Who doesn't enjoy a nice day on the patio, alone or with friends and family? Warm, fresh air, maybe a barbecue. But the later it gets, either in the day or year, it can get rather chilly and uncomfortable. This is where the wonderful invention of the patio heater comes in. After all, you don't want to catch a cold while enjoying your patio time.
Electric patio heaters have seen a massive surge in popularity in recent years due to their convenience and efficiency. You don't have to worry about gas lines or propane tanks.
This guide will look at all factors to consider and help you figure out how to choose the best electric patio heater.
Understanding Electric Patio Heaters
Let's first look at what an electric patio heater is, shall we?
First off, there are two options for an electric patio heater: hardwired or plugged into a standard outlet. The advantage of an outdoor electric heater at 220 volt is that it is portable, so you can move it wherever you need it. On the other hand, a hardwired heater is far more powerful and will give you significantly more heat. However, it has to be professionally installed and cannot be moved. So you'll have to weigh which option would be best suited for your purposes.
They also have two different ways of heating: infrared or halogen lights. The former quickly and efficiently warm up your outdoor space with little electricity usage. The latter operates at higher temperatures but with a cool exterior, making it a safe option if you have small children or pets.
The most significant advantage of electric patio heaters compared to propane and natural gas is that they are much more environmentally friendly as they don't emit fumes. Depending on your area's electricity and gas rates, they are almost as cheap to operate as natural gas.
Electric patio heaters also come in many different shapes and sizes, so you must choose which installation would work best for you. Freestanding electric patio heaters can usually be used on the ground or on a table and plugged right into a standard outlet, making them quick and easy to use and move. On the other hand, best outdoor electric ceiling heaters or wall-mounted options are a more permanent solution as they don't take up any floor space and might even be recessed into the ceiling or the wall for even more discretion. Many of these heaters have remote controls and can be connected to your smart home. Mounted electric patio heaters must be professionally installed by a licensed electrician, making them a bit more complex and expensive. Still, on the other hand, this will also give higher voltage and, with that, more heating power.
How to Choose the Best Electric Patio Heater?
A variety of factors influence the best electric patio heater for your application, so let's look at the most significant ones to help you make an informed decision.
The standard measure for heat in gas-powered patio heaters is the BTU (British Thermal Unit), while electric patio heaters are measured in watts. To roughly calculate the wattage you will need to heat your patio adequately, you have to measure your patio and multiply the area in square feet by 10.
So, for example, if your patio measures 15 feet by 20 feet, you arrive at 300 sq. ft. Multiply this by 10, and you will need 3000 watts. Similarly, if the measurements are 20 feet by 20 feet, it will give you 400 sq. ft. and the requirement for 4000 watts. However, remember that you may need two or more heaters to heat the entire area.
Electric patio heaters come in various designs and use different heating elements to generate heat. Each heating element type has its own advantages and disadvantages, making them suitable for different scenarios.
So, let's look at some common heating elements used in electric patio heaters:
Quartz Heating Elements
Quartz heating elements heat up quickly, providing instant warmth. They are energy-efficient and emit a gentle, even heat that doesn't dry out the surrounding air. Quartz heaters are often compact and portable.
They can be relatively expensive compared to other heating elements, and the quartz tubes may need replacement over time.
Quartz heating elements are ideal for smaller outdoor spaces or when you need rapid, focused warmth. They are often used in tabletop or wall-mounted patio heaters.
Infrared Heating Elements
Infrared heaters are highly efficient, emitting infrared radiation that warms objects and people directly without heating the air in between. They offer even heating and are generally energy-efficient.
They may take longer to warm up compared to quartz heaters. The effectiveness of infrared heaters can be reduced in windy conditions as the infrared waves can be dispersed.
Infrared heating elements are well-suited for larger outdoor areas where people may be spread out, as they provide consistent and targeted warmth. They work best in sheltered or enclosed spaces to avoid interference.
Ceramic Heating Elements
Ceramic heaters are durable and long-lasting. They distribute heat evenly and are relatively energy-efficient. They are less affected by wind compared to some other heating elements.
They may take longer to reach the desired temperature compared to quartz heaters. Ceramic heaters can become very hot to the touch and pose a burn risk.
Ceramic heating elements are suitable for medium-sized outdoor spaces, especially when safety is a concern due to their ability to withstand wind and provide even heating.
Halogen Heating Elements
Halogen heaters produce radiant heat quickly and effectively. They are energy-efficient and can heat large areas efficiently.
They can be costly to operate over extended periods, and the halogen bulbs may need replacing over time.
Halogen heating elements are great for heating larger open outdoor spaces like patios or decks. They provide instant warmth and are often used in freestanding patio heaters.
So, the choice of heating element for an electric patio heater depends on the specific requirements of your outdoor space:
Size and Portability
The size and portability of patio heaters are crucial factors when selecting the right heating solution for your outdoor space. Here's why these aspects are essential, along with guidance on choosing the appropriate size and the benefits of portable patio heaters:
Importance of Size
Heating Coverage: The size of your patio heater directly impacts its heating coverage. Choosing the right size ensures that the entire area you want to warm receives adequate heat. An undersized heater may leave some parts of your patio chilly, while an oversized one could be inefficient and costly.
Aesthetics: The patio heater's size can also affect your outdoor space's overall aesthetics. It should complement your patio's design and not overwhelm or obstruct the view.
Safety: Proper sizing helps maintain safety. Overcrowding an area with too many heaters can lead to a fire hazard. At the same time, an inadequate number of heaters may force people to huddle too closely for warmth.
You Might Also Like: 10 Essential Safety Tips for Outdoor Patio Heaters
How to Choose the Right Size?
Measure Your Patio: Start by measuring the area you want to heat. Determine the square footage or square meters to determine your desired heating capacity.
Consider the Height: The height of the heater can affect its coverage. Taller heaters may distribute heat over a broader area but can also be less efficient in smaller spaces.
Check the BTU (British Thermal Units) or Wattage: Patio heaters typically list their BTU output if they are powered by gas or Watts if they are electrical. A higher BTU rating or wattage indicates more heating power. As a general guideline, you'll need approximately 20-30 BTUs per square foot of space or for electric patio heaters, multiply the square footage by ten, so for a 400 sq. ft. patio, you will need 4000 watts.
Importance of Portability
Flexibility: Portable patio heaters offer flexibility in terms of placement. You can move them around to target different areas or accommodate changing seating arrangements.
Storage: Portable models are easier to store when not in use, especially during the off-season or when you need your patio space for other purposes.
Easy Installation: Portable heaters are typically simpler to set up and require less permanent installation, making them more suitable for renters or those who want a hassle-free heating solution.
Benefits of Portable Models
Customizable Heat: You can place portable patio heaters strategically to customize the heat distribution based on your guests' needs or the patio's layout.
Seasonal Use: Portable heaters are easy to store when not needed, allowing you to make the most of your outdoor space during different seasons.
Budget-Friendly: Portable heaters are often more cost-effective upfront than built-in or fixed heating solutions. They offer an affordable way to extend your outdoor comfort.
Adaptability: You can use portable heaters in various outdoor settings, not just on your patio. They're versatile in gardens, decks, and even at outdoor events.
Safety is paramount when using an electric patio heater, and there are several features to look for when shopping for electric patio heaters.
Check for tip-over protection or a sturdy base, depending on which type you are looking for. These features will automatically shut off the heater if it is accidentally knocked over, preventing the risk of fire or burns. Another essential feature is overheat protection, which cuts off power to the unit if it gets too hot, preventing damage and the risk of fire.
Especially if you have pets or children, a cool-to-touch exterior is critical to prevent potential burns. If your patio is exposed to the elements, choose an electric patio heater with waterproof and weather-resistant components to extend its lifespan and prevent electrical hazards.
Look out for a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). GFCI outlets or built-in GFCI protection can help prevent electrical shocks in wet conditions. Some heaters come with timers and auto-shutoff features that allow you to preset how long it will run, preventing overheating and conserving energy.
Ensuring that your electric patio heater has a UL (Underwriters Laboratories) certification is vital. UL certification ensures that the heater has been thoroughly tested for safety compliance. Products that meet UL standards are less likely to pose fire, shock, or other hazards.
Many local regulations and building codes require electrical appliances to be UL-certified. Similarly, some insurance providers may require UL-certified appliances to minimize risks. In case of accidents, having UL-certified equipment can reduce liability concerns.
Finally, UL certification also involves evaluating product quality and performance, assuring customers that they are purchasing a reliable and well-manufactured product.
As your electric patio heater will most likely live outside, weather resistance is crucial because they are exposed to the elements, and exposure to rain, snow, wind, and humidity can lead to several issues, such as electrical safety, corrosion, performance degradation and aesthetic damage.
Manufacturers use various materials and coatings to ensure durability and weather resistance, like stainless steel, powder coating, weatherproof housing, heat-resistant paint and protective covers.
Unless you intend to try to thaw your patio during winter, you should take good care of your electric patio heater before winter hits, so here are a few tips on proper winter storage and maintenance that are essential to keep your outdoor patio heaters in good condition:
Ideally, store your patio heaters indoors during the winter months to protect them from harsh weather. If indoor storage is not possible, use weatherproof covers to shield them.
Clean your heater thoroughly before storing it for the winter, and remove any debris, dirt, or residues. Use a damp cloth or mild soap if necessary. Unplug the heater and disconnect it from the power source to prevent accidental activation.
Inspect all components for damage before using the heaters again in the spring, including cords, plugs, and heating elements. Repair or replace any damaged parts and conduct a test run before your first use in the new season to ensure everything functions correctly.
Electric patio heaters are considered more energy-efficient than propane or natural gas heaters. However, their energy efficiency can vary depending on several factors.
The type of heating element used in the heater plays a significant role in energy efficiency. Infrared heating elements are often more energy-efficient than traditional resistive heating elements because they heat objects and people directly instead of heating the air.
Higher-wattage heaters generate more heat but consume more electricity. So, choosing an appropriately sized heater for your space can help maximize energy efficiency. The presence of shelter or insulation in the outdoor space can help retain heat and improve the heater's efficiency. Finally, how you use the heater also impacts efficiency. Running it continuously at maximum power consumes more electricity than intermittently or at a lower setting.
To maximize energy savings with electric patio heaters, consider the following tips:
Select a heater with an appropriate wattage for the size of your outdoor area. An oversized heater can be inefficient and consume unnecessary electricity. Consider installing timers or thermostats to control the operation of the heater. This allows you to heat the space only when needed and avoid running it when the area is unoccupied.
Focus the heat on the areas where people are present, rather than trying to heat the entire outdoor space. Consider getting an infrared heater, as it is more efficient at heating people and objects directly. They can be a better choice for targeted heating.
Use outdoor furniture, screens, or windbreaks to create barriers that block wind and help retain heat. If the forecast calls for dropping temperatures, you can also encourage guests to dress warmly for outdoor gatherings. This allows you to lower the heater's output without sacrificing comfort.
You will likely also worry about how an electric patio heater will impact your electricity bills, but they might be gentler than expected. Modern, energy-efficient models are designed to provide effective heating while consuming less electricity. This results in lower operating costs compared to less efficient heaters.
Energy-efficient heaters can heat the intended area without wasting energy, so you only pay for the heat you need. They also reduce overall energy consumption, not only saving you money but also allowing you to reduce your carbon footprint.
Initially, energy-efficient models may cost you more, but the energy savings over time can offset this, providing long-term financial benefits. Many energy-efficient heaters also have advanced controls, such as thermostats and timers, allowing you to tailor heating to your needs and avoid unnecessary energy consumption.
Electric patio heaters can have a range of control options that enhance user convenience. Some common control options include:
Many modern electric patio heaters come with remote controls allowing you to adjust the heat settings, turn the heater on or off, and set timers from a distance. These remotes are often user-friendly and come with clear buttons for easy operation.
Thermostatic control will allow you to set a specific temperature for the heater. The heater will then automatically adjust its output to maintain the desired temperature. This feature is handy for keeping consistent warmth without constant manual adjustments and can save on electricity by not constantly running.
You can schedule when the heater turns on and off with a timer. This feature is handy for pre-heating an outdoor space before use or automatically turning off the heater after a set period to conserve energy.
Variable Heat Settings
Many patio heaters offer different settings, such as low, medium, and high. This way, you can choose the warmth that suits your comfort and energy-saving needs.
Smart Home Integration
Some advanced models are compatible with smart home systems like Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, enabling control via smartphone apps or voice commands. This provides flexibility and remote control options.
If you prefer a straightforward and easy-to-use option, choose a patio heater with simple controls and basic heat settings. Models with manual switches are ideal for users who don't require advanced features.
If convenience is a priority, consider a patio heater with a remote control, as it allows you to adjust from a distance without getting up. Smart-enabled heaters are also suitable for those who enjoy smartphone or voice control.
Opt for a patio heater with a thermostat and timer to maximize energy savings. This combination allows you to set specific temperatures and schedules, ensuring efficient electricity use.
Choose a heater with variable heat settings if you want flexibility in heat output. This allows you to adjust the warmth based on changing weather conditions and user comfort.
And if you often use your outdoor space for gatherings, a patio heater with a timer feature is helpful for pre-heating the area before guests arrive.
Price Range and Budget Considerations
The price range of electric patio heaters can vary significantly based on factors like brand, features, quality, and design.
Budget Range ($50 - $150)
Entry-level electric patio heaters with essential features and lower wattage typically fall within this price range. These heaters are suitable for small outdoor spaces and may lack advanced controls or design elements.
Mid-Range ($150 - $400)
In this category, you can find a wide variety of electric patio heaters with better build quality, higher wattage, and additional features like remote controls, variable heat settings, and weather-resistant materials. These heaters are suitable for medium-sized outdoor areas.
High-End Range ($400+)
High-end electric patio heaters often come with premium features such as thermostats, smart home integration, durable materials, and stylish designs. They are suitable for larger outdoor spaces and offer enhanced convenience and durability.
Many factors can affect the cost of electric patio heaters:
Wattage and Heating Capacity
Higher-wattage heaters capable of heating larger areas tend to be more expensive.
Build Quality and Materials
Heaters constructed from high-quality materials like stainless steel or aluminum, and those with weather-resistant coatings, are often pricier due to their durability.
Features and Controls
Advanced features like thermostats, timers, remote controls, and smart home compatibility can add to the cost.
Design and Aesthetics
Heaters with stylish or unique designs may have a premium price tag.
Established and reputable brands may charge more for their products based on their reputation for quality and customer support.
Energy-efficient heaters, while potentially more expensive upfront, can save you money in the long run and may come at a higher initial cost.
Like with many other products, setting a budget is critical. Determine your outdoor space's size and heating requirements before setting a budget. This will help you choose an appropriately sized heater. You also must decide which features are essential for your comfort and convenience. If you don't need advanced controls, you can save money by opting for a simpler model.
While budgeting, keep in mind the long-term operating costs. More energy-efficient heaters may cost more upfront but can save you money over time. Do your research and look for reviews and ratings of specific models to assess their performance and durability. Also, consider reputable brands known for quality products.
Shop around and compare prices from different retailers to find the best deal, and keep an eye out for discounts, promotions, and seasonal sales. Investigate the warranty offered with the heater. A longer warranty can indicate a manufacturer's confidence in the product's quality.
Customer Reviews and Ratings
Customer reviews should be a vital part of your research as they will provide you with firsthand customer experiences, giving you valuable insight into the quality of the product. Websites such as Google or Trustpilot will be your best bet.
Electric patio heaters can be a great addition to your patio, allowing you to extend the season you can enjoy with friends and family. Calculate the suitable heating capacity you need and use that as a foundation for your research. Consider the type of heating element, the size and portability, safety features, energy efficiency and more to ensure you can make an informed decision and get the best outdoor electric patio heater.
KingToys is a family-owned online business based in beautiful Ontario, Canada. Our commitment to quality is reflected in our carefully curated selection of electric patio heaters, all tested for safety and durability.
As a family-owned business, we take pride in our personalized approach to customer service. Our team is always happy to answer any questions and help you find your perfect patio heater. We want you to feel like part of our family and know you can trust us to provide you with the best products and services possible.
Call us today at 289-440-2555 to learn how we can help you get your patio nice and comfortable!