Outdoor Heater: Electric vs Propane

If your home is like over 90 percent American houses, you have some type of outdoor feature, whether it’s a patio, deck, or both. These spaces are morphing into new living quarters that we embrace wholeheartedly with 70 percent of adults owning a grill. If you’re outside when it’s chilly, you may about the differences between an outdoor heater and electric vs propane.

In a Hurry? Here’s Our Top Picks…

1. Outland Firebowl

Outland Firebowl 870 Premium Outdoor Portable Propane Gas Fire Pit with Cover & Carry Kit, 19-Inch Diameter 58,000 BTU Auto-Ignition
  • ✓ PERFECT NO MESS CAMPFIRE: Say goodbye to dirty ash, expensive firewood, and bothersome smoke and enjoy a clean realistic propane campfire. The perfect outdoor centerpiece for camping trips, RV travels, tailgating get-togethers, beach parties, and family evenings on the backyard patio.
  • ✓ COMPACT AND EASY TO TRANSPORT: Travel size fire pit is lightweight and portable; easily set up in minutes with no tools required. Matchless auto-ignition feature ensures a fast and simple start-up; all weather fire bowl delivers a clean and smokeless flame with cozy warmth and beautiful evening ambiance. Measures L 19” x W 19” x H 11” with total output of 58,000 BTU/HR.
  • ✓ BEAT THE CAMPFIRE BAN: CSA approved fire pit is safe to use during most campfire bans; always check with the current fire restrictions in your area. Spark free propane campfire helps protect campgrounds and forested areas with a safer easy-to-use fire option. No assembly required
  • ✓ COMPLETE FIRE PIT KIT: Includes Cover & Carry Kit, pre-attached 10-Ft hose to keep your standard 20-Lb propane tank cylinder (not included) safely out of sight, fully adjustable regulator with chrome valve knob for varying flame height, and 4.4-Lb natural lava rock set designed to enhance flickering effect. Optional accessories of CSA approved Natural Gas Conversion Kit 785 and Standard Carry Bag 760 available separately.
  • ✓ SIGNATURE OUTLAND LIVING QUALITY: Durable high quality steel construction with protective enamel finish for dependable longevity; superior stainless steel burner, fasteners and contemporary decorative belt. Outland Living has outdoor living perfected so you can create the perfect ambiance to share stories and good times. Make new memories with family and friends, in comfort and style anywhere outdoors, with the Outland Firebowl Premium propane fire pit.

Last update on 2020-06-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

There’s a lot to like about the Outland Firebowl. The company’s story is interesting, for a start. The unit is both lightweight and compact. It measures 19 inches long by 19 inches wide by 11 inches high. Yet, its output is a toasty 58,000 BTUs. You can adjust the flame on the propane heater to your desired level. Overall, the product is well-made.

Pros

  • The Firebowl is CSA-approved.
  • The heater has an authentic campfire look.
  • The heat output is impressive.

Cons

  • The open flame is a risk factor for children and pets.
  • Clean-up is messy.
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

2. Lasko Designer Oscillating Heater

Sale
Lasko 6405 Designer Oscillating Heater,Gold
  • Widespread oscillation
  • Adjustable thermostat with automatic shut-off timer
  • Fully assembled. 10" x 10" x 16" tall.
  • 1500 watts of comforting warmth with high, low and thermostat controlled settings
  • ETL listed. Oscillation for broad coverage . Please note : No remote

Last update on 2020-07-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Lasko Designer Oscillating Heater is an attractive choice if you want heat without the risks of an open flame. We love the look of it. It reminds us of a mini chimera. It measures 7.2 long by 7.2 inches wide by 16.18 tall for use on a table or on the ground next to your feet.

Pros

  • The design is functional and aesthetically pleasing.
  • The heater has an automatic shut-off timer.
  • The heat output is decent.

Cons

  • The heater doesn’t have a remote control.
  • It only has a high or low setting.
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

3. TRUSTECH Patio Heater

TRUSTECH Patio Heater - Outdoor Heater, 1500W, Ceiling Mounted, Waterproof, Outdoor or Indoor Use, Ideal for Balcony, Electric Heater
  • 【Super-Fast Quiet Heating】- Up to 1500W power supply. The heater heats in a gentle and fast way, makes you feel comfortable. Heated air will be raised, creating convection heated air around the whole room. The entire process is quiet and constant, you won't get in trouble of getting dry because of the circulation air
  • 【Safe and Environmentally Friendly】- Producing no odors, chemicals or fumes. Ideal for gazebos, patios, indoor or outdoor living spaces, balconies. If the patio heater is overheating or tip-over, it will automatically shut off. Both tip-over and overheating protections allow you to enjoy the warmth and does not need to worried about the heater all the time, you and your family will be safe as well as warm
  • 【No Fan Design】- No fans at all. If you are looking for a healthier form of heating without blowing, TRUSTECH electric space heater is a great choice for you. It would not blow dust and allergens into the room. Patio heater also don't dry out the air like some other forms of heating can, constant warmth means that mold and mildew cannot grow, perfect for all indoor rooms. For healthy consideration of every family member, TRUSTECH patio heater is your first choice
  • 【Easily Assembled and Lightweight】- The lovely all-steel housing material works with every décor. Comes with an 8.2" adjustable chain, making it easy to carry and change height or location
  • 【Quality Assured】- TRUSTECH feeds off the positivity we get from our satisfied customers. Being in the industry of fireplace heater for over 10 years, gives us the competitive edge that allows us to offer remarkable customer service and unbeatable prices. TRUSTECH offers you 2-Year quality assurance and lifetime support. Customer service office provides 100% satisfaction service

Last update on 2020-06-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The TRUSTECH Patio Heater is an ideal choice if you need an overhead heat source. Unlike many products we reviewed, this one is waterproof. The design is attractive, making it a welcome addition to your outdoor space.

Pros

  • The product has a two-year warranty and lifetime support.
  • The design is pleasing.
  • The heat output adapts to the ambient conditions.

Cons

  • It doesn’t have a fan to circulate the heat.
  • The heater won’t heat open areas well.
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

4. Hiland Pyramid Patio Propane Heater

Hiland HLDS032-GTTHG Portable Propane Table Top Pyramid Glass Tube Patio Heater, 9500 BTU, Bronze
  • 39-Inch tall portable glass tube patio heater
  • Hammered Bronze finish. Quartz Glass Tube
  • Heat output: 9500 BTU's. Electronic Ignition
  • Gas type: Propane

Last update on 2020-06-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Hiland Pyramid Patio Propane Heater is a wise choice if you need to heat a larger area. The output is a respectable 40,000 BTUs. It is CSA-approved and measures 87 inches tall. It lights up with an electric igniter. The attractive design will match any landscaping theme.

Pros

  • The heater has wheels for portability.
  • It has an auto shut-off switch.
  • The manufacturer provides a one-year warranty.

Cons

  • The heat output is best closest to the unit.
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

5. HomeLabs Gas Patio Heater

Sale
hOmeLabs Gas Patio Heater - 87 Inches Tall Premium Standing Outdoor Heater with Drink Shelf Tabletop - Auto Shut Off Portable Power Heater with Simple Ignition System, Wheels and Base Reservoir
  • FREESTANDING GAS PATIO HEATER for OUTDOOR PARTIES - 87-inch propane patio heater with 32-inch reflector can produce an impressive heat output of 41,000 BTU in a circle. A great heating solution and a perfect alternative to a fire pit to heat up your garden parties and keep your guests warm when the temperature starts to drop
  • WITH MODERN SLEEK CONSTRUCTION - Crafted from high-grade steel with sleek bronze hammered finish, designed to resist rust and to provide superior quality, as well as a double-layer protective mesh which offers both efficiency and aesthetic appeal while perfectly complementing your patio furniture and outdoor decor
  • DESIGNED with MATCHING ROUND TABLE - Easy to assemble patio heater set is applicable to use with propane or butane gas only. It features a round table for maximum convenience -- wide enough to place a set of wine glasses. The table is adjustable and can also be completely removed when not in use
  • STURDY BASE with WHEELS for EASY MOBILITY - This auto shut off portable outdoor patio heater is smartly designed with 18.1 inches diameter base reservoir that can be filled with sand or water for much-needed stability. Also includes wheels at the base making it easy to move around when needed
  • HOLD BUTTON for 90 SECONDS to START-UP IGNITION SYSTEM - Equipped with user-friendly one-step ignition system to take away all the hassle when starting it up. Simply hold down the button for 90 seconds to light up this heater. Its variable heat-control knob allows you to set in low or high heat settings and for turning the heater completely off at the end of the night

Last update on 2020-06-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The hOmeLabs Gas Patio Heater is an excellent choice for entertaining on your deck or patio. The heat output is decent. The drink shelf is a welcome feature. You can fill the base with sand or other material to keep it stable, which we loved.

Pros

  • The heater has a push-button igniter.
  • The top directs heat downward.
  • It has a drink shelf

Cons

  • It is hard to assemble.
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Buying Guide and Comparison

The chances are that you first saw an outdoor heater at your favorite restaurant or watering hole as a courtesy for smokers. Business owners often place them outside to keep their patrons comfortable outdoors as more and more states have outlawed smoking inside public buildings. 

The factors to consider when buying one for your home include:

  • Propane or Electric
  • Type
  • Size
  • Safety Features

Propane Outdoor Heaters

Propane outdoor heaters offer several advantages. First, they heat up fast so that you and your guests will get warm quickly. That edge often puts this type in the dealmaker category. The other factor in its favor is its portability.  You can set one up wherever you need it. 

On the downside, you can only use propane outdoor heaters in open spaces with plenty of ventilation. You also must take care of where you place them. After all, there is a potential fire hazard if you put them near anything inflammable. Changing the tank occasionally isn’t a dealbreaker, especially since most Americans use a gas grill, anyway.

Electric Outdoor Heaters

Electric outdoor heaters are an excellent alternative if you don’t want to deal with the risks of an open flame. They also light quickly to keep the party going even if the temperature has dropped. You can also use them on a screened-in gazebo or porch.

The disadvantages involve the power cord. That limits where you can put them. It also poses its own tripping hazard. That’s something you must consider, given that you’re likely going to use the heater most often at dusk or night.

Type of Outdoor Heater

The other factor you need to think about is the kind of unit. The fact remains that we are hard-wired to enjoy a fire and the warmth it provides. It many ways an outside heat source is replacing our TVs. Therefore, your outdoor heater can do double-duty as a focal point for your landscaping. You’ll find many products that are not only functional but aesthetically pleasing too.

Your options include:

  • Tabletop models
  • Wall-mounted units
  • Standalone outdoor heaters

The type you choose often depends on the next thing to consider.

Size of Outdoor Space

If you want to heat a small space, your choice of an outdoor heater and electric vs propane is often a done deal. Small groups on a patio will get plenty of heat from a tabletop unit or a small, free-standing one. You’ll find a wide range of styles from retro models to mini fireplaces.

If your outdoor space is larger, taller, standalone heaters are an excellent option that will provide ambient heat in all directions. Look at the BTU  or coverage spec for comparing your choices. For example, a product delivering 5,000 BTUs is sufficient to heat a 150 square foot area.

Safety Features

Safety, of course, is a vital consideration whenever you’re dealing with heat or flames. We strongly urge you to find out what each product offers before deciding on your pick for an outdoor heater and electric vs propane. Two features that we think are imperative are a kill switch if the unit tips over and an automatic shut-off if it gets too hot.

Children and pets add to the mix of other desirable features. If you opt for a standing model, a weighted base is a must-have. Likewise, the cool-to-the-touch glass will protect little fingers from burns.

Other Factors

When choosing an outdoor heater and electric vs propane, be sure to take into account other things that can affect your enjoyment, such as its placement and weather conditions. It’s one thing to stay warm on a cool summer night than when tailgating for the Big Game. You might even consider getting two units or adding a chimera to make sure everyone is cozy and comfortable.

Best 3 Brands

Outland Living

Outland Living is the vision of Frank Fan and Willie Fisher in 2010. They found a niche by bringing a safe alternative to the traditional campfire with their Outland Firebowl.  As they say, “Campfire Ban? Bust it!”

HomeLabs

hOmeLabs produces a broad spectrum of products related to temperature control. Their line includes icemakers, refrigerators, and, of course, outdoor heaters. The company prides itself on quality and affordability.

AZ Patio Heaters

AZ Patio Heaters got its start in 2002, specializing in a full line of heating products including its Hiland models. They manufacturer units for both residential and commercial use.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Which is better, electric or propane?

A: The answer depends on your heating needs and space. An electric heater is ideal for a small area that has access to an outlet. If you have a larger venue, it’s hard to beat the convenience of a propane model.

Q: Can you use an electric heater outside?

A: Yes, as long as it’s is labeled for outdoor use. Most products are not waterproof, so you must ensure that they are protected from the elements.

Final Thoughts

The good news about an outdoor heater and electric vs propane is that you have many choices that will add an attractive design element to your landscaping. Now, you can enjoy your patio or deck year-round without cold temperatures driving you indoors.