Stop Leaving Outdoor Heaters In Rain!

If you want to make the most of your outdoor spaces during the cooler seasons, outdoor heaters are a great choice. Once you learn to use these devices, they can serve as practical alternatives to building a fire.

But compared to a fire, you may be wondering how an outdoor heater will hold up in the rain. Or perhaps you’re glancing outside right now watching a rainstorm coming down on your brand new outdoor patio heater.

Outdoor heaters, by their definition, are meant to be used outdoors. As such, their designers usually take rain and snow into consideration.

Can outdoor heaters be left out in the rain?

Most gas-based outdoor heaters are safe to leave out in the rain, but despite this, it is still not recommended to use a patio heater in the rain. Recurring exposure to rain for patio heaters could lead to the faster deterioration of the parts of the heater, decreasing its lifespan. While most outdoor heaters are built to withstand the occasional drizzle, frequently exposing them to rain can speed up their long-term deterioration. 

In this article, we will explore this subject in detail. We will look at the various types of outdoor heaters and tell you how they will fare in the rain.

Furthermore, we will explore some tips on how you can take better care of your outdoor heater and extend its lifespan.

Close up of outdoor patio heater with a cartoon rain cloud over top and text stating: "Patio Heaters & Rain?"

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Can You Use Outdoor Heaters in The Rain?

Natural gas and propane patio heaters will continue to work in the rain, but frequently exposing outdoor and patio heaters to the rain can cause early and avoidable wear and tear. Electric heaters should never be left out directly in the rain, especially while they are on and operating.

We always recommend getting a cover for your outdoor heaters for an easy way to increase their lifespan.

You may notice some outdoor restaurants and patios use electric heaters and it’s unlikely they move them indoors before every rainfall. These outdoor electric heaters are often protected from rainfall with a covering to ensure the water does not hit the elements and electrical source directly.

Below, we’ll take a closer look at the three main types of outdoor heaters and how they fare when exposed to rain.

Gas-Based Fixed Outdoor Heaters

Fixed gas-based patio heaters, by definition, are fixed to a certain position where they are directly linked up to the natural gas lines.

This makes it impossible to move around like the other types of heaters.

Fortunately, most manufacturers take this factor into account when designing these outdoor heaters.

As their name suggests, these heaters are designed for outdoor use. So there’s no point installing them indoors.

And the outdoors are prone to some rain and snow every now and then. Hence, most of these heaters are designed to withstand the rain and snow.

But it would still be a good idea to have some sort of cover handy so that the heater can be covered during the rain. This will help increase the overall lifespan of the heater.

Just make sure the heater has cooled down before you cover it.

Close up of patio heater with clouds, blue sky and mountains in the background

Portable Outdoor Heaters

Portable outdoor heaters that use some sort of gas such as propane, like their fixed counterpart, are usually designed to withstand rain.

But unlike fixed outdoor heaters, these can actually be moved around.

So it would be a good idea to move a portable outdoor heater when it rains.

This shouldn’t be too much of an inconvenience. If it is raining outside, chances are nobody is going to be sitting or standing around the heater.

So moving to someplace where the rain can’t get to it will help protect the heater from deterioration over the long term.

One thing you should keep in mind is that these heaters can be heavy, especially certain models like a pyramid gas patio heater. So it could be difficult to move them at the last moment.

It would be wise to let them cool off beforehand and then move them just before it starts to drizzle.

Electric Infrared Heaters

Electric infrared outdoor heaters, as you might have already guessed, should not be left out when it is raining.

Electricity and water, as a general rule, do not fare well together.

Most electric heaters aren’t as heavy as gas-based heaters, so it shouldn’t be too difficult moving them around.

There are a lot of things to keep in mind when choosing the right heater.

Getting a Rain Cover for Your Outdoor Heater

Getting a cover for your outdoor heater could help you extend its lifespan.

Most outdoor heaters are very heavy, and it isn’t always practical to move them around all the time. Additionally, we can’t always plan to be available to move an outdoor heater during bad weather.

And while some patio heater models can withstand the rain, it could deteriorate their parts and decrease their lifespan.

This is where a cover can come handy.

Benefits of Patio Heater Covers

Using some sort of high-temperature tarp is ideal.

While you should normally let the heater cool down before you cover it, when you’re in a rush, the cover could be required to withstand some amount of residual heat left in the heater.

Last update on 2023-01-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Getting a cover for your outdoor heater is an inexpensive and effective way to protect your heater from the rain without having to worry about moving it around.

Can You Put a Patio Heater Under a Covered Patio or Porch?

One alternative you could consider is using outdoor heaters under a covered patio.

Contrary to popular belief, outdoor heaters are safe to use under a covered patio if the right precautions have been taken.

For most mushroom style patio heaters, a clearance of two feet should suffice. Given the large size of these heaters, that would mean you would have to have your patio cover at least 10 feet from the ground.

This isn’t too much to ask and can be managed.

Also, all outdoor heaters should be kept at a sufficient distance (around 6 feet) from combustible materials such as umbrellas, wood, etc.

Outdoor heaters work by producing radiant heat. What this means is that unlike air heaters, they don’t blow warm air around the space.

They simply heat up the objects in their vicinity.

So this would mean an outdoor heater works best under the open sky, and a covered patio would just squeeze out its efficiency.

But how much of a difference would it really make? Not an awful lot! And it does aid in improving the long term durability of the heaters.

So using the heater under a covered patio could be a good alternative to having them outside where they could be left exposed to the rain.

Frequently Asked Outdoor Heater Questions

Can outdoor patio heaters be used in winter?

Electric heaters and fixed natural gas-based heaters should work just fine under low temperatures.

But propane-based portable heaters may see a slight slump in performance under a temperature of 40°F (approximately 4°C).

This is because the composition of propane tends to change at lower temperatures.

While the heater will continue to produce heat, it will be less than that produced over 4°C.

For these reasons, if you expect the temperature around you to routinely go below 4°C, consider getting a natural gas-based fixed heater or an electric heater.

Will outdoor heaters work when it’s windy?

Most outdoor infrared heaters will start to see a decline in performance when the wind speed exceeds 10 miles per hour.

Furthermore, with stronger winds, you could risk tipping the heater over which could potentially start a fire.

So using an outdoor heater is not recommended when there’s a strong wind blowing. It will require you to clean your patio heater more often and could cause difficulty with lighting them next time.

What type of outdoor heater do you recommend?

With context to this article, if you are anticipating rain, then a portable gas-based heater would be your best bet.

Not only can it be covered like a fixed outdoor heater, but it can also be moved around when necessary.

A natural gas-based fixed heater would fare better under lower temperatures.

So, if you are also expecting lower temperatures, choose them, but make sure you have enough space if it will be undercover.

Electric heaters should not be left out in the rain since they are a non-waterproof electrical appliance.

Of course, electric heaters have their own advantages, but when it comes to the rain, you just shouldn’t keep any risk of electrocution.

Continue Reading: Pyramid Heater vs. Patio Heater [PROS & CONS]


Can you use patio heaters in the rain? Yes, patio heaters can be used in the rain but protecting them from the rain will prolong their lifespan.

Extra caution should be used with outdoor electric heaters to ensure they are properly protected from the rain or switched off.

Having a high-temperature tarp cover could be really helpful in these scenarios.

Fixed heaters can’t be moved, and most portable ones are too heavy to move every time it rains. A cover can be used to protect these heaters from the rain.  

Last update on 2023-01-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API