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Which outdoor heater should you buy?

Even in the summer months, the evenings can bring a chill once the sun goes down. When fall and winter months approach, it’s disappointing not to be able to use your outdoor space for months on end.

In both these scenarios, an outdoor heater lets you make the most of your patio, yard or deck. With a heater to keep you cozy, you can extend the longevity of your outdoor time throughout the year.

Types of outdoor heaters

From size to energy source, there are many types of outdoor heaters you can choose from, including:

  • Propane: Many outdoor heaters take propane as fuel. The benefit of this is you can move the heater around more easily as you don’t need to be within reach of an electrical outlet. It also makes it safer than electrical heaters if some drops of rain start to come down.
  • Electric: Electric outdoor heaters are simple to use. You don’t need to worry about buying fuel to keep them going and you generally have more options in terms of the shape and size of your heater.
  • Tabletop: These heaters sit on top of a deck or patio table and radiate heat outward. This can make it easier to feel the warmth and to keep the heat trapped while sitting under a canopy so you feel warmer for longer.
  • Heating bars: Heating bars are usually electric and are typically mounted onto a wall. You can use them on a patio, but they’re also useful for heating a chilly garage in the winter.
  • Standalone heaters: Whether electric or propane fueled, standalone heaters are often shaped as a cylinder or pyramid. Another typical style is a tall pole with heating bulbs fanned out in a circle at the top like a large lamp.

What to consider before buying an outdoor heater

Before you spend money on an outdoor heater, it’s important to consider the space you’re trying to heat and the most convenient way for you to fuel the heater. Some things to think about include:

  • Fuel source: Propane-fueled heaters are useful if you want to move the heater around a lot or if your eating area sits too far from an electrical outlet. Electric heaters are easy to plug in, meaning you don’t need to worry about running out of propane.
  • Size: A large standalone heater won’t always be practical. If you’re working with a small outdoor space like a balcony, a small tabletop heater might suit your needs perfectly. You might also have a low canopy under which a large standalone heater won’t fit.
  • Heating range: Not only does your heater need to physically fit in your outdoor space, but it also needs to produce enough heat to be effective. Some outdoor heaters simply aren’t powerful enough to heat an entire patio area. If you regularly entertain outdoors at your home, you might need two heaters at either end of the dining table to make sure nobody gets left out in the cold.
  • Storage: If you live in an area that gets significant snowfall, there are going to be some months when the heater needs to be put away. Similarly, you might not need it at all in certain climates during the summer months. In those situations, you’ll want to store your heater somewhere out of the way so exposure to the elements doesn’t damage it. Before you buy a heater, make sure you have the storage space available to keep it out of the way when it’s not needed.

7 best outdoor heaters to buy

Best East Oak Stainless Steel Outdoor Patio Heater

East Oak Stainless Steel Outdoor Patio Heater

This heater has high heat-, cold-, rust- and corrosion-resistance. Coupled with its sleek design, it also has a convenient and chic table to place drinks. With an 18-foot heat range, you can rest warmly knowing that its triple safety protection system prevents tilts, flameouts and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Sold by Amazon

Best Trustech Infrared Patio Heater

Trustech Infrared Patio Heater 

Ideal for large outdoor spaces, this patio heater works using a gold-coated carbon tube that heats within three seconds, is quiet, and has a 24-hour timer. The broad base helps protect against falls, and its infrared function targets people without letting heat slip out into the environment.

Sold by Amazon

Best Lausaint Home Patio Heater with Wheels

Lausaint Home Patio Heater with Wheels

This heater comes with wheels for easy movement, has a wide heat range and can heat an outdoor area of up to 25 feet. It comes with an adjustable temperature gauge and is perfect for a big yard or any other wide outdoor space.

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Best Serenelife Infrared Outdoor Electric Space Heater

Serenelife Infrared Outdoor Electric Space Heater 

Using infrared heat, this outdoor space heater offers a natural sun-like heat experience for outdoor spaces in the winter or while sitting out at night. It is waterproof, and its adjustable height can also be controlled using a remote control for easy use.

Sold by Amazon

Best Pamapic Patio Heater

Pamapic Patio Heater

This heater uses a glass flame tube to heat your outdoor space and add flare to it with its beautiful design. The double stainless-steel burners are complemented by its user-centric design since you can use wheels to move it and a thermostat for easy temperature control.

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Best East Oak Infrared Electric Patio Heater

East Oak Infrared Electric Patio Heater

Using an instant-heat Ultra Low Glare lamp, this heater kicks in after just one second for a comfortable outdoor heating experience. It’s also waterproof, dustproof and provides a candle-light atmosphere in your outdoor space.

Sold by Amazon

Best Dr. Infrared Heater Carbon Infrared Outdoor Heater

Dr. Infrared Heater Carbon Infrared Outdoor Heater

This heater is suitable for indoor and outdoor use and comes with brackets included for you to mount it to your wall. It uses infrared heat and comes with three power settings so you can adjust the temperature as needed.

Sold by Amazon


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Lauren Farrell writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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