Are you considering buying a heater but are unsure about its safety level? If so, you’ve come to the right place!
Patio heaters come in different types. So, in this guide, we’ll help you understand how to use each one safely with some helpful tips. With these tips, you can enjoy a relaxing evening with your loved ones in a warm space.
We’ll also discuss common questions like, are patio heaters banned in some areas? So, stick around!
Patio heaters are generally safe if used properly. Otherwise, they can pose risks such as carbon monoxide poisoning, fires, burns, and property damage.
The three common types of patio heaters are electric, gas, and propane. Let’s go over how each one functions and its safety level.
These heaters use electricity to work and produce infrared heat, which the skin absorbs for warmth.
So, they’re considered safer than other heaters as they don’t involve the risks of flammable gases and carbon monoxide. They’re also low maintenance as they don’t need gas refills.
On the downside, electric heaters are less powerful than other types as they produce a low heat output.
They’re also less portable as you need to place them near a socket so you’ll be restricted with their movement.
Propane heaters are quite powerful, as they can produce nine times the amount of heat of an electric heater.
They have great portability as they work with a propane tank, which you can move around as you wish.
Unfortunately, propane heaters involve some risks like gas leaks and fires. You’ll also need to refill or replace the propane tank regularly.
Natural gas patio heaters are safer than propane ones because gas, unlike propane, is lighter than air, so it dissolves rapidly.
Gas heaters connect to your main gas line, and their cost is added to your monthly bill. So, you don’t have to worry about the gas running out or having to refill it.
However, gas heaters have some drawbacks as well. They pose some safety risks such as gas leaks which can be hazardous.
They’re also the least portable option, as they have to connect to a gas line.
Now that you know about the different types of patio heaters and the risks they pose, let’s go over the safety tips for using them.
Patio heaters are made for outdoor spaces, which means they need a lot of space and proper ventilation.
As such, you should avoid placing them close to furniture, walls, carpets, ceilings, or any flammable items.
Leave at least 3 feet around all sides of the heater or more if the manufacturer indicates so.
Patio heaters shouldn’t run continuously for several hours as they get hot and eventually require time to cool down.
Leaving the patio heater running for many hours can cause it to get dangerously hot.
Bear in mind that different heater models can run for different periods. So, be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions to find out how long your heater can run.
Remember to turn off the heater when you’re done using it.
You should place your patio heater on a flat surface to prevent it from tipping over. With that in mind, you shouldn’t keep the heater on your lawn as the grass is unstable.
If you have to place the heater on your lawn, place a stable surface below it.
Patio heaters easily collect dust and debris that create clogs, which can later lead to gas leaks. To prevent clogging, cover the heater when it’s not in use.
You’ll find custom covers in several sizes available online. Covering the heater will also prevent rust from building up.
If you won’t use the heater for several months, such as during the summer, store it indoors for added protection.
Patio heaters shouldn’t be left unattended while in use as this could lead to a safety hazard. You should keep children and pets away from the heater.
Avoid turning the heater on when the wind is strong, as it might blow over or the flame could turn off.
When installing a gas or a propane heater, check that there aren’t any gas leaks.
If you suspect a gas leakage at any point, turn off the gas immediately or go away from the source and call your local fire department.
For propane heaters, you can perform a soap test to check if there are leaks. You do this by adding a soap and water mixture to the connections in the propane cylinder.
If any bubbles form, there’s a gas leak, and you need to tighten that connection.
Propane cylinders should be stored in a specific way to guarantee safety. Here are some storage tips to follow according to the fire code:
- Never store cylinders inside a building
- Don’t store cylinders on a roof
- Avoid storing in high temperatures
- Store cylinders in a place with no potential damage
- Store cylinders 5 feet away from doorways
- Store cylinders 20 feet away from fuels
Even if you follow all the above safety precautions, you never know when something might accidentally catch on fire.
That’s why it’s good to keep a fire extinguisher close to the heater. This way, you can extinguish small fires and prevent them from turning into fire hazards.
For gas heaters, you’ll need a class-B fire extinguisher. For electric ones, you’ll need a class-C extinguisher. You could also purchase a multipurpose fire extinguisher that will work with both.
Different states have different regulations regarding patio heaters.
In general, patio heaters aren’t banned in the US. However, many environmentalists have been making campaigns and trying to get them banned.
As a result, California was the first state to ban gas heaters. New York has also passed a law that bans natural gas and propane heating in new buildings.
San Francisco followed the same movement and passed its ban on natural gas in new buildings and restaurants, which will only permit electric power.
On the other hand, some states are opposing those bans. In fact, 20 states have passed preemption laws prohibiting their cities from banning natural gas.
Environmentalists hope that these are only the first steps, and other states will take the initiative to ban them, but it seems unlikely that this will happen soon.
There are also some countries, such as France, that banned outdoor heaters everywhere because of environmental concerns.
Patio heaters are great for enjoying outdoor spaces in the winter. They come in different shapes, sizes, and types. The three main types are gas, propane, and electric.
Knowing how to use patio heaters safely is essential, as they can pose risks if used or stored incorrectly.
Electric heaters are the safest option as they don’t produce gas, but they’re the least powerful. Propane heaters are the most powerful option, but also the riskiest.
As for gas heaters, they pose medium risks and connect to your main gas line.
By following the safety tips in this guide, you can enjoy the patio heater of your choice without worrying about the risks.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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