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Can Patio Heaters be Used on a Deck (Read This First!) – Houshia

Can Patio Heaters be Used on a Deck (Read This First!)

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Homeowners wanting to extend the outdoor social season beyond the summer or open it up in early spring know the primary opponent to their plans is the weather. In some areas, it is just too cold.

However, patio heaters could come to the rescue! Patio heaters are relatively inexpensive and can be used be on a deck but you need to make sure you have the right patio heater for the right deck to have a safe, enjoyable time.

Patio Heaters CAN be used one decks. They are specifically designed with this use case in mind and undergo strict safety checks to ensure that they can be used on decks and many other settings. This is true of both gas powered and electrical filament models.

That being said, there are a few interesting things you’d should know when using your patio heater on a deck, this article will help guide you through them…

The Various Types Of Patio Heaters

The types of patio heaters are first divided by how you fuel them. Some run off natural gas, others run off propane, and then there are electric patio heaters.

While all suitable for use outside, they each have advantages and disadvantages when looking at using them for a deck.

Natural Gas Heaters

Natural gas is cheaper in some parts of the country than others but is generally more expensive than the other options. Those who have natural gas lines running to their home may consider this a good option.

Natural gas is a clean choice and these types of heaters never run out of fuel. They will work even if the power goes out so they are a great backup plan for less than perfect weather.

Those running off natural gas are typically the fixed units, so they aren’t as versatile as others.

Propane Patio Heaters

These types of patio heaters are highly functional because they also come in a portable variety.

They can be used anywhere you would use a grill, so they are a good deck option.

The one disadvantage of a propane patio heater is you will need to keep the propane tank filled.

That is still fairly inexpensive at around $16 per tank, which should get you through one standard event.

Electrical Patio Heaters

Electrical patio heaters are popular because they are versatile, safe, and highly functional.

They are portable and can be used both in more enclosed spaces, like a barn, and out on a deck. They heat up quickly.

The one disadvantage is they need to be near a power outlet.

The cost of using a patio heater runs around .44 cents an hour so they generally are cheaper to run than the gas options, but you will likely need more than one to keep everyone in your space warm.

Don’t Substitute

Patio heaters are meant for outside use. Other types of heaters, like space heaters, are not.

While some people may not see a difference, there is a safety difference. 

Space heaters pose more of a safety risk than patio heaters and simply weren’t meant to be used that way.

They aren’t built for weather and don’t have all the features of a true patio heater.

How Patio Heaters Work

One thing to understand about patio heaters is none of them heat the air in the space. Instead, they provide direct heat to those near the heater.

Most heaters, no matter which type you buy, used infrared or halogen lights as a heat source.

These are the most energy-efficient and provide a great amount of warmth.

What Patio Heater Is The Best For My Deck?

This depends on the type of deck you have and what plans to have to use it.

Some things to consider when making this decision are the structure of your deck, how big the deck is, your style, and will people be mostly sitting or standing during your event.

Wood decks will need some extra consideration because of their flammable nature. While patio heaters are safe, you may want to use an electrical version for a wood deck.

You could use the other versions as long as the natural gas and propane are handled properly.

Patio heaters are fine for decks made of a variety of other materials like stone, brick, concrete.

The biggest consideration is the actual space on your deck. Since patio heaters only heat the immediate area around them, you may need several to accommodate your guests.

The activity you plan for your guests will also determine the type of patio heater you need. Patio heaters come in all types of shapes and sizes, so you will have a lot of options.

Fixed patio heaters are usually mounted to a wall or in a ceiling and are a good choice if you want to use natural gas. However, they also can come as a type of freestanding fireplace in a metal body.

They aren’t portable but can produce a lot of heat over a larger area. Also, these types of patio heaters will need to be professionally installed.

Tall floor-standing patio heaters are similar to those used in bars and restaurants. They are a great choice if your guests will be doing a lot of standing to mingle or are sitting at high-boy tables.

Tabletop heaters are popular because they are smaller and can be placed at each table if your guests are going to be sitting to enjoy dinner or a presentation.

They also produce a good bit of heat, enough for those at that table to be comfortable.

While you are considering the size of the patio heaters, you also need to look at the style. There are several variations within the types of heaters and some look better than others.

They come in a hammered bronze, stainless steel, black matte among other styles.

They also come in different shapes from modern to more vintage. Pick a style that goes along with your deck so it all blends.

Do I Need More Than One Patio Heater for my deck?

You probably will need more than one patio heater to accommodate all your guests.

Gas and propane heaters tend to run hotter with more BTUs while electric runs about a third of that so the type you get should be considered.

Anyone getting a patio heater for their deck needs to calculate the amount of BTUs needed to cover the area.

You do that by measuring the cubic feet of the space and multiplying it by the temperature difference you want to calculate the BTUs you need.

For instance, if you have 100-cubic feet of space and want the temperature to be 75 degrees when it is actually 60 degrees outside, you will multiply 100 times 15 to get 1,500 BTUs. 

After that, it is just a matter of finding a heater or heaters that can produce the amount of BTUs you need.

Generally, one patio heater can produce between 10,000 and 50,000 BTUs.

Are Patio Heaters Safe on decks?

Patio heaters are incredibly safe no matter which ones you purchase. Almost all patio heaters come with things like safety tip features and automatic shut-offs.

This ensures the heater will automatically turn off if it gets tipped over or malfunctions.

These heaters have other features that contribute to both safety and convenience.

Some of those features are remote thermostat controls so you can make sure they don’t run too hot for your space and timers that you can program to shut off so you don’t have to worry about it later.

The one caution is with the propane heaters because of their flammable nature and the carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, and nitrogen they emit.

Most experts advise not to use them in enclosed spaces.

Are Patio Heaters Fire Hazards On Decks?

While fires are a concern, particularly for those with wooden decks, patio heaters are safe for deck use.

Most have extra safety features that automatically shut off should they malfunction or tip over.

Those concerned about safety should look into patio heaters with timers. Timers can save you money because you can manage both use and fuel but they ensure the patio heater turns off when your event is done, making them safer.

Can You Find Patio Heaters Designed For Porches?

We recently published an article that goes deep into answering this question

Yes, there are patio heaters that are meant specifically for porches. Some of those options include the fixed variety and some of the shorter units.

Fixed patio heaters work well with porches because porches are already attached to the house, so tapping into a natural gas or electric line to install them is easy and fairly inexpensive.

Since porches are partially enclosed, these types of heaters work effectively to warm the space.

Electric heaters can also work well as long as you have outlets on your porch. The smaller units are less obtrusive in smaller spaces.

What Patio Heaters Should You Avoid On Porches?

The one type of heater most say to avoid on porches is a propane patio heater.

They are flammable and have a fire risk, so they pose a safety risk over other types of outdoor patio heaters. This caution includes screen porches.

Conclusion

You can find a safe, effective patio heater that meets your demands for your deck.

The varieties on the market are plentiful and most are pretty inexpensive to buy and to run.

A patio heater is a good option to enjoy the great outdoors a little longer.

Steve Foster

Suburbanite, tech geek, handy man, automation enthusiast who started blogging about the stuff I do around my home and found he had a knack for it.

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