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Outdoor Patio Heaters

Everything You Need To Know About Outdoor Kitchen Patio Heaters

Life is a long labor toward perfection. For those who love their outdoor kitchen, the next step toward perfecting it may be adding a patio heater, especially for those in colder regions. Grillnetics wants to help fellow outdoor dining enthusiasts complete their dream setup.


It may come as a surprise, but outdoor patio heaters have historically been more popular in the Sun Belt and throughout the American South and Southwest. In large part, the coronavirus pandemic has changed all of that, contributing to a surge in demand for outdoor patio heaters in less-temperate regions, where it’s not always warm enough to engage in well-ventilated outdoor activity. With more people pursuing perfection in their outdoor dining space, it's more important than ever for you to have the right information about a proper outdoor patio setup.


What Types of Patio Heaters Are There?

There are three main types of outdoor patio heaters: propane, electric, and natural gas.


You can easily find natural gas patio heaters as freestanding units, both in floor-standing or tabletop configurations. Floor-standing natural gas patio heaters may not be as portable as other versions, as they need to remain connected at all times for operation. Natural gas heaters are best suited for larger and more open outdoor areas so the fumes have space to safely dissipate.


Electric wall heaters are typically the most popular and affordable, though you trade savings on initial costs for higher monthly expenses. Although their power supply is more expensive to run than propane or natural gas, the units themselves are considerably cheaper and can usually be installed without professional assistance.


Third, propane patio heaters are the cheapest to run, and widely available. In most regions of the US, natural gas and propane cost considerably less than electricity in most areas.


What Size Outdoor Kitchen Patio Heater Do You Need?

The size of the outdoor patio heater you'll need will depend on the square footage and layout of your dining space. Thankfully, there is a simple equation you can use to get a pretty good idea of what size heater and how many BTUs you should look for:

Cubic Feet of Area x Desired Temperature Rise = BTUs Needed

For homeowners, one or two patio heaters for their outdoor space will be sufficient. One patio heater is probably enough to heat 1,500 to 2,000 square feet of covered space. In an uncovered space, expect a freestanding patio heater to warm a 20-foot diameter space.


Area in Square Feet  to Recommended BTUs
100-150 sq. ft. 5,000 BTUs
150-250 sq. ft. 6,000 BTUs
250-300 sq. ft. 7,000 BTUs
300-350 sq. ft. 8,000 BTUs
350-400 sq. ft. 9,000 BTUs
400-450 sq. ft. 10,000 BTUs
450-550 sq. ft. 12,000 BTUs
550-700 sq. ft. 14,000 BTUs
700-1,000 sq. ft. 18,000 BTUs
1,000-1,200 sq. ft. 21,000 BTUs
1,200-1,400 sq. ft. 23,000 BTUs
1,400-1,500 sq. ft. 24,000 BTUs
1,500-2,000 sq. ft. 30,000 BTUs
2,000-2,500 sq. ft. 34,000 BTUs


Simply speaking, more BTUs = more heat. But, that doesn’t mean that you want the patio heater with the highest number of BTUs. If you have a small patio, you don’t need a heater that’s designed for 2,000 sq ft of space.


Plus, patio heaters large enough to achieve higher BTUs are large and bulky, taking up precious floor space that a small patio can’t sacrifice. Wall-mounted heaters, on the other hand, are designed to save space while bringing comforting heat.


Wall Mount Patio Heaters

Wall-mount patio heaters (also available as ceiling-mounted heaters) may be the perfect solution to extend your outdoor living space's season. Attached to or installed on a wall, outdoor wall heaters take up little floor space and are safely out of reach of pets and children. Most have adjustable mounting brackets so you can direct the heat where you need it most.


Outdoor ceiling heaters are available in electric, propane, or natural gas fuel types.


  • Electric: produces zero emissions and can be used indoors or outdoors. Unlike gas-powered heaters, they don’t require ventilation. They also require very little maintenance.
  • Propane: requires fuel replacements, but usually don’t require a professional installation; less popular than electric heaters, due to the need for a gas supply
  • Natural Gas: requires professional installation, but offers the convenience of never running out of gas.


Freestanding Patio Heaters

Floor-standing patio heaters are ready for use right out of the box and can be moved around as opposed to being built into a permanent spot. They have stable bases so they can stand on their own without support — you can place them virtually anywhere. You can also find them in several sizes and styles, ranging from full-sized models to small, easily-moved portable models, AKA tabletop heaters.


Tabletop patio heaters are smaller, making them a good option if you have a smaller space like a balcony to warm up. They’re easy to store and transport, so you can tuck yours away when it’s not in use or take it with you on a camping trip.


Electric Patio Heaters

The largest "pro" of electric patio heaters is they remove any concerns regarding plumbing for natural gas or refilling propane tanks; the only thing you’ll need is a power source. Electric patio heaters give off a very tolerable heat, and can easily be modulated to suit your space's unique requirements.


Electric patio heaters are also easy to set up and don’t require professional installation. You never have to worry about running out of propane. The "cons" are that you have to consider where you place it; it needs to be near an electrical outlet. Additionally, these types are slower to heat up than natural gas and propane heaters.


Electric heaters put out less heat than their propane counterparts — about eight times as many BTUs on average — but they do not suffer from some of the downsides of propane heaters, including carbon buildup, blockages in the burner or pilot area due to bugs, dirt, and debris.



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