Outdoor Heater Buyers Guide

Outdoor living area with a patio heater

As the weather gets chilly, you may be tempted to stay inside. However, your patio is most likely a literal extension of your home where you relax and socialize with family, friends, and neighbors. So consider getting the most out of your outdoor living space no matter the temperature, season, or environment. And one way to do this is with an outdoor heater.

Patio heaters come in a variety of forms and can even match your home’s exterior. They provide warmth and enhance the experience for your family and guests. After all, if you can stay outside a little longer, it’s worth investing in an outdoor heating solution. At Improvements, we’ve put together an outdoor heater buyers guide that will help you choose the right outdoor heating solution for you.

Everything You Need to Know about Outdoor Heaters

Outdoor heater buyer's guide infographic showing the types of fuel and types of outdoor heaters

Outdoor heaters come in different types, shapes, sizes, colors, BTUs, and fuel sources. Here’s a breakdown of so that you can get the best outdoor heating solution for your backyard space.

What is a BTU?

BTU is short for British Thermal Unit which indicates the level of heat (or air conditioning) a device produces. The outcome is determined by the size and type of heating device. Lower BTUs means less heat is emitted, and large BTUs mean more heat covers a larger area. Whether you have a large or small space, it’s imperative that you pay close attention to the number of BTUs. Why? Because it will determine the amount of coverage and where you can place a patio heater.

Types of Fuels

Outdoor heaters require fuel to operate and provide an output of heat. Fortunately, there’s more than one available each with pros and cons.

Natual Gas Outdoor Heater

Natural gas is a common fuel source for patio heaters because it’s easy to come by. Newer homes may have natural gas outlets that provide you with a convenient connection for this type of fuel. Freestanding outdoor heaters are usually fueled by natural gas. However, once you flip the ignition switch, you’ll have a never-ending supply of power to your heater.


Electricity is the easiest way to fuel an outdoor heater. Many homes are close to a deck or have outlets on their patio walls. An electric patio heater simply requires you to plug it into a power source. Keep in mind that electrical outlets that are exposed should be protected from moisture to avoid the dangers of electric shock. And, electric patio heaters may not emit as much heat as those powered by natural gas. They’re great for small spaces!


Outdoor heaters that run on propane are common. Why? Because all you do is take an empty propane tank to a gas station and have it filled. And since it’s stored in the base of your patio heater, your guests won’t see it. If you’re not interested in getting an empty tank refilled, a supplier may take it off your hand in exchange for a full one and give you a discounted price.

Types of Outdoor Heaters

Patio heaters come in a variety of forms. Determining which one is best for your outdoor space is a matter of personal preference. Each varies in BTU, size, style, and price, so considering these factors can be a great way to decide which outdoor heating solution will work in your space.


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If you want a wider coverage, consider getting a freestanding outdoor heater. They’re made up of a base, pole, heat source, and reflector. They’re also compact, which means they can fit into small spaces. However, you’ll want to consider the height of your deck or space to ensure you get a free-standing outdoor heater that will fit comfortably in your outdoor living space. Also, you’ll want to choose the heat source: propane, electricity, or natural gas.


Tabletop heaters are mostly electric and can make a great accent to your outdoor living space. They’re small and don’t take up much space. However, their BTU level is often lower which means they cover less area. But if you want to create an intimate setting where you and your guests can relax and conserve in a cozy environment, tabletop heaters will make everyone more comfortable. Plus, they’ll keep your floor-space clear which allows for easier and better movement.


If you’re concerned about giving up space to accommodate an outdoor heater, use one that mounts to a wall. It will be out of the way but still provide heat in an efficient manner. Electric wall-mounted heaters come with brackets and other necessary attachments to secure it to a wall. They’re adjustable and can face downward or upward.


Firepits come in gas and wood burning and add a cool ambiance to any outdoor living space. Which one you choose depends on your personal preference. However, to turn on a gas firepit all you have to do is flip a switch. On the hand, a wood burning fire pit may make you feel nostalgic as you reminisce about how much fun it was to roast marshmallows when you were a kid. If you’re looking to add a focal point to your outdoor space, adding a firepit is a great patio decorating idea. Don’t forget to supervise your kids! Make sure they understand fire safety. Also, place firepits on hard pavement for stability.

Say Goodbye to Chilly Weather, and Hello to the Warmth of an Outdoor Heater

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When there’s a chill in the air, you don’t have to stay inside. Use an outdoor heater to warm up your backyard space. It gives you the chance to get more use out of your patio space more so than you may have thought possible. Since there are many varieties and styles and fuel options, choose a patio heater that will work for your home and needs.

Imagine having family and friends over for a BBQ or birthday party. You’ve decorated your space with outdoor rugs and patio string lights and it looks nice and cozy. The only thing left to do is turn on the outdoor heater or firing up a firepit, or both. Everyone is laughing and having a great time and most importantly, staying warm. Sound good? You bet it does! Get a patio heater and you’ll be one step closer to enjoying your outdoor living space and getting the most out of it.

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Posted by: Amandah Blackwell

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