Can Space Heaters Be Used Outside?

Summertime is the time for gathering with friends and family during the day or evening. These get-togethers often take place outdoors on patios around the world. But, keeping the gatherings going even as it turns cold can be challenging. 

If space heaters are designed for outdoor use, they can be used effectively outside. But indoor space heaters don’t provide enough heat when used outdoors because the air tends to rise and dissipate instead of keeping you warm. Outdoor heaters typically use propane instead of electricity.

Knowing the correct type of space heater you can use outside depends entirely on the kind of space you have. Let’s look and learn more about the type of space heaters that are effective outdoors.

Can You Use a Space Heater in Outdoor Areas?

Space Heater

Bringing the heat to your outdoor space means you and your loved ones can enjoy the warmth beyond the summer months. But, of course, hanging out in the backyard during the warm weather has been a popular pastime for many years.

Frequently, however, when the weather begins to turn cold, the family and friend gatherings tend to move indoors to keep everyone more comfortable. While being indoors can be just as fun, being outdoors gives a bit more freedom for everyone to spread out and still be together.

Because of this, many people look for ways to extend the summer and outdoor gatherings by adding space heaters to their patio spaces. But can space heaters be effective enough to keep themselves warm?

It Depends on the Type of Space Heater

The answer to this question lies in understanding what type of space heaters are designed to be used outside. It is important to note that the same space heaters used inside will not be effective enough to keep the space warm.

The reason for this is that most indoor space heaters use convection heat which is designed to heat a smaller room that is more confined. While some heaters use air to blow the heat out, others use various types of heat to warm the room.

To heat your patio correctly, you must ensure that you have purchased one designed for outdoor or dual purposes. This is because they produce heat by releasing heat into the air instead of blowing it around. 

Which Space Heaters are Best for Outdoors?

When it comes to using space heaters outdoors, there are certain factors that you should take into consideration. This is because while all will supply heat, not everyone will create the kind of heat guaranteeing that you and your guests will stay warm.

Space heaters come in various types and sizes and will depend entirely on the type of setup you have on your patio area. It is not uncommon that you may need more than one heater if your space is bigger than most.

Here are the three best types of space heaters on the market to warm your outdoor space:

  • Electric (or infrared) space heaters are the best heat source for your patio space since they are the easiest to use. They are designed to plug into a standard outlet and then emit an infrared light that provides heat to the surrounding area. The heat level this type of space heater offers depends on the wattage they are equipped with.
  • Propane space heaters like this one (on Amazon) are popular amongst many because the BTUs they emit can warm a much larger space from just one unit. This type of heater is connected to a propane tank, often stored below the heating source. While this type can be more effective, you have the burden of purchasing spare tanks.
  • Natural-gas space heaters are not found often in outdoor living spaces due to the necessity of a permanent gas line to operate them. While these heaters emit high levels of BTUs to warm larger areas, they can be costly if the gas line is not already installed.

Understanding the differences between the different types of space heaters that are available can help make your decision much easier. It is important to realize that while the two heaters that feed on fuel will heat a much larger area, the infrared heaters are the way to go.

Our Fire Pits Warmer than Space Heaters?

When the weather begins to cool, many people turn to various sources of heat to allow them to continue gathering outside. The most popular source of heat people tends to turn to are fire pits for multiple reasons.

While sitting around a pit of fire can seem cozy and much more intimate, they do not provide as much heat as you think. This is because the heat from the fire does not extend out very far, so only the people sitting directly in front of the pit will be somewhat warm.

Even though this is the case, many people like the feeling of sitting around a fire pit with their family and friends shooting the breeze. Investing in outdoor space heaters will provide you with much more comfortable heat in the long run.

Which Type of Fuel is Best for Outdoor Heaters?

Once you have decided to use heaters to warm your outdoor space, you have to decide on the fuel heater you will use. While each supplies a different kind of heat and disperses it differently, you should choose the one you are most comfortable with.

Electric Outdoor Heaters

When it comes to electric or infrared outdoor heaters, they are the easiest to install and use. This is because you mostly have to plug them in and turn them on to begin warming the space. However, in some cases, especially if you will be using them regularly, you may need to have a dedicated circuit installed.

Pros:

  • Convenient to use.
  • Affordable.
  • Best when the space is semi-closed in.
  • No need for additional equipment.

Cons:

  • Not as widespread heat disbursement.
  • Have to be plugged in, so not as portable.
  • May need more than one to heat large areas.

Propane Space Heaters

You may want to consider investing in a propane heater, especially if your outdoor space is a bit larger. The higher BTUs can heat a broader space in a short amount of time. In addition, using a propane tank to fuel the heater, you do not have to worry about finding a gas line to connect it.

Pros:

  • Warms a larger area.
  • Propane is easy to purchase.
  • The fuel source stays with the unit.

Cons:

  • Need to replace the tank eventually.
  • Higher cost to operate.
  • Can be inconvenient if the tank runs out.

Natural Gas Heaters

The third type of space heater you can choose is the natural-gas unit. This heater is typically connected to the permanent gas line that has been installed in your outdoor space. Like the propane heater, this can heat a larger area in a shorter time.

Pros:

  • Higher BTUs mean the ability to heat larger areas.
  • Since it is hardwired to your gas line, it is easy to turn on.
  • No need to replace the gas tank.

Cons:

  • Can only use if there is access to natural gas.
  • Installation of a gas line is costly.
  • Dependent on the proximity of the gas line.

At the end of the day, as stated previously, electric outdoor space heaters are the best ones to have since they are more convenient. In addition, plugging them in when needed makes it much easier than keeping up with the propane tanks.

Other Factors to Consider Before Buying a Heater

Choosing the right outdoor heater can be somewhat overwhelming since there are so many types of heaters to choose from.

There are many factors to consider when narrowing down your options, including how much space you need to heat, your budget, the weather conditions you have in your region, and how often you will be using them.

Area Size

Regarding your outdoor space, it is crucial to understand that certain heaters will do much better than others. This is because if your area is larger, you can purchase more heaters or choose ones designed for larger spaces.

It is important to remember that the entire area of your backyard will not necessarily need heat. Instead, the places where people will gather to visit are the spaces you should focus on the most. Because of this, you may not need to factor in as much space as you think.

Budget

Additionally, you will need to consider the budget you have in mind for heating your outdoor space. This will depend entirely on how much space you want to heat and how much time you will spend in the area.

Some heaters will cost just over $100, while others can run much higher depending on the fuel source and how many you need to purchase. As you are narrowing down your options, you should make sure you are pricing the different types of heaters to give you a better idea of what you can afford to spend.

Weather

Another factor you should consider as you are getting ready to purchase outdoor heaters is the weather that is common in your area. For example, if your colder months come with bitter winds and other inclement weather, you may need to reconsider using your patio.

It is important to note that when using an infrared space heater, you are more likely to keep the people around you warm since they are designed to heat objects. However, if the weather is very frigid, any source of heat will have difficulty keeping the space warm.

Time Spent Outside

Finally, you should consider the amount of time you and your guests will be spending out on the patio during the need to use a space heater. This is because the unit you choose will experience more wear and tear. 

Because of this, you will want to choose a heater with a more extended warranty and a reputation for working for a long period. Of course, these may cost you a bit more money, but they will be worth it in the long run.

Space Heater Safety Tips to Keep in Mind

Modern electric infrared heater on floor in room interior

It is important to keep in mind that using a space heater of any kind comes with certain risks, and safety measures should be taken at all times. This is because anytime you have an external heat source that is going to be running around people, there is a risk that injuries could happen.

In the United States alone, space heaters have been the cause of many fires that resulted in a total loss of property and lives. In addition, many people have visited the emergency room with burns sustained due to the use of space heaters.

As you decide to use space heaters for your outdoor space, you should consider the following safety tips to protect yourself and your guests from harm.

  • Always check the space under and around the heater to avoid fire hazards.
  • Only use space heaters that are designed for outdoor use outside.
  • Keep space heaters away from children and pets by placing them strategically.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions at all times.
  • Have your space heaters checked regularly by a professional to ensure they are not faulty.
  • Ensure your heaters have a tipping sensor to prevent fires when the heater is knocked over.
  • If using a natural-gas space heater, make sure that it was installed by a professional and checked regularly.
  • Do not plug them into an extension cord unless necessary when using an electric heater. If needed, use an industrial power cord for safety reasons.

While this is not an exhaustive list of safety precautions when using outdoor space heaters, it is undoubtedly a good place to start. Keep in mind that while you may want to entertain outside and have heat when doing so, it is more important to keep everyone safe.

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that you can use space heaters outside as long as they have been specifically designed for outdoor use. It is never a good idea to use an indoor heater outside to prevent safety hazards.

At the end of the day, if you enjoy entertaining on your patio area, you should consider using a heater that is conducive to your needs and preferences.

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