Are Patio Heaters Waterproof? | Avoid a Damaged Unit


Patio heaters can be a welcome addition to any wintry household, allowing residents to once again enjoy their porches, yards, and patios without freezing solid.

But when heat meets snow or ice, the typical result is a puddle of cold water. This begs the question: Are patio heaters waterproof?

In most cases, patio heaters are not waterproof. A patio heater can be weatherproof, but this does not mean that water cannot do damage to the patio heater. Owners can, however, choose to apply a waterproof covering to their patio heater to protect it from potential water damage.

This article will take a closer look at patio heaters and their different design types, power sources, and waterproofing features to determine just how waterproof they can be.

Outdoor wicker patio furniture with glass table wet from the rain

What Are Patio Heaters?

Patio heaters are devices that generate heat in outdoor areas.

They can be tall, gas-powered machines capable of heating over fifty square feet, or they can be squat, electrically powered heaters that heat a few square feet of space.

Still, no matter their design, heating capacity, or fuel source, all patio heaters have a single primary purpose—provide heat to an outdoor patio or porch area during cold weather.

But the ideal type of patio heater depends on a homeowner’s needs and preferences.

Are There Different Types of Patio Heaters?

There are several different types of patio heaters. Some are convenient for large outdoor spaces, while others are better suited to smaller patios and yards.

The best one for your home depends on several factors, including a budget, preference, and heating needs.

The most commons types of patio heaters are:

  • Standing
  • Tabletop 
  • Hanging
  • Mounted
There are a lot of things to keep in mind when choosing the right heater.

Standing patio heaters tend to be the most effective at keeping large areas warm, and tabletop and hanging models tend to generate the least amount of heat.

However, it’s best to choose a patio heater that meets the size of your yard, rather than looking for the model that generates that greatest amount of heat.

Standing

Some standing patio heaters tend to have a slight streetlamp or umbrella-like appearance. Others may be pyramidal or columnar with a protective metal covering.

The average height of a standing patio heater is about seven feet, and the average weight is approximately 50lbs.

These tall patio heaters can warm-up between 10 and 100 square feet of space, and the exact capacity varies from model to model. Fortunately, the price for a standing patio heater is fairly consistent no matter its heating capacity or height.

Most shoppers will be able to find a quality standing heater for between $100 and $300.

Individuals living in apartments, townhomes, or small homes may want to choose an alternative patio heater due to space restrictions. Fortunately, tabletop patio heaters are a perfectly acceptable alternative.

Tabletop

Though tabletop patio heaters are far less common than standing or hanging models, they can provide the ideal amount of heat to smaller patio areas, reducing wasted heat and helping to maximize available space.

The majority of tabletop patio heaters weigh about 20lbs or less and can provide up to 50 square feet of warmth, and are easy to light.

Considering how lightweight and effective these heaters are, they can be an excellent choice for those with multiple patio seating areas. Of course, clumsy individuals may want to select a different type of patio heater.

The downside of being lightweight and portable is that you’re also easy to knock down, which can prove dangerous when heat, fire, or ignited gas is involved.

In these instances, a hanging patio heater might work well. 

Hanging

Hanging patio heaters require a ceiling connection, but the payoff is 100+ square feet of warmth. These heaters consume zero floor space and are fantastically easy to install.

Still, they may consume an excessive amount of energy while heating your patio. That’s because hot air rises.

Example of Hanging halogen patio heater with an easy-to-use remote control

If you place a hanging heater, much of the air it warms will rise above it, failing to provide much heat to objects or people below.

Consequently, hanging patio heaters tend to work harder than other types of patio heaters.

A mounted heater might be a worthwhile alternative to hanging models and are great for under coverings.

Mounted

Wall-mounted patio heaters can heat exceptionally large areas and consume a relatively low amount of energy.

However, they can pose a danger to those who may be unaware of their presence, and they should be placed high enough along a wall to prevent accidents involving children or pets.

The greatest disadvantage of these handy heaters is the price. On average, wall-mounted models tend to cost about $100 more than comparable standing patio heaters.

How Are Patio Heaters Powered?

There are three primary fuel sources for patio heaters:

  • Electric
  • Gas
  • Wood

The type of fuel source can influence the heater’s waterproofness. For example, electric patio heaters can quickly malfunction after coming into contact with moisture.

They can also become hazardous if plugged into an outlet while wet. 

On the other hand, wood-fueled patio heaters can withstand rain and snow without falling. But they do pose a greater risk during use, simply because they rely on burning wood or active flames to generate heat.

Consequently, each fuel source has positive and negative qualities.

How infrared radiant heating works and what benefits the technology has over forced air

The best type of fuel for your home’s patio heater depends on your preferences. If you don’t mind protecting your outdoor electrical appliances in wet weather, an electric heater might be a great choice.

Still, a covered, propane-fueled heater might be able to withstand rain a little better without potentially setting the yard on fire.

By weighing the following information, you’ll be able to better understand how patio heaters can (and occasionally cannot) be waterproof.

Electricity

Electric patio heaters can be incredibly convenient. They’re easy to operate, they require virtually zero cleaning, and they can heat reasonably sized spaces.

Patio gas heaters require more cleaning as they contain smaller pieces that are vital to their functioning.

However, they are prone to weather damage like rain, which is why many models come with waterproof covers. 

Standing models, in particular, tend to require this type of protection to survive rainy or snowy weather. That’s because they can be difficult to lift and carry indoors every time bad weather strikes.

Additionally, it’s important to unplug electric patio heaters before wet weather arrives.

Otherwise, you may be putting yourself and your household at risk of electrocution. 

In some ways, gas-powered patio heaters can be a little more water-resistant, but they’re also not waterproof.

Gas

Gas or propane-powered patio heaters often have a large enclosed chamber that houses the fuel.

In this way, they can be a little harder and more water-resistant than electric or wood-burning heaters, but they come with their own safety precautions.

But water exposure can still corrode metal components and exteriors, resulting in a dramatically shortened product life.

Wood

Wood-burning patio heaters are fairly rare, as they often rely on fire to generate heat. There are a few models that use charcoal as a heat source, but wood-burning cast-iron stoves and patio heaters are slightly more common. 

These patio heaters require constant attention and should never be left unattended.

There’s also some evidence that shows that wood-burning heaters have negative impacts on the surrounding environment and on human health, so those with sensitive respiratory systems may benefit from choosing a heater with a different fuel type.

Depositphotos 9019725 l 2015
Outdoor patio fire pit with burning logs ready for country style cooking popcorn

Patio heaters lit by flames can also sputter out in rainy or snowy weather.

Significant moisture can cause these heaters to rust and degrade, much like gas-powered models.

However, because wood-burning heaters are built to withstand incredibly extreme conditions, they may last longer than their gas-filled equivalents.

Conclusion

Patio heaters are often water or weather-resistant, but that doesn’t mean that they’re waterproof.

Many standing patio heaters require waterproof covers to remain safe during wet weather, and tabletop models are portable enough to take shelter indoors during thunderstorms. 

Wall-mounted models require specifically-designed waterproof covers to stay protected, and hanging patio heaters can either be covered or briefly removed.

These protective measures are necessary for all patio heaters, regardless of their fuel type.

Stuart

Stuart loves blogging about his hobbies and passions. Living the Outdoor Life is a place for him to share what he learns while creating his perfect outdoor space.

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