What is an Outdoor Patio Heater?

By Avery Dietzen on 10/15/2020

These days, the idea of wintertime is daunting, especially for restaurant and hotel owners who usually close off their outdoor seating areas in the cold weather months.

Luckily, with patio heaters capable of heating up your outdoor spaces, you can keep your seating areas warm this winter so customers and guests can still enjoy being out even in when its cold outside.

What is an outdoor heater?

A patio heater warms up outdoor spaces like patios, balconies, or seating areas. There are three fuel options an outdoor heater may use: electric, natural gas, or propane.


  • An electric patio heater does not emit any gas so you can install electric heaters in enclosed or covered spaces as well as small outdoor areas, unlike natural gas or propane heaters.
  • Electric heaters can mount on the wall
  • Because they run off electricity, electric heaters can cost more to operate than natural gas or propane heaters.
  • If hardwiring, we recommend consulting an electrician.

Natural Gas

  • Natural gas patio heaters connect to a natural gas line.
  • They must be installed by a professional, leading to high initial costs, but natural gas heaters run low-cost in the long run
  • Must be placed in a well-ventilated area so trapped gas does not pose a health risk
  • The least portable option since it must connect to a gas line


  • The cost to run a propane patio heater depends on the cost of propane and how often the tank needs to be switched out
  • Extra propane tanks need to be stored in a safe location away from the heater to not present a safety risk
  • As the most portable option, propane heaters come in a variety of styles.
  • They must also be placed outdoors in a well-ventilated area. 

*Natural gas and propane patio heaters cannot be placed indoors or in an enclosed area

Which patio heater should I choose?

Electric patio heaters offer the best option for restaurants, hotels, and homes with screened in porches, covered patios, and small balconies. They can be mounted out of sight so there is no cord to trip on.

Natural gas and propane heaters work best on patios and decks that have no covered or enclosed spaces to allow the gas to ventilate safely.


Don’t let the cold weather get you down. Stay cozy and comfortable while enjoying your outdoor spaces! Browse HomElectrical to find an outdoor patio heater for your seating area. 


Interested in learning more? Check out our other blogs!