Patio Heaters are one of the best investments you can make for your outdoor living space. They can provide ambiance and a focal point for gatherings and parties but more importantly a patio heater will allow you to extend your outdoor season by several months.
There are many styles and types of patio heaters available such as infrared patio heaters, outdoor fireplaces and fire pits, fire pit tables and even table top patio heaters. What type you choose will depend on your preferences, the amount of space available and how you plan to use your patio or deck.
There’s a variety of fuel types available too. Electric patio heaters can certainly be used to warm your patio and require little more to install than an electric outlet. However where aesthetics are important they probably are not your best choice.
Wood burning fireplaces and fire pits are pleasing to the eye and nothing can match the look and appeal of a real wood fire. However pleasing, they do have some drawbacks. You will need to have storage space for wood and they can smoke and give off sparks and some folks have a hard time starting a fire.
Many fireplaces and outdoor fire pits can run on propane or natural gas. This eliminates most of the problems associated with maintaining a wood fire and looks almost as good.
A third alternative is burning bio fuel. There are attractive indoor/outdoor fireplaces that use biofuel. These are generally smaller units and are best suited for a table top use or simply providing some added ambiance. They are ideal for this and they can be used indoors as well. I would not really consider these as major heat sources outdoors.
Fire Pits Can Make Great Patio Heaters
Fire pits are attractive and most come with a cover to keep sparks at bay. They are generally wood burning. If you have a deck and want to use these you will need to place these on pavers or a hearth pad to provide clearance and prevent the chance of fire. There are many variations of this basic type of fire pit and many have decorative patterns or school logos cut into their sides.
Fire pit tables are a more advanced version of your basic fire pit. Many of these are available to run on gas or wood. They are really a piece of furniture with a built in fire pit. The added height makes them ideal to use in conversation areas because you can pull a seat up around them. The firelight adds ambiance and the table border makes a handy place to set a drink.
Fireplaces are more stationary designs whereas most fire pits can be moved around if needed. You will want to therefore plan out your patio or deck to choose the most appropriate place for them. These can be built on site or prefabricated fireplaces can also be purchased. Again you will be able to choose from gas or wood burning models.
One option that provides the best of both worlds is a chiminea. These can generally be moved if desired and much less expensive than building a traditional fireplace. They are designed for burning wood or gas. Do not waste time buying one of those cheap terracotta chimineas as they are unsafe and not suited to damper climates. Your best bet is cast iron or preferably cast aluminum. These make great patio heaters that are easy to light, burn nearly smoke free and put out an incredible amount of heat.