When it’s cold on your patio, sometimes wrapping yourself up in multiple blankets just doesn’t cut it. You’ve wondered about buying a patio heater, but do they really work? The short answer to this question is: yes! Patio heaters really work.
As with all appliances, you will find that there are some great and some bad patio heaters out there. Sometimes this comes down to the quality of the heater, but mostly it’s because buyers don’t know what they’re looking for in a patio heater.
The first thing you’ve got to consider in a patio heater is its BTU rating. BTU stands for British Thermal Units and indicates the amount of heat energy it produces. It can be a bit complicated to work out the ideal BTU figure, so you first have to work out the cubic feet of the space you want to heat.
To work out the cubic feet, consider the size of the patio in relation to how high you want the heat to go. Multiply this, and you should have the cubic feet measurement. Then, you should multiply this figure by how much warmer you want your patio heater to be than the natural warmth of the area.
For example, if the cubic feet measurement is 900 and you want it to be 20°F warmer than the natural temperature, you should look for a heater with a minimum of 18,000 BTU. Once this has been figured out, you’re likely to find that patio heaters do really work!
Can you use an outdoor heater under a covered patio?
While some may assume that using an outdoor heater under a covered patio could be a fire hazard, this is not the case! Even patios that are covered by roofs or gazebos can get cold, which is exactly what patio heaters are designed for.
Of course, you’ve got to be careful about patio heaters, as they all come with their own safety requirements. It’s never wise to put a patio heater too close to surrounding walls or coverings, regardless of whether you are nearby to assess it or not.
Generally speaking, patio heaters require some space underneath, to the sides, and above the heater to prevent melting anything near it. You also don’t want the area to be too cramped that the patio heater could be easily knocked over, which would definitely result in a fire hazard.
It also depends on what type of heater you want. Wood heaters generally require the most amount of space above them to allow smoke to emit freely.
Propane heaters are usually the best option for covered patios as they are generally the safest underneath gazebos and roofs – which is why they are so popular in outdoor seated restaurants.
When looking to buy a patio heater, look for the clearance requirements. While it mostly depends on the model, most patio heaters have an overhead clearance requirement of around 18-24 inches.
This will give you an idea of how much room your heater needs above them. So, if you have an 8-foot patio heater, the covering should be at least 10 feet tall.
Do patio heaters work in the winter?
Yes, patio heaters work in the winter! If anything, winter is the best time to use patio heaters. What better way to look out at the snow in your yard from the comfort of your warm patio?
The reason patio heaters work in the winter compared to other heaters is that these appliances emit radiant heat. This means that the heat they produce travels through the air to keep the whole of the patio warm (depending on the BTU rating and the size of the patio).
Other heaters usually only emit heat in the immediate area, which means you don’t have to huddle around a patio heater to receive its benefits. If you are looking to buy a patio heater specifically for winter, you must consider its BTU rating and the size of your patio.
The ideal BTU rating can usually be calculated by figuring out the cubic feet measurement of the patio and multiplying that figure by how much warmer you would like the temperature to be (usually 20° F warmer).
Do patio heaters work below freezing?
Patio heaters are designed to warm patio areas in the coldest of months – even when it’s below freezing. This means that if you want to enjoy your morning coffee outside without forcing yourself to stand amongst below freezing temperatures, you can do so in comfort with the help of a warm patio heater!
If you live in an area where temperatures can drop below freezing in winter, you need to find a patio heater that has a high BTU rating. This rating will indicate the amount of heat it can emit through the air.
Whilst some heaters with a low BTU rating are ideal for fall or early spring, they might not produce enough heat in below-freezing temperatures.
You also have to consider other factors that can help to keep your patio area warm in below-freezing temperatures. We recommend looking into gazebos and coverings that can withstand such extreme temperatures and weather conditions to keep the warm air inside the immediate area.
Make sure to consider the upward clearance requirements of patio heaters with high BTU ratings, as this will give you an idea of how tall the covering should be for safety reasons.
We recommend using either a propane heater or an infrared heater for temperatures below freezing as these offer the highest BTU ratings.
Are patio heaters safe?
Yes, patio heaters are safe! It all depends on the model you buy and the safety procedures it has in place.
As patio heaters (and heaters in general) have become so popular, it’s rare that you’ll find an unsafe product. Of course, accidents can happen, but most good-quality patio heaters are designed to keep their users and the patio warm without any safety risks.
You have to look at the safety features of a patio heater before buying one. Most patio heaters will come with an auto shut-off system that automatically turns off the heater if it has been accidentally knocked over, which is ideal for preventing fires and melted furniture.
You also have to consider the clearance requirements of a patio heater, especially if you have a small or covered patio.
The upward clearance requirement for most heaters is usually around 18-24 inches, which indicates the amount of space between the top of the heater (whether on a stand or not) to the covering.
You should make sure to keep the heater in an open space that isn’t too close to walls or sliding, which can melt if the heater is right next to it.
Can patio heaters be left outside?
While patio heaters are designed specifically for outside use, it’s not recommended to leave these appliances outside. If your patio has a covering that can protect the heater from weather conditions such as rain or snow, it might be able to stay outside, but you should store them inside when not in use regardless.
The problem with keeping patio heaters outside is that the lifespan of the heater will dramatically decrease.
Sure, some patio heaters can withstand light drizzling or even frost, but if you continue to do this (especially in worse weather conditions), your heater is likely to break and not work properly.
Some patio heaters can be heavy to move, which is why people are often reluctant to store them away when you’ll only need to use them again the next day. As we said, most patio heaters are designed to withstand most weather conditions, but it’s not a wise idea to do this.
We recommend either keeping your heater underneath a covering on your patio, or finding a light and portable propane heater that can be easily stored when not in use.
If you want your heater to provide you with warmth throughout the season and the next few seasons after that, make sure not to make a habit of leaving it outside.
Can a patio heater get rained on?
The majority of patio heaters are designed to withstand wet conditions, but it’s not wise to leave your heater outside in harsh rains.
These appliances work best in dry climates, however, they can withstand drizzle and light rain every now and then. This is because patio heaters are not waterproof.
If you leave your patio heater out in the rain when it’s drizzling, you can only do this a handful of times before the quality of the heater is affected.
You shouldn’t leave your patio heater out in heavy rain, as this will decrease the lifespan of your heater significantly. As heaters can be expensive, you’re going to want to keep them in good condition to make the most of it.
Instead of leaving your patio heater out in the rain, you should look to buy an appropriate cover to protect the heater from water damage.
This is the best option for heavy patio heaters that aren’t easily transported in and out of indoor storage. However, in harsh rain conditions, you must store patio heaters in an indoor space for extra protection.
How do you store outdoor patio heaters?
Outdoor patio heaters must be stored properly to increase the quality and length of their service life. There are several ways to provide good storage and protection for outdoor patio heaters depending on the weather conditions.
In the event of light rain or drizzle, most patio heaters will usually be fine being exposed to this. However, don’t make a habit of this, as repeated exposure to water can be damaging. Instead, look to buy a sufficient cover that can be easily thrown over the heater when it’s not in use.
This is the best method of storage for heaters that are heavy and cannot be easily transported – especially for natural gas heaters that are connected to the gas supply of the property.
If you buy a cover for your heater, make sure that the heater is moved to an area where the wind is minimal to prevent the cover from blowing away or the heater from tipping over.
Propane heaters and electric heaters are usually the best for portability. You can store them in any indoor place you like – whether it’s a shed or garage. Make sure that you have enough room to store the propane tanks, though.
When finding indoor storage options, make sure that the ground is flat to prevent the heater from falling and breaking.
Even though the heater will be turned off, it’s wise to keep it away from anything flammable. The general rule of thumb is that a heater should have a clear area of 3 feet around it from every angle – including above it.
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