It may be too late where you live to have an Indian Summer barbecue, but many Americans live in mild climates with seasonally warm winters. For them, and for those of you saving up to improve your patio come springtime, let's have a look at outdoor patio heaters.
Most consumers choose natural gas power to stoke their outdoor heaters. Models come fired by gas, wood, and electricity. There's a dizzying assortment of heaters on the market, from free-standing table heaters to pole or column heaters, to mobile rolling models. Along with the wide range of models comes a broad range of prices. You can land a portable, table-top model for around $70, or pay upwards of a hefty $900 for standing heater with accessories.
Choosing the Model for Your Patio There's an assortment of models for large jobs, similar to ones you encounter in restaurants with outdoor dining. In Britain, outdoor heaters are installed outside bars and pubs to keep patrons warm when they're banished outdoors to smoke their cigarettes and cigars.
Depending on your model and BTU output, an outdoor patio heater can blast out a circle of radiant heat for up to 20 feet, increasing temperatures in their zone by as much as 25 degrees. That's toasty. There are also strip heaters that focus their warmth directly where you hang or aim them.
Most portable units are powered by propane, allowing you to move them where you need them. Fixed, in-ground heaters can have a greater BTU output and are connected to a natural gas line. You're looking at installation costs along with these more pricey models.
Safety First on the Patio Standing-model patio heaters come fitted into a heavy foundation, resisting tipping and wind. Some are constructed with tilt shut-off switches that disconnect the power supply when the model leans over too far.
You'll find that many outdoor heaters powered by propane or natural gas are lighted by igniters, much in the way you fire up outdoor barbecue units. You'll get around 12 hours of heat from a 20-pound propane tank.
Depending on your model, you can also choose overheating shutoff switches and adjustable pilot lights. Even models with heavy bases mounted on wheels usually have disconnect sensors in case you bounce them into something. Manufacturers carry hoods and covers, too. But it's up to you to know when the winds are simply too strong to power up your heater.