Cozy tea in the garden while the first snow is falling.
Outdoor patio heaters are designed to create just such moments.
The most popular patio heaters are powered by propane.
Most restaurants and bars with outdoor seating have propane heaters ready for the late fall and winter season. Outside propane patio heaters are not meant only for commercial use. Pretty much everybody can install an outdoor heater in their patio and enjoy warm air even during winter blizzards.
Propane heaters are the easiest ones to install as well.
For the patio, you have two propane heater options:
- Freestanding propane heater (most popular choice).
- Tabletop propane heater (smaller ones).
Freestanding ones can be either mushroom or pyramid-shaped.
We have prepared a list of the best outdoor propane heaters. But before we look at them, here is a quick intro for all first-time buyers:
What To Check When Buying A Patio Heater?
Here are the vital things, based on which you can choose the best patio heater for you:
- Power source.
- Heating capacity (in BTU) and heating area.
- Height (freestanding are 80+ inches, tabletop ones are about 40 inches).
- Weight. The heavier it is, the more difficult it is to move around, but it’s more stable.
- Propane tank – is it included or do you have to buy with separately?
First of all, patio heaters can have different power sources. You will find natural gas, electric, and propane-powered ones. Propane patio heaters are by far the most popular outdoor heaters for various patio sizes.
Secondly, you should check the capacity. Capacity or heating power is given in terms of BTU (British Thermal Units). Propane patio heaters can have anywhere from 10,000 BTU capacity (smallest ones) to 60,000 BTU capacity (big commercial ones). Most of them have 48,000 BTU heating power which is appropriate for patio heating.
It all depends on the size of the patio you want to warm. For example, 40,000 BTU patio heater has a coverage area of about 175 sq ft with a diameter of 15 feet. Here are some other ballpark figures for the sizing of patio heaters:
|Heater Capacity (In BTU)||Coverage Area||Coverage Diameter|
|10,000 BTU||50 sq ft||8 feet|
|20,000 BTU||100 sq ft||11 feet|
|30,000 BTU||150 sq ft||14 feet|
|40,000 BTU||175 sq ft||15 feet|
|50,000 BTU||200 sq ft||16 feet|
Be mindful of the height of the patio heater. Freestanding pyramid or mushroom-shaped propane heaters are 80+ inches. Tabletop patio heaters are lower; about 40 inches and you have to install them on the table.
The weight of the heater shouldn’t be disregarded. Heavier ones are harder to move but are more stable when installed. Be especially careful about lightweight tall mushroom patio heaters; in strong winds, the mushroom can catch quite a lot of wind and the heater becomes unstable or even fall down. Pyramid-shaped patio heaters are preferred in this regard.
For a propane patio heater, you will need a propane tank. Most 48,000 heaters can be equipped with a 20 lb tank. When picking your outside patio heater, check if the propane tank is included in the package or not. In many cases, you have to buy the tank separately.
Comparison Of The Best Patio Heaters
#1 Hiland HLDSO1-WGTHG (Best Patio Propane Heater)
Hilard HLDSO1-WGTHG is one of the best known and the best selling propane heater for outdoor patios. The pyramid-shape makes it stable, it’s very easy to use and it can deliver 40,000 BTU of heating power.
That is more than enough to heat up roughly 175 sq ft of the patio. All Hilard line propane heaters are made by the company AZ Patio Heaters, which is specialized in patio heating. 40,000 BTU is not the most powerful outdoor heater, however, it is one of the most stylish ones.
The pyramid heater transduces heat to people in the patio the two-piece quartz glass tube. The quartz adds style to your patio and the safe propane-heating process creates that cozy patio atmosphere during the cold winter months:
This heater has a total height of 91 inches; which means that’s it’s the tallest heater for the patio, powered by propane.
For installation, you will need a 20 lb propane tank. Running in on high mode, it will give you 8-10 hours of a heated patio. Operating the Hiland propane heater is pretty easy; you just switch the on/off button as shown here:
The ignitor that sets off the heater is pretty reliably. You also have an auto-shut tilt valve for extra security.
The Hiland patio heater is very stable. It’s pyramid-shaped with a low center of gravity, weighs 65 lbs, and doesn’t catch a lot of wind due to its shape. All in all, it’s so popular because it’s reliable and stable, being the best outdoor propane heater worth the extra cost.
#2 Garden Treasures NCZH-G-KMZMSS (Stable Floorstanding Propane Patio Heater)
The patio heater by Garden Treasures (model #NCZH-G-KMZMSS) is the best mushroom-shaped propane heater. With 48,000 BTU heating power, it can warm up the patio spaces up to 200 sq ft. Effectively, it creates a circle with 8 feet radius with heated air.
The Garden Treasures heater for the patio is powered by a 20 lb standard liquid propane tank. The good thing is that this tank can last 6-8 hours, even on 48,000 BTU power. The bad thing is that you don’t get the tank included in the package (this is a standard with the majority of propane patio heater purchases).
It’s made out of stainless steel with gives:
- Fine steel shine.
It takes about 1 hour to set up. You have to remove all the protective plastics, install it in your patio, and fuel up the 20 lb tank (which you need to buy separately). Nonetheless, when you’re done, you can enjoy a warm patio in the late fall and during the winter.
The great thing about stainless steel is that the patio heater won’t rust despite being in a damp and cold environment.
#3 Hiland HLDS032-BB Small Portable Tabletop Patio Heater
Hilard is a brand that makes the best propane patio heaters. In their wide portfolio, they also have the best small portable patio heater that you can install on a table. It’s the Hiland HLDS032-BB model:
While the bigger free-standing propane patio heaters can produce 55,000 BTU of heating output, the Hiland HLDS032-BB can produce only 11,000 BTU. However, what really matters is how close the outdoor propane heater is to a person.
When you have a 38-inch high portable propane heater for a patio that you can install on a table, it’s usually much closer than a free-standing propane-powered patio heater. Thereby the 11,000 BTU might sound like a small number but the reality is that the heating is there.
The Hiland HLDS032-BB weighs only 17.4 lbs, making it portable. You can move it from a tabletop to a tabletop, for example. However, that does not include the weight of a propane tank and the 20 lbs of propane that fills it.
All in all, if you’re looking for a tabletop portable outdoor patio heater, the Hiland HLDS032-BB is a very decent choice.
#4 Hampton Bay Stainless Steel Patio Heater
Hampton Bay has created an outdoor stainless steel propane-power patio heater. It can deliver up to 48,000 BTU of heat output which makes it one of the most powerful propane patio heaters.
That’s 48,000 BTU with an 87-inch height heater. That means that the heat can dissipate around well; the recommended coverage is 200 sq ft. That’s a radius of about 8 ft around the patio heater.
If you want to enjoy hot wine in the winter environment patio-side, you can gather quite a few people within the 8 ft radius around Hampton Bay’s patio heater.
All in all, this is one of the most powerful heaters, capable of heating an area for 10+ people.
#5 Mirage 38,200 BTU Heat-Focusing Patio Heater
Mirage is an interesting choice of a patio heater. If you look at the specs, you can see that it has a below 40,000 BTU output, and a somewhat small 120 sq ft coverage area.
However, the true power of the Mirage patio heater is the heat-focusing feature. That mushroom top is usually stable. With Mirage, however, you can adjust the angle there. Therefore you can adjust how heat is being dissipated over the patio area.
That’s how you can use Mirage to actually get warmer than you would with higher BTU and higher coverage area propane patio heater.
At 88.8 lbs and 94-inch height, it’s quite stable. All in all, a very good patio heater with a higher price tag: