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:
- Wall Mounted Patio Heater: fixed to a wall or structure making for safe operation
- Hanging Patio Heater: portable and small foot print which comes in electric only
- Tabletop Patio Heater: ultra portable and great for smaller groups or outdoor dining, but uses a small propane tank
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.
Propane Patio Heater Coverage
|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
Propane Fueled Patio Heaters
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
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
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.
- Macbride, Peter (Jun 24, 2011). Get an Ethical Life: Flash. Hachette UK. p. 3. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
- "Best Patio Heater: Freestanding, Wall Mounted, Hanging, Outdoor Heaters". PatioBrothers.com. 2017-09-24. Retrieved 2017-12-09.
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