Lighting A Patio Heater Manually

Patio heaters are popular for one main reason: they allow you to enjoy outdoor living spaces during the cooler seasons. No longer do we need to head back inside because the evening is getting cool.

But lighting one up quickly and safely might seem like a more daunting task than it really is.

To manually light a patio heater with a pilot ignition system, all you have to do is push and turn the control knob and then press the stick button a few times. To light up a patio heater without a pilot ignition system, you will have to factor in the gas control knob as well.

In this article, we will explore these steps in more depth.

But before we jump into that, we need to start with something that’s very important, i.e., the precautionary steps you need to take before you attempt to light a patio heater manually. 

Close up of Patio heater that has manually lit ignition, with cloudy blue sky in background
Shot of a typical terrace gas heater against blue sky

Precautions to Take When Lighting Up a Patio Heater

Here are a few safety precautions & beginner’s tips that you need to be mindful of before lighting up a patio heater.

Also make sure you have adequate space around your patio heater and if it is under cover that there is still enough surrounding space for it to work within their specified dimensions.

  1. The first thing you need to be mindful of is the gas regulator. This is the device that regulates the flow of gas in your patio heater, thus allowing you to prevent gas from leaking out when you’re not using it. And always remember to turn the regulator off once you’re done using the heater. Follow the instructions on the label.
  2. Always keep a nose out for gas leaks. If you notice the smell of gas when you turn the regulator on, that probably means there is a leakage in the gas delivery pipe. A pipe without a leak will produce a certain sound when gas is flowing through it. If you notice any irregularities with your gas pipe, your best bet is to get it replaced right away.
  3. Keep your patio heater from any combustible and flammable material. These include paper, plastic, wood, or anything else that can easily be ignited.
  4. Keep the gas pipe and the burner of your patio heater clean. For an even flow of gas, the gas delivery pipe should not be clogged in any way. Detach the pipe from the gas tank at the base of the heater. Then blow on it to ensure it is clear. As for the burner, it needs to be kept clean in order to ensure an even flame when the heater is turned on. Regularly check for blockages or dirt.
  5. Make sure the gas tank is full before you proceed on with lighting the heater. Lift the base of the patio heater to see if the tank is full. This is a helpful beginner’s tip that will ensure the heater will last for as long as you plan to use it. A tank that isn’t full could run out after a while, cutting your outdoor plans short.

Want to extend the life of your patio heater? Using a cover is an easy and effective way to protect your patio heater from the rain without having to worry about moving it around.

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Depositphotos 184522398 l 2015
in australia sydney outside the restaurant the propane hetar in the patio

Lighting Up a Patio Heater With an Automatic Ignition System

There are basically two types of patio heaters. In this section, we will look at how you can light up a patio heater with an automatic ignition system:

  1. The first thing to do is to push and turn the control knob to the pilot position. Once you have done this, hold this position for at least 45 seconds till a pilot flame is ignited. You can check for this flame through the match lighting hole.
  2. Now, while holding on to the knob, press the stick button a few times (at least five times) to get the igniter working. If this doesn’t seem to do the job, you can insert a long candle lighter through the lighting hole and use it instead.
  3. Allow the control knob to automatically pop out once a flame gets going. You can then turn the knob to the desired degree to get the amount of heat that will be perfect for the space you are in.
This video demonstrates the proper way to start a patio heater, including the various challenges that may be experienced.

Lighting Up a Patio Heater Without an Automatic Ignition System

Now let us look at the second type of patio heater, one without an automatic (or, pilot light) ignition system:

  1. First, make sure your heater is off. Now you can attach the gas tank and then slowly turn it on till it is completely open.
  2. Now, depress the gas control knob and turn it to a low position. Do not let go of the knob just yet.
  3. While keeping the control knob depressed, press the ignition button a few times (at least five times) to get the igniter working. If this doesn’t seem to do the job, you can insert a long candle lighter through the lighting hole and use it instead.
  4. You will have to keep the gas control knob depressed for an additional 45 seconds. This will allow the gas to flow without any hindrances.
  5. You may finally let go of the control knob and then turn it to the desired degree. Make sure to choose the amount of heat that is perfect for the vicinity.
How To Turn On Patio Heater With Lighter

Troubleshooting Guide: Can’t Get Your Patio Heater to Work?

You should, under normal circumstances, be able to get your patio heater to work using the steps outlined above. But if you’re lighting one up every evening or so, you’re eventually bound to run into a few problems.

Here are some common reasons that explain why your patio heater might be having trouble lighting up:

  1. The gas tank is empty. You’ll be surprised how many times people have fussed over not being able to light up a patio heater only to later realize it was out of gas the whole time. As we’ve already mentioned in the safety and beginner’s tips section above, it’s always a good idea to check for a full tank before you light a heater up. You can check the gas tank by lifting the base of the patio heater.
  2. The gas regulator is turned off. This is another very common occurrence. Since it’s recommended for safety purposes that a gas regulator is turned off after using a patio heater, many users forget to turn it back on when they use it the next time. Make sure the regulator is turned on.
  3. The gas tank is not hooked on properly. This is another common problem. If the gas tank is not properly hooked on to the gas pipe, the heater will have a problem lighting up. In most scenarios, you should be able to fix this problem simply by unhooking the gas tank and then hooking it back on.
  4. A clog in the burner or pipe. This is something we have already discussed above. If you’re having a problem getting your patio heater to light up, a clog or blockage in the burner or the gas pipe could be the reason. Detach them, clean them up, and then reattach.
  5. A clog in the bug screen. The bug screen on a patio heater prevents bugs from getting roasted in the flame that attracts them. And if there are enough bugs trapped on this screen, it will obstruct the flow of heat. So if your patio heater seems to be working fine but isn’t delivering heat as well as it should, this could be the problem.

It’s also a good idea to make sure your patio heater isn’t exposed to unnecessary elements. This can include keeping it out of rainstorms or utilizing a cover to ensure less weather damage.

And while a lot of patio heaters can still work in the rain, patio heaters are not waterproof, long term exposure to rain can still cause faster wear and tear.

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Patio area with table, chairs and heater on walkout deck overlooking scenic view


Patio heaters are great for use in outdoor spaces during the cooler seasons. And fortunately, lighting them up isn’t as difficult as it may seem to some people.

There are basically two types of these heaters when it comes to lighting them upo, one with an automatic pilot light ignition system and one without.

In this article, we explored both these types, sharing the step by step instructions on how to light them.

We also shared some troubleshooting tips on how to recognize what is wrong with a patio heater should it fail to work. Safety precautions and maintenance are both keys to working with patio heaters.