How To Choose An Electric Patio Heater [FOR THE OUTDOORS]

If you have a beautiful patio, then you probably want to enjoy it all year round, but the winter season won’t let you. If that’s a problem that you find yourself facing often, then you might want to invest in a good patio heater.

But how do you choose a good one in the sea of choices the internet offers? Well, we’ll discuss what you need to do when choosing an electric patio heater below.

Electric Patio Heater close up

Related Reading: Can You Use Electric Patio Heaters Indoors? [SAFETY]

Choosing An Electric Patio Heater – Consider All the Variables

Like with all large purchases, you need to consider what factors you have and what is suitable for you. The patio heater that would work for your neighbor might not work for your outdoor space, and you’ll need to consider all different aspects before picking one, such as:

  • The amount of space you have on the ground
  • Whether you want the heater standing, mounted or hanging
  • Heat range of the heater (BTU)
  • Price
  • Any special features you might want

Again, like with most large purchases like a car or a computer, you might not be able to have everything you would like all at once. Pick out the most important elements to have in a patio heater, and then move on from there.

Measure Your Outdoor Space

Before you can get to purchasing a patio heater, you need to know how much space outside you are wanting to heat up. The metric for heater strength is British Thermal Units, and simply put, the higher the BTU, the more area a heater can heat.

But to figure out what kind of heaters or even how many heaters you might need, you’re first going to have to measure the cubic footage of your porch This is the length x width x height.

Keep in mind, that this changes depending on whether you have a covered or uncovered patio. If you have an uncovered space, then you’ll approximately want to heat seven feet of space.

Next, you need to think about the temperature outside versus how warm you want the patio to be. If, for instance, it is 35 degrees F outside and you would like it to be 75 degrees F, then you want a 40-degree increase.

After that, you’ll have to do some math – multiply the cubic feet total by the desired temperature changes and you’ll have the BTU you need. If we pretend you have a 20 x 20-foot patio and want to heat it up to seven feet, the math should look a little something like this:

  • 20 (length) x 20 (width) x 7 (height) = 2,800
  • 2,800 x 40 (desired temperature increase) = 112,000

Considering the average standing patio heater produces approximately 30-40,000 BTU, that means you might want a few of those to heat the entire space.

But most of us don’t have a 20 by 20 foot patio – that was just a round number to make the math clearer and easier to understand. For an average guide, here is a handy list of what BTU they recommend for your space:

  • 100 – 150 square feet = 5,000 BTU
  • 150 – 250 square feet = 6,000 BTU
  • 250 – 300 square feet = 7,000 BTU
  • 300 – 350 square feet = 8,000 BTU
  • 350 – 400 square feet = 9,000 BTU
  • 400 – 450 square feet = 10,000 BTU
  • 450 – 550 square feet = 12,000 BTU
  • 550 – 700 square feet = 14,000 BTU
  • 700 – 1,000 square feet = 18,000 BTU
  • 1,000 – 1,200 square feet = 21,000 BTU
  • 1,200 – 1,400 square feet = 23,000 BTU
  • 1,400 – 1,500 square feet = 24,000 BTU
  • 1,500 – 2,000 square feet = 30,000 BTU
  • 2,000 – 2,500 square feet = 34,000 BTU

Of course, we still recommend measuring out your space and doing the math yourself – after all, a heater should work for your needs, so there may be no one size fits all approach.

Decide What Features You Want In Your Heater

There are a number of different features in different models of patio heaters. Depending on what you want it is worth having a look at some of the special features they can include which will help you narrow down the spread of choices the internet can offer.

Some of these features can include:

  • Being portable – if you want to carry your little heater around between different outdoor spaces, it might be worth buying a portable heater instead of two for each space.
  • Indoor/Outdoor – some heaters are designed only for one or the other. If you want a heater that can be safely used wherever then you need to ensure it says so on the packaging.
  • Includes Wheels – heaters designated as ‘portable’ tend to be a little smaller, and weaker. If you want a heater that comes with you but has some oomph to it, check to see if the patio heater has wheels
  • Tip-over Switch – This is a fantastic safety feature to be on the lookout for. If someone tips over the heater, then it will detect that it is on the wrong angle and shut itself off before disaster can happen.
  • Remote Control Included – change the temp without ever even needing to leave your chair!

Decide Your Style Of Heater

There are many different styles of the heater as well to choose from, all with different advantages and disadvantages:

  • Hanging heater – intended to be installed on ceilings, it is perfect for gazebos or porches due to its compact size. Small, but powerful, it can produce between 10,000 to 30,000 BTUs.
  • Tabletop heater – this one is a bit more space-consuming, but easy to transport from one area to another, and still fairly small. This one is recommended if you are intending to move around outside and want some extra warmth. Generally between 10,000 and 30,000 BTUs as well.
  • Mounted heater – this heater is attached to a wall and is intended to be permanent. This is also quite space compact, as you can fit tables, chairs, and guests down below. On average, they produce around 5,000 BTUs
  • Standing heater – this is the largest, but that might not bother you because of their typically very sleek design. They can be portable (though not easy to carry) and typically are the most powerful at 40,000 BTUs

Decide Your Budget

Obviously, a large part of this purchase is deciding how much you would like to spend on the heater. There are a number of different options available, and some of the cheapest can start at around $100. However, you do get what you pay for, and some of the special features we discussed earlier are likely not going to be available in the cheapest bare-bones model heaters.

It’s also worth considering whether you need your space perfectly heated to indoor temperatures or if you just want something to take the edge off in winter. If you are looking for the latter, then that changes how much you might need to spend on it all.

You can also look to save money on a heater by choosing one with wheels or a portable one that can be taken from space to space – despite a mounted one being initially cheaper, it may be worth your while to purchase a single portable heater over two or even three mounted ones.

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Deciding on how to choose an electric patio heater is quite simple if you break it down into a few simple steps. First, decide what variables affect you, second, measure your outdoor space and calculate the British Thermal Units you would need, third, decide what special features and design of heater you would like, and finally, decide upon your budget for a heater.