Don’t Use Patio Heaters In Garages

As the colder months roll around, there is still so much work left to do in the garage. Repairs and projects don’t simply dry up because it’s cold out, but this leaves you struggling for warmth out in your workspace. Many have turned their sights to their outdoor patio heaters as a strong source of heat for their indoor/outdoor workspace.

But, how safe is a patio heater indoors?

Well, there are a lot of factors that go into deciding the potential safety of using your patio heater to heat your garage. What type of heater is it? Is the garage completely closed off? How old is the patio heater?

It’s a complex answer to an otherwise simple question. However, as far as safety concerns go, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you’re unsure about anything, don’t risk it with the patio heater.

Close up of an indoor patio heater in a garage

Using A Patio Heater In A Garage

In most cases, using a patio heater as a source of heat in your garage is a bad idea. There are too many factors that need to be “just right” in order to avoid a safety hazard. Propane can be dangerous when used in a closed space, faulty wiring could lead to a spark and ignition, and you never know what flammable gases are lurking near the heater.

Avoid the safety concerns and keep the patio heater on the patio (when in use).

With that being said – again, the default of using a patio heater in your garage should be no – there are some patio heaters that could possibly be used in your garage.

However, even those that fit all of the indoor criteria perfectly should be used with caution. We’ll take a look at the different types of patio heaters and will make a decision on the safety of indoor use.

What Type of Patio Heater Are You Using?

The first factor that goes into the safety of a patio heater is what type is in question. A patio heater – typically found on an outdoor patio of a restaurant or business – utilizes a source of either gas or electricity to heat up rods or to produce a flame and create a space of comfort as the weather changes.

The type of ignition or heating that they use will determine the safety of the heater.


One of the most common patio heaters is the propane style. This type of heater houses a propane tank in the bottom compartment which acts as the source of gas for the patio heater. When turned on and ignited, the patio heater will typically produce a tall, controlled flame that heats the area around it.

Sometimes that flame is the heat source, other times that flame heats up the metal casing at the top of the heater, which in turn produces the warmth.

Most of the patio heaters used by restaurants utilize propane as it’s one of the most affordable and easiest to acquire gases for your patio heater. It’s a dependable source of heat and one that can be bought almost anywhere. Chances are, if you have a relatively inexpensive patio heater, it uses propane.

Natural Gas

The next type of patio heater is the natural gas style. The ways in which these work is very similar to that of the propane tanks in that the gas source is stored in the bottom and is used to ignite a flame that then heats up space around it.

Many patio heaters are designed to work with both propane and natural gas sources so that you can choose between the two. Natural gas is very similar to propane and is also quite affordable.


The final type of patio heater is an electric heater. These types of heaters act in a very similar way to your typical space heater. They use electricity to heat up metal prongs inside the heater, which then produce the heat which spreads outwards to cover the patio. There is no need to refill a propane tank or replenish a supply as with the other types of heaters. Simply plug it in and turn it on!

There is no open flame or lingering gas with these types of heaters, but they don’t heat up as well as their gas-driven counterparts. They’re also more expensive than the other types of patio heaters as the others are essentially shells for a flame. The electric patio heater is the heating device as well as the shell for the flame.

You also have to have access to a reliable source of electricity, or a generator, in order to use this type.

Which Patio Heaters Can Be Used Indoors?

So which, if any, of these patio heaters can be used indoors? Well, as I mentioned earlier, all of the heaters come with a stipulation that users should be careful if they bring the patio heater into the garage. However, some heaters are much more dangerous to use indoors than others.

The propane and natural gas heaters, for example, create too many risks to be verifiably safe for indoor use.

They use an open flame that is dangerous in and of itself and the exposed gas could ignite with a spark from your work which could lead to an explosion or fire. Not to mention, the build-up of gas in an enclosed space and the safety concerns that brings up.

As for the electric patio heater, if you’re going to use a patio heater in the garage, this is the one to use.

They eliminate the fear of an open flame as well as the possibility of a gas explosion. The use of electricity for heat rather than gas is quite preferable for an indoor space, especially if you’re working with sparks and flames. There are still some safety concerns with an electric heater, but the overall fear is drastically reduced.

Taking Care of Your Patio Heater

With a patio heater, it’s always smart to stay on top of maintenance and repairs. The better taken care of your patio heater is, the safer it becomes. One of the biggest issues that can occur with a patio heater is infestation. If you’re keeping the patio heater inside when not in use, it can become a safe space for bugs and small critters.

Before you use it, clean it out and make sure you’re not cooking any bugs while heating up your space.

Keep your patio heater dry. If the insides get wet, you won’t be able to use it as well as you might otherwise. If water gets into the casing or the bottom part of the patio heater, be sure to dry it off and get it back to its normal/dry state before using it.

The same goes for cleaning it – you can use soap and water, but only apply in small amounts and use a rag to apply it. Don’t apply water to it directly and, again, ensure that you dry thoroughly after cleaning and before use.

The electric heater in the room. heating the apartment in cold weather. Halogen or Infrared heater isolated on a white background.

Alternative Heating Methods For Your Garage

With so many factors going into the safety of a patio heater being used indoors, it’s just better to go with a safer, smarter alternative. But what is that alternative?

One of the best choices for your garage would be a standard space heater. It might not provide the coverage or the levels of warmth that a patio heater would, but it’s much safer and in most cases, it’s actually designed and intended for indoor use.

There are plenty of different types of space heaters, some larger than others that can provide the coverage you might be looking for. These are typically powered by electricity and are safe to use in an indoor environment. 

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

Final Thoughts

Although some electric patio heaters may be okay to use in your garage to keep you warm as you work, a propane or natural gas heater should never be used in a confined indoor space as the risks greatly outweigh any potential benefit. Keep your space safe and avoid using a patio heater indoors.

There are plenty of alternative options, such as a space heater, to keep you warm as you work throughout the fall and winter.