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Can You Use a Patio Heater in a Screened Porch? (Best Option to Use)

Can You Use a Patio Heater in a Screened Porch? (Best Option to Use)
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We could probably agree that summer comes and goes way too quickly! However, wouldn’t it be great to enjoy the outdoor patio with your friends and family year-round?

A patio heater allows you to extend your outdoor enjoyment throughout the chilly months  but are they safe to use in a screened porch?

You can use a patio heater in a screened porch as long as you use the correct type of heater, follow safety measures, and fits within the dimensions of your patio. Electric patio heaters are the safest option to use, whereas propane and natural gas heaters aren’t suitable in a closed setting.

Today, we will discuss the safety of patio heaters in a screened porch and different options to ensure that you find a perfect fit. So, continue reading for some great tips on how to choose a safe and suitable heater for your covered patio.

Are Patio Heater Safe in a Screened Porch?

Patio heaters are excellent for generating heat for outdoor purposes, especially during icy winters. They are perfect additions to warm up your porch on a chilly Saturday evening get-together with friends and family.

Nowadays, many homeowners are enquiring if patio heaters are safe to use in a screened porch. Well, yes, several patio heaters are suitable for covered settings. Patio heaters are typically safe to use if you take the necessary precautions and follow the safety guidelines.

Whether a patio heater is safe or not generally depends on the type of heater and the dimension of your patio. Fortunately, modern design has made several patio heaters safe even under a screened porch.

However, not all patio heaters are equally safe; some are safer than others  an electric patio heater is the safest option. In comparison, propane and natural gas heaters are usually used for outdoor settings and are typically unsafe and not recommended for enclosed spaces without proper ventilation.

However, for interest’s sake, we’ll be discussing four possible options listed from safest to least safe to use in a screened porch.

1 – Electric Patio Heaters

Electric patio heaters are the most popular and safest patio heaters for a screened patio. Most electric patio heaters require access to an electrical outlet system to work, but several types work well on batteries.

As the name suggests, electrical patio heaters convert electricity into thermal energy, which heats a room. As a result, electric patio heaters can evenly distribute heat without potentially harmful open flames, sparks, or harmful gases.

In general, electric patio heaters have minimal clearance requirements compared to propane and natural gas heaters. You can place these easy-to-use heaters anywhere as long as they have batteries or access to an electric outlet.

Electrical patio heaters come with various options, including baseboard heaters, small portable heaters, larger stand-alone heaters, and wall-mounted heaters.

Unfortunately, electric heaters are pretty costly long-term due to their tendency to use large amounts of electricity. In addition, electric heaters are slower and aren’t as effective as propane or natural gas heaters.

Therefore, despite their safety and easy setup, you’ll want to consider the size and heating requirements of your screened patio before purchasing an electric patio heater. However, electrical patio heaters are ideal for intimate outdoor screened patios.

2 – Natural Gas Infrared Patio Heaters

Natural gas infrared heaters are the least inexpensive to run, but they require access to natural gas to run. Additionally, they need to be installed permanently; therefore, these heating units are typically wall-mounted and reasonably suitable for screened patios.

Although inexpensive to run, installing a natural gas infrared heater is costly, and many homes do not have an easily accessible natural gas line. As a result, these heaters are generally popular in commercial settings that aim to maximize their existing gas lines.

Additionally, natural gas heaters generally use infrared heat technology, allowing installation close to roofs.

These infrared heaters are unique warming systems that transfer heat directly to people and furniture instead of heating the air.

So, while traditional heaters are typically rendered ineffective by drafty conditions, natural gas or infrared heaters emit radiant energy that isn’t blown away by the wind, making infrared heaters one of the best ways to heat a screened porch or patio.

Before installing a natural gas heater, consider the following factors.

  • You’ll want to ensure that the natural gas patio heater meets the minimum requirements of safety clearance. Many of these heaters can hang within two feet of the roof, thanks to infrared technology.
  • A single-element heater is enough for a 10×10-foot radium room.
  • Preferably, install the natural gas heater above or near the seating areas on your porch to optimally enjoy the heat.

3 – Propane Gas Patio Heaters

Propane heaters are the most common patio heaters. They are relatively inexpensive, easy to use, heat up quickly, and distribute heat evenly through the room. Additionally, propane heaters are easily portable as most have wheels, making it easy to store them when not in use.

Unfortunately, the primary disadvantage of a propane heater is its requirement for substantial overhead clearance and the need for extra ventilation, making it a poor option for screened porches.

Although the clearance requirements typically depend on the model, most propane heaters require 18 to 24 inches of overhead clearance. For example, an eight-foot propane heater requires a patio or porch with a cover or roof at least 10 feet tall.

Additionally, propane gas heaters require at least 2 to 3 feet around the sides of the screen. More so, you’ll need to steer clear of curtains, support beams, hanging plants, latticework, and so forth to prevent accidents.

Standard propane heaters include tabletop units, the iconic mushroom heater, and gas fire pits.

Additionally, propane heaters will need occasional propane tank replacements. The replacement of the gas bottle’s frequency depends on the size of the propane tank and how often you use the heater.

Propane gas heaters are hazardous to leave unattended in screened patios due to the possibility of a faulty heater causing carbon monoxide poisoning and potential fires.

4 – Wood Burning Patio Heaters

Wood-burning patio heaters are cost-effective to purchase and run. Additionally, they provide a lot of heat; however, wood-burning heaters’ open flame and excessive smoke are significant drawbacks for screened patios.

Despite the natural and outdoor atmosphere that wood-burning heaters create, exposure to open flames is dangerous for children and pets. In addition, the excess smoke can create an uncomfortable setting for visitors; it damages and stains furniture and walls, and it’s unhealthy for people to inhale.

Therefore, we strongly suggest not to use wood-burning heaters on your screened porch.

There is no doubt that iridescent flames and the crackling of open fires effortlessly create an excellent atmosphere. So, if you insist on a wood-burning patio heater, it’s advisable first to find out if you are allowed to make wood fires in your area and then to purchase a chimney extension to steer the smoke out from under the porch or patio.

It’s challenging to give a specific estimate of safe clearance for a wood-burning heater, but note that it takes up quite a lot of space compared to electric or gas heaters.

Pros and Cons of Patio Heaters

We’ve decided to add a short table discussing the pros and cons of the four primary patio heaters that you can use in a screen porch to help you make your decision.


ELECTRIC PATIO HEATERNATURAL GAS INFRARED PATIO HEATERPROPANE GAS PATIO HEATERWOOD-BURNING PATIO HEATER
PROSSafe and reliable, electric heaters have no fumes, harmful gas, or burning elements. Electric heaters do not emit carbon dioxide and preserve natural resources, making them environmentally friendly. Easy-to-use, and do not require tedious and costly installments.Inexpensive if you already have a natural gas line. Natural gas heaters warm up screened porches faster than electric heaters. Stylish designs.Propane heaters are relatively inexpensive and thoroughly heat a room. Propane heaters do not require power sources. Propane heaters are easily portable, making them possible to store away.Wood-burning heaters are cost-effective. Wood-burning heaters provide ample amounts of heat. Wood-burning heaters are stylish.
CONSElectric heaters use large amounts of electricity, making them pretty expensive in the long run. Electric heaters are slow and heating a room. Electric heaters have limited placement due to their dependency on electrical outlet sources. Electric heaters rely on electricity and are, therefore, ineffective during power outages.Natural gas heaters require professional installation. Natural gas heaters need permanent installation. Natural gas heaters are costly to install. Natural gas heaters need to be in a well-ventilated area for safety.Propane heaters emit dangerous and harmful gas, namely carbon monoxide. Propane heaters require substantial overhead clearance to ensure safety. Propane tanks need replacement.Wood burning heaters have an open fire, making it a hazard in screened porches. Wood-burning heaters create a lot of smoke, which is damaging and unhealthy to breathe in.

What Are the Different Patio Heater Styles?

Although we concluded that electrical patio heaters are the safest option for screened porches, there are several different types of patio heaters that might play a role in your final decision. Let’s take a quick look at a couple of different patio heater styles.

Free-Standing Patio Heater

Free-standing heaters are by far the popular patio heaters due to their easy setup and portability. In addition, free-standing heaters are perfect for larger-screened porches.

Free-standing heaters are typically tall and slender with a mushroom-shaped head. They are commonly natural or propane gas heaters.

Wall-Mounted Patio Heaters

Wall-mounted patio heaters are typically placed in a wall or similar structure for permanent installation. Wall-mounted heaters are available as electrical heaters, natural gas, or propane heaters.

Wall-mounted heaters are perfect for smaller screened porches.

Hanging Patio Heater

Hanging patio heaters require installation as they hang from the ceiling. Hanging patio heaters also range from electric, natural gas, or propane gas heaters.

Tabletop Patio Heater

Tabletop heaters resemble smaller versions of free-standing patio heaters. Tabletop heaters are generally electric or portable propane heaters but only generate a small amount of heating.

Therefore, use tabletop heaters for small-screened porches, and consider purchasing more than one.

Fire Pits

Fire pits and chimineas are excellent heating sources, but they are dangerous in a screened porch setting. Fire pits are best for outdoor environments.

To state the noticeable, fire pits and chimineas are made for wood-burning patio heaters.

Factors and Tips to Consider While Choosing a Patio Heater

There are a few other factors you can consider before choosing a patio heater for your screened porch.

First is the heating capability; you’ll choose a heater that provides your desired heat preference. Alternatively, consider purchasing more than one heater.

Use the BTU’s formula to determine the necessary heat requirements: Patio size (square feet) x (desirable Fahrenheit temperature – the outside temperature).

Second is the adjustability. You’ll want to consider whether the heater’s setting or location is changeable to direct it to the ideal area.

Then, note that it’s vital to adhere to the overhead clearance to prevent potential fires. Generally, try to ensure at least 24 to 36 inches of clearance between the heater (top and sides).

Additionally, ensure proper ventilation of airflow to prevent fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, try not to operate the heater for extended periods.

Regardless of the type of patio heater you choose for your screened patio, ensure that you anchor the heater to the ground or wall to prevent it from tipping over and, in turn, becoming a fire hazard.

Lastly, be sure to clean the heater regularly to keep it in excellent condition.

Final Thoughts

Patio heaters are cozy and valuable additions to extend the time you can spend outdoors with friends and family on your screened porch.

However, it’s vital to ensure that you choose a suitable for your porch depending on the size of the porch and heat requirements. Additionally, it’s crucial to follow and adhere to all the safety measures to prevent unwanted accidents or fires from occurring.

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