How To Use Patio Heaters? Tips On Safety, Functions And Purchase Of Outdoor Heating 2021


What Is A Patio Heater?

A patio heater is similar to a usual indoor heater: it uses electric energy or fuel to emit heat and raise the temperature around. What makes it different is the construction. There are three widespread types of patio heaters:

  1. Floor and freestanding patio heaters consist of the heating unit and the pole. They can be easily set up anywhere and are often used in bars and restaurants.
  2. Tabletop patio heaters often look like table lamps and serve to extend the living space outdoors. Generally, they remind of floor heaters but are more compact.
  3. Wall-mounted patio heaters cover a large space and come with mount brackets. They can tilt up and down so you can point the heater in the right direction.

How Are Patio Heaters Fueled?

Patio heaters use diverge kinds of fuel:

  • Electric Heaters

Electricity is the choice for those who don’t want to refill propane tanks and don’t have access to natural gas. Electric patio heaters are simply plugged on – and ready to run. They are available in different versions: tabletop, floor, or wall-mounted. The main downside is that they have a lower heating capacity than their gas-powered analogs, so they should be used for smaller areas.

  • Natural Gas Patio Heaters

If you have access to natural gas, this type of heaters would be just right. Like gas heaters, they have a high heating capacity and can be used to warm up a large space. In this case, you just need to connect the source of natural gas with the heater, and there’s no threat of running out of fuel. There are two widespread types of natural gas heaters – floor and freestanding models. In fact, natural gas patio heaters are the rarest type of devices: not so many people have gas in their houses.

  • Propane Heaters

Propane is the most common type of fuel for patio heaters. It’s sold in portable tanks and is the most versatile option since you can place the heater anywhere. Propane heaters usually have wheels for easy portability and are equipped with a propane tank inside (it doesn’t take extra space on your patio). Propane patio heaters have a higher BTU (British Thermal Unit) range than electric analogs and can warm up a larger space.

What Are The Critical Patio Heaters Parts & Components?

Freestanding patio heaters have the most complex construction. They usually include four parts: pole, base, heat source, and reflector.
The base helps the unit to stay and can also serve as a storage compartment for a propane tank. The pole lifts heat source upward to increase heat coverage. The reflector reduces the loss of heat – it doesn’t let it go upward and makes it go down to the surrounding area.

How To Make A Perfect Purchase?

To buy the best outdoor patio heaters, you should mind a few important aspects.

  • Safety & Regulations For Distance Of Human Activity

First and foremost, you need to make sure your patio heater is safe. Natural gas and propane heaters can emit smell and fume, so they should be placed within some minor distance from human activity. Electric heaters are safer in this relation, but they are afraid of rain and moisture, which poses the risk of short circuits, fires, electric shock, etc.

  • Regular Weather Conditions

Therefore, if you are going to use a patio heater during bad weather, select natural gas or propane models – they will not spoil because of raindrops and moisture. If you have a dry climate, an electric patio heater will be a better idea.

  • Durability And Easy Cleaning

Here, the choice depends on what you prioritize. Don’t want to waste time cleaning the heater? Then an electric or gas model would be just right – they require minimal maintenance. Propane heaters should be cleaned from time to time since burning fuel leaves traces of soot. As for durability, propane heaters tend to last longer – their parts don’t degrade because of moisture unlike the construction of electric heaters.

  • Required Heating Area

You’ve got a small patio or need to heat the space around your table? A tabletop electric heater would be enough. However, if you want to heat a larger area, the best patio heaters are gas-powered or propane ones (wall-mounted and floor models have better coverage).

  • Ease Of Assembly And Installation

What kind of patio heaters is easy in installation and assembly? Electric heaters are delivered almost fully assembled, so even if you don’t have any technical knowledge, you won’t find it hard to install them. Propane and gas-powered models require a few more assembly steps, but it’s not a complicated process.

What Patio Heater Is The Best For Heat Purpose?

The best patio heaters for heat purpose are propane ones: rise temperature for 10-30 degrees and can distribute warmth up to a 20-foot radius area, or 314 square feet.

How Much Heat A Propane Patio Heater Generates On Average?

A propane patio heater with an average output of 12.5 kW produces about 34.9 kg of CO2 before it runs out of fuel. This energy is enough to make 5,200 cups of tea.

Is Propane Heaters Allowed In Public Places?

The UK government plans to ban the use of propane heaters in restaurants and public places due to the serious environmental impact they produce.

What Is The Cost Of One Propane Fuel Tank?

One propane fuel tank costs around $10-20, so one hour of propane heater use is worth $1-2.

Can Outdoor Gas Heaters Be Used Indoor?

Note that outdoor gas heaters should never be used at home because they emit dangerous CO – carbon monoxide.

How To Use Patio Heaters?

It’s not enough just to assemble a patio heater and switch it on – you need to prepare everything properly. According to the best patio heaters consumer reports, it’s critical to choose the right place for the device. Otherwise, it will be either knocked down by wind or will expose danger to surrounding objects. Follow these steps to reap the maximum benefit from your unit:

  1. Select a well-ventilated area on your patio for carbon dioxide and fume to escape freely. That will ensure safety because proper ventilation prevents fires. However, the spot shouldn’t be exposed to high wind.
  2. If you have a propane heater, but a fuel tank beforehand. Start assembling the unit using the manual – it comes with the package. Wall-mounted heaters are installed on a wall near the socket – they need the source of electricity.
  3. Connect gas to your natural gas heater, or put the fuel tank inside the propane heater. Try to switch on the device. Automatic igniters use electricity to ignite the gas flow: some are controlled by On/Off button, some use remote control. If pressing the button doesn’t help, you can try igniting fuel with a match.
  4. While the heater is working, you can control the level of heat. In models with manual ignition, there’s a knob to control the gas flow. Outdoor patio heaters with automatic shut-off will turn the device off if the flame gets uncontrollable.
  5. Do not move heater while it’s operating. If you want to change its position, switch it off first.
  6. If you leave patio, switch the heater off. It will save fuel, and you will feel safer knowing you haven’t left the device unattended.

Don’t forget about proper maintenance. Check the heater for leaks, blockage of ventilation, or damage. Keep the equipment clean. When you don’t use the device, store it in a dry place.

How To Use Patio Heaters Safely?

There’s the whole gamut of safety rules you should follow.

  • Do not let children operate the heater: it can be dangerous.
  • When you don’t use the heater, keep it covered to prevent the collection of dust and rusting.
  • If you have a malfunctioning heater, repair it before operating again.
  • According to AZ patio heaters reviews, propane heaters should be cleaned at least once a month, if you use the unit regularly.
  • Before cleaning the heater, let it cool down.

What Is The Required Clearance Around My Patio Heater?

If you have a strong heater that produces about 35,000-50,000 BTUs, the required distance from combustible objects (wood, paper, fuels) should be 30 from all sides (reflector and emitter). For weaker heaters, the clearance should be 24 inches from combustible materials. Note that clearance should be from all sides. For people sitting around it should be about 2 feet.

Will A Patio Heater Melt Snow?

Yes, the heat emitted by the device will melt the snow around. However, leaving the elements exposed to snow and cold can make the unit deteriorate over time. Burning of propane changes in temperatures below 40 degrees F. Even if the heater will work, it can function inappropriately and produce less heat in cold temperatures.

Are Patio Heaters Safe?

All patio heaters are safe while you follow instructions and use them appropriately. And all top-rated patio heaters would be dangerous if you violate safety rules. If you keep the distance from inflammable objects, check the device for failures and maintain it, the risks are minimal. See the safety rules and recommendations in the section above.

Can I Leave My Patio Heater Out All Year Round?

Even the most expensive heaters are prone to wearing and deterioration. If you have a humid climate, rain, and snow, leaving the heater outside is a big mistake. Its metal parts can start rusting and spoiling. To protect the heater and prolong its life, you should buy a cover. It will prevent dusting and rusting, and keep bugs at the bay. However, you should note that a cover that catches the wind can act like a sail, so the heater may be knocked down. If possible, move your heater to an area secured against wind and precipitations.

How Long Do Patio Heaters Last?

A propane patio heater can work flawlessly within 10 hours using a full 20 lb fuel tank. As for the overall service life, it differs from model to model. When used appropriately and stored safely, patio heaters can serve for years – there’s almost nothing to break.
If you want to buy reliable and long-lasting patio heaters Home Depot or Lowes should be your primary choice. These stores offer models with an optimal price/quality ratio. You can also find great variants online.

What Are The Precautions When Using A Patio Heater?

Basic safety guides are given in the section above. Summarizing the rules, we should mention:

  • do not leave the unit unattended while it’s operating;
  • never use propane and gas heaters indoors;
  • do not let children use your heater;
  • it’s not recommended to use a heater during very windy weather (at least, the power of flames should be reduced);
  • do not operate the heater if there’s any leak, damage, or malfunction. Repair it first.

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