The 5 Best Patio Heaters to Add Warmth to Any Outdoor Space

Our top pick is the Hampton Bay 48,000 BTU Stainless Steel Patio Heater because it heats up an impressively large area.

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Stainless Steel Patio Heater Tout

While the sun may be enough to keep you warm during the day, hanging outside at night often requires a patio heater. These outdoor heat lamps give off enough warmth to keep you comfortable while you're sitting on the patio, even as the temperature drops.

To find the best patio heaters, we thoroughly researched various options on the market and rounded up our top picks based on heating area, fuel type (like propane or electric), overall value, and more. We also spoke to Zach Claxton, content manager at the heating company Sylvane, for expert tips on what to look for when shopping for patio heaters, as well as how to set them up and use them safely.

"Patio heaters turn outside areas, like restaurant patios, decks, pool areas, and more, from seasonal spaces to year-round spaces," says Claxton. In addition to providing "affordable and reliable warmth," he adds, these heaters are "lower maintenance, quieter, and more durable" than traditional heating sources like outdoor fire pits.

Our best overall pick is the Hampton Bay 48,000 BTU Stainless Steel Patio Heater, due to its reasonable price tag, impressive longevity, and large heating area.

Keep reading to learn more about our favorite patio heaters.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall Patio Heater: Hampton Bay 48,000 BTU Stainless Steel Patio Heater

Best Patio Heaters Outdoor Space

Also available at Home Depot.

Who it's for: People who want an easy-to-use, transportable patio heater at a fair price.

Who it isn't for: People who want a patio heater that doesn't require propane.

This patio heater from Hampton Bay is made of stylish stainless steel and powered by an impressive 48,000 BTUs. The warmth from the heater covers a large area (approximately 200 square feet), it lasts for up to 10 hours of use, and it comes with a weighted base that keeps it in place and helps reduce the risk of it being easily tipped over (which is aided by the built-in anti-tilt safety device). The electronic ignitor is simple and safe to use, too, turning the heater on and off with just a quick press of a button.

Assembly takes a fair bit of time, but with a bit of patience and determination, you can likely have this heater set up and ready to go in under an hour. And since a propane tank isn't included, you'll need to buy one separately to give the heater the fuel it needs to keep you warm. And if you think you might want to move the heater around on your patio, consider opting for the version that comes equipped with smooth, rotating wheels.

Product Details:

  • Fuel Type: Propane
  • Heating Area: 200 square feet
  • Size: 32.25 x 32.25 x 87.25 inches
  • Power: 48,000 BTUs

Best Budget Patio Heater: Amazon Basics 46,000 BTU Outdoor Propane Patio Heater

Best Patio Heaters Outdoor Space

Who it's for: People who want to heat their patio while keeping costs low.

Who it isn't for: People who want a heater that can warm up a large area.

If you're looking to spend as little as possible on an outdoor patio heater, then we recommend this budget-friendly model from Amazon Basics. Covering a nine-foot heat radius, this gas heater delivers 46,000 BTUs when attached to a propane tank (it comes with a chain to secure it). It's made from durable, long-lasting aluminum and has a sturdy steel base that you can fill with water to keep it even more stable. All you need to do is touch the ignition button to get the patio heater up and running immediately.

We like that there's a handy adjustable temperature knob (choose from low or high heat) and an automatic shut-off valve with a tilt safety system. There are wheels, too, so you can move this heater around as needed during outdoor events. The patio heater is available in seven colors, ranging from classic gray to vibrant blue, so you can choose a model that fits right in with the rest of your backyard decor.

Product Details:

  • Fuel Type: Propane
  • Heating Area: 9 square feet
  • Size: 33 x 18 x 89 inches
  • Power: 46,000 BTUs

Best Electric Patio Heater: Briza Infrared Carbon Heater

Best Patio Heaters Outdoor Space

Who it's for: People who want a patio heater that they can simply plug in and use.

Who it isn't for: People who don't have access to outlets near their outdoor space.

If you don't want to have to buy propane tanks, consider picking up an electric patio heater instead, like this one from Briza. It uses infrared heat, which produces a strong, comforting warmth in a matter of seconds. But the best part about this technology is that it radiates heat directly to you and objects around you, which is much more effective than other heaters that simply warm up all of the air.

This electric patio heater stands on its own with the included tripod, but you can also mount it to the wall or ceiling if you want to save floor space (it comes with the necessary hardware). It also includes a convenient remote, which allows you to turn the heater on/off and choose from three heat levels without getting out of your seat. There's even a built-in timer that automatically shuts off the heater up to nine hours later—a helpful feature for people who are worried about forgetting to turn off their appliances. And since it's safe to use indoors and outdoors, you can use it to keep warm in garages, sheds, workshops, and more.

Product Details:

  • Fuel Type: Electric
  • Heating Area: 100 square feet
  • Size: 4 x 5 x 35 inches
  • Power: 1500 watts (or approximately 5,115 BTUs)

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Best Propane Patio Heater: AZ Patio Heaters 87" Tall Outdoor Patio Heater With Table

Best Patio Heaters Outdoor Space

Who it's for: People who want a durable and stylish propane heater.

Who it isn't for: People who want a heater that's quick to start and covers a large area.

For an outdoor heater that will last you season after season, look no further than this solid option from AZ Patio Heaters. The 48,000-BTU patio heater uses a 20-pound propane tank to warm up to 12 square feet. You might need a couple of heaters to cover a large outdoor space, but one of these devices should be just fine for small and mid-size patios.

Made from heavy-duty stainless steel, the propane heater is durable and stylish, especially since it comes in bronze and gray finishes. It features an anti-tilt safety device as well as convenient wheels so you can move it around your patio with ease. Plus, there's a built-in adjustable table where you can plop down your phone, sunglasses, or any other small items. It's a bit more expensive than our best overall pick, but the added features (like wheels and the table) make this a great propane patio heater.

Product Details:

  • Fuel Type: Propane
  • Heating Area: 12 square feet
  • Size: 17 x 17 x 87 inches
  • Power: 48,000 BTUs

Best Wall-Mounted Patio Heater: Dr. Infrared Heater DR-238 Carbon Infrared Outdoor Heater

Best Patio Heaters Outdoor Space

Also available at Wayfair and Home Depot.

Who it's for: People who want a powerful heater that doesn't take up any floor space.

Who it isn't for: People who want to be able to move their heater around their patio as needed.

Not all patio heaters are the classic tall structures that you typically see. Wall-mounted heaters, like this one from Dr. Infrared, are a great alternative for people who don't want to give up any precious patio space. Lightweight yet powerful, this infrared heater can be used either indoors or outdoors and mounted vertically or horizontally, depending on the layout of your patio. There are three strong heating modes that range from 900 to 1500 watts, and a bright LED display allows you to easily see what setting it's on. Additional features include a remote and timer.

Installing the heater on the wall should be a pretty simple process, as it comes with a wall and ceiling mounting bracket. The power cord is six feet long, but if needed, you can use a 14 gauge (or higher) extension cord. And if your patio layout changes down the line, you can always use the heater on a tripod, although the stand is sold separately.

Product Details:

  • Fuel Type: Electric
  • Heating Area: 85 cubic feet
  • Size: 4 x 35 x 8 inches
  • Power: 1500 watts (5,200 BTUs)

Final Verdict

Our top pick is the Hampton Bay 48,000 BTU Stainless Steel Patio Heater because it's a long-lasting, extremely powerful, and reasonably priced model that uses a propane tank. But if you'd rather get an electric heater, we recommend the Briza Infrared Carbon Heater because it's super versatile and has helpful features like a timer and remote control. Plus, it can stand on its own with the included tripod or be mounted to a wall.

How to Shop for Patio Heaters Like a Pro

Power Source

One of the most important factors to consider when shopping for a patio heater is the power source. Electric patio heaters get their power from an outlet, so all you need to do is plug them in and they're good to go. Propane heaters simply need to be attached to a propane tank, while gas heaters can be connected to your home's natural gas or propane gas lines.

To decide which type is right for you, consider the area you plan to put the heater in and your home's features. "If your space doesn't have access to a gas line or electrical outlet, then propane is going to be best," says Claxton.

Heat Output

Most gas heaters have heat outputs ranging from around 5,000 BTUs to upwards of 45,000 BTUs. If you want a heater that can effectively warm up a large area, opt for a model with a higher heat output; it might run you a pretty penny, but it'll be worth it for the added heat. If you have a smaller patio, then you'll be fine going with a heater on the lower end of that BTU range.


You'll also want to think about how big your patio is when deciding what size heater is right for you. Claxton recommends finding the square footage of your patio space so that you can "zero in on models that can cover your area."

Most traditional heaters can be upwards of 7 feet tall and weigh over 100 pounds, so make sure that your patio can accommodate that height and weight without issue. If you need a smaller model, consider picking up a compact wall-mounted heater instead.

Questions You Might Ask

Which is better, gas or electric patio heaters?

"Each outdoor patio heater fuel type has its own benefits and drawbacks," says Claxton. Electric heaters are the easiest to use, but they're not always the best choice because not every outdoor space has access to an outlet.

Claxton says that gas heaters, on the other hand, "are more versatile than electric heaters." That's because you can place them anywhere as long as you have access to a propane tank. But the drawback is that they typically require more upkeep. Natural gas heaters are more affordable than other types of patio heaters, but they require being attached to natural gas lines nearby.

Where should you put a patio heater?

"Patio heaters are great for decks, outdoor living spaces, pools, and restaurant patios," says Claxton. When considering where to place your heater, keep in mind that propane and natural gas heaters are for outdoor areas only, while electric heaters can often be used "in semi-outdoor spaces like covered porches," says Claxton. If you're outdoors, make sure to place your patio heater on "completely level surfaces that can hold their weight"—and avoid areas that get a lot of wind or are close to obstructions like tree branches and plants.

How hot do patio heaters get?

Patio heaters with ultra-high BTUs can emit "enough warmth to heat spaces up to 1,500 square feet," Claxton says, but the average heater can warm around 250 square feet. Go for a model with a higher BTU if you want maximum warmth and coverage while you're hanging outside.

Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Rachel Simon, a writer for Real Simple, Better Homes & Gardens, The New York Times, and many other publications. She frequently covers home and outdoor products and did significant research on patio heaters for this story, including speaking to Zach Claxton, content manager at the heating company Sylvane.

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