Cool nights, turning leaves, and sales on outdoor space heaters all indicate one thing: Fall is finally here. If you’re not ready to relinquish the outdoors to next year, then it’s time to buy one of the best outdoor space heaters out there and keep the parties going. Whether you’re looking for large-area propane options or targeted electric units, we’ve rounded up our favorite patio heaters for every need so that you can get back to what matters: entertaining your family or guests.
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.
Handsome in a bronze finish and with 48,000 BTUs of propane-powered heat, we did a double-take at the price: For what it puts out, this unit is remarkably affordable. It also has wheels for easy maneuverability with semi-permanent or multi-use spaces. A small table is included around its center column, should you and the Mr. or Mrs. want to enjoy a private cocktail after the kids have been put to bed.
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.
For those with minimal storage space and big plans, we like the Heat Storm Tripod. As any photographer will tell you, tripods fold into a near-vertical shape when not in use, so if you have enough room to stow a broom, you can tuck this electric-powered unit away. It's also rainproof, projecting 5,100-BTU directional warmth in a 10-foot diameter.
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.
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.
One of the more ingeniously designed outdoor heaters, this propane- or natural gas-fueled table doubles as a table to both warm bodies and hold snacks and drinks. It runs up to eight hours with a 50,000 BTU max output.
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