The 6 Best Patio Heaters


HomeHome / News / The 6 Best Patio Heaters

Jun 20, 2023

The 6 Best Patio Heaters

Make the most of your outdoor space with an electric or propane patio heater.

Make the most of your outdoor space with an electric or propane patio heater.

Jump to a Section

We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more.

Food and Wine / David Hattan

Whether it's a mid-winter afternoon or a cool spring night, a patio heater can extend the life of your outdoor space. After all, the weather shouldn't dictate the time you spend enjoying drinks on the patio or gathering around your outdoor kitchen. We tested dozens of propane and electric patio heaters, from portable tabletop versions to tall towers for big spaces, to find the best ones for different needs. Read on for our favorites, plus what to look for in a patio heater.


Pros: This powerful heater gets to work quickly to warm you up.

Cons: At 89 inches, the height may make assembly difficult for some people.

This water-resistant heater warms up quickly and is easy to use once assembled. It comes with built-in safety features, like a tip-over shut-off safety switch. While assembling this tall tower was easy overall, we did find that some will need a step stool to stand on to assemble the top. We love that this tower is sturdy and stays put, even when bumped. We even put this tower out on a windy day, sure it would tip over, and it didn't budge. We also found it easy to move thanks to the wheels. Made of iron and available in four finishes, its streamlined design would look great in any backyard.

Price at time of publish: $284

Food & Wine / Jennifer May

Home Depot

Pros: This fuel-efficient heater is easy to put together, and we felt its heat up to eight feet away.

Cons: We had trouble removing the protective film on the stainless pieces, and we had to cut a zip tie to release the fuel line from the packaging, which could have resulted in puncturing it.

If you're looking for a propane heater, you almost can't beat this fuel-efficient model, which ranked a close second to our Best Overall. We found it was easy to put together, and it has safety features that keep it from catching fire if it tips over. It's also very easy to use. It ignites immediately and heats quickly and evenly to keep you comfortable wherever you're sitting. Feeling its heat up to eight feet away made it one of the most powerful heaters. Like some of our other favorites, it has wheels to move it around easily. Best of all, its design keeps wind from affecting its output, so you can enjoy some warmth even on a blustery day.

Price at time of publish: $78


Pros: This electric heater is convenient and has easy-to-use temperature controls.

Cons: The unit wobbles more than some others we tested.

Electric heaters are a great choice for patio lovers who don't want to replace propane tanks. While assembly required two people, we found it fairly simple. The Energ+ has two heat settings so you can adjust to your comfort level, and a colored light on the knob indicates the different settings (low or high heat, with or without light). While we found the table wobbled a bit, there was no danger of it tipping over. Making sure your table is on level ground should prevent issues.

Price at time of publish: $261


Pros: It's a powerful patio heater that prioritizes safety features.

Cons: We had a few issues with assembly, as one piece came damaged and the wrench that came with it didn't fit the screws.

We felt this propane patio heater's warmth up to nine feet away, which makes it an excellent choice for large outdoor spaces and a great value overall. It comes with safety features that include an auto-shut-off valve as well as certification from ETL (Electrical Testing Laboratories). Yet, the instructions are printed on the heater, so first-time users or guests can easily figure out how to operate it. Wheels make moving it easy. Choose from six finishes, including stainless steel, dark bronze, and a cheery blue-green hue.

Price at time of publish: $127

Food & Wine / Rachel Christensen


Pros: This heater produces all-around heat, plus it's easy to move and simple to use.

Cons: Does not come with a cover.

The Frontgate Commercial Patio Heater is quick and easy to set up, and we find the price reasonable for its quality. Its design may be sleek, but it's actually sturdy. As one tester said, "I can see this standing up to the elements for several years." In fact, you have the option to add sand to the bottom for extra stability. Another handy safety feature is a chain to hold the propane tank in place. We love that it produces a good amount of all-around heat, and has easy-to-use controls. Best of all, it comes with wheels so you can easily move it to wherever you need a little extra warmth. Our only complaint? We wish it came with a cover, as some other heaters do, to help it last even longer.

Price at time of publish: $459


Pros: Lightweight, sturdy, and safe, this heater is perfect for direct heat while sitting at a table.

Cons: It's not powerful enough to heat a large space.

If you're looking for a tabletop model, the Star electric heater stood out in our tests. We like that, while it feels toasty, the unit is not so hot it would burn someone if touched. It's stable, too, and stays in place with wind gusts or even when we bumped the table it was on. We recommend it to those who want direct heat on either side of a small outdoor table.

Price at time of publish: $170

The Arlmont & Co. Triplett Propane Patio Heater produces enough heat to keep you warm, while remaining portable, easy to use, and a great value. Choosing a patio heater means taking into account patio size, fuel, and safety features, but we would recommend this heater to most people.

Cuisinart Perfect Position Overhead Propane Patio Heater ($400 at Amazon)

If you’re looking for a patio heater you can easily reposition, the swivel arm and wheels of this propane model could be worth the investment. It heats well and is very fuel efficient, as even after several uses, our propane tank was still on "full." It's also very stable.

Bali Outdoors Portable Patio Heater ($119 at Amazon)

Weighing just 14 pounds and standing 20 inches tall, this propane heater is a good portable option. We found it was easy to assemble with clear instructions. One disadvantage of it being lightweight: it can tip over on a windy day. But, it has an automatic shut-off feature for when this happens.

Westinghouse Infrared Electric Outdoor Heater ($200 at Home Depot)

We like this electric heater's compact size and that it's stable enough to stay put even when bumped. Its oscillating feature helps push heat into your space more efficiently. It comes with a remote for user-friendly control. Setup couldn't be easier, either: just snap the unit into its base and it's ready to use.

SereneLife Infrared Outdoor Electric Space Heater ($350 at Amazon)

This electric heater measures 57 inches high, and we felt its warmth up to five feet away, making it one of the best electric units for heat output. We only wish the heating element ran closer to the ground to warm our legs and feet when sitting.

EnerG+ Electric Tabletop Patio Heater ($265 at Wayfair)

This stainless steel model doubles as a bistro table, but it's much more effective as a heater if you’re sitting close to it. For this reason, we recommend it for no more than three people. Also worth noting is its sturdiness: it didn't budge when we sat down or kicked the stand.

East Oak Outdoor Patio Heater ($155 at Amazon)

We liked this propane heater for a few reasons. Assembling it was simple, it heats up fast, and it's easy to move thanks to a light build and wheels. We felt its heat up to six feet away, though its height kept our lower halves from feeling as warm.

Thermo Tiki Outdoor Propane Patio Heater ($281 at Amazon)

Like the East Oak heater, this propane heater from Thermo Tiki emitted heat up to six feet away, with considerably less heat lower to the ground. Still, we like this model for its sleek design, which wobbled only slightly when bumped into.

Testing dozens of patio heaters, several stood out to us, but we had to exclude several others that didn't measure up in some way. For example, we liked the Living Accents Freestanding Propane Patio Heater ($389 at Walmart) for its easy setup and sturdy build, yet it emitted heat only half as far as our top-performing propane models, which makes it overpriced. We noted these same pros and cons with the AZ Patio Heaters Quartz Glass Tube Propane Patio Heater ($358 at Home Depot), in addition to a frustrating assembly.

We loved the chic design and easy assembly of the West Elm Standing Heater Lamp ($499 at West Elm), but this electric model didn't produce enough heat to make our list. Though popular on Amazon, the Fire Sense Telescoping Offset Pole Mounted Infrared Patio Heater ($155 at Amazon) also left us underwhelmed with its heat, and seeing this electric heater's lightweight frame sway when bumped raised a safety concern for us. One of the few patio heaters under $100, the Hiland HIL-1500DI Electric Patio Heater ($73 at Amazon) seems like a good value, but we only felt its warmth when standing under it; poor quality and difficult assembly (we had to drill holes into it) knocked it off our list.

We tested 27 electric heaters and 14 propane heaters, using them as intended and testing them for stability by gently kicking or pushing them. We looked for quality of construction and safety features, as well as how effectively they heat, fuel efficiency, easy assembly, and user-friendliness.

Food & Wine / Dera Burreson

Propane tends to be more powerful, producing hotter heat, but electric heaters don't require you to refill a propane tank. Consider which is more practical and important for you, as both options have benefits.

A larger patio will, you guessed it, require a more powerful heater, while the same heater might overpower a small space. Check the number of BTUs each unit produces: the more BTUs, the more heat it emits.

Priority number one actually isn't your warmth – it's your safety. Make sure to check the safety features of the unit, such as automatic shut-off or a stable base that can prevent tipping over. If kids and pets will be nearby, making sure the unit's surface stays relatively cool, or that the heating element is safely out of reach, is also important.

"In my experience, electric (infrared and halogen) heaters cost less to run," says De'Von Dixon, a contractor in Atlanta. "But it is completely dependent on utility costs in your area and the voltage required for the individual unit. Purchase prices of electric heaters are usually lower than propane, but it varies unit by unit."

According to Dixon, you can find efficient versions of both propane and electric heaters: "Propane heaters tend to have larger heat outputs, but both propane and electric can suffice in heating your patio."

It's important to consider safety, including fire risk and adequate ventilation, when choosing where to set up your heater, according to Dixon. "Electric heaters can be used in a garage or under a covered patio. Propane heaters should only be used in places with adequate ventilation to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. All heaters should be placed away from flammable materials," he says.

Modern patio heaters have a range of features to keep you safe and warm. "Good safety features to check for when purchasing a patio heater are an anti-tilt base, auto safety shut-offs, no naked flames, and a CSA safety rating," says Dixon.

Julia Skinner, Ph.D., is a writer, culinary educator, an avid gardener and outdoors person, and author of Our Fermented Lives. She writes about and teaches fermentation, cooking, and wild foods through her business, Root, and through her newsletter.

De'Von Dixon is an Atlanta-based general contractor and founder of Dixon Construction Services.

Pros: Cons: Price at time of publish: $284 Dimensions: Heat Source: Heat Output: Pros: Cons: Price at time of publish: $78 Dimensions: Heat Source: Heat Output: Pros: Cons: Price at time of publish: $261 Dimensions: Heat Source: Heat Output: Pros: Cons: Price at time of publish: $127 Dimensions: Heat Source: Heat Output: Pros: Cons: Price at time of publish: $459 Dimensions: Heat Source: Heat Output: Pros: Cons: Price at time of publish: $170 Dimensions: Heat Source: Heat Output: Cuisinart Perfect Position Overhead Propane Patio Heater Bali Outdoors Portable Patio Heater Westinghouse Infrared Electric Outdoor Heater SereneLife Infrared Outdoor Electric Space Heater EnerG+ Electric Tabletop Patio Heater East Oak Outdoor Patio Heater Thermo Tiki Outdoor Propane Patio Heater