Best patio heaters 2021

Best patio heaters 2021

With the best patio heaters you can sit out and enjoy your backyard all evening long, and stay snug without having to pile blankets on. They’re an excellent choice for the summertime; accompanying you as you BBQ with the best gas grills and keeping you warm as you step out of one of the best hot tubs . Plus, they’ll be a hit with any guests in your garden and add to the ambiance of your cozy outdoor set-up. 

You might be wondering which features to look out for on your hunt for the best patio heaters. One of the first things to check is how many BTU’s (British Thermal Units) a heater has; if your space is bigger, you’ll need this number to be bigger too. Then there’s the consideration of the design of each heater, with those who often battle against windy conditions needing a more solidly built base. 

If you want one of the best patio heaters but would prefer something a little more subtle, then there are wall-mounted models available too, as well as heaters you can hide within parasols. Plus, there’s plenty of ways to fire them up, from models with pilotless burners, electric ignition systems, and infrared. Whichever type of heater you choose, you’re sure to be grateful for it as soon as the sun dips out of sight. For more must-haves for adding ambience to your garden, check out our guide to the best solar lights

1. Fire Sense Commercial Patio Heater: Best patio heater overall

Fire Sense Commercial Patio Heater

Best patio heater overall: Powerful, sturdy and reliable

Heat source: Propane | Heat output: 46,000 BTU | Heating range: 225 square feet | Size: 89 x 33 x 18 inches | Weight: 43 pounds

Electric ignition system
Pilotless burner system
Various finishes to choose from
Uses lots of fuel at max power

Our pick for best patio heater overall is the Fire Sense Commercial Patio Heater. A sturdy freestanding outdoor heater powered by a standard 20-pound propane tank, its 46,000 BTU of heat will heat up to 225 square feet of patio, according to Fire Sense.

Constructed from commercial-grade steel, the Fire Sense Commercial Patio Heater is available in an extensive range of different finishes to complement your patio décor, including Aqua Blue, Matte Black and Hammered Mocha/Bronze.

Its Piezo electric ignition system makes lighting the patio heater as simple as pushing a button, but a particular selling point is the ‘Pilotless’ Burner System, which is more reliable in windy conditions and also reduces fuel wastage.

  • Read our Fire Sense Commercial Patio Heater review 

2. Avenlur 42000 BTU Pyramid: Best patio heater with optional LED lights

Avenlur 42000 BTU Pyramid Patio Heater

Superb style for classy evenings on the patio

Heat source: Propane | Heat output: Around 42,000 BTU | Heating range: 10 sq. ft. | Size: 29 x 29 x 89 inches | Weight: 65lb

Looks magnificent 
Visible flame offers brilliant ambiance 
Hard to assemble
Can be demanding on fuel

There are few heaters that’ll look quite as good on your patio as Avenlur’s Pyramid – though, let’s be technical, it’s more of a truncated pyramid shape, or perhaps a frustum if you’re a real maths fan. It shoots fire up a glass tube, giving you a unique glow that many other propane heaters can’t match, and it’s far more attractive than its mushroom-topped competitors.

It’s not the easiest thing to assemble, with instructions that lack a few critical details, but once you’ve worked out the kinks we can’t imagine you’ll be unhappy with its ease of use, the wheels which make it portable, or the heat it manages to produce. Keep a second propane bottle on hand, though, because big flames mean it guzzles the gas.

  • Read our Avenlur 42000 BTU Pyramid Patio Heater review.

3. Westinghouse Infrared 5100 Electric Standing Patio Heater: Best patio heater for small backyards 

Westinghouse Infrared 5100 Electric Standing Patio Heater

This is the ideal patio heater for creating a small cozy space for two

Heat source: Electricity | Heat output: 5100 BTU | Heating range: 6 feet | Size: 33 x 6 x 5.5 inches | Weight: 6lbs

Easy to move around
Built-in protection against overheating
Not suitable for larger spaces

Those who want a patio heater to allow them to maintain a comfortable temperature in their backyard while they relax or eat will be impressed by the Westinghouse Infrared 5100 Electric Standing Patio Heater. It’s perfect for individuals or small families; those who don’t particularly need a powerhouse of heat for their cozier space. 

The Westinghouse Infrared 5100 Electric patio heater is an excellent choice when it comes to energy efficiency and is packed with ultra-useful features for good measure. That includes safety features to keep from any accidents or mishaps and technology to prevent it from taking a tumble in adverse weather conditions. This won’t be the heater for large families or hosting gatherings due to its low power, but it’ll suit smaller families perfectly and cost them less to run too. 

  • Read our Westinghouse Infrared 5100 Electric Patio Heater review .

4. AmazonBasics Commercial Outdoor Patio Heater: Best patio heater for value

AmazonBasics Commercial Outdoor Patio Heater

This great-value patio heater competes on power and performance with more expensive models

Heat source: Propane | Heat output: 46,000 BTU | Heating range: 324 square feet | Size: 89 x 33 x 18 inches | Weight: 40 pounds

Variety of finishes
Electric ignition system
Can be unstable in windy conditions
Paint may peel around burner 
  • Buy it now for $148 from Amazon

If you’re set on buying a freestanding propane patio heater but have a relatively tight budget, you can’t go far wrong with the AmazonBasics Commercial Outdoor Patio Heater. We think it’s the one of the best value patio heaters around.

Closely matching the size, style and power of similar outdoor heaters, such as the Fire Sense Commercial Patio Heater above, this affordable option has the most detailed customer feedback of any patio heater on this list, with well over 1,000 reviews on Amazon. 

While the volume of feedback inevitably means more negative points are highlighted, users are generally pleasantly surprised by its performance, especially considering the price and ‘Basics’ brand positioning.

  • Read our AmazonBasics Commercial Outdoor Patio Heater review

5. Bromic Smart-Heat Electric Patio Heater: Best patio heater for wall-mounting

Bromic Smart-Heat Electric Patio Heater

A premium patio heater that’s well-designed, efficient and eco-friendly

Heat source: Electric | Heat output: 4000W (13,640 BTU) | Also available: 2000W, 3000W, 6000W | Heating range: 120 square feet | Size: 44 x 8.5 x 3.5 inches | Weight: 20 pounds

Precise dimming control
Efficient heat output
Can be mounted on wall or ceiling
Very expensive option

Our pick for best high-end patio heater isn’t the most expensive option on this list, but we recommend the Bromic Smart-Heat Electric Patio Heater for its winning balance of power, eco-friendliness, and quality of design and build.

Available in four different models, from 2000W to an impressive 6000W, the wall-mounted Bromic Smart-Heat Electric Patio Heater uses state-of-the-art infrared radiant elements to provide efficient directional heating for your patio.

Bear in mind that this outdoor heater generates less heat than propane. It needs access to an electrical socket, too. But it’s efficient at heating spaces, and we love its sleek, modern design.

As well as the excellent Smart-Heat range, Bromic has also introduced an ultra-thin, premium Platinum range to take an already high-end patio heater to the next level. Both ranges include gas-powered units too.

  • Read our Bromic Smart-Heat Electric Patio Heater review

6. Hampton Bay 48000 BTU Stainless Steel: Best patio heater for garden parties

Hampton Bay 48000 BTU Stainless Steel Patio Heater

Big patio? Little money? No problem.

Heat source: Propane | Heat output: 48,000 BTU | Heating range: 200 sq ft | Size: 7ft 2in | Weight: 33lbs

Solid, straightforward design
Strong heat output
Heat doesn’t reach too low down
Unexciting looks

Hampton Bay’s patio heater has an adjustable heat output which can pump out a massive 48,000 BTU, making it one of the hottest patio heaters you’ll find. While it’s a reasonably priced option, the Hampton Bay 48000 BTU Stainless Steel Patio Heater probably won’t blow anyone away in terms of looks (unless you’re rocking a whole lot of stainless steel hardware on your patio, in which case it’ll fit right in).

Great for stand-up parties, good for covering a large area, and easy enough to move even though it doesn’t have wheels, Hampton Bay’s patio heater basically fits the mold of an outdoor space heater without doing anything overly clever. This isn’t a bad thing, but it isn’t exactly pushing the boundaries of innovation either.

The Hampton Bay 48000 BTU Stainless Steel Patio Heater is pretty safe too, with an auto shut-off valve if it should get tipped. There’s also a bottom-heavy stackable design which houses your own 20lb propane bottle. All in, if you want a safe pair of hands when heating your patio, especially during gatherings where people are mostly stood up, this is the best patio heater for you.

  • Read our Hampton Bay 48000 BTU Stainless Steel Patio Heater review.

7. Hiland Parasol Electric Patio Heater: Best patio heater for your parasol

Hiland Parasol Electric Patio Heater

This discreet, affordable electric patio heater fits inside your parasol

Heat source: Electric | Heat output: 1500W (5,115 BTU) | Heating range: 15 square feet | Size: 40 x 40 x 6 inches | Weight: 10.8 pounds

Variable temperature control
Also suitable for indoors
Limited heating range
Needs access to electrical socket

If you have outdoor seating with a parasol, and would like to extend its use into the cooler months, the Hiland Parasol Electric is an excellent patio heater to consider. Produced by well-known brand AZ Patio Heaters, it’s very discreet, fixing neatly onto your parasol pole, and offers variable temperature control. 

Bear in mind that the Hiland Parasol Electric Patio Heater is designed to add some extra warmth in a very specific area beneath the parasol canopy, rather than to heat a larger space. However, if that’s exactly what you need, it’s a very effective and affordable outdoor patio heater.

  • Read our Hiland Parasol Electric Patio Heater review

8. Fire Sense Table Top Patio Heater: Best tabletop patio heater

Fire Sense Table Top Patio Heater

The most portable patio heater we looked at

Heat source: Propane | Heat output: 10,000 BTU | Heating range: 36 square feet | Size: 34.6 x 20.9 x 13.4 inches | Weight: 14.3 pounds

Portable but powerful for its size
Easy to use
Ideal for small spaces
Still relatively heavy
Uses a lot of fuel

Need a smaller outdoor heater that can sit neatly on your patio table, rather than taking up valuable floor space – or that can accompany you on camping trips or picnics? The Fire Sense Table Top Patio Heater ticks both boxes. It’s one of the most portable patio heaters you can buy.

A scaled-down version of its freestanding cousin, the Fire Sense Table Top Patio Heater runs off a one-pound propane tank – although it is possible to hook it up to a larger tank if you prefer. It uses a lot of fuel, and isn’t the most eco-friendly option, but at 10,000 BTU this patio heater also puts out a lot of heat relative to its size.

  • Read our Fire Sense Table Top Patio Heater review

9. Thermo Tiki Deluxe Patio Heater: Best patio heater for stylish spaces

Thermo Tiki Deluxe Patio Heater

Want ambience? This pyramid patio heater features an eye-catching dancing flame

Heat source: Propane | Heat output: 38,000 BTU | Heating range: 225 square feet | Size: 90 x 18 x 18 inches | Weight: 57 pounds

Atmospheric ‘dancing flame’ design
Generates light as well as heat
Push-button ignition
Glass tube is fragile
More style than power

While heat output is clearly important, patio heaters can play an aesthetic as well as functional role in your outdoor space. This is where the Thermo Tiki Deluxe Patio Heater excels. Although this pyramid patio heater struggles to generate the same level of warmth as the other freestanding patio heaters on this list, the stylish, eye-catching ‘dancing flame’ feature is sure to attract attention and generates an atmospheric flickering light. 

Like other pyramid-shaped patio heaters, the Thermo Tiki Deluxe Patio Heater puts style over substance to some extent. There are certainly more efficient ways of heating your patio. But if creating ambience is high up your list, this is one of the best patio heaters out there.

  • Read our Thermo Tiki Deluxe Patio Heater review

10. Dr Infrared Heater DR-338: The best patio heater for portable use

Dr Infrared Heater DR-338 Carbon Infrared Heater

Infrared heating for literally any situation

Heat source: Infrared | Heat output: Up to 1500W | Heating range: Not stated | Size: 35 x 8 x 4 inches | Weight: 15lbs

Very portable
No fuel to run out
Rather weak heat output
Narrow heating area

The Dr Infrared Heater DR-338 Carbon Infrared Heater with Remote is a useful, compact infrared heater. It’s best suited to heating a small covered area rather than an entire patio, though its included tripod (which includes a tilt-sensing auto shut-off, complementing the same protection in the main unit) makes it suitable to move around wherever you need it.

It also comes bundled with brackets which allow you to mount it on a wall or ceiling, making it perfect for indoor use in a garage or workshop. There’s no fuel to burn, and a remote control to help adjust the heat  from afar – though you do need to get quite close to really feel the warmth this kicks out.

  • Read our Dr Infrared Heater DR-338 Carbon Infrared Heater review.

11.  Sundate Electric Heater: Best affordable

Sundate Electric Heater

Ideal for heating small spaces on a tight budget, this patio heater can be used outdoors and indoors

Heat source: Electric | Heat output: 1500W (5,115 BTU) | Heating range: 15 feet in front of heater | Size: 27 x 5.3 x 5.3 inches | Weight: 6.2 pounds

Very affordable and quiet
Instant, even heat
Also suitable for indoors
Limited heating range
Needs access to electrical socket
  • Buy now from Amazon for $139.99

If you have a tight budget and just need a simple, straightforward way to inject a little extra warmth into a small outdoor space, at under $150, the Sundate Electric Heater is more affordable than some of the patio heaters on the list. It can be used indoors, too, says the maker.

With three power settings from 500W to 1500W, this floor or wall-mounted unit will only heat the area directly in front of it. This makes it ideal for a balcony or enclosed patio where you’re sitting underneath. However, for larger areas, you’ll need to buy a number of these patio heaters, which will quickly escalate the cost. In that case, it would be more cost-effective to invest in a more powerful patio heater, like the Fire Sense Commercial Patio Heater above.

  • Read our Sundate Electric Heater review

12. Sunglo A244 Suspended Patio Heater: Best long-lasting patio heater

Sunglo A244 Suspended Patio Heater

Decorative, powerful, built to last – but with a steep price tag

Heat source: Natural gas | Heat output: 50,000 BTU | Heating range: 144 square feet | Size: 41 x 34.5 x 34.5 inches | Weight: 105 pounds

Very powerful
Ceiling-mounted to save space
Extremely expensive
Not eco-friendly
  • Read our Sunglo A244 Suspended Patio Heater review

From veteran patio heater brand Sunglo (est. 1961), this heavy-duty ceiling-mounted unit is a big-budget investment in your home. With an ornate wrought-iron frame and sturdy stainless steel burner, the Sunglo Model A244 Suspended Patio Heater requires a natural gas supply. This involves professional installation, making it a much more permanent fixture for your outdoor entertaining space than most of the others on this list.

A deep dish reflector creates efficient radiant heat that only warms people and objects, rather than the surrounding air – getting the most from this patio heater’s impressive 50,000 BTU output. At over $1,200 for the basic model, however, it may be prohibitively expensive for many domestic customers. But if you’ve got the cash, this is one of the best patio heaters you can buy.

How to choose the best patio heater: Which type?

There are many types of patio heater to choose from. The main four varieties are:

  • powerful freestanding units
  • portable table top units
  • ceiling-mounted, or hanging units
  • wall-mounted units

Freestanding patio heaters tend to generate the most heat, often in the region of 40–50,000 BTU. Each BTU (British Thermal Unit) is the energy required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. They are a popular choice for heating whole patio areas, for larger groups.

We have included four freestanding patio heaters in our list, with prices ranging from under $150 to over $700. We have selected one model each from four different patio heater brands, but bear in mind that manufacturers offer similar heaters in several different styles. Our Fire Sense vs AZ Patio Heaters guide compares similar products from two particularly popular patio heater brands.

We have also reviewed two different ‘table-top’ patio heaters – a portable propane powered unit with an output of 10,000 BTU that sits on top of your table, and an innovative electric powered unit that is a table in itself. Both sit within a mid-range budget of $150-300 in terms of RRP, but are regularly discounted.

Ceiling-mounted patio heaters come in various configurations, and we’ve included two very different approaches catering to different extremes of budget. One is an electric unit for under $100 that fits inside your parasol; the second, top-of-the-range option is powered by natural gas, and is over $1,200 for the basic model.

Wall-mounted patio heaters provide directional heat for a small area, and tend to be significantly less powerful. They are usually electric, with 1500W (5,115 BTU) being a common output. Top-of-the-range units can be up to four times more powerful. 

There are two wall-mounted patio heaters featured in our list below: a 1500W unit from Sundate for under $100, and a 4000W unit from Bromic for $700. Bear in mind that although one wall-mounted heater may be sufficient for a small enclosed area, if you have a large patio you may need multiple units so a more powerful heater may be a better investment.

How to choose the best patio heater: Which fuel?

Most freestanding patio heaters are propane powered, and will take a 20-pound tank. These are available at many local stores and supermarkets. You simply connect the tank, turn on the valve and ignite the heater. Run-time varies, but some patio heater brands promise up to 10 hours of operation on a single tank.

Natural gas patio heaters remove the need to keep purchasing and replacing tanks by connecting directly to the mains gas line, provided your property has one. While this makes them more expensive and time-consuming to install, and also restricts where they can be placed, they are cheaper to operate long-term.

Electric heaters are more eco-friendly than both their gas-powered counterparts, and generally cheaper to buy, and easier to operate. You just need to plug them in. But they also generate significantly less heat – even the top-of-the-range models – and need to be within reach of a power outlet.

Choosing the best patio heater: Which brand is best?

As our buying guide shows, different patio heater brands have particular strengths, and cater to different budgets, circumstances and priorities. Sunglo caters to larger budgets with ornate, traditional heaters, for instance, whereas Ener-G+ is more focussed on eco-friendly electrical heaters.

Bromic, meanwhile, offers a range of high-end patio heaters that run on both electric and gas power – but with a common factor of technical innovation with a slick, modern design aesthetic.

However the two most popular mid-range patio heater brands in the US – Fire Sense and AZ Patio Heaters – each offer an extensive and very similar range of products, and it can be difficult to choose which model is best for you in this category.

To make this task easier, we’ve provided a helpful Fire Sense vs AZ Patio Heaters guide, which will help you choose which brand is best for your particular needs.

Safety tips for using patio heaters

Using any heating device, especially one with an open flame, can be dangerous. “You want to make sure you can regulate the heat. That’s an important part too. You don’t want to overheat the room. Every day is a fire prevention day,” said Chief Michael Whitzel , with the Franklintown and Community Fire Company in York County, Pennsylvania to WHTM news. 

“Make sure it has an automatic shut off on it, so if it does get tipped over, it shuts off for you,” Whitzel said. “Make sure you’re plugging them into an outlet and not an extension cord if it’s electric.”

Space heaters should be turned off and unplugged when you leave the room. For patio heaters, turning off the propane tank valve and making sure it is secured from tipping is a key safety point. Additionally, making sure you keep combustibles three feet or more away from the heater reduces the chances of fires significantly. Firefighter Robert Pomeroy, also with the Franklintown and Community Fire Company recommends following the heater’s manufacturer guidelines, as well as keeping an eye on small children to keep them from burning themselves or knocking over the heater.

How far should a patio heater be from your house? 

Most patio heaters are only safe for use in outdoor spaces, which can be defined as open spaces with proper ventilation. (That’s excluding infrared heaters, which don’t emit gas). Otherwise, you’re at risk of getting a nasty carbon monoxide buildup. Work out a good location for your heater by surveying the area and checking that it’s far enough away from any buildings or structures, at least three feet. Be careful to clear the area below your heater too, and never place anything over it or on the top of it either.