Patios are one of the world’s greatest inventions for family fun and entertaining guests. That is, until it gets late in the season and those mild evenings start to turn chilly. Then people tend to close the grill cover, turn out the lights and take the party indoors.
There’s no reason to give up on outdoor enjoyment just because the air gets nippy. You can set up a heater for your patio and keep the fun and friendship going. Restaurants have been doing it for years, but today’s heaters aren’t only for restaurants. They’re designed for your own back yard as well. Modern heaters work in any outdoor space, large or small, from a single-family patio to an apartment or condo social area.
We often see patio heaters mounted on poles. It’s a pleasing aesthetic that reminds us of background lights in a garden. However, that’s not the only way to set up the heaters. There are several mounting options, and one of them is best for the entertainment space you have in mind.
Mounting Options for Patio Heaters
Different types of patio heaters allow for different mounting options. One consideration is the shape, and another is the fuel source: whether the heaters are supplied by propane, natural gas or electricity.
Mushroom Patio Heaters
Mushroom patio heaters are the familiar shape you see at outdoor restaurants with the circular tops resting on long poles, or “stems”. They radiate heat in all directions. Most commonly they run on liquid propane (LP) but some are powered by natural gas (NG).
NG mushroom heaters are affixed to poles that go directly into the ground where they are connected to your natural gas utility line. Pole-mounted propane heaters have a sturdy base for the tank at the bottom of the pole. Since they contain their own fuel source, you can pick up a portable mushroom heater along with its propane tank and move it wherever you want. If the party goes from one side of the patio to the other, simply shut off the heater, let it cool a bit, and carry it to its new location. You can even bring them into a garage for storage.
Mushroom heaters don’t have to perch on poles, though. They can also be suspended heaters. You can hang them from a sturdy outdoor structure. A lot of people find this to be a cleaner look, and it certainly frees up floor space. Unless your guests look up, they may not even notice what’s keeping them comfortably warm.
There are some spaces where a mushroom patio heater doesn’t quite fit the bill, for example, a small patio where a pole takes up too much space and there’s nothing to suspend a heater from. That’s where a box or rectangular patio heaters comes into play.
Box heaters don’t radiate heat 360 degrees but rather produce it in a wide arc in whatever direction the heater is pointing. That makes them great, mounted as outdoor wall heaters, and they also attach to rafters and other solid structures.
Box heaters either run on electricity or natural gas. As a result, they’re not portable. Electric and NG heaters can’t be moved at all once they’re mounted in place. Most people mount a rectangular patio heater with the idea of keeping it right where it is.
This type of heater can be mounted on any kind of sturdy outdoor wall. It can point down from the ceiling or from rafters. It can be angled down from the eaves. If the patio is next to a house, the outside wall is a natural choice, but these can also be mounted in any kind of permanent structure you happen to have in your backyard. If there’s a pergola, a gazebo, or even an awning, you have a location where you can install a box patio heater.
There are some box heaters that can be inset so they’re flush with the wall. This attractive arrangement hides the box and doesn’t disrupt the profile of the wall. They can also be recessed in a ceiling. Our electric heaters accomplish this with flush mount kits.
What’s the Best Mounting Technique?
On a pole, suspended overhead or attached to a wall: none of these is necessarily any better or worse than the others. It depends on the kind of space you have and the look you want. If there’s a large open patio and the heat needs to reach the edge, one or more pole-mounted heaters might do the trick. If you have a wall or another convenient surface, and you only need the heat to travel in one direction, a box heater on the wall might be the right choice. If the place you want the heater is beyond the reach of natural gas or electricity, it narrows down the decision. You’ll need to use the mushroom LP heater either on a pole or suspended.
Of course, if you have a substantial space or a patio with odd corners and crannies, there’s no rule that says you can’t combine two types of heaters!
Patio Heater Facts
AEI Corporation has a complete line of patio heaters including brands such as Sunglo, Patio Comfort, Sunpak, and Infratech. There are heaters that run off natural gas, propane, and electricity. Whatever the power source or the mounting option, we have a patio heater that will be ideal for your space.
All the fuel types are safe and inexpensive, and at least one of them will be practical for the place you intend to use it. Regardless of the power source, regardless of the shape, these units produce infrared heat. Infrared heat is as natural as the sunshine that sustains the earth. It’s basically the same form of energy. This means the rays don’t warm the air but travel through it. When they hit a solid object such as glass, wood or a person, they’re converted into heat. The surfaces warm up and pass along this radiated heat.
Mushroom heaters have aluminum reflectors. You see them atop the “cap” of a mushroom heater. The reflective aluminum surface focuses the infrared rays and helps spread them to the folks sitting nearby.
AEI Industries developed the first commercial patio heaters in the 1960s. We’ve continued to lead the industry with the highest quality materials and continuous innovation. Today our patio heaters are used in restaurants, clubs, and patios all over the world.
We have all the accessories you need and stock a complete line of replacement parts, so your heater will be keeping you and your friends warm many years into the future. Not only that, but the units look great. They’re available in an array of finishes and colors to coordinate with any space where you plan to mount them.