Patio heater

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Gas burning patio heater

A patio heater (also called a mushroom or umbrella heater) is a radiant heating appliance for generating thermal radiation for outdoor use.

A burner on top of a post, burns liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), propane or butane, and directs the flames against a perforated metal screen. Heat is radiated from the surface of the screen in a circular pattern around the appliance. A reflector atop the burner reflects heat that would be otherwise lost upwards. This is because the reflecting hood is usually silvered which makes it a poor absorber/emitter of heat but excellent at reflecting infra-red radiation back. This reduces the amount of heat lost by conduction as silvered surfaces will not absorb infra-red light. The chimenea is an alternative to the patio heater for home use, which burns wood instead of gas.

Some newer types of patio heaters are electrically powered radiative heaters that emit infrared energy onto nearby surfaces, which in turn heat up the surrounding air.

Other styles of outdoor patio heaters include:

Patio heaters have become popular with bars and restaurants since they extend the day and the season for their customers to sit outdoors. This increase in the popularity of the patio heater has led to concerns over their environmental effects. One patio heater can produce four tons of carbon dioxide annually.[1]

Propane Patio Heater Coverage[edit]

The below table correlates to the approximate power (BTU / Watts) required. Results may vary based on the outside temperature, obstructions and wind.[2]
Area Distance from Heater Propane & Natural Gas Heaters Electric Heaters
4 sq ft 1 foot 10,000 BTU’s 1,000 Watts
16 sq ft 2 feet
36 sq ft 3 feet
64 sq ft 4 feet
100 sq ft 5 feet 46,000 BTU’s
144 sq ft 6 feet 1,500 Watts
196 sq ft 7 feet
256 sq ft 8 feet
324 sq ft 9 feet Requires Additional Heater
400 sq ft 10 feet Requires Additional Heater  

Patio Heater Fuel Types[edit]

Propane Fueled Patio Heaters[edit]

Propane patio heaters are the most popular type as they are portable and easy to find refill locations such as gas stations or convenience stores. The downside to propane is that you need to purchase a separate tank for each heater you own and can be more costly to operate than electric or natural gas.

Natural Gas Fueled Patio Heaters[edit]

Natural gas patio heaters are great as more and more houses come outfitted with natural gas lines. This makes it very convenient to hook into, however it is less portable than propane. Extension hoses are available, but can be a tripping hazard especially after the sun has gone down.

Electric Powered Patio Heaters[edit]

Electric patio heaters are a great choice for easy setup, and has indoor applications as well, for partially enclosed indoor-outdoor space. Electric heaters are typically generally a bit weaker, therefore it’s best for a small group of people.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Macbride, Peter (Jun 24, 2011). Get an Ethical Life: Flash. Hachette UK. p. 3. Retrieved 28 August 2013. 
  2. ^ "Best Patio Heater: Freestanding, Wall Mounted, Hanging, Outdoor Heaters". 2017-09-24. Retrieved 2017-12-09.