Patio Heating Ideas
Patio heaters and fire sources are becoming more and more popular in backyards these days. They used to be cost prohibitive, but residential patio heaters and fire sources like fire tables and pits are now priced for the masses. So much so that it’s hard to know what to choose among the many options available.
Sure you could just pop down to the local home depot but your choices will be limited and the quality might not be up to snuff. Do you really want to take a chance when there is fire and gas involved???
Choosing a patio heater
In determining which patio heater is right for you first determine the style that you want and what will compliment your space. Next think about the size of the area you want to heat as well as the patio space you want to dedicate to your heater.
Gas Mushroom Style Heaters
We’ve been seeing these mushroom style heaters on restaurant or hotel patios for years keeping patrons warm but in the past couple of years the prices have really dropped making them an affordable solution for residential backyards.
There are also more and more color and construction options available today. You can find these in stainless steel or metal. Bronze and two-tone colors are also popular.
How they work
Most of the mushroom style heaters are fueled by propane however some higher end models come with natural gas adapter kits.
The gas is ignited via the ignition switch and stainless steel burners on the top of the heater produce heat. The type of ignition switch is an important aspect of these units. Outdated Piezo Ignition systems are notoriously hard to get started and end up hurting your thumb.
More expensive models have updated ignition systems and easily light the heater with a touch of the button. Keep that in mind as you look around.
The amount of heat that mushroom heaters output is measured in BTU’s. The more BTU’s the larger the coverage area.
Wheels for portability and safety features like anti-tipping mechanisms and auto shut-off innovations round out the things to look for and can impact the price.
Price Range: $150 – $500
Average Height: 89″
BTU Range: 42,000 – 51,000
Heat Coverage Area: 6×6 – 9×9 Diameter
Pyramid Style Heaters
A newer edition to patio heater market these pyramid style heaters have dancing flames running through the center column heating up the night. Based on our research there are more color and construction options than the mushroom heaters and starting prices are a bit higher as well.
Heat rises so having the heat source closer to the ground keeps the surrounding area warmer than mushroom heaters. The dancing flames end up making the pyramid heaters more of a focal point, but the foot-print is about the same.
Like mushroom heaters they typically run on a 20lb tank of liquid propane fuel and the safety features are about the same in both styles.
Lastly, unlike mushroom heaters which have a slight glow around the burner, pyramid style heaters add warm glowing light to your patio
Price Range: $250 – $1,100
Average Height: 89″
BTU Range: 38,000 – 51,00
Heat Coverage Area: 6×6 – 10×10 Diameter
See our picks for the BEST PROPANE PATIO HEATERS
A much newer entry to residential patio heaters are fire tables. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, styles, and even heights.
Most fire tables are fueled by a 20lb tank of liquid propane which generally stores away under the table so it is out of sight. Igniters spark and your fire is instantly created with no messy ashes to clean up or sparks to tend to.
The stainless steel fire insert can be covered with decorative fire glass, stones, or pebbles for a modern look. Synthetic firelogs are also available for a campfire look which tend to retain and provide more heat.
The higher end fire tables have optional natural gas conversion kits and covers to place over the fire area creating a true table.
Price Range: $200 – $4,000
BTU Range: 42,000 – 80,000
Heat Coverage Area: 6’x6′ – 15′ x 15′ Diameter
Find Out More – Fire Table Buying Guide
The oldest heat source known to man fire pits have come a long way. No longer just
an iron bowl waiting to collect rust there are fire pit tables, decorative bowls, and even do-it-yourself fire pit kits which come with everything needed to create a fiery focal point without having to mix mortar or cut stones! Some come with cooking grates for a cowboy style BBQ.
Tabletop Patio Heaters
Tabletop propane heaters are a nice option if you don’t have the room for the free standing heaters. Like their big brothers, they come in both mushroom and pyramid style.
BTU’s range from 9,500 – 11,000 providing heat directly around the table
and styles range from a silver stainless steel look, two-tone finishes, and bronze. Unlike the free standing units, these run on 1lb propane canisters which are generally housed within the base of the heater.
Most models give you the ability to adjust the flame or heat output and have push button ignition systems.
Price Range: $100 – $300
BTU Range: 9,000 – 11,000
Heat Coverage Area: 4′ x 4′ Diameter
One of the most unique ways to throw a little heat and light on the patio are tabletop fire bowls and pits.
These small vessels that can safely house a fuel source that will output a small flame. Made from glass, stone, pottery, or synthetic materials they are easily portable.
They are generally fueled in one of three ways. Either with a small liquid propane container, gel fuel, or ethanol fuel.
Gel fuel is a little different. It doesn’t burn as hot and is similar to what you’d see under a chafing dish at a buffet. Ethanol fuel is the third fuel source. It burns clean, and a pure plant-based fuel which is 100% natural alcohol.
Price Range: $24 – $300
Heat Coverage Area: 3′ x 3′ Diameter
The Harmony Table Top Fire Pit is an excellent example of a tabletop fire bowl!!!
Our outdoor spaces are becoming more like outdoor rooms and heat and light are two of the most critical aspects of patio comfort and entertaining. As you can see options are limitless and you don’t need to spend a fortune to achieve the perfect look and feel for space.
Thinking about the options above will hopefully give you some great new outdoor patio heating ideas to enjoy the outdoors well into the chilly months.
Do you have a favorite patio heater idea? Join the conversation and let us know….leave a comment below.