Nothing can ruin a beautiful night outside on your patio like being cold. The best solution is a patio heater, and there are many options for patio heaters on the market. We are reviewing the top 5 best patio heaters to stay warm year-round and enjoy your patio non-stop.
The heat generated by a patio heater is measured in BTU – British Thermal Units. The higher the BTU rating, the more heat the heater generates. However, there is more to generating heat than burning hot, such as how the heat is spread out and the area that it covers.
When looking at patio heaters there are two general styles – a standing heater and a fire pit set up. We have both here and will discuss the pros and cons of both.
Our Top Picks
Avenlur Outdoor Patio Heater
Best Budget Option:
Amazon Basics Patio Heater
Best Fire Pit:
Solo Stove Smokeless Fire Pit
Our top pick for the best overall patio heater is the Avenlur Outdoor Patio Heater. It gives off an impressive 48,000 BTUs of heat which is one of the highest on our list. Generally, standing patio heaters offer better heat spread than fire pits thanks to their metal conical tops that help spread the heat out.
The Avenlur Outdoor Patio Heater has a unique design which makes it one of the most attractive standing patio heaters on the market. This is important when you consider it is part of your outdoor living area – you want your patio heater to look good and not be an eyesore.
This patio heater also is made of thick metal and is very durable. It has explosion-proof tubing and fuel lines which are not required but are certainly good to have from a safety perspective. It is made in the USA and uses a standard 20lb propane tank like most patio heaters.
Thanks to the impressive design of the Avenlur Outdoor Patio Heater, it only takes a few minutes to warm up and start heating your patio. It has an easy-to-use ignition so you won’t have to fiddle with lighters or hard-to-start ignition sources. Lastly, it comes with a cover so you can prevent damage from the weather when not in use.
The only downside to the Avenlur Outdoor Patio Heater is that it is expensive compared to some other ones on our list. It also has a larger footprint, meaning it will take up more of your space. That is pretty common among larger patio heaters and is a trade-off for impressive heat spread.
- Powerful heater with a cool design
- Comes with a cover
- Easy-to-use and explosion-proof tubing
- Comes in a variety of colors
- Large so it takes up a good amount of space
Best Budget Option
If you are on a budget but need a patio heater, the Amazon Basics Outdoor Patio Heater is a great option for you. This is a very inexpensive patio heater made by Amazon, so there is a big company behind it that you can hold accountable.
The Amazon Basics Outdoor Patio Heater puts off an impressive 46,000 BTUs but does not spread the heat as well as some of the higher quality options on our list. One reason for this is that this patio heater uses a thinner metal that is not as good at spreading heat and insulating when compared to other options.
This patio heater uses a very easy ignition system, with just a push of a button once you turn the propane on. The design is pretty basic, and there are reports that the ignition can break easily so keep that in mind when shopping. Either way, you can’t beat the price!
If you want an inexpensive patio heater backed by a major company, the Amazon Basics Outdoor Patio Heater will be the right choice for you.
- Very inexpensive
- Made by Amazon Basics so accountability if you have an issue
- Relatively strong at 46,000 BTU
- Thin metal construction makes it flimsy
- Basic design is not as aesthetically pleasing
Best Fire Pit
If you want a fire pit from a great reputable brand, the Solo Stove is a great option for you. Solo Stove has been taking the fire pit world by storm with their easy to use, beautiful, and high-quality fire pits that give off heat and create a central sitting area outside.
The Solo Stove has outstanding build quality, which Solo Stove is known for. It feels like a campfire but without the hassle of starting the fire and dealing with the smoke given off by burning wood. The Solo Stove uses a propane tank with an easy ignition that will keep you warm at night.
While the Solo Stove will keep you warm, it won’t cover nearly as much area as a standing patio heater because the heat just goes up instead of being spread. As patio heaters go, this one is more for sitting around than heating your entire area.
One of the coolest features of the Solo Stove is that you can purchase accessories to attach to it and cook right over the flame, making it both a heat source and a cooking source. The easy-to-use design and attractive aesthetics make it a top choice for many people shopping for heaters. However, its good looks do come with a price tag that is on the higher end of our list of top patio heaters.
- Outstanding build quality from a reputable brand
- Can be used to cook with accessories
- Relatively strong at 46,000 BTU
- Great campfire feel without the smoke and work of a campfire
- Does not radiate as much heat as a standing patio heater
Best Patio Heater Table
The VEVOR Gas Fire Pit Table is a unique patio heater because it not only generates heat but gives you a central table for drinks and food. While most heaters serve a singular purpose the VEVOR Gas Fire Pit Table is the only option on our list that gives you a usable surface as well as heat generation.
This fire pit table gives you a central heating element with a surrounding surface. Because the surface does not what up, you can put things like drinks and food on it without worrying about burning yourself or ruining your glass of wine.
The VEVOR Gas Fire Pit Table has a central heating element using propane to create a massive 50,000 BTUs of heat. Unfortunately, like other fire pits, this is not the most efficient patio heater as the heat goes straight up and doesn’t have a way to spread over a large area. It is also expensive considering that it won’t heat your entire patio.
One of our favorite features of the VEVOR Gas Fire Pit Table is that it comes with a guard that blocks kids and pets from getting to the flame. This is a great feature for an open flame fire pit and unique to this option on our list of best patio heaters. This, combined with its good looks, ease of use, and tabletop area make this a unique and versatile option for heaters.
- Offers a nice surface with a central fire for you to enjoy drinks by the fire
- Runs on propane so easy to use
- Guard to ensure that children or animals don’t burn themselves
- Doesn’t spread heat out as much as a standing heater
Best Plug-In Option
If your local ordinances prevent the use of propane tanks in a patio heater or if you do not want to have to mess with one, you may want to look at a plug-in model. The East Oak Patio Heater is a plug-in option with lots of features.
A plug-in heater is not going to give off as much heat as its propane counterpart. This heater only gives off 5118 BTU, which is low, but on the high end for electric models. You also get way more control with an electric model. This version has 3 heat settings as well as a timer making it more controllable than a propane alternative.
You also get the convenience of a remote control with an electric heater which can be a nice added benefit over propane. This model even has USB charging ports built in. So while the heat offered in this heater is lacking, it does come with many other features to make up for that.
- Plug-in option
- Remote control with 3 heat settings and timer
- USB charing port
- Low heat rating compared to other options
Patio Heater Buyer’s Guide
British Thermal Units is the universal standard for measuring heating power. Understanding what a BTU is doesn’t matter as much as understanding the BTU value relative to other products. For heaters, anything over 40,000 BTU is going to generate a good amount of heat to cover a standard 100 – 150 square foot patio.
Stand-up patio heaters spread this heat by having a conical lid that pushes the hot air outward. This spreads the hot air out over a big space, whereas a fire pit design has an open flame that has heat rise upward versus outward.
Fuel Source & Ignition
There are two primary options for heater fuel sources: propane and electric. Propane produces more heat and requires no plug-ins which makes it the best choice for most patios. Some municipalities don’t allow propane though, and some people aren’t comfortable with using tanks in which case electric can be an alternative.
Electric does have some advantages – mainly control. When it comes to heaters the amount of heat produced from a propane unit is controlled by the amount of fuel released – some patio heaters let you control this and some don’t. With electric, you will have multiple heat settings which allows for far more precision in your heat level.
Electric also may have other features like timers and other electrical outlets / USB ports built in. If these features appeal to you, and you don’t need the power offered by propane, an electric unit may be a good fit.
Standing Heater Vs Fire Pit
When it comes to the style of patio heater, you generally are choosing between a standing unit and a fire pit. The standing unit will spread heat out way more than a fire pit but is not conducive to central seating like a fire pit. A fire pit gives you more of a campfire feel and some will include tables or cooking attachments making them multi-functional.
Most standing heaters are much better as heaters than fire pits. With a fire pit, you will need to sit close to it because the heat rises up and away from your seating area. If your goal is to heat up the outside, a standing unit is ideal, but if you want a centralized area that you and your guests can sit around and enjoy you probably want a fire pit.
Cost Vs Quality
There is a direct correlation between quality and cost with these patio heaters. The less expensive units use thinner metal which will not spread heat out as well, they don’t have insulated and protected fuel lines, and they may break if left out in the elements.
The more expensive units are made of thicker metal and have more safety features, generally speaking. They also are more aesthetically pleasing because better quality materials and designs are used in manufacturing. You get exactly what you pay for with most patio heaters, and the higher the price point the longer it will last.
The Ideal Heater for You
When shopping for the best patio heater you want to look at the BTU output, the quality of the build material, and the style that fits your purpose.
A standing unit will cover more area with heat, whereas a fire pit gives you a good central piece to sit around and enjoy. Using our list of the best patio heaters, you have plenty of options to choose from to make sure you get the perfect piece for your patio!
For more great blogs to spruce up your backyard, check out our Backyard Living page on Minnetonka Orchards.