Selecting a Home or Business Outdoor Patio Heater Doesn't Have to be Complicated

Investments into fresh-air living spaces remain incomplete without some form of outdoor heating system. With the exception of summer, cool mornings and evening chills make being outside spaces less than comfortable. And winter months all but eliminate the enjoyment of spending time on a backyard deck or a restaurant's alfresco area.

For homeowners, the value of extending hourly and seasonal use is a matter of quality of life. The impact closing up these spaces have on business owners includes reduced revenue and customer experience. Most residential and commercial property owners agree that a well-placed patio heater would solve these problems.

But the issue that generally holds them back from installing outdoor heating systems is knowledge. By understanding how they work, and the appropriate fuel resources, home, and business owners can make informed decisions and get the right outdoor patio heater to serve their needs

Fuels Sources for Outdoor Heating Systems

It’s important for home and business owners to understand that a patio heater or entire outdoor heating system can be powered by any one of the three common fuel sources — propane, natural gas, or electricity. When property owners are involved in the patio heater decision-making process, they simply match which resource is most practical with the model.

There’s no requirement to have a natural gas line installed or bring in a large propane tank. Unless your home is completely off-grid, an electric patio heater can tap into the existing system. To put this in a more succinct context, this is how energy syncs with an outdoor patio heater.

  • Propane: A portable patio heater typically has a propane tank stored in its base. These 5-gallon tanks can be easily swapped out and refilled at local hardware and convenience stores. Using liquid propane allows home and business owners to position and realign patio heaters as needed.
  • Natural Gas: The use of this fuel source in commercial and residential settings continues to expand. Properties already connected to natural gas lines have an opportunity to run designated lines and power up outdoor heating systems. Keep in mind that a patio heater run on natural gas must be fixed in place.
  • Electricity: Property owners have the option of using an electrical system to run a single patio heater or an entire system. The units must be securely fixed to overhead infrastructure, walls, or a post. Using electricity requires a certified professional to run a designated line. However, outdoor heating systems can be conveniently operated from wall panels and include shutoff timers.

The use of liquid propane, natural gas, and electricity is considered environmentally sustainable as well as energy efficient. And by selecting a model that uses radiant infrared heat, there is no exposure to an open flame.

How to Choose the Right Outdoor Patio Heater

Selecting the right patio heater can seem overwhelming. That’s largely because there seem to be numerous types. To simplify the selection process, there are essentially two different kinds to consider — mushroom head and box. The following patio heater lines by AEI Corp continue to set the industry standard in both categories.

Mushroom Patio Heater Options

The most commonly used patio heater on the market today is the mushroom head model. Mushroom heaters that run on liquid propane are a common choice because the fuel tank in the base makes them portable. Easy to set up and requiring no installation costs, home and business owners simply swap out the tank and have the empty refilled. AEI Corp has two mushroom patio heater models and expansive options. Mushroom heaters that run on natural gas have their fuel source piped in and are immovable because of it. 

Patio Comfort

The Patio Comfort line comes in four finishes, Stainless Steel, Antique Bronze, Jet/Silver, or Vintage Series. These outdoor patio heaters generate 40,000 BTUs and are completely self-contained. Using infrared technology, the radiant heat warms objects in their throw radius and is not affected by a breeze. Patio Comfort heaters are commonly fueled by liquid propane. However, property owners can take advantage of natural gas as long as the unit is fixed in place.

Sunglo Patio Heater

While the Sunglo patio heater line has natural gas and portable propane heaters available. The Sunglo natural gas heaters can be pole mounted, giving them a secure footprint. The stylish A244 Sunglo heater can be hung overhead to deliver a chandelier ambiance in semi-enclosed spaces. This model generates upwards of 50,000 BTUs from natural gas, making it a darling for commercial settings.

Box Heaters Options

It’s critical to have choices among box-style heaters because each space has unique parameters. We have three brands of box heaters. Knowing the fundamentals of the Sunpak, Sunstar, and Infratech models usually clear up any indecision about which is the right choice.

Sunpak Patio Heater

The Sunpak patio heater line generates 25,000 to 34,000 BTUs, depending on the model. Coming with a black or stainless steel finish, they can be mounted on ceilings, walls, or a sturdy post and have liquid propane and natural gas models available. Sunpak models deliver a throw radius that covers 100 to 144 square feet. Select models possess remote control capabilities and shutoff timers.

Sunstar Patio Heater

The Sunstar patio heater is another box style that offers significant resistance to inclement weather. The two-stage models generate 24,000 to 35,000 BTUs and have high-temperature tinted glass to insulate the infrared elements. This model is also constructed with zinc-laced materials and black high-temperature silicone powder-coated paint in the SGL models.

The Sunstar line also provides heater models that run on liquid propane or natural gas. It can be mounted overhead, on walls, or on a secure post. Home and business owners with spaces prone to wind gusts and airborne dust benefit from the enhanced protection.

Infratech Patio Heater

The Infratech patio heater line allows property owners to tap into existing electrical systems. With a designated electrical line, this patio heater can be installed overhead, on walls, and on posts, just like those that use natural gas or propane. It also generates the same robust 24,000 to 35,000 BTUs, using 2,000-6,000 watts.

It can be ordered in black, stainless steel, and a sleek finish in some models. The Infratech Motif collection has four stylish options for front plates that include Contemporary, Craftsman, Mediterranean, and Traditional. Perhaps the greatest benefit of selecting Infratech for outdoor heating systems involves its variety of control options. Infratech heaters can be controlled with simple on/off switches, and temperature dials, to more complex control systems.

Choosing the best outdoor patio heater to extend daily and seasonal use of decks and patios seems complicated on the surface. But when you break it down, there are only two types and three fuel sources that make sense.

Ask yourself a few basic questions and match the answers to a patio heater line. Which fuel source do you prefer? Do you want a fixed or portable model? And, would it be best mounted off the ground or on a sturdy post? After that, it’s just a matter of selecting a style and finish.