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A patio heater is an essential home appliance. How so? It lets you turn up the temperature both indoors and outdoors.

Particularly, a patio heater will allow you to stay on your deck for longer, especially during the cold months of the year.

In fact, some of these heaters can produce up to 60,000 BTUs of heat. And most have safety features to avoid accidents.

They also have a sturdy build to make them last longer.

However, before you get one, you need to know that there are different types – electric, propane, and natural gas.

They operate differently, but they perform a similar function. Here, we will do a comparison of electric vs. propane patio heater to see how each functions. Read on to find out more.

What is an electric patio heater?

An electric patio heater is a powerful lamp that relies on electricity to produce heat.

Usually, the lamps are placed in stainless steel casings, and you can place them on the floor or mount it on your patio’s wall.

Some models of electric patio heater can generate heat of up to 5,000 BTUs, and they consume as much as 240 volts.

Other models may require more power, depending on the heat they produce. And they have a heat range of 12-inch radius.

If you wish to use yours further from your patio, you can connect it to an electrical outlet or use an extension cord.

What about their safety?

Well, electric patio heaters feature glass protection, which helps to keep your children and pets safe.

Additionally, they don’t produce flames. So, you don’t have to worry about placing yours close to flammable materials.

What is a propane patio heater?

On the other hand, a propane patio heater uses liquefied petroleum gas or LPG to generate heat.

Normally, you have to connect your heater to a tank through a hose, releasing the gas through a burner.

For heat to get produced, you have to ignite your propane heater using an automatic switch or lighter

Propane patio heaters are quite effective in heating your patio. How so? They can generate as much as 60,000 BTUs of heat.

Some even reach higher heat levels than that.

It is recommended for you to use propane gas heaters outdoors.

Why’s that? It’s because they generate more heat and have wider coverage compared to electric patio heaters.

In reviewing electric vs. propane patio heater, you will realize that they are available in different designs, and each design spreads heat uniquely.

A majority of these burners are usually placed high on a steel frame.

And they’re also covered with a metal sheet with holes, plus a steel umbrella, whose purpose is to prevent the heat from rising too high and escaping.

Alternatively, you will find models with glass tubing to serve as both a heater and a lamp.

What about their safety considerations? Well, propane patio heaters are designed to be safe from fires.

The manufacturers design them with automatic shut-off mechanisms, which make sure that the heaters turn off when they get tilted.

You can also find some models that are turned on using electronic switches to enhance their safety.


Even as you use your patio heater, you need to be wary of the hazards associated with each.

Propane and electric patio heaters have safety issues, which arise from different causes.

Fortunately, you can mitigate these risks by following the right precautions.

A propane patio heater has several hazards.

First, the heater can cause a fire if it tips over.

To avoid accidents resulting from your heater tipping over, you need to get a product that features an anti-tip device.

How does it work? It cuts off the gas supply when the heater tilts past a certain angle.

Secondly, propane patio heater may cause fires and or explosions resulting from gas leaks.

To avoid such incidents, you need to make sure that you purchase a certified patio heater.

You must also make sure to carry out proper maintenance practices.

On the other hand, electrical heaters may cause fires, especially when placed too close to flammable materials.

However, their risk is not as high as that of propane heaters.

The main hazard with electric patio heaters is the risk of electrocution. To reduce such risk, you need to get a high-quality heater.

Moreover, your child or pet could get burns when they get too close to the heater.


These heaters vary when it comes to cost. Overall, electric heaters will cost you less compared to propane heaters when it comes to buying.

However, the running costs of electric patio heaters tend to be higher in the long run because of the electricity bills.

Additionally, if you intend to use your heater regularly, we would advise you to go for a propane patio heater.

But you will have to refill it from time to time when the LPG in the tank gets exhausted.

Pros and cons of electric patio heaters

Electric patio heaters have their advantages and downsides. Here are some of the main ones.


  • Very convenient – A notable advantage of electric patio heaters is their convenience. When it gets installed, you will have an easy time using it. You only to turn it on and off from the electrical outlet.
  • Environmentally friendly – An electric patio heater is beneficial to the environment. How so, it doesn’t emit fumes that could harm the environment. Additionally, some models consume less energy.
  • Safe and small – Electric heaters have a compact design, and that allows you to place them anywhere on your patio, regardless of the space available. Better yet, they feature effective safety features to avoid placing your family or pets at risk.


  • Solely rely on electricity – For an electric heater to operate, you must have a reliable energy source. Moreover, your electric bill continues to pile up as you use your heater.
  • Slow heating – Normally, electric heaters take a while to warm up a place – approximately a minute. That means you have to wait a while for the heat to get distributed.
  • Limited placement – As much as electric heaters are small, you can only place them where there’s an electrical outlet.

Pros and cons of propane patio heaters

Propane-propelled heaters also have their advantages and disadvantages.

Let us have a look at them.


  • Portability – Fortunately, propane heaters are very portable, allowing you to use them in different places. A majority also have wheels
  • Great heat distribution – Propane heaters have a 360-degree heating radius, which means that people can sit around it. And their portability also allows you to place yours anywhere. Also, they can generate as much as 60,000 BTU of heat.
  • Separate power source – The heaters have independent usage. They get their power from a gas tank; hence, they don’t need to use your home’s electricity or power source.


  • You must get a propane tank – To use these heaters, you must have a propane tank. And a majority of these tanks are heavy, weighing about 20 pounds and above.
  • Require assembly – Propane patio heaters also require some assembly. If you don’t know how to go about it, you have to look for professional help, and that comes at an extra cost.

Final thoughts

Patio heaters are very efficient when it comes to heat generation in your home. Mostly, people use either electric or propane heaters.

But here’s the kicker: Electric heaters are less expensive compared to propane patio heaters.

However, propane heaters produce more heat than electric heaters, making them more suitable during the colder months.

Therefore, you need to make sure that you get the one that suits your needs.

Additionally, you must follow the appropriate safety precautions when using each. Always consult the manufacturer’s guidelines carefully before using any product.

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