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Buying a Patio Heater

As your gateway to outdoor living, we at BBQ Outlets want you to be using your outdoor space as much as possible! Of course, sometimes even summer nights can get a little breezy, or maybe you want to enjoy your backyard during fall or winter. A fairly inexpensive way to warm up your nights is with an outdoor patio heater. It’s a relatively low-maintenance appliance to add, but here are some things you should think about when deciding on the right heater for your outdoor space. Please note you should always, always check the owner’s manual for installation and combustible clearance requirements before putting any appliances in.

Heater Fuel Type – Electric, Propane, or Natural Gas

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Electric Patio Heater

An electric heater is the most eco-friendly option as well as the easiest to install. You will likely need to hardwire an electric patio heater into its own circuit, but you may be able to get away with plugging into a standard 120-volt circuit depending on your heater’s wattage. If you plan to install multiple heaters, you could always install them on the same circuit, which makes them even easier to control. Electric patio heaters aren’t releasing harmful byproducts from combusting gas, they don’t usually have airflow requirements like gas patio heaters would. This means you have a bit more flexibility in where you can install your heater, generally speaking.

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Propane Patio Heater

Propane-powered heaters are usually tabletop or freestanding appliances that hide the propane tank in the heater’s base. Keeping in mind the clearance requirements, you can move these around your outdoor space. These can either be fueled with 20-pound portable tanks or using a bulk tank, if you have one. If you want to use a bulk tank, you will need a licensed professional to evaluate if you have the necessary pressure and volume in that tank to support a heater. If you do, they’ll need to hook it up for you.

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Natural Gas Patio Heater

Propane-powered heaters are usually tabletop or freestanding appliances that hide the propane tank in the heater’s base. Keeping in mind the clearance requirements, you can move these around your outdoor space. These can either be fueled with 20-pound portable tanks or using a bulk tank, if you have one. If you want to use a bulk tank, you will need a licensed professional to evaluate if you have the necessary pressure and volume in that tank to support a heater. If you do, they’ll need to hook it up for you.

Mounting Choices – Freestanding or Wall/Ceiling Mounted

Your fuel choice and mounting options rely heavily on one another. If you’re looking for an electric heater, you’ll mostly find ceiling and wall mounts. If you’d prefer to use portable propane tanks, you’ll probably have a freestanding or tabletop heater. If you’d rather have a more permanent heater installed, you might be looking at a natural gas-fueled heater.

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Freestanding Mounting

One of the big differences is that charcoal grills are typically made of anything from a cheaper painted metal to a commercial-grade stainless steel, whereas a kamado is often made of ceramic. The steel on your charcoal grill is going to get very hot, very easily. Your ceramic kamado is going to take longer to heat up, but when it does, it will retain and radiate the heat a lot longer than a standard charcoal grill.

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Wall/Ceiling Mounted

If you have an area of your outdoor space that you know is always going to need heat, you might want to consider permanently installing a wall or ceiling mounted heater. For instance, you may want to put a heater in your dining area so you can still enjoy eating outside after sunset, or in your conversation area for those late-night chats with guests. Since you tend to have more installation limitations with a gas heater, ceiling and wall mounted heaters are typically electric. If you have multiple electric heaters, they can potentially be hardwired together into the same circuit, which makes them easier to control with a switch, remote, or dimmer at the same time.

Heating Area Considerations

Most outdoor heaters will warm up about 100 square feet, so you’ll need to measure the area(s) you want to heat to determine how many heaters you’ll need and what types of heaters will work best. One thing to keep in mind is that freestanding heaters will generate heat in a circular radius while ceiling/wall-mounted heaters produce heat directionally. So, a freestanding heater will work best in the center of the space you need to heat, but ceiling/wall-mounted heaters will need to cover the entire space you’re heating.

Warranty Considerations

Different brands have different warranty coverage, so you’ll need to consider what you want your warranty to look like. If you are heating a commercial space like a bar or restaurant, you’ll need to be sure that your warranty will cover commercial heaters. Warranties shouldn’t be a main consideration when purchasing a heater, but it’s still something to keep in mind.

Heater Accessories – Controllers, Brackets, and Covers

For your convenience, you may want some sort of control system (switch, dimmer, or remote) if you have multiple heaters hardwired in. You’ll have to decide what system you prefer depending on your heater choices made above.

If you’re installing a ceiling or wall mounted heater, directional mounting brackets can be a nice accessory. This way, you can turn or tilt your heater towards a specific area, depending on the unit’s installation and combustible clearance requirements.

It’s probably no surprise that we recommend a cover for your heater(s) so it will last longer (and look nice!) Even if you are storing a freestanding/portable heater inside when it’s not in use, you should still get a cover to protect them from dust and moisture.

Questions?

If you still have a brain freeze and don’t know the best way to heat your outdoor space after reading this guide, let our experts help! Give us a call at 800-437-4188 and we can talk you through the options out there so you can decide what will fit your needs best.

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