Sitting on the patio soaking in the sights, sounds, and smells all around you is such a relaxing pastime. It can also be cold! Ideas for the best patio heater are just what you need to stay toasty warm.
You’ve probably seen the heaters they have on the patios and tables at restaurants. But how do you know which heater is best for you? Glad you asked. Let’s take a look at our top picks for the best patio heater.
We’ll even add a wood option at the end for those of you who just like the look and smell of wood, even though they’re not technically considered a patio heater. It’ll be our little secret.
Our Top Picks
Amazon Basics Outdoor Propane Patio Heater
East Oak Tabletop Patio Heater
DR Infrared Heater
1. Best Overall: Amazon Basics Outdoor Propane Patio Heater
The Amazon Basics Outdoor Propane Heater is our number one pick for lots of reasons, not the least of which is that it comes in six colors, including Bahama Blue.
This heater takes a nice, big 20-pound propane tank. This means you’ll be able to enjoy the warmth for about 9-10 hours on one tank.
One thing you’ll really like about this heater is that the entire housing around the propane heater lifts up and out of the way. That means you don’t have to deal with a little door on the bottom for changing out your tank or turning on the propane.
This patio heater is almost 8′ tall, so you’ll have to watch your ceiling clearance if you’re using it under a covered patio. Because it is so tall, the heat radiates down and out, giving about a 9′ radius of heat, so you don’t have to sit right next to it to get warm.
This heater does weigh 38 pounds, which means it’ll weigh in at about 96 pounds with a full tank of propane. However, it does have wheels, so you can easily move it around your patio.
You will need to add ballast to the bottom of this heater if you plan to leave it out in the elements without a full propane tank. A strong wind can knock it over and damage it. Better yet, if you know it’s going to be windy, simply move it inside and don’t take a chance.
- Comes in 6 colors, including Bahama Blue
- Wheels to roll anywhere you want heat
- Easy to assemble
- Needs 8-9′ clearance
- Need to fill bottom with ballast
2. Best Tabletop: East Oak Tabletop Patio Heater
If you like the idea of our #1 pick but simply don’t have the space, take a look at our best patio heater for a tabletop.
At 37.5″ tall, the East Oak Tabletop Patio Heater is substantially smaller than the Amazon Basics. Because it is shorter, the heat output radius is about half the Basics patio heater. However, it’ll be sitting on a table, so chances are you’ll be in close proximity.
This patio heater comes in three classic colors like black, bronze, and white. While none of these are nearly as fun as Bahama Blue, you’re sure to find a color that suits your style.
Because it’s a much smaller version, it takes a much smaller propane tank. This is a positive because that means it can be taken with you just about anywhere. However, it also means the tank isn’t going to last as long.
The housing unit on this one doesn’t move out of the way, but the propane tank on this only weighs a little over 2 pounds, as opposed to 38 for the tower unit. So, it’s not nearly as big a deal.
If you’re worried about someone knocking this patio heater over because it sits on a table, there are a couple of built-in safety features to put your mind at ease. This heater has a weighted base to keep it from tipping. However, in the event that it does get knocked over, there is an automatic shut-off built in.
- Smaller, so you don’t need to worry so much about clearance
- Video assembly directions on Amazon
- Built-in safety features
- If you prefer paper instructions, they are more difficult to follow
- Some reviewers complained about the magnet on the door not being strong enough
3. Best Electric: DR Infrared Heater
If you simply don’t like the idea of propane on your patio, take a look at the DR Infrared Heater. This electric patio heater plugs into a standard outlet. Or, if your patio had a dryer on it at one point, and the plug is still there, there is a 240v option available.
This heater has three heat settings and can be mounted to the wall or ceiling, or placed on a tripod (sold separately).
Even though the heat from this unit can be felt 4-5′ away, keep in mind that it is infrared heating. There is no fan to circulate the warm air around the room. But, because there is no fan, this heater is very quiet.
- Smaller than other choices
- Remote Control
- Cord is only 6′
- Has to be mounted to a wall or ceiling, or purchase tripod separately
- Not as much heat output as propane heaters
4. Hiland Pyramid Glass Tube Propane Heater
Next on our list of best patio heaters is the Hiland Pyramid Glass Tube Propane Heater. Yes, it’s another propane heater. However, it doesn’t look anything like your typical propane heater. It’s kind of a work of art on your patio.
This heater uses a 20-pound propane tank that lasts about 8-10 hours. It is about 8′ tall, so you’ll have to watch your clearance on a covered porch. The heat output radius is similar to the Amazon Basics at about 9-10′.
This heater has a grate around it that the flame can be seen through, which is pretty cool. That also means you get it all with this patio heater: heat, light, and ambiance.
Keep in mind, though, that because the heat is not directed downward, it’s not as warm as the Amazon Basics, which is one of the reasons this patio heater is lower on the list.
The Hiland has a door that flips down, giving you fairly easy access to change out the propane tank and turn the propane on when you’re ready to use it.
This heater weighs in at 65 pounds without the propane tank. It does have wheels for moving it around, but it is about twice the weight of the Amazon Basics patio heater. Keep that in mind when it comes time to move the box wherever you plan to assemble this heater.
If you really like the decorative look of this patio heater but don’t want the 8′ tall version, you’re in luck. It also comes in a tabletop version.
- Conversation piece
- Larger base
- Wheels to move it around your patio
- Doesn’t put out as much heat as other options
- Glass tube turns black from the heat
- More difficult to assemble
5. Donyer Hanging Outdoor Heater
Finally, on our list of best patio heaters is the Donyer Hanging Outdoor Heater. The nice thing about this heater is that it hangs just like an overhead light. In fact, one of the pros is that it also provides light to your area.
This heater has an adjustable chain to hang from anywhere, including a patio umbrella or even a plant hanger. That means you can take it with you and have heat and light pretty much anywhere you can get electricity.
Easy to install, simply plug it in, hang it up, and you’re ready to go. It has two heat settings. Just pull the cord to turn on the heat.
This unit can heat a room up to about 65 square feet. So, an enclosed porch would be perfect. However, you can use it under an umbrella or an open porch area. Just keep in mind that you’ll be warmer directly under the heater.
The Donyer uses a halogen bulb, so you don’t have to worry about a flame burning out or it tipping over.
- Hangs from ceiling, simply pull a cord like turning on a light
- Hanging chain allows you to adjust height
- Provides light and heat without flame
- Moths can get trapped in the grill. Keep it cleaned out
- Not as warm as other options, better for smaller spaces
Things to Consider
Now that we’ve taken a look at different options for your best patio heater let’s look at a few things you may need to consider before making your final decision.
Size of Area
Think about the area you’re going to want your heater to keep warm. As stated, the tall propane heaters are better suited if you can put them in an area where you can sit close to the base.
They will warm up an enclosed room, but because you’re dealing with propane, you’ll want to make sure to keep a window or door cracked to allow fresh air to circulate.
The tabletop heaters are best for just that, heating those sitting around a table.
Propane or Electric
Next, consider whether you want to mess with a propane tank or simply plug your heater in.
Propane heaters do make a noise while they are heating, though it’s not terrible. Also, it may take a second for the propane to reach all the orifices and light when first ignited. If you’ve ever lit a gas stove, it’s the same concept.
The DR Infrared and Donyer hanging halogen heaters work with basically the same technology. The difference is the halogen heater has a smaller heating area. That means you’ll need to sit directly under it to feel the warmth.
There are accessories you can purchase to go with the propane heaters, as well as the DR Infrared heater. The Donyer heater doesn’t have, nor does it need any accessories.
As stated, you can purchase a tripod to mount the DR Infrared heater rather than hanging it on the wall or from the ceiling.
As for the propane heaters, you can purchase covers for both the Amazon Basics heater and the Hiland Pyramid heater.
Another accessory you might want to consider is a heat deflector. These attach under the cover of your propane heaters and deflect heat away from your home or vegetation. This also helps deflect the heat toward you and not be wasted if there’s nothing behind the heater you want to heat up.
These deflectors are available for both the tower and the tabletop propane patio heaters.
What About Wood
As you’ve probably noticed, we don’t have a wood option for the best patio heater. Even though it’s probably just a technicality, wood-burning chimeneas aren’t really grouped with patio heaters but rather with fire pits.
However, we wanted to be sure to give you an option just in case you really like burning wood.
So, for the best patio heater that isn’t technically a patio heater, consider the Bali Outdoor Fireplace. It’s stylish and functional, gives off good heat, and you get the flame and crackle from a real fire.
Wrapping up the Best Patio Heater
There you have it, our top picks for the best patio heater. As you can see, there is a lot to consider, including how much space you’re heating and whether you want to deal with propane (or wood) or simply plug your heater into an outlet.
Have a larger space to heat? Mix it up a little bit. Use both the tower and tabletop propane heaters spaced around your patio. Or, create a cozy nook for eating or reading a book by hanging the Donyer heater over your table or chair.
Looking to upgrade your outdoor spaces at home? Then find inspiration for your Minnesota backyard with our landscaping ideas, outdoor furniture suggestions, gardening recommendations, and more!