Do Patio Heaters Work in the Winter? Stay Warm!

Patio heaters work in the winter by emitting radiant heat and infrared rays that travel through the air to your body, just like the sun.

Most of us come to love patio heaters, but do patio heaters work in the winter? Most of us remembered enjoying a long evening and night either on a summer patio or in a backyard, but what happens in the winter?

Just as the temperature starts to drop a bit, a quick switch on or light to a patio heater can allow for countless hours spent outdoors.

But what about spending more time outdoors? Will patio heaters work in the winter? A lot of people wonder if patio heaters are equipped to deal with winter weather.

Patio heaters are far more effective for winters compared to other appliances like space heaters which only blow hot air that will just dissipate into the air between you and the heater.

You’ll often see patio heaters during the winter at restaurants, bars and work offices. They provide a warm area for people to comfortably enjoy the outdoors during the coldest months.

But not all patio heaters are built the same or should be used in the same spaces.

In this post, we’ll break down why electric patio heaters are a great choice for staying warm in the winter and which ones do this best.

People sitting outside showing patio heaters work in the winter.

How Do Patio Heaters Work?

Patio heaters use two different fuel sources:

  • Gas (propane or natural gas)
  • Electricity

Whether it’s gas or electricity, patio heaters emit radiant heat.

Radiant heat is effective in the winter because it travels through the air, rather than into the air.

This means that objects in line with the radiant heat will receive that heat first. This is different than space heaters, which heat the air it comes into contact with.

Space heaters are effective in the winter when they are used indoors, but they can take a while to effectively heat a room and person, which is why some are designed to be left on overnight.

Patio heaters outdoors are effective in the winter because the temperature of the air does not impact their ability to heat objects in line with their radiant heat, like a person. This gives the benefit to make patio heaters work in the winter.

They’re also better for the environment as they don’t emit any pollutants into the air.

What Is Radiant Heat?

Since patio heaters emit radiant heat it’s a good idea to have an understanding of what radiant heat is and how works.

Radiant heat is nothing new and certainly wasn’t invented to be used in patio heaters. In fact, it’s probably the oldest form of heat.

A prime example of radiant heat is the sun.

The sun heats earth with infrared rays that travel incredibly far distances. It’s probably the most effective form of heating. Infrared Heater Explained.

Invisible electromagnetic infrared waves are what make up radiant heat. These infrared waves travel through the air and don’t get absorbed until they meet an object in their direct path.

How Does Infrared Heating Work and What Are The Benefits?

If you’re wondering how to keep your patio warm in the winter, the efficient form of infrared and its heat travel is what makes patio heaters work in the winter with effective heating, especially outdoors.

The infrared rays can travel through the air despite how cold it is.

This is why you see a lot of patio heaters outdoors in smoking sections at bars and restaurants, usually on the wall.

As long as a person stands in the direct path of the infrared rays coming from a patio heater they will absorb the heat.

While patio heaters aren’t the only form of radiant heat, they are efficient and portable, making them a top choice for heating outdoors during the winter.

Benefits of Radiant Heating Helping Patio Heaters Work in the Winter

Radiant heating has a lot of benefits compared to other forms.

SilentThey work efficiently and effectively in near silence, especially compared to other forms like space heaters
ComfortableThe temperatures won’t fluctuate and you will absorb more of the heat, making them very comfortable for winter
CleanEven more true with electric models, you won’t have to worry about being exposed to pollutants
EfficientIt gets the job done with less work and less fuel
Less Maintenance You don’t have to worry about cleaning things like filters or ducts

There aren’t many cons that come to mind with radiant heating. The main one being price as patio heaters are typically priced higher than other forms of heat.

But thinking long term, you will likely save on fuel when using a patio heater in the winter over other types of heaters.

Other Forms of Radiant Heaters

While the sun and patio heaters do a great job at emitting radiant heat, they aren’t the only sources.

Fires in fireplaces are another common source. These emit pollutants however and require wood as their fuel source.

Fireplace inserts are a great source of radiant heat and are comparable to patio heaters but without the ability to stand tall above people.

Electric heaters and electric quartz heaters are just like electric patio heaters, but smaller and less powerful. These are a great option for those travelling in RVs or those that live in smaller spaces.

And we can’t forget radiators that are connected to a central boiler. These are almost always present in older buildings like churches and offices, in addition to older home models.

Final Notes

Patio heaters are effective in the winter because they heat objects in their path by emitting radiant heat which utilizes infrared rays.

They operate the same as the sun, but obviously signifiantly less powerful.

When trying to stay warm outdoors in the winter while also relaxing patio heaters are an excellent and effective choice.

And whether you go with a gas fuel source or electricity, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits from patio heaters in the winter.