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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 can agree that summer comes and goes way too quickly. It would be great if you could enjoy the outdoor patio with your friends and family year-round.

Patio heaters allow you to extend your outdoor fun throughout the chilly months. However, can you safely use a patio heater on a screened porch?

The quick answer is yes! You can use a patio heater on a screened porch as long as you use the correct type. Electric patio heaters are the safest, while propane and natural gas heaters aren’t suitable in a closed setting.

Today, I’ll discuss the safety of different types of patio heaters on a screened porch. Read on for some great tips on how to choose the best heater for your covered patio!

Are Patio Heater Safe in a Screened Porch?

Infrared Patio Heater

Patio heaters are excellent for generating heat for outdoor areas, especially during icy winters. They’re perfect for warming up your porch on a chilly Saturday evening get-together.

Still, there’s concern over the safety of patio heaters on a screened porch. You might unknowingly trap toxic gas in the closed space of your patio.

Fortunately, several patio heaters are suitable for covered settings. Patio heaters are typically safe to use if you take the necessary precautions and follow the guidelines.

Some, like the electric patio heater, are safer than others. In comparison, propane and natural gas heaters do poorly in enclosed spaces.

It’s also crucial to pay attention to the floor area and the ceiling height. These factors may affect the safety of your patio heater for your space.

Best Patio Heaters for Screened Porches

Let’s explore two of the safest options for screened patios.

1. Electric Patio Heaters

Electric Patio Heater

Electric patio heaters are the most popular and safest picks for screened patios.

As the name suggests, electrical patio heaters convert electricity into thermal energy, which heats a room. They can evenly distribute heat without the need for harmful fires or gas.

Most electric patio heaters require access to an electrical outlet system, but several types work well on batteries.

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

Why You Should Use Electric Patio Heaters

Here’s what makes electric patio heaters great.

  • Multiple Types: Electrical patio heaters come in various shapes and sizes. You can choose from baseboard, portable, stand-alone, or wall-mounted types.
  • Ease of Use: These heaters are no-fuss and easy to set up. There’s no need for tedious and costly installments, which makes them ideal for outdoor screened patios.
  • Environmental Friendly: Electric heaters have no fumes, harmful gas, or burning elements. They don’t emit carbon dioxide, making them environmentally friendly.

Considerations When Using Electric Patio Heaters

Before you buy an electric patio heater, you should also consider these factors.

  • High Cost: One downside to electric heaters is the long-term cost. They’re pretty expensive due to their tendency to use large amounts of electricity.
  • Slow Heating Speed: It takes longer for electric patio heaters to heat a space up compared to other heaters. Plus, they run on electricity and are ineffective during power outages.
  • Space: Pay attention to the size and heating requirements of your patio. You’ll need to pick an electric heater with enough power to cover your space.
  • Placement: Electric heaters need to be close to electrical outlet sources. You may have limited places for these types of heaters on your patio.

2. Natural Gas Infrared Patio Heaters

Infrared patio heaters that are powered by natural gas have unique warming systems. Instead of heating the surrounding air, they work by transferring warmth directly to people and objects.

It works by converting energy into radiant heat, which feels similar to the warmth of the sun. You need to mount them on walls so they’re reasonably suitable for the limited space of screened patios.

What’s more, because they’re unaffected by cold wind, infrared patio heaters are energy-efficient and cost-saving. Experts say that a 600W infrared heater has the same capacity as a 1500W convection heater.

You can install natural gas infrared heaters above or near seating areas. I like that you can even disguise them as stylish mirrors or lamps!

Why You Should Use Natural Gas Infrared Patio Heaters

These are a few reasons why you should consider natural gas infrared heaters.

  • Safety: Infrared heaters don’t produce carbon monoxide fumes and UV rays. They’re safer for children and pets because they don’t have hot surfaces like other heaters.
  • Effectivity: A single-element heater is enough for a 10×10-foot radium room. They also warm up screened porches faster than electric heaters.
  • Multiple Designs: There are infrared patio heaters that work with solar and electric power. Plus, you can buy them in aesthetic designs that’ll elevate your outdoor patio!

Considerations When Using Electric Patio Heaters

Before buying a natural gas infrared heater, here are a few points to know.

  • Cost of Setup: It may be costly to set up since many homes don’t have access to natural gas lines. However, commercial areas near gas lines can take advantage of these heaters.
  • Roof Clearance: You’ll want to ensure that your heater meets the minimum safety clearance. The good news is that many of these heaters can hang within two feet of the roof.
  • Professional Installation: Natural gas heaters require professional installation. This installation may be costly.

Patio Heaters Unsuitable for Screened Porches

These patio heaters aren’t ideal for screened porches. Still, there are some ways to make them work for your space when needed.

1. Propane Gas Patio Heaters

Propane Patio Heater

Propane heaters are the most common patio heaters you can find. They’re relatively inexpensive and easy to use.

People prefer propane heaters because they heat up quickly and evenly throughout the room. Additionally, propane heaters are portable, making it easy to store them when not in use.

Unfortunately, propane heaters require substantial overhead clearance and extra ventilation. They’re a poor option for screened porches because of the lack of airflow.

It’s important to note that propane heaters require 18 to 24 inches of overhead clearance. For example, you can only use an eight-foot propane heater on a porch with a roof that’s at least 10 feet tall.

Additionally, propane gas heaters must be three feet away from the sides of the screen. You’ll need to steer clear of curtains, support beams, hanging plants, and latticework to prevent accidents.

Considerations Before Using Propane Heaters

These are some of the crucial factors to consider before you use propane gas heaters for a screened patio.

  • Size: Find a heater that isn’t too big for your space. Standard propane heaters include tabletop units, mushroom heaters, and gas fire pits.
  • Monitoring: Propane gas heaters are hazardous when left unattended in screened patios. A faulty heater can cause carbon monoxide poisoning and potential fires.
  • Maintenance: Propane heaters will need occasional tank replacements. The replacement frequency depends on the size of the propane tank and how often you use it.

Advantages of Propane Heaters

Here are a few reasons why others may consider propane heaters.

  • Affordability: Propane heaters are relatively inexpensive and can thoroughly heat a room.
  • Movability: These heaters don’t require power sources. Propane heaters are portable, making it possible to store them away.

2. Wood Burning Patio Heaters

Wood Burning Patio Heater

Wood-burning patio heaters are cost-effective to purchase and run. They provide a lot of heat and improve the patio’s ambiance. The crackling of open fires of a wood-burning heater creates an excellent atmosphere for gatherings.

However, wood-burning heaters’ excessive smoke has significant drawbacks for screened patios. The smoke can result in an uncomfortable setting for visitors. It damages and stains furniture and walls, and it’s unhealthy when inhaled.

There’s also a huge risk of accidents if you have children and pets. Therefore, I strongly discourage using wood-burning heaters on your screened porch.

Considerations Before Using Wood-Burning Patio Heaters

If you insist on a wood-burning patio heater, here are a few factors to consider.

  • Local Regulations: First, check your local regulations on open flames. You should find out if you’re allowed to make wood fires in your area.
  • Ventilation: Purchase a chimney extension to redirect the smoke away from the porch or patio. Wood-burning heaters create a lot of smoke, which is damaging and unhealthy.
  • Space: Ensure you have safe clearance for a wood-burning heater. Avoid placing flammable objects nearby.

Advantages of Wood Burning Patio Heaters

Here are a few reasons why people may use wood-burning heaters for patios.

  • Price: Wood-burning heaters are cost-effective, and they provide ample amounts of heat.
  • Aesthetics: Wood-burning heaters are stylish and can make your patio feel homey.

The Pros and Cons of Each Patio Heater

Here’s a brief summary to help you decide on which patio heater to get!

Electric Patio HeaterNatural Gas Infrared Patio HeaterPropane Gas Patio HeaterWood Burning Patio Heater
SafetySafe – No fumes, harmful gas, or burning elementsSafe – No hot surfaces; safe for children and petsUnsafe – Produces carbon monoxideUnsafe – Fire safety hazard
CostExpensiveCheap if you have existing gas linesInexpensiveInexpensive
Space RequirementsMedium space requirementsGreat for small spacesNeeds 2 feet of overhead spaceLarge space required
DesignComes in various shapes and sizesSleek and stylishComes in various shapes and sizesImproves ambiance
Ease of UseEasyDifficult to set upEasyDifficult

What Are the Different Patio Heater Styles?

Tabletop Patio Heater

Aside from the four types of patio heaters we mentioned, there are also several styles to consider. Let’s take a quick look at some of your options.

1. Free-Standing Patio Heater

Free-standing heaters are better for larger-screened porches and are the most popular. The reason for this is due to their easy setup and portability.

These heaters are the tall and slender machines you may find in commercial areas. Most are natural or propane gas heaters, but you can also find electric versions.

2. Wall-Mounted Patio Heaters

As the name implies, you can find wall-mounted patio heaters along walls or similar structures. They’re available as electrical, natural gas, or propane heaters.

Wall-mounted patio heaters are great because they don’t take up floor space.

3. Hanging Patio Heater

Another patio heater that doesn’t take up floor space is the hanging-type heater. The only downside is you’ll need to hire experts to install this type of heater on your ceiling.

Hanging patio heaters range from electric, natural gas, or propane gas heaters.

4. Tabletop Patio Heater

Tabletop heaters resemble smaller versions of free-standing patio heaters. They’re generally electric or propane heaters that you can move from table to table. This makes them perfect for small patios!

Do note that tabletop heaters can only generate a small amount of warmth. You should consider buying more than one.

5. Fire Pits

Fire pits and chimineas come in various shapes and sizes.

They’re excellent heating sources for open patios and outdoor spaces. Yet, you should avoid using them in a screened porch setting.

Factors and Tips to Consider While Choosing a Patio Heater

Patio Heaters On Porch

Let’s look into the factors you must consider before choosing a patio heater for your screened porch.

1. Heating Capacity

First, you should always choose a heater that provides your desired heat preference. You can use the BTU formula to determine the necessary heat requirements.

All you have to do is subtract the outside temperature from your desired Fahrenheit temperature. Afterward, multiply the value by the patio size in square feet. 

Depending on the capacity, you may need to buy more than one heater!

2. Movability

Next, consider if you need a heater that you can move around. There are various portable heaters, and sometimes you may need to move them to ideal spots.

If you pick a permanent heater, make sure to securely anchor it to the ground or wall. Taking this precaution will prevent it from tipping over and becoming a fire hazard.

3. Safety

In general, you should have at least 24 to 36 inches of clearance between the top and sides of the heater. Additionally, ensure proper airflow to prevent fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Try not to operate the heater for extended periods. Plus, clean the heater regularly to keep it in excellent condition.

It’s crucial to adhere to the overhead clearance set by the heater’s manufacturer to prevent potential fires. 

Final Thoughts

So, can you use patio heaters in screened porches? The quick answer is yes, you can!

Patio heaters are valuable tools that can extend the time you spend outdoors with friends and family. However, it’s vital to ensure that you choose a suitable size and type for your porch.

Screened porches have limited airflow. Because of this, you should always follow the safety measures to prevent accidents!


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