6 min read

There are many different types of patio heaters available in the market. In this article, we are going to review all of them and help you choose the right heater for your needs.

Patio heaters can be categorized by the type of fuel they use or by installation type. 

There are two main types of patio heaters by installation type:

  • Overhead (including wall, ceiling, and umbrella mounted heaters)
  • Freestanding (Including portable, permanent post, and tabletop patio heaters)
By the fuel type, we can define two types as well:
  • Electric
  • Gas (including natural gas and liquid propane)

Let's start with the installation type and then move on to the fuel.

Patio Heaters by Installation Type

1. Overhead Patio Heaters

Overhead Patio Heaters

Heaters in Photo: Bromic Platinum Smart Heat Electric Patio Heaters

Overhead patio heaters include heaters that can be mounted on walls, ceilings, and even outdoor umbrellas. 

Overhead patio heaters are a more permanent heating solution. They are either hardwired or connected to a gas line and attached to a structure using mounting brackets or recessed kits.

The heat produced by overhead heaters is more efficient because the placement can be better planned so that the heat is more directional.

Overhead heaters are safer, especially in high-traffic areas. Because overhead heaters are installed off the ground they are out of the way and don't create a hazard in high-traffic areas like restaurants for example. It is also a good idea to opt for an overhead heater if you have small children or pets to reduce the risk of them touching hot surfaces or tipping it over.

Overhead heaters are more discrete. Because overhead heaters are usually attached to walls or ceiling, they don't interfere with the design of the space quite as much as freestanding models do. Some overhead electric heaters can even be recessed into the ceiling and be almost invisible.

Overhead heaters can be a wonderful idea if you are looking for a more permanent heating solution for your outdoor areas.

Keep in mind that you will probably need more than one heater to cover the entire area. You can see the heat coverage on each heater's page. That information will help you plan how many units you'll need and where to best locate them.

If you need help planning out your area, you can always reach out to our team at support@patiofever.com 

All our overhead patio heaters can be found here: Overhead Patio Heaters

2. Free Standing Patio Heaters

Free Standing Patio Heaters

Heater in Photo: Portable Propane Patio Heater

Free standing patio heaters include popular portable mushroom heaters, as well permanent post and table top heaters.

Generally, you would choose a free standing model if there is no structure to attach an overhead heater to or if you want more heat on a lower level in addition to overhead heaters that you have up high.

There are several benefits of freestanding models and we'll discuss them below.

The main downside to all of them compared to overhead heaters is that the heat is not used quite as efficiently. Because the heat is not well directed, a lot of it gets wasted. That means wasted fuel and wasted money.

Portable free standing heaters are a great temporary solution. They don't require any installation. Most of them run on liquid propane and some of them are electric. Very easy to use. The main downside of these portable freestanding heaters is that they take up a lot of floor space. They are also heavy to move and bulky to store. 

Permanent post heaters take up less floor space and won't tip over. They can be a great solution for places that have to go with a freestanding model but would like to eliminate the main downsides that come with the portable free standing heaters.

Table top heaters can be a good solution for outdoor dining environments. There are propane and gas models available. These heaters can be simply put on the table without any special installation. If you just want to add a little warmth to your outdoor dining table, a table top heater might be enough for you. Restaurant owners prefer tabletop heaters to bulky mushroom heaters as a temporary heating solution for their outdoor tables.

All of our free standing patio heaters can be found here: Free Standing Patio Heaters

Patio Heaters by Fuel Type

1. Electric Patio Heaters

Electric Patio Heaters

Heater in photo: Infratech WD Series 6000 W Infrared Electric Patio Heater

Electric heaters can be your choice for several reasons.

Obviously, if you don't have access to natural gas and don't want to keep replacing/refilling propane tanks, electric heaters are a good option for you.

Electric patio heaters are great for enclosed patios and indoor installations. Unlike gas heaters, they don't produce any emissions and are safe to use even in small enclosed spaces without any special venting.

If you are looking for a heater that will blend with your decor - electric is the way to go. Many overhead electric heaters have a sleek look and are available in custom colors to match your decor. Some models can even be recessed into a ceiling and be completely out of sight.

Temperature control can be more precise with electric heaters. There are many ways you can control electric heaters. From a simple ON / OFF switch to smart home connect. So if you choose to go with some of the more sophisticated control options you will have very precise temperature control. Electric heaters usually don't come with controls included allowing you the freedom to choose the control level you need.

Electric heaters can be more affordable. They are generally less expensive to buy compared to gas and might be easier to install. However, they can be slightly more expensive to operate (depending on gas and electricity rates in your area) and you might have to purchase more units because they are less powerful than gas. Plus, if you decide to go with one of the fancy control options mentioned above, your cost might end up being the same.

All of our electric patio heaters can be found here: Electric Patio Heaters

2. Gas Patio Heaters

Gas Patio Heaters

Heater In Photo: Calcana High Output Gas Patio Heater

You might want to go with gas if you need to heat large areas or keep it warm in cold temperatures. 

Gas heaters are more powerful than electric. When comparing similar sizes, gas heaters produce 3-5 times more heat. If you are looking to heat a large outdoor area be that your backyard, outdoor event or a restaurant, gas patio heaters should be your choice. You will need to buy and install fewer units compared to electric and will save money on the operational costs in the long run.

Gas heaters are effective at low temperatures. For example, Calcana overhead gas heaters are effective in snow/ice melt applications and are certified to –40F weather conditions.

Gas heaters can be more affordable. As we discussed above, gas heaters are more expensive than electric when compared unit to unit but they can end up being more affordable. Operation costs might be cheaper if gas is cheaper than electricity in your area. You will also need fewer units to heat up the same area because gas heaters are more powerful. And you might save on expensive controls because gas heaters usually have simple controls that are included with the unit.

All of our gas patio heaters can be found here: Gas Patio Heaters


Overhead patio heaters are a great choice for those looking for permanent heating solution and have walls or ceilings available for mounting those heaters.

Free Standing patio heater models are perfect as a temporary outdoor solution or a permanent solution for large areas with no walls / ceilings. 

If you have access to natural gas and need lots of heat, it might make sense to look into gas heaters.

If you want a better look that blends with your decor, convenience of temperature controls, and don't need a ton of heat, electric heaters will be a better option for you.

We hope you found this article helpful in deciding which heater might work better for your project. If you need help deciding or have questions about your particular project, please don't hesitate to email us at support@patiofever.com.

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Shop Patio Heaters:

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