The days are getting shorter and the evening air is starting to have a chilly bite. But that doesn’t mean outdoor fun has to end! With the right freestanding patio heater, you can keep enjoying your deck, patio or backyard long after the sun goes down.
These independent heaters provide targeted warmth right where you need it, without taking up valuable tabletop space. So you and your guests can comfortably linger outdoors over dinner and drinks, even as the temperatures dip.
In this post, we’ll recommend the top 5 freestanding patio heaters that will allow you to extend your outdoor living season. We’ll also provide tips on what to look for so you can choose the right heater for your space. Let’s get started!
Best Overall: Hiland Pyramid Flame Patio Heater
If you’re looking for a powerful, attractive freestanding heater that can provide ambient warmth for medium to large gatherings, the Hiland Pyramid Flame Patio Heater is an excellent choice.
This pyramid-shaped heater packs a punch with 40,000 BTUs of heating power emanating from its ceramic glass column. That’s enough warmth to keep about a 15-foot space comfortable on cool evenings. The realistic flame effect adds style and can be adjusted between high and low settings as desired.
The Hiland heater is built solidly of weather-resistant aluminum with a stylish bronze powder coat finish that blends well with various outdoor aesthetics. It’s compatible with standard 20-pound propane cylinders, which conveniently fit into the base compartment and are easy to swap when empty.
Safety features like the auto shut-off tilt valve provide peace of mind, and the included wheels make it simple to reposition this 85-pound unit as needed. Overall dimensions are 89 inches high x 18 inches in diameter.
- Powerful 40,000 BTU heating capacity
- Attractive pyramid design with realistic flame
- Sturdy aluminum construction with bronze finish
- Built-in wheels for portability
- Auto shut-off tilt valve for safety
- Higher price point than smaller models
For a freestanding patio heater that offers maximum heating capability along with great looks, the Hiland Pyramid Flame model is a winning choice.
Best Value: Fire Sense Hammer Tone Bronze Commercial Patio Heater
If you need to heat a large area on a budget, the Fire Sense Hammer Tone Bronze model is one of the best freestanding patio heater values available.
This heater delivers a formidable 46,000 BTUs of heat that can comfortably warm spaces up to 18 feet in diameter. The hammered bronze steel casing has an attractive finish that fits a range of outdoor design aesthetics.
Convenient features like the piezo ignition system, adjustable heat settings, and built-in wheels for easy movement make operation user-friendly. Safety is addressed with the anti-tilt auto shutoff that activates if the heater tips over.
This Fire Sense heater stands an impressive 90 inches tall yet requires minimal assembly right out of the box. It’s compatible with standard 20-pound propane tanks that store discretely within the base.
- Powerful 46,000 BTU heat output
- Large heating coverage area
- Adjustable heat settings
- Wheels for portability
- Safety auto shut-off function
- Great value for the price
- Some assembly required
- Generic style
For shoppers needing a high-performance heater capable of warming large gatherings – but without a premium price tag – the Fire Sense Hammer Tone Bronze model is a great fit.
Best Design: AmazonBasics Havana Bronze Commercial Patio Heater
The AmazonBasics Havana Bronze heater offers the perfect blend of form and function. Its commercial-grade heating capability is matched by its sophisticated, minimalist aesthetic.
Like the Fire Sense heater above, this AmazonBasics model provides a powerful 46,000 BTUs of heat. The piezo ignition fires up quickly and easily, while the adjustable heat settings let you control the temperature.
This heater features a slim bronze steel construction with a sleek Havana bronze finish that makes an elegant design statement. The included wheels make it simple to reposition the 89-pound unit as needed.
At 90 inches tall, the AmazonBasics Havana Bronze model can warm up to a 15-foot diameter when positioned properly. Convenient auto shut-off activates if the heater tips over for safety.
- Powerful 46,000 BTU heating capacity
- High-end Havana bronze aesthetic
- Wheels allow easy repositioning
- Safety auto shut-off function
- Some find assembly challenging
- Higher price tag
For the right mix of power, convenience and upscale style, the AmazonBasics Havana Bronze Commercial Patio Heater is a winning formula.
Most Portable: AZ Patio Heaters Electric Patio Heater
Free yourself from propane with the AZ Patio Electric Patio Heater, a versatile freestanding model that offers quiet, odorless heating operation.
This electric heater uses a 5000-watt halogen bulb to generate clean radiant heat that can comfortably warm a 12-foot diameter when positioned properly. The power dial allows adjustable heat output, while the modern stainless steel and aluminum casing blends into diverse outdoor aesthetics.
Because it doesn’t require combustible fuel, the AZ Patio Electric model provides ambient warmth without open flames or fumes. It’s lightweight and equipped with a handy handle for maximum portability. Just plug it into a GFCI outlet and position as desired.
At 89 inches tall with a 39-inch pole span, this Electric model can extend usage for small- to medium-sized patios and decks during shoulder season evenings. Just note that its maximum heat output can’t match the intensity of top propane models.
- Electric operation, no propane required
- Adjustable heat settings
- Lightweight and portable
- Modern stainless steel styling
- Lower heat output than propane
- Limited by proximity to outlets
For a compact, versatile heat source free of propane tanks and open flames, the user-friendly AZ Patio Electric Patio Heater is an excellent option.
Best High-End Design: Thermo Tiki Deluxe Propane Patio Heater
Sometimes you need a heater that’s as stylish as it is efficient. That’s where the Thermo Tiki Deluxe Propane Patio Heater comes in.
Encased in a handcrafted ceramic mosaic tile mantle, this visually stunning heater emanates 38,000 BTUs of heat from a stainless steel burner. The 7.5-foot height allows it to warm up to a 15-foot diameter area.
The Thermo Tiki heater includes push button ignition and an adjustable heat dial. The auto shut-off tilt valve provides safe operation, while the durable aluminum frame ensures seasons of use. It runs off standard 20-pound propane tanks discreetly housed in the base.
Weighing 85 pounds, this well-crafted heater combines ample heating capabilities with standout aesthetics. It makes a gorgeous focal point for any style of outdoor living space.
- Unique, handcrafted mosaic tile design
- 38,000 BTUs of heating power
- Durable construction for long life
- Safety auto shut-off function
- High-end price tag
- Propane tank not included
If performance meets artistry on your patio heater must-have list, the Thermo Tiki Deluxe model delivers ample warmth and wow factor.
How to Choose the Right Freestanding Patio Heater
Now that you’ve seen the finest freestanding patio heaters available, let’s discuss what to look for in choosing the right model for your needs. Key factors to consider include:
The power of a patio heater is measured in BTUs – British Thermal Units. The more BTUs, the greater the heat output. Most standard freestanding heaters range from around 25,000 to 46,000 BTUs.
Here are some BTU guidelines:
- For small spaces under 15 sq. ft: Opt for 25,000+ BTUs
- For larger areas of 15-25 sq. ft: Choose 30,000-40,000+ BTUs
- For big commercial spaces: Select 46,000+ BTU models
Matching BTU output to your space size prevents buying more power than you need. But insufficient heat will leave your guests chilly, so don’t go too conservative.
Size and Coverage
To select an appropriately sized heater, first measure the square footage of your outdoor space. Also gauge the ceiling height if under cover.
Next, check the product details for the heater’s maximum coverage area and heat radius. This is the optimal space it can efficiently heat. For example, a 15-foot diameter coverage means a radius of 7.5 feet from the center.
Some sizing considerations:
- Taller heaters around 7-9 feet work best for heating bigger areas up to 18-20 feet in diameter. The heat can radiate more freely.
- Smaller 5-6 foot heaters are ideal for warming intimate spaces 10-12 feet across.
- Position the heater centrally so heat can radiate evenly across your space.
Make sure to choose a heater with a coverage area that aligns with the size of your patio or deck. Undersized models can’t warm the full space, while oversized units waste money and energy.
To maximize heating effectiveness, position your freestanding patio heater centrally within the space. This allows warmth to radiate in all directions.
Avoid placing near furniture or underneath overhangs where structures can block heat flow. Check your heater’s manual for the recommended clearance from combustible surfaces. Leaving ample room around the unit ensures proper air circulation.
Portable heaters with wheels allow you to easily reposition them as needed for optimal coverage. Just be sure to exercise caution when moving a hot unit, and turn off the fuel supply first.
Style and Finish
These days patio heaters are available in a range of aesthetics – from generic and utilitarian to decorative statement pieces. Consider your overall outdoor décor when selecting a style.
- Neutral metallic finishes like black, bronze, stainless steel or brushed aluminum blend well into diverse settings.
- Bold printed graphics or colorful finishes add flair. But make sure they align with your design scheme.
- For a minimalist modern look, opt for sleek stainless steel or aluminum models.
- Choose durable, weather-resistant materials like aluminum, steel, or fade-resistant polyesters.
Finishes like powder coating and anodizing provide protection from the elements so your heater retains its luster over many seasons.
Today’s patio heaters offer more bells and whistles than simple heating. Here are some popular add-ons to consider:
- Wheels allow easy repositioning on hardscapes
- Adjustable heat settings let you regulate the temperature
- Safety auto shut-off prevents accidents if tipped over
- Weather/water-resistance enables all-season use
- Integrated tables or shelves add functional surface space
- Decorative lights provide added ambiance
Consider which special features would enhance enjoyment or convenience of your heater. But more add-ons can increase the price.
Standard freestanding patio heaters run on either propane or electricity. Here’s how the fuel sources compare:
- Propane heaters provide more powerful heat output and adjustable control. The portable propane tanks make relocation easy. But they must be stored and handled carefully.
- Electric heaters offer the convenience of simply plugging into an outlet without dealing with combustible fuel. However they provide lower heat output than propane and limit placement to within cord length of outlets.
- Natural gas heaters are also available but require professional installation and hook-up to your home’s supply line. They provide consistent fuel without tanks.
Evaluate your space, heating needs, mobility requirements and safety concerns to choose the best fuel source for your situation.
Freestanding Patio Heater FAQs
If you’re considering a freestanding patio heater, you likely have some questions. Here we’ve answered some of the key queries that often come up:
How much clearance do I need around my patio heater?
Refer to your owner’s manual for the specific recommended clearances for your model. Most heaters require at least 2-3 feet of space above and on all sides.
Leaving ample clearance from furniture, walls, and overhead obstructions ensures proper air circulation. This allows the heat to flow freely while reducing safety risks.
Insufficient clearance can lead to fire hazards as well as limiting the heater’s ability to warm your space effectively.
How can I operate my patio heater safely?
Here are some top tips for safe operation of your freestanding patio heater:
- Carefully read all safety warnings and only use appliance as directed
- Ensure adequate clearance from walls, furniture and overhangs
- Never move heater while lit and don’t leave operating unit unattended
- For propane models, properly secure tank, check for leaks before use
- Turn off propane tank valve when not in use and disconnect tank when storing
- Make sure auto shut-off features function properly before each use
- Keep children and pets away from hot surfaces
Exercising common sense goes a long way! Follow guidelines carefully and your heater can provide cozy warmth for years.
What size propane tank do most standard heaters use?
The majority of full-size freestanding patio heaters are designed for standard 20-pound propane cylinders. The 20-lb size is convenient to handle and provides 10-12 hours of heat before needing a swap.
Some extra powerful or commercial-grade heaters may accept larger 30-pound or even 40-pound tanks. Check your heater’s specifications to ensure what size it accommodates before purchasing.
Have 1-2 spare propane tanks on hand so you can quickly exchange an empty for a fresh one and avoid interruption.
How long should a patio heater last?
With proper maintenance and care, a high-quality freestanding patio heater should provide 3-5 years of effective use. Less expensive models may degrade noticeably after 1-2 years.
Lifespan varies based on frequency of use, exposure to weather elements, and how well the unit is maintained.
Seeking out heaters made with durable materials like aluminum, steel, and heat/UV-resistant polyesters will maximize longevity. Storing the appliance covered and inspecting for damage before winter can also extend its usable life.
Replacing gaskets and tightening fittings at the first sign of leaks/gaps can ward off bigger problems down the line.
How do I maintain my patio heater?
Performing simple periodic maintenance keeps your freestanding patio heater looking and working its best:
- Wipe down exterior surfaces with a damp cloth. Use special stainless steel cleaner on applicable pieces.
- Remove debris/dirt from burner ports, mesh screens and heating elements.
- Check seals and tubing for leaks/cracks. Replace damaged gaskets or tubing as needed.
- For electric models, ensure wiring is intact and outlets function.
- Cover heater and store sheltered when not in use for extended periods.
- Check owner’s manual for any specific maintenance recommendations.
- Some models benefit from annual servicing – ask dealer if unsure.
Taking a few minutes for basic care and upkeep on a regular basis goes a long way toward longevity!
The Bottom Line
Don’t let dropping temperatures interrupt your outdoor living enjoyment! With the right freestanding patio heater, you can comfortably extend the seasons on your deck, patio or garden retreat.
Look for critical features like ample heating capacity, quality construction, safety innovations, and aesthetics to match your style. Position the heater thoughtfully to radiate warmth evenly throughout your space.
By following safe practices and proper care guidelines, your freestanding patio heater can provide cozy heat for many years of chilly weather enjoyment. Have more questions? Feel free to contact us anytime for additional tips on maximizing your outdoor living space!