What is an Outdoor Patio Heater?

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 when it's 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.

Recommended Reading

The most energy-efficient heater depends on the specific space you wish to heat. Types of heater systems include electric, kerosene, propane, oil-filled and hydronic, pellet, and natural gas.

Electric heaters offer many advantages over gas heaters. Easy installation, long life, higher safety, and a higher efficiency make these heaters a great option for your home.

Before you buy a heater, weigh the pros and cons of natural gas and electric heaters in order to find out which one works best for you. Read our guide to learn about all the differences between electric and natural gas heaters and find the one that works best for you.

Heaters come in a variety of options and sizes, so how do you find the right one for your space? Read our guide to learn the differences between each type of eater and the proper applications for each.

Avery Dietzen
Avery Dietzen

Originally from Wisconsin, Avery earned her degree in English before making the trip down to the Atlanta, GA area. Writer by day, reader by night, she prides herself on having a creative outlook and tries to instill that in everything she writes. As a content writer for HomElectrical, she uses her skills to share tips and tricks about lighting, HVAC, and going green. If she’s not writing, she’s reading, painting, hanging out with her dog, or spending time with family and friends.

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