The 4 Best Patio Heaters: A Mini Buyers Guide

photo of row of fire pits

Patio heaters can make patios warm and comfortable enough that you can effectively use your patio area all year round. They also make great outdoor accessories as an outdoor heater brings a warm ambiance and glow to an outdoor setting. I’ve made a small list of the best bang for your buck patio heaters for each of the 4 major heater types. Not all patio heaters are equal, and there are some things you need keep in mind.

There are four factors that you need to consider when choosing a patio heater

  • BTU Power
  • Heater Fuel Types and Sizes
  • Heater Design
  • Cost 

I’ll take you through these essential factors to consider when thinking about a patio heater purchase, as well as how my favorite heaters rate on this metric. We’ll also consider what makes the Amazon Basics patio heater the best option for most people.

In A Hurry?

No worries, I’ve put together a table with some of the key features of my top pics below. Be sure to scroll down to find out more about each patio heater!

Image Brand Key Features   Price
amazon_basics_patio_heater Amazon Basics BTU: 46,000

Design: Standing

Heat Source: Propane
Check Price
briza_infrared_patio_heater Briza BTU: 5,118

Design: Standing / Mounted

Heat Source: Electricity
Check Price
firesense_patio_heater Fire Sense BTU: 45,000

Design: Standing

Heat Source: Natural Gas
Check Price
innfinest_fire_pit InnFinest BTU: 1,000 – 100,000

Design: Rectangle

Heat Source: Wood
Check Price

BTU Comparison

BTU stands for British thermal unit and is a measure of how fuel will heat an area. This means it’s a great way to estimate how a given heater’s ability will be in heating your patio area.

To measure your patio size, the easiest method is to calculate the square footage. If your patio is square or rectangular, multiply the length by the width to get a rough figure for the area. Then you can decipher how many BTUs your patio requires.

Traditional BTU calculations are designed for indoor areas and make the assumption that there is the insulation that keeps the heat trapped. Most patios do not have any insulation and require a much higher BTU to effectively heat the area. As a general rule multiply your square footage by 300 to get the required BTU size

You can view BTU as a shorthand for heating performance, which is great – more power is better, right? That’s typically true, but you should be aware that a high BTU also brings higher expenses to purchase and run.

Related: How Hot Does A Patio Heater Get? Patio Heater 101

Electric heaters are measured via wattage rather than BTU, but a rough conversion from wattage to BTU has been given here.

Wood-based patio heaters will produce significantly different values depending on the type of wood used. For example, seasoned wood burns much hotter and with less smoke than greenwood.

💡 I have some excellent tips on how to choose the best firewood here

If you know the type of wood you’ll be using in your fire pit; you can check this table curated by Utah State University to see approximate BTUs. Attempts to standardize this reading means it is measured via a cord of wood, a cord being about 128-cubic feet of firewood.

BTU Measurements

Patio HeaterBTURating
Amazon Basics propane patio heater46,0008/10
Fire Sense natural gas patio heater45,0008/10
Briza Infrared Patio Heater5,1186/10
InnFinest Outdoor Fire Pit1,000-100,0009/10

Heater Fuel Types and Sizes

Patio heaters can come in various shapes and sizes, which bring with them different logistical needs.

Natural gas

Natural gas heaters are fixtures that will have to stay attached to the gas line permanently. This removes the need for you to have to replace fuel tanks when they run out, particularly on a cold night. 

While their unit per hour cost will be lower than propane, a gas line will require professional installation if you don’t already have one, which can be expensive.


Propane gas heaters will not require any professional installation. They generally come with a propane tank inside the base. This type of heater generally has wheels to position and transport the heater. This portability makes it easy to store the propane heater in the garage during the summer months, or when hit with heavy weather.

The major drawback to propane heaters is that the propane tanks need to be regularly replaced, and this becomes an ongoing cost. Here in Las Vegas, the cost to purchase a tank is about $49, and the cost to refill is about $15

Infrared Heat and Electric Heat

Infrared heat works similarly to how our Sun operates. As the Sun’s heat has to travel through space, it can’t travel through the air as heat often does on Earth. 

Infrared heaters generally run off of electricity, so you would need a power outlet nearby. There are infrared heaters that run on natural gas, although they are uncommon,

Infrared heat is thus a more efficient type of heat for outdoor heating as the heat is absorbed into objects near the heater and then radiates that heat, keeping you warm. 

However, electric heaters will be great at warming up small, indoor areas quickly. Electric heaters and infrared heaters also require minimal, if any, professional installation. These types of heaters are either radiating or forcedair heaters, which can play into how much space it can heat, with forced-air usually being the superior, and costly, option.

The video below outlines the 3 heater types mentioned above in a little more detail.


Wood needs to be purchased and stored in a cool, dry area. This will be an ongoing cost, but wood has the highest heat potential, as shown in the BTU table above. You can easily find enormous amounts of treated firewood at your local big box hardware store.

The main drawback of wood firepits is the amount of smoke produces, This smoke can irritate your lungs, and just be plain annoying if the wind is not cooperating and blowing smoke everywhere. There is however the option of getting your hands on a smokeless fire pit. Which has a very similar heat output as a traditional firepit, with less smoke and generally easier cleanup. The benefits generally also come with a bigger price tag, so it would be beneficial to weigh the pros and cons.

Related: Are Smokeless Firepits Worth The Cost?

Heater Design

Patio heaters can come in many different designs. Common options include the hanging patio heater, tabletop patio heater, wall-mounted patio heater, and a standing patio heater. Different types of heater styles accommodate different patios and use cases. Read below to find out which style patio heater is right for you.

Hanging patio heaters will only come in the infrared or electric heat style. These can usually be self-mounted and require a power hookup.

Tabletop patio heaters are similar to standing patio heaters, except they’re significantly smaller and can easily fit on a table without dominating all the surface area. This means a much smaller propane tank and, therefore, lower BTUs.

Wallmounted heaters tend to be either infrared or natural gas heaters. Their position on a wall makes it very difficult to change any propane tank regularly. These types often require a professional install who knows how to mount a heater properly.

A standing patio heater is big enough to reliably heat large outdoor spaces while also not requiring a complicated install if it is propane-based like Amazon’s. Because of this, and ease of use, Standing propane heaters are the most common type of outdoor heater.


Infrared, propane and electric heaters will require little to no installation costs. You may have to get an electrician around to install extra power outlets or wall-mount it properly with a power source, but this won’t apply to most people.

If you already have natural gas hookups in your home or business, connecting up a natural gas patio heater is relatively simple. Still, if you’re not confident, then you’re looking at contacting a plumber or HVAC technician to get it sorted for you.

Generally, the cost of these heaters scales linearly with the amount of heat output. So, the amount of space you want to heat means a higher BTU heater, or multiple heaters.

Best Overall: Amazon Basics Propane Patio Heater

Combining all the best aspects of convenience and powerful heating, the Amazon Basics Propane Patio Heater available on will quickly warm spaces within a 9′ radius without needing an expensive install or mess around with piles of wood.

You can easily refill the heater with spare propane tanks and it’s portable due to the included wheels. This makes summer storage a pretty simple task. Also, It won’t be producing large amounts of smoke or noise during operation either.


  • Very high BTU – 46,000
  • Aluminum & steel body
  • Included 1 year Amazon warranty
  • Easily weighed down with sand or water


  • Assembly instructions need revision
  • Heat reflector prown to melting

Best Natural Gas Patio Heater: Fire Sense Natural Gas Patio Heater

photo of fire sense patio heater

The Fire Fire Sense Natural Gas Patio Heater on Amazon is a great product that will still heat the same size area as the Amazon Basics heater. However, it does not have the same portability because it needs to be hooked up to natural gas.

Many homes in my area actually have natural gas hookups on the outside for a heater like this, or more commonly, a natural gas grill. If your home doesn’t include one, then a gas line hookup would need to be installed, or use a natural gas tank that can be refilled when needed.


  • High BTU – 45,000
  • Natural gas costs less than propane
  • Usually no tanks that need to be replaced
  • Stainless steel construction


  • Gas line installation may be needed
  • More permanent than a propane heater
  • Needs to be bolted down

Best Infrared Heater: Briza Infrared Patio Heater 

photo of briza patio heater

The Briza Infrared Patio Heater on Amazon is a portable infrared option that can be used indoors and outdoors. However, it can’t produce as much heat, so it’s unlikely to be the best option if you live in a frigid climate or have ample outdoor space to heat.


  • No gas line or propane tanks needed
  • Can be mounted
  • Can be safely used indoors
  • Includes remote
  • Built in timer


  • Less heat output than other heaters
  • Power source required

Best Wood Patio Heater: InnFinest Outdoor Fire Pit Set

photo of innfinest fire pit

InnFinest’s Outdoor Fire Pit Set on Amazon comes with a fire pit, a BBQ, and even an ice pit. As mentioned above BTUs for firewood vary greatly depending on the type of wood used. That being said, this set enables the firepit to hit much higher temperatures than gas or infrared heaters,

The higher BTUs available to you means this traditional fire pit will perform much better in cooler temperatures, and can even produce a comfortable heat at freezing temperatures.

The downside is that you must have a good supply of firewood, and depending on your usage patterns and wood choice, it may be pretty smokey.


  • Ability to heat very large outdoor area
  • Highest potential BTU
  • Sturdy construction
  • Includes grill grate
  • Can be used as ice bucket in warm months


  • Must start fire manually
  • Firewood needs to be continually added
  • Can produce lots of smoke*

Honorable Mentions

Hamilton Bay Focusing Propane Heater

photo of hamilton bay focusing patio heater

I personally own 2 of these. The most attractive feature of this patio heater is that the reflector on top of the heater can be adjusted with a lever, allowing you to point the heat in a specific direction.

My patio furniture is set up against the wall, along with the heater. So, a traditional propane heater would heat the wall, which is wasted heat! It does cost a bit more than the Amazon Basics unit, and its BTU output is lower as well at 38,200. I think the focus feature makes up for the BTUs as my 2 units heat up a 14 x 16 patio space quite nicely.


  • Steel and aluminum body
  • Can more effectively focus heat
  • Comes with a weatherproof cover


  • Less BTU than similarly priced heaters
  • Propane tank door is a little flimsy

Solo Stove Ranger Outdoor Fire Pit

photo of solo ranger fire pit

For those that love the smell of wood, but hate the smoke that comes along with it, then this Solo smokeless fire pit may be a good choice. It has a double-wall design which allows the fuel (firewood) to completely burn in a process called complete combustion.

I wrote a great article on exactly how fire pits work if you’re interested. But, it basically uses the extra airflow provided by the firepit to burn the wood down to a fine ash. This can make cleanup a breeze, and the heat produced is equal to or better than a traditional fire pit.


  • Almost no smoke output
  • Similar or better heat production
  • Less ash to clean
  • Firewood lasts longer compared to traditional firepits


  • Holds less firewood than other firepits
  • Prown to rust
  • Must start fire manually

Final Thoughts

Consider the size of the area you want to heat and the heater’s ability to produce that. If you want the convenience of low upkeep, a natural gas heater is probably your best bet. However, as it requires natural gas lines, a propane patio heater is better for large patio areas.

If you’ve got a smaller, enclosed space for your patio, you may find an infrared heater works better, as it will be a very low fuss to install and maintain; however, it is unlikely to put out as much heat.

While traditional wood-burning firepits have the greatest heat output, it brings smoke and the hassle of firewood, which makes the convenience of the other types of heaters very appealing. Smokeless firepits are an alternative that produces similar heat, with almost no smoke.

Michael Carpenter

Hi, I'm Mike. I grew up in North Carolina having a blast on trampolines, go-karts, and just sitting on the porch with my friends. I have since moved to Las Vegas with my wife, 2 children, and 3 dogs. When I'm not chasing the kids around the house, I am probably chasing them around the backyard!

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