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Are Patio Heaters Safe? (And Can You Use Them Indoors?)

Are Patio Heaters Safe? (And Can You Use Them Indoors?)

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People often wonder if patio heaters are safe. They are a wonderful addition to any patio and they allow you to enjoy gatherings with family and friends as the days grow colder.

Most patio heaters are fueled by propane. They usually have a safety shut-down feature so that they switch off if the heater falls or is tilted. However, you need to follow safety guidelines when you use them.

What Is a Patio Heater?

Patio Heater

A patio heater is usually a freestanding heating appliance that warms the area around it using radiant heat.

Radiant heat travels through the air and warms people and objects that are nearby. The amount of space they heat will depend on the size of the patio heater. They are usually positioned near the area where people will gather.

The patio heater begins working as soon as it is turned on. The valve opens and the propane or gas moves to the top where the burners are located. The burners heat the radiant element at the top and the heat is then transferred out to warm the space around the heater.

What Are the Different Types of Patio Heaters?

Outdoor Electric Heating Infrared Lamps Patio Heater Under Umbrella

Most patio heaters use propane gas but there are some that use natural gas and others that are electric. The propane patio heaters are most common and they are portable because the propane tank is usually attached to the patio heater.

Natural gas patio heaters require professional installation and electric patio heaters must have an outlet nearby or be hardwired.

Can Patio Heaters Be Used in the Garage?

Patio heaters are designed to be used outdoors. The propane gas is flammable and it is never a good idea to use it indoors. In addition, patio heaters give off carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, and nitrogen dioxide. If you use the patio heater in the garage with the doors closed, the emissions of these gases can be fatal.

Patio heaters are regulated for outdoor use only so they should never be used inside. If you need a heater indoors or in your garage, there are many different types of heaters that are made specifically to heat these areas.

Patio heaters are designed to be used in open or semi-open spaces; semi-open spaces should have good ventilation and air circulation so that there is never a buildup of carbon monoxide.

In addition, you should never place anything above or below the patio heater.

Can a Patio Heater Get Wet?

You should not leave your patio heater out in bad weather. It is best to move it to a safe covered location and keep it upright.

However, some patio heaters have a rating that tells you that they can be used in wet conditions. You need to find an IP rating of IPX4 marked on the heater to operate it in wet conditions. Otherwise, you need to move it during bad weather.

You can also buy a cover for the patio heater so you will be able to leave it outside during bad weather. However, make sure that the patio heater is turned off and completely cool before you cover it.

Further Safety Precautions

While patio heaters are safe when operated according to the guidelines set by the manufacturer, they can be dangerous if not used correctly.

As mentioned, you should not use the patio heater indoors because the propane is flammable and the heater emits carbon dioxide and other gases. It requires ventilation and air circulation so that the gases aren’t toxic.

In addition, patio heaters should not be used near any flammable items or under awnings that are too close. You should make sure that the patio heater is at least three feet away from combustible items.

Normally, the flames are contained inside of tempered glass tubing and this helps to make the patio heater more safe.

Never touch the patio heater where the heat is emitted or it will burn you. In addition, you should not tilt the patio heater while it is being used. Most patio heaters come with a mechanism that automatically shuts off the heater if it is tilted but you should always take care not to do this.

You need to place the patio heater on a stable surface. If you place it in the grass, it could tilt or fall over very quickly. This is dangerous even with the cut-off valve.

You should make sure that you close the valve on the propane tank as soon as the patio heater is no longer in use. You should also turn off the switch.

You may keep a spare propane tank and you should keep it stored in a cool, dry space away from anything flammable.

Most patio heaters can function well in winds up to ten miles per hour. Anything over that is too much and you should not use the patio heater.

Patio Heater Care

You need to take care of your patio heater to keep it functioning safely. If you store the patio heater in the garage over the winter, you need to clean it thoroughly before you use it. Insects may crawl inside and hide, and dust may gather.

You can use a mixture of soapy water and a sponge or cloth to wipe the patio heater clean. Do not get the burner wet. You can put a dab of rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab or a rag to clean this area.

You need to make sure that you repair your patio heater any time that you have a problem and keep it clean and safe.

If you have a cover, you can use the cover when the patio heater is not in use. It is important to make sure that it is turned off, the propane valve is closed, and the patio heater is completely cool. The cover will help to ensure that the patio heater lasts longer.

A patio heater can be a wonderful addition that allows you to use your patio when the cold air comes in. If you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and recommendations, you will have no trouble staying safe.


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