springtime is upon us when some of the biggest resellers of outdoor space heaters start fire-selling their units. While many raced to purchase these patio heaters in winter for socially-distanced entertaining and backyard hangs, if you waited, now is your time to strike, with significant discounts on just about every model and doubtless a few more months of chilly temps. It turns out that when it comes to the best backyard heaters, patience is about to pay off.
Designed to warm outdoor spaces, patio heaters come in two basic types. The first (and usually the cheapest) are electricity-powered options. Whether shaped like a strip and oriented parallel to the ground or in a chameleon-like tower form, they’re odor- and upkeep-free, making them great for semi-enclosed areas like lanais, sunrooms, and pergolas. They will, however, keep you anchored to your nearest outlet and rarely handle inclement weather well longterm.
The second (and more powerful) are propane-powered tower units. They’re movable (some easier than others) and work better for heating large areas or customizable layouts. However, they often come with a correspondingly larger price tag and the need for propane tanks, which always seem to run out just when you want to use them most.
Go big when you go home with this dual-head propane heater. Its vintage-inspired, weather-resistant steel body casts a wide 10-foot diameter from each burner, spreading a heat blanket over all. It also features a small surface on which to place drinks when you and your spouse enjoy a quiet evening in. Just shy of 200 pounds with its propane tank, it's not the most nimble, but its handsome appearance makes it ideal to set it and forget it.
Wheels? Check. A small surface upon which to place drinks or apps? Oh, yeah. When COVID concerns lessen, this is the unit of choice to roll in for a backyard party. Its variable-control knob allows you to tailor the heat over a 20-foot diameter. Another thing we liked: The push-button starter lets you start the party now without fiddling for matches or a lighter.
Suncrown stands unique on this list, as it projects both heat and light, making it a party in a column. While it doesn't have wheels (a real oversight, in our option), without its 20-pound propane tank, it weighs a mere 36 pounds, making it easy enough to bearhug to your desired location. It warms over a 23-foot diameter and is weather-resistant if you decide to leave it out overnight.
This pyramid-style heater blasts 42,000 BTUs of warmth over an 18-foot diameter. Running off a standard 20-pound propane tank, its push-button ignition is fast and effective. Over half its seven-and-a-half-foot steel height a vibrant flame, enclosed in glass, adds ambiance and interest. It's a beast of a unit, however, so you'll appreciate its built-in wheels when moving its 50-pound heft.
It's a real kick in the knockers to fire up the patio heater only to discover that your propane tank is a little light. Skip the fossil fuels with this plug-in model. Best for semi-enclosed spaces and safe for indoor use, it warms a 125-square-foot space with over 5,000 BTUs of adjustable warmth while weighing less than five pounds. It's splash-proof, but we're hesitant to call it weatherproof, and with its light weight, it's best to take it inside between uses.
Winning the 'best dressed' category, there's still a lot of performance to Rangland's credit. Its gunmetal grey finish looks handsome and lasts long into Skynet's reign, but it still puts out a pumping 46,000 BTUs in a 10-foot radius for up to 10 hours. Tipping the scales at just over 40 pounds, its wheeled base makes it easy to move to the perfect spot. This propane heater is a hoss and in it for the long haul.
Got a small space and a nearby bulkhead? Then try screwing on the Dr. Infrared Heater 1500W. As its name suggests, you’ll be pumping in its 1,500 watts of weatherproof warmth from a nearby wall or ceiling thanks to included hardware and a 120-volt cord. While not the preferred method, it can also easily be mounted on a tripod should you need more flexibility with location. The included remote lets you select one of three heating modes without leaving your chair, and has an on/off timer function, too.
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