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As the warm breezes of summer give way to the cool winds of fall, many homeowners head inside and don’t use their patios during the cooler months.

However, for those of you who love your patios and want to use them as much as possible, buying a patio heater is a great way to enjoy your patio virtually year-round.

Whether you use your patio for entertaining friends, having some quiet time to yourself, or enjoying a family cookout on a weekend, having a patio heater can turn this special spot of your home into a great place to be even when the temperatures sink a bit lower than you like.

But as it is with any product, there are various pros and cons of patio heaters, whether you buy an electric, natural gas, or propane model.

Electric Patio Heaters

If your patio area lacks proper ventilation for natural gas or propane heaters, an electric patio heater is an excellent idea.

Far more stylish than in years past, these heaters are available in tabletop, wall-mounted, and freestanding styles.

In fact, most of these heaters are made to look like anything but a heater, allowing them to easily blend into almost any decor.

In addition, most of today’s electric patio heaters rely on infrared heat, which allows the heat to more easily rise and spread around your patio area.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Easy to use
  • Plug into standard home outlets
  • Very safe for smaller patios
  • Whether you have outlets located outside or just inside a door nearby your patio, electric heaters can be placed almost anywhere you like, be it beside your favorite chair, in a corner, or elsewhere. Considered very affordable, you can usually find an electric heater to meet your patio’s needs for less than $250.

Cons:

  • Slow heating of patio area
  • Limited placement areas
  • High electric usage
  • If you are like many homeowners who use electric patio heaters, you are likely to find they are somewhat slow to heat up the surrounding area, which is a distinct difference between them and natural gas or propane heaters. Also, since you’ll need an electrical outlet for the heater, you may be limited as to where your heater can be placed. However, the biggest drawback may be your electric bill, since these heaters use high amounts of electricity when run for long periods of time.

Natural Gas Heaters

Growing in popularity with many homeowners, natural gas patio heaters are known for their ability to heat up a large area very quickly, making them very powerful for your patio.

Quiet and efficient, they are great if you use your patio for large parties or outdoor dinners.

However, remember to only use these types of heaters if your patio area is well-ventilated.

Pros:

  • Strong heat output
  • Stylish designs
  • Quiet and convenient heating of area
  • More options for placement than electric heaters
  • Since a natural gas heater for your patio will be tied in to existing gas lines for your house, you will have more options as to where you want to place your heater. Made with exteriors that blend in well with various decors, most homeowners who have natural gas patio heaters feel you can’t go wrong with this choice.

Cons:

  • Requires professional installation
  • Must be in well-ventilated areas
  • Fixed-heating source
  • While the natural gas heater itself will be reasonably priced little if any higher than an electric heater, you are likely to have extra costs associated with it due to the need for professional installation. Also, you should make sure you know exactly where you want it from the beginning, since it will be attached to permanent natural gas lines.

Propane Patio Heaters

Though not quite as popular with most homeowners as natural gas heaters, propane patio heaters do fill a niche that makes them a good option for many people.

Since they are hooked up directly to a propane tank, they can provide portable heat in a matter of minutes.

This, when combined with easy placement almost anywhere on your patio, makes propane heaters a good compromise if you don’t want to be limited by electric heaters, yet don’t have natural gas lines at your house.

Pros:

  • Often cost less than electric heaters
  • Use a separate power source
  • Portable and easy to maneuver around your patio
  • Considered very safe to use
  • With even the smallest of propane heaters often able to heat up a 12-foot radius in seconds, you will have no trouble warming up your patio for a party or other occasion. Considered very safe for almost anyone to use, they are also very cost-effective, since they use very little propane at any given time and are comparably-priced with electric heaters.

Cons:

  • Do require a 20-pound propane tank
  • Some assembly is usually required
  • Need adequate ventilation
  • Like natural gas heaters, propane patio heaters should also be used only on patios that have sufficient ventilation. Also, if you do not want to be bothered with assembly or installation procedures, you may want to try another option, such as an electric heater.

Additional factors to consider

Along with these pros and cons of patio heaters, there may be additional factors you will want to consider.

For example, if you frequently have small children or pets on your patio, an electric heater may be your best option, especially one using infrared heat.

With most of these heaters, the exterior remains cool to the touch, making the chances of anyone or anything getting burned negligible.

Also, consider the convenience factor and how you most often use your patio.

Whether your patio is primarily for entertaining or used as a quiet retreat for you to relax or read a book, this can also determine the type and size of heater you need.

Ultimately, the choice is yours regarding the type of patio heater you select.

Whether it is electric, natural gas, or propane, the one thing you can be sure of is that when the cool temperatures arrive, your patio will be warm and cozy.

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