What makes for an ideal patio? The tables and chairs are certainly important, as is the set-up to prepare and serve food and drinks. But if you want to make your patio all that it can be, you really ought to consider patio heaters.
If you’re partying on the patio at home, why duck inside when the temp drops a few degrees? If you’re managing outdoor seating at a restaurant, shouldn’t your customers have a choice even when it gets a little nippier? Whether your outdoor space is large or small, whether it’s restaurant seating, an apartment common area, or a residential backyard, it becomes more versatile and enjoyable when you add some modern infrared patio heaters.
The Advantages of Infrared Patio Heaters
Infrared has become the modern standard for patio heating. That’s true for every size and shape of the heater in every variety of outdoor space. Sure, you could heat with another type of heater, or even a fire pit, but that won’t give you the safety and efficiency of infrared heaters.
Infrared heaters take their cue from the sun: they produce the harmless type of heat and provide the same kind of warmth from the sun, and none of the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. Like the sun’s infrared rays, they don’t directly heat up the air they pass through. Instead, when they land on a solid object such as a chair, a table, or a person, the rays are converted into heat. The objects themselves warm up and they pass along the radiated heat.
This makes infrared patio heaters efficient. They don’t waste their energy heating up your entire outside space but concentrate heat on people and objects. Also, there’s not the warm-up period of a fire or conventional heater. As soon as you turn on an infrared heater, it pumps out rays and starts warming folks.
Infrared heaters are safe when installed and used properly. The heat our heaters generate is harmless infrared rays. The units don’t get at hot as conventional heaters. And a protective metallic shield covers the infrared element.
Mushroom vs Box/Rectangular Patio Heaters
While there might appear to be many sizes and shapes, heaters can be divided into two groups. There are mushroom heaters, with a round “cap” usually situated atop a pole that looks like its “stem.” There are box or rectangular heaters that are made to be mounted on a wall or overhead ceiling. Neither is necessarily better than the other, but they’re suited to different types of spaces.
Mushroom Patio Heater
Mushroom heaters are the ones most commonly seen in restaurant outdoor seating areas. They’re also suitable for most backyard patios. The heat radiates from the “cap,” and the fuel source, which can be either liquid propane (LP) or natural gas (NG) comes in at the base of the pole, or “stem.” They radiate heat in a 360-degree circle in all directions. Heat distribution is even so that you’ll get the same amount of warning, say, eight feet from the heater, no matter your direction.
The propane mushroom heater is the only variety that can be a portable patio heater. The portable version has an LP tank at its base so the fuel source goes anywhere the heater does. It has wheels so you can tilt it and roll it to any spot where heat is needed. Just shut it off, let it cool down and move it over to its next assignment. You can even wheel it into a garage or storage room when it’s not in use.
While the “cap and stem” configuration is the most common mushroom heater setup, it’s not the only one. Some mushroom heaters can be suspended overhead from any suitably sturdy structure. This arrangement frees up floor space, and many people find it to be a cleaner and less intrusive look.
Box and Rectangular Patio Heaters
Mushroom heaters are great for a lot of spaces, but there are some areas where they simply won’t do the trick. For example, a small patio where a pole takes up too much space if there is no sturdy outdoor structure that you can suspend a hanging mushroom heater from, you should consider a box heater. For example, where the outdoor area has some walls and some odd shapes. This is where the box or rectangular heater comes to the rescue.
Unlike mushroom heaters, box heaters don’t radiate warmth in all directions. Instead, they produce a wide arc of heating in the direction where they’re pointed. They have to be attached to something. As often as not they’re mounted on an exterior wall.
Rectangular heaters run off of either NG or electricity. They’re not portable. It is theoretically possible to unplug an electric heater and plug it in elsewhere, but they’re usually mounted to a solid surface and would have to be reinstalled.
Box heaters aren’t limited to wall mounting. They can point down from the ceiling. They can be angled from rafters or eaves. They can even be mounted in a backyard structure such as a gazebo, pergola or awning. Some come with flush mount kits so they can be inset into a wall or ceiling.
Liquid Propane, Natural Gas, or Electricity?
Mushroom heaters can be propane patio heaters or can run on natural gas. With propane, the heat source is right there in the unit for portability. With natural gas, you’ll have to tap into the building’s NG source and permanently connect it to the heater. While your heater is no longer portable, the fuel will always be available when you want it. You’ll never have to run to the store to swap out your LP tank.
Box heaters are either electric heaters or outdoor gas patio heaters using NG. Of course, if your building isn’t set up with natural gas, electricity is your only choice. Electric heaters can either be plug-ins or wire directly into the building's circuitry.
All of these energy sources are safe, effective, and economical. Location and portability, rather than cost, determine which are best for a particular situation.
Patio heaters come in styles and finishes that complement your decór. Some have the natural appearance of stainless steel while others are bronze or black. You can choose an electrostatically applied powder coating for a more elegant look. Some of the portable units even have stylishly hinged access doors for the propane tank compartment.
Control options include simple on/off switches and temperature dials. There are also more advanced control systems that offer various automation functions.
AEI Corporation for a Complete Line of Patio Heaters
AEI supplies patio heaters from top lines such as Sunglo, Patio Comfort, Infratech and Sunpak. Whether portable or permanently affixed, whether LP, NG or electric, we have the patio heater to suit your specific needs.
AEI was the first to develop commercial patio heaters back in the 1960s. We haven’t sat still but have researched and innovated to keep producing the products that lead the industry. Our heaters are found at businesses and homes all over the world.
We build patio heaters to last a long time, and we provide the support to make sure that they do. AEI has top customer service and an inventory of parts that will keep your heaters running and your guests comfortable many years into the future.