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Which Type of Patio Heater Is Best for You?

Which Type of Patio Heater Is Best for You?

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Those who have a patio in their home know the blissful feeling of relaxing there to unwind after a long day. However, doing so becomes less appealing when wintertime rolls in. This is the case unless you have a patio heater.

When picking one to buy, you’re probably asking yourself: which type of patio heater is the best?

The decision of which patio heater to purchase involves several aspects. The first is choosing the type of patio heater configuration to go for. Wall-mounted, freestanding, and hanging heaters are the main options to pick from. The optimum choice depends on the patio’s size and wall material.

Read on to learn more about the advantages and drawbacks of each type. We’ve also included valuable information about gas vs. electric heaters and convection vs. radiation heating.

Types of Patio Heaters

When deciding on a heating solution for your patio, there are many options to choose from. Here are some of the most common types of patio heaters:

Wall Mounted Patio Heaters

The first type is the wall-mounted patio heater. As the name suggests, this type of heater is installed on your patio’s wall using wall-mounted brackets. These brackets give the heater the range of motion required to allow pointing it in the desired direction.

A wall-mounted patio heater is an excellent option for smaller patio areas. The reason is that they don’t take up a lot of space, leaving a larger part of the patio free for you to move around.

However, there are logistical limitations when installing a wall-mounted patio heater. These devices are only compatible with drywall and sheetrock. If your patio wall is made of concrete or exposed bricks, you won’t be able to mount the heater on it.

Pros of Wall-Mounted Patio Heaters

The main advantage of wall-mounted patio heaters is that they’re highly space efficient. Since they’re installed on your patio wall, they leave more space on the ground for tables and other appliances.

Additionally, wall-mounted patio heaters are usually significantly more efficient than their freestanding counterparts, which we’ll discuss in the coming section.

Cons of Wall-Mounted Patio Heaters

The primary drawback of wall-mounted patio heaters is the hassle of installing them. As previously mentioned, they only work with walls of certain materials.

Additionally, they aren’t easy to install. As a result, you may need to hire a professional for the installation. This is an extra cost that’s added to the already steep price of these devices.

Finally, since these heaters are fixed in place on your patio wall, they don’t offer any portability.

Freestanding Patio Heaters

Next, we have the freestanding patio heater.

This is the first outdoor heating solution that was introduced to the market. Freestanding patio heaters are ideal for those who will be moving them around a lot. Additionally, they’re optimal in cases where you’ll need several heaters and want to control each one separately.

Freestanding patio heaters typically operate with propane as their fuel. This is the reason behind their flexibility and portability. We’ll dive deeper into the differences between propane and electric patio heaters later in this guide.

There are several variations of freestanding patio heaters. They include glass tube heaters, mushroom-style heaters, and table-style heaters.

Pros of Freestanding Patio Heaters

The main appeal behind freestanding patio heaters is the portability and level of control they provide.

However, this isn’t the only benefit of owning this kind of heater. It also adds a twist to your patio’s aesthetic. Furthermore, freestanding patio heaters are usually offered at attractive prices.

Cons of Freestanding Patio Heaters

Freestanding patio heaters aren’t without their limitations.

These heaters’ efficiency leaves a lot to be desired. Additionally, they don’t perform well on particularly windy days. As a result, freestanding patio heaters are only suitable for small areas.

Hanging Patio Heaters

The third type of patio heater is the hanging variant. Unlike wall-mounted and freestanding heaters, which are set up on your patio’s wall and ground respectively, this device hangs from your patio’s ceiling.

As a result, hanging patio heaters leave more space on your wall for TVs and decorations, as well as additional space on your patio floor and table.

You should only go for a hanging heater if your patio has a hard ceiling roof to install it on. Also, note that these devices aren’t easy to install. Therefore, you may need a professional’s help to get the job done.

Pros of Hanging Patio Heaters

The main trigger for buying a hanging patio heater is that it saves space. Another advantage of choosing this type of heater is that it adds some flare to your patio’s look.

Cons of Hanging Patio Heaters

Like the other types of patio heaters mentioned above, hanging patio heaters have some negative aspects.

The main disadvantage of these devices is their installation process. It’s a complicated one that may prove challenging even to experienced DIYers. Therefore, you should expect to incur the extra cost of hiring a technician to install your hanging heater.

Gas vs. Electric Patio Heaters

Another aspect to consider when buying a patio heater is its source of energy.

You can classify patio heaters into two groups: gas and electric. Both types give you the same results. However, electric patio heaters are typically more appealing and have more advantages than propane gas heaters. However, propane patio heaters come out on top in some aspects.


In terms of portability, propane gas patio heaters are superior to electric ones. The reason is that you don’t need to connect them to a power source for them to work. Therefore, you can move them around the patio freely since they have a propane tank attached.

You may wonder if you can achieve the same portability with an electric heater if you have a long power cord. In some cases, you can. However, most electric patio heaters are wall-mounted. In turn, they’re fixed in place.


As far as safety is concerned, electric heaters take the cake. Their superior safety is due to the lack of an open flame and their coolness to the touch. In turn, they’re safer for households with children running around.

Additionally, you don’t need to worry about having adequate ventilation with electric heaters. In contrast, propane heaters can be dangerous if not properly ventilated due to the carbon monoxide they produce.

Another safety concern with propane patio heaters is that you should always ensure there’s sufficient weight on the bottom to prevent them from falling over.


In terms of cost efficiency, electric patio heaters are the better choice. This is due to their lower energy requirement, which makes them the more financially sound option in the long run. Additionally, electric heaters tend to cost less upfront than propane ones.

Another reason behind electric patio heaters’ lower cost is that they don’t need fuel to operate. With a gas heater, you’ll need to continuously pay for propane tanks to fuel the device.

This requirement also lowers propane heaters’ convenience. Once you run out of fuel, you can’t use your gas heater. With electric heaters, you’ll have heat as long as you have power in your home.

Ease of Use

Electric patio heaters are much easier to use than propane ones. All you need to do is plug them into an outlet, and you’re good to go.

On the other hand, you need to connect a propane tank to your gas heater and light the fuel either with a lighter or using a built-in ignition switch.

That being said, propane heaters provide a better heat output than electric ones.

Convection vs. Infrared Patio Heaters

The final consideration to keep in mind when choosing a patio heater is its heating mechanism.

There are typically two mechanisms to choose from: convection and infrared.

Convection Heaters

Convection heaters work by transmitting heat energy through space. They warm the air around you, and in turn, heat your patio.

Most propane patio heaters use this mechanism to serve their purpose.

The effectiveness of such heaters in an outdoor setting isn’t the best. The reason is that hot air tends to rise, meaning that the air around you will only be warm for a short time. This issue is compounded by windy environments, in which convection heating is even less effective.

Infrared Heaters

Infrared heaters do their job by emitting infrared rays that heat objects instead of the air around them. This is the way most electric patio heaters work.

Heating through infrared radiation is a much better option for outdoor patios. This is due to the superior wind resistance.

That being said, some people prefer convection heaters because you actually feel the heat more. With infrared heaters, the sensation is akin to the warmth you feel when sunlight hits your skin.

Final Thoughts

Sitting on your patio to relax is something people usually only do during spring and summer. When winter comes by, the weather is often too cold to allow for this activity. The solution to this issue is a patio heater.

Those looking to make their patio usable all year long are probably wondering which type of patio heater is the best.

To answer this question, you need to keep several considerations in mind. First off, you need to see if wall-mounted, freestanding, or hanging heaters are the best choice for your patio’s size and materials.

Secondly, you should choose between gas and electric heaters. You should choose the latter unless your main priority is portability.

Finally, consider the type of heating that the patio heater provides. For outdoor settings, we recommend going for an infrared heater instead of a convection one.


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