9 min read

If you love spending time outdoors with guests - whether that’s for residential or commercial use - an outdoor patio heater can keep everyone warm and toasty - even on the coldest nights.

Picture people gathered on your decking with a glass of wine in hand. 

We’ve collated a list of the best gas patio heaters you can buy to find the most suitable one for you. This article also includes a brief buying guide and information about other types of outdoor heaters.

Electric vs Gas Patio Heaters 

Why have we focused on gas patio heaters in this article rather than electric? The easiest answer to this question is to look at the difference between the two power inputs and weigh up the features of both.

Electric Heaters

Electric heaters are a popular choice for outdoor spaces that lack proper ventilation. They don’t emit carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide while in use, compared to gas patio heaters. These units come in an array of styles, designs, and colors. They’re suitable for enjoying the warmth in an outdoor garden and are simple to use; plug-in wherever you have a home outlet and it’ll power up. 

Electric heaters are slower at heating a surrounding area, compared to natural gas or propane patio heaters. Many people choose this type of heater since they can be up to half the price of a gas heater. However, they’re not as cost-effective in the long-run, since you’ll spend more on energy costs than gas for heating an outdoor space.

Pros:

  • Cheapest option to purchase
  • Easy to operate
  • Doesn’t emit air pollutants that are harmful

Cons:

  • Not energy-efficient or cost-effective
  • Lacks a natural flame effect
  • Only usable in places with an electrical outlet 

Natural Gas Heaters

Natural gas heaters provide lots of warmth in a well-ventilated outdoor space. They’re quiet in operation and provide a cozy feel, thanks to their flame-effect. Since they don’t require an electrical outlet for use, you can place them almost anywhere outdoors that’s open and ventilated.

These units have a greater heat output compared to electric heaters, thanks to the combustion of natural gas. They’re also available in numerous styles and designs, making them the perfect feature for an outdoor bar deck or patio. Natural gas units are the most cost-effective heaters, and as long as you pay your gas bills, there won’t be an issue of running out of gas during a family gathering.

Pros:

  • Cheapest type of heater
  • Gas is supplied from your home, so no need for electrical outlets
  • Greater heat output than electric heaters 

Cons:

  • A well-ventilated area is essential for safety reasons
  • Requires professional installation
  • May require a new gas line installed

Propane Heaters

Propane heaters only take minutes to install and are designed to provide direct heat in residential settings. Compared to the electric and gas units, propane heaters are portable. This is one of their biggest advantages since you don’t require an electrical output or gas line to use the unit. Propane heaters are generally inexpensive to run compared to electric heaters.

This type of heater emits high levels of British Thermal Units (BTU), making it great if you’re looking for instant heat to cover a large surface area. Similarly to natural-gas heaters, you should only use the unit in well-ventilated areas for safety purposes. You’ll need a propane tank to fuel these heates. For example, every 10 hours of use requires 20lb of gas for a 50,000 BTU heater.

Pros:

  • Excellent portability, so you can take the heater anywhere
  • More cost-effective to run compared to an electric unit
  • Doesn’t require electricity or a gas line

Cons:

  • The pilot light can sometimes be tricky to operate
  • Requires replacing a propane tank

Different Types of Gas Patio Heaters Available

To collate the best patio heater for you, here are the three types of units to decide from and their key highlights.

Freestanding

Key Highlights:

  • Flexible and moveable patio heater
  • Can heat a large surface area
  • Typically generate 40,000 BTU of heat output

A freestanding patio heater is ideal if you don’t have tables or don’t wish to mount the gas on a wall or ceiling. You’ll find this type of patio heater in bars and restaurants in a busy patio area. 

Since they’re freestanding, they’re quick and easy to set up and can be positioned anywhere in a safe location on a patio. These gas patio heaters are operated by fuel and are efficient for radiating heat and a warm glow. They’re ideal for rotating heat around a garden setting.

Freestanding patio heaters tend to be the largest type of heaters, and can massively vary in size to suit your surface area. Typically, they generate 40,000 BTU of heat output, making them the most powerful type of patio heaters. They’re also highly flexible, as you can move the object closer or farther away from guests to adjust the heating. 

Wall or Ceiling Mounted

Key Highlights:

  • Safest option for children and pets
  • Can alter angle for heat
  • Targeted heat on one area

Wall / Ceiling-mounted heaters are the safest option if you have young children and pets since the object is out of reach. These require permanent installation to safely secure to your wall and are ideal if you have limited outdoor space.

Once fitted to your wall, you can adjust the angle of the heat so the heater targets a small surface area, preventing any heat loss. As a result, these tend to be the most economical options. Wall-mounted patio heaters are the most inexpensive options, since they’re smaller and generate around 25,000 - 30,000 BTU of heat output.

Tabletop

Key Highlights:

  • Perfect for residential use
  • Offers 360-degree heat
  • Compact size and easy to transport

These heaters stand on your tabletop and provide 360-degree heat for all guests. They’re popular in outdoor restaurants or other environments where guests tend to sit at a table, to keep everyone warm. Compared to freestanding patio heaters, they typically have a lower power output, but they’re designed to keep everyone toasty.

Tabletop patio heaters are designed to heat a nearby area, and typically generate 12,000 BTU of heat output, making them ideal for targeting a small surface area. These heaters offer a compact size, so you don’t need a large surface area to position them. They’re reduced size also makes them easy to carry and a cheaper alternative to freestanding patio heaters.

These types of heaters aren’t designed for commercial use, since their heat output isn’t powerful. Instead, they’re created to heat a small surface area, such as a party of four in a back garden.

Factors to Consider When Buying The Best Patio Heater 

To choose the best gas patio heater for your needs and preferences, we’ve distilled a list of the mostessential factors to consider throughout your search.

Power Rating 

Generally, the heat output of a patio heater depends on the device’s power rating. This level of coverage is measured in BTUs. The higher the figure, the more heat the heater will radiate. However, that doesn’t mean a higher figure is best. Instead, determine the surface area you need heating to acquire the best BTU for you. The coverage area is measured in the circle of heat the heater creates around it.

Keep in mind the outdoor temperature and materials used on your patio heater, too, and these can affect the maximum BTU your device reaches. As discussed earlier, the different types of patio heaters generate different BTUs. In addition to the surface area you need covering, take into consideration the typical weather in your area. If it’s mostly cold, you’ll require a higher BTU compared to warmer climates. 

Safety

Heat can be dangerous - especially around young children and animals. Fortunately, many gas patio heaters are fitted with safety features. Look out for a tip-over switch on portable heaters. This switch triggers an automatic shut-off when the heater is tilted past a certain angle.

Many of the best gas patio heaters are equipped with an automatic switch-off feature. This means that the heater will switch off after a certain amount of time, should you forget to do this manually.

You should also take into account an appropriate type of patio heater for your needs. When choosing a freestanding device, ensure it’s weighted properly to remain upright in windy conditions to prevent risking a fire. As such, consider the weather conditions in your area and choose a suitable type of heater. 

Ensure you have enough space for the heater to prevent it from coming into contact with flammable materials. Never squeeze a heater in a tight space, and allow 30 inches of clearance around the heater. You should also choose an appropriate BTU to suit your surface area and weather to avoid you and guests having to sit too close to the unit.

Discover The Best Gas Patio Heaters 

Let’s discuss the best gas patio heaters you can buy right now. Each unit was added to this list based on its BTU rating, cost to run, durability and efficiency. 

Residential Patio Heaters

Patio Comfort PC02CAB Vintage Portable Propane Heater

ThePatio Comfort PC02CAB propane heater prides itself on portability as it’s fueled by liquid propane. Its classic design makes it a great asset to a luxury restaurant and is suitable to use all-year-round.

Using a 20-lb propane tank, you’ll typically receive up to 10 hours of standard use. The heater also offers 40,000 BTU, making it suitable for keeping guests warm. You can also adjust the heat output to obtain a temperature that’s suitable for you. 

This Patio Comfort heater is fitted with a heavy-duty door latching mechanism to prevent accidental access to the propane cylinder, making it a safe purchase. This unit is convenient to use as it features a match-free ignition. Simply turn your heater on by pushing a button.

Sunpak S34 TSR Two-Stage Infrared Gas Heater

TheSunpack Two-Stage heater is fueled by propane or natural gas, making it a highly efficient heating solution. The unit is slim and can be mounted to a ceiling or wall. Your purchase includes a remote and wireless wall switch that enables you to control the heating settings at the push of a button.

This gas patio heater can heat a 12 x 12-foot area and features an automatic control system, so you can obtain the exact amount of heat power you need. The high-efficiency ceramic infrared burner system is designed to keep you warm and toasty while outdoors.

The unit has a heat output of 25,000 - 34,000 BTU, making it an exceptional choice for summer nights when the sun goes door. This heater is also powerful enough to keep guests warm during winter, too. 

Commercial Patio Heaters

Sunpak S34 TSH Infrared Gas Heater

TheSunpak S34 heater is designed for commercial use and offers a heat output between 25,000 and 34,000 BTU. It’s designed to heat an area measuring 12’ x 12’, depending on windy conditions. Controlling the heat settings and power is easy, thanks to the included wall switch control. If you’re looking to keep guests warm, while saving energy, you’ll love the energy efficient on this heater.

The unit operates similar using an infrared radiant energy, similar to the sun’s warming rays. At the push of a button, the heater can comfortably warm an outdoor area in minutes. Once positioned on an outdoor patio area, the heater can increase the comfort levels by 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit. 

You’ll love its slim and luxury design, and the unit can be mounted at 0-30 degrees for an angle that will keep all of your guests warm. The safety shutoff feature ensures you never have to worry about a fire hazard again.

Sunglo A242 Portable Natural Gas Heater

TheSunglo A242 gas heater features an attractive design with a black powder-coated finish that suits any decor. This unit radiates heat to keep you warm while outdoors by using infrared heating to heat people rather than the surrounding air. It’s suitable to use for extended hours and offers a heat output of 50,000 BTU, making it perfect for commercial use.

This portable heater is built to last, thanks to the heavy-duty corrosion-resistant construction. Another of its stand-out features is that it’s relatively quiet in operation. The unit also features a large aluminum reflector to heat large areas for optimum comfort.

You don’t have to worry about safety concerns with this gas heater, as it features a safety shut-off. The unit also uses a clean draft-free circle of warmth to ensure everyone in the surrounding area remains warm and toasty.

Which Gas Patio Heater Will You Purchase?

If you’re planning an outdoor event in winter, or own a business that relies on comfortable outdoor areas, don’t let a cold breeze prevent your guests from enjoying themselves. The above selections are designed for residential and commercial use, and you can alsoclick here to shop gas patio heaters.

Do you recommend a patio heater we haven’t mentioned above? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Share your recommendations in the comments.

Frequently Asked Questions 

  • Why Should You Choose a Heater Over a Fire Pit?

Fire pits can be messy and require much maintenance and cleaning. They also produce a lot of smoke and can agitate allergies. On the other hand, outdoor heaters are less messy and much safer to use. You don’t have to be aware of ashes and sparks when in use.

  • What’s The Difference Between How Patio Heaters and Space Heaters Work?

Patio heaters use radiant heat to warm physical objects, rather than air molecules. This is a more energy-efficient process and is ideal for use in windy conditions.

  • What is a Reflector?

This is the name for the large circular item that sits on top of your portable heater like a hat. Its purpose is to direct heat to a surrounding area. A large dispenser can target a wider area than a small dispenser. Opt for a circular reflector, since a square-shaped design doesn’t have this function.

  • What Are Some Go-To Materials for a Heater?

Outdoor gas patio heaters will mostly use stainless steel, since this is durable, easy to clean and helps heat to disperse. You may also find copper elements. This material is an excellent conductor of heat and allows hot air to pass through it quickly. 


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