Spending time in your outdoor living space is great, when the weather turns chilly it can send people scurrying back indoors. That doesn’t have to be the case if you have a tabletop patio heater.
These are smaller versions of the full-size heaters you may have seen at outdoor bars and restaurants. Just as the big ones keep patrons cozy outdoors, the smaller tabletop version is perfect for home outdoor patios, decks and gardens. They’re super convenient and easy to use.
Tabletop patio heaters come in different sizes, but more importantly, they also use different fuels. While they do come in electric versions, the propane models are among the more popular ones, especially because they’re so portable.
There are also some that burn gel fuel, which is good when you want the heater more for ambiance than for heat. The main considerations when choosing a patio heater are the size of the space where it will be located as well as its style.
Most heaters don’t come with a cover, but it’s a good idea to have one to protect it from inclement weather. Here’s a list of some great tabletop patio heaters that will extend the use of your outdoor living space long after the sun goes down.
How to Choose a Tabletop Heater
Before spending money on a tabletop heater, here are some of the things to look out for.
Consider the size of the area you’ll be using the tabletop patio heater before making your selection. Do you have a little or a huge patio? Is it going to be in a covered outside space or will it be in an open yard? What is the size of the table?
The majority of manufacturers mention the area that the heater can cover; check that it is large enough to cover your eating area. While the majority of tabletop heaters are designed to radiate heat in a 360-degree circle, an oscillating element can help distribute the heat even wider.
The average output for a tabletop heater is normally indicated in BTUs for propane heaters or kWh for electric heaters. Generally speaking, small propane heaters come with a BTU output of between 3,000 and 12,000, which should be sufficient for four or five persons seated at a table.
The height of the propane burner, as well as whether it features a reflector or a mushroom shape, can also have an effect on the amount of heat you feel.
Electric radiation heaters will be assessed similarly to how electric fires are measured in homes—in terms of kWh per element or amount of light output.
A heater of 10,000 BTUs equates to around 2.9kWh, and the majority of electric table top models have roughly 1,500-watt heaters. This does not mean that a gas model produces twice the amount of heat; it simply indicates that more energy is consumed.
Due to their compact size, tabletop heaters are usually smaller and lighter in weight compared to other heater types, which makes them easier to move about your patio. They can weigh as little as 20 pounds, even with the included one-pound gas tank.
If you intend to travel with a tabletop patio heater, check that it can be readily dismantled or that the height is adjustable to allow for easier storage. There are smaller electric heaters available that are more compact and excellent for road trips.
When selecting a tabletop patio heater, it is critical that it includes a shut-off valve that automatically cuts power if the heater is tipped. While the majority of tabletop heaters will have some type of weighted base to provide stability, accidents do happen. Keep in mind the following:
- Gas-powered heaters should have a safety valve so you can turn off the fuel when the situation calls for it.
- Those of you that want electric heaters need to make sure that the cable is long enough to be securely concealed.
- Numerous propane heaters allow for the addition of an additional hose for connection to a larger propane tank; simply ensure that the base is solid enough to accommodate a longer line.
- Additional protections surrounding the gas burner or infrared heating elements help keep hands away.
- Make sure the patio heater’s base is made in such a manner that it does not become excessively hot; you do not want it to sear the surface of your table.
- Certain tabletop heaters, particularly the less costly types, may be made of lesser materials, which could result in this.
Consider the area in which you live before selecting a tabletop patio heater. Weathered or more humid areas will need the use of a durable material, such as stainless steel, in its construction. Aluminum or steel is typically sufficient in inland and drier regions.
Regardless of their endurance, it is not recommended to leave tabletop warmers out all year, particularly electric types. Additionally, many manufacturers recommend disconnecting the gas supply between uses to reduce leaks.
If you must leave the tabletop heater outdoors, place it on a firm surface and protect it from the weather with a decent cover. If you choose a painted model, be certain it is enameled or has a heavy-duty coating to guarantee it lasts longer.
The ambient light created by an outdoor patio heater, whether freestanding or tabletop, is one of its most enticing characteristics. It may be insufficient to read a book by, but you also don’t want a very powerful light shining too close to your face.
A propane burner’s flicker may be rather atmospheric, and some tabletop patio heaters incorporate a flame for ornamental purposes. By comparison, some infrared heaters emit a bright red light, which can be unpleasant if placed too close to the eyes.
What Are the Different Types of Patio Heaters?
Patio heaters are typically divided into five main categories, as listed below.
Firepits help create the ultimate in outdoor ambiance, so if you’re ever going for that campfire-like experience, firepits and outdoor fireplaces are the way to go. They can be fueled by wood, natural gas, or propane tanks.
Tabletop heaters are typically smaller than standalone heaters and are frequently attached to a patio table. They are available in propane and electric versions and have the advantage of portability but are often less powerful, making them ideal for smaller groups.
Aesthetics aside, an outside space heater is a compact unit meant to heat a small area. If you want to have dinner out on the patio but feel like the weather is too chilly, tucking a space heater underneath the table may be all that is required to keep diners warm while you dine. Electric or propane space heaters can be plugged into an outside electrical outlet.
The majority of tower-style patio heaters are between 6 and 8 feet tall, with the heat source positioned at the tower’s top, center, or bottom. These patio heaters, which are available in propane or electric models, can warm an area up to five to ten feet in diameter, making them an excellent choice for yards and bigger patios.
Most mounted heaters use infrared technology and are powered by electricity. They’re ideal if you’re working with little floor space but need to heat a wide area.
Which Is Better Gas or Electric Patio Heater?
Propane gas heaters provide greater flexibility in terms of where they can be used, as they do not require an additional cable or power outlet. Numerous models will utilize 1-pound propane cylinders that are stored inside the machine without the need for additional hoses. They can, however, run out rapidly, and costs can add up.
Propane often produces more heat and has a greater coverage area than electric tabletop heaters. Although electric models produce a more direct heat, similar to that of sunlight—be careful not to come too close for an extended period of time, as they can burn. For the environmentally conscious, infrared’s efficiency produces less emissions than propane heat and is even acceptable for indoor use.
How Many BTUs Do I Need for My Patio Heater?
A BTU is an abbreviation for British Thermal Unit, and you’ll frequently see it when comparing patio heaters. A BTU is a standardized unit of heat measurement. BTUs refer to the quantity of heat that a heater can produce. When choosing a patio heater, a higher BTU rating indicates a larger heat output.
That is not to say that you should choose the patio heater with the maximum BTU output. If you have a tiny patio, you do not require a heater capable of heating 2,000 square feet. Choose a patio heater that is the correct size for your outside space by striking a balance between space and power.
Let’s take a look at some patio heater BTU vs. space that needs heating examples:
- To heat up around 100 to 150 square feet of space, you need about 5,000 BTUs.
- For areas of 450 to 550 sq. ft., you need about 12,000 BTUs.
- Patios that measure between 1,000 to 1,200 sq. ft. require heaters with a 21,000 BTUs heat output.
- You’re going to need about 34,000 TUs for patios between 2,000 and 2,500 square feet.
Top Tabletop Patio Heater For This Fall
The attractive design of this 9,500 BTU Propane Table top Patio Heater from AZ Patio Heaters is a very stylish addition to your outdoor space as well as a very functional heater. The stainless steel heater incorporates a thermocouple anti-tilt device for added safety in case it tips over.
Emitting 9,500 BTUs of heat from its glass tube, the heater is ideal for warming up small seating areas with a heating range diameter of four feet. According to the seller, its design is safe enough to use inside a screened-in porch. The pyramid shape is constructed to conceal a 1-pound propane tank in the base, which makes this heater portable for use while camping or for evenings on the beach or lake.
Weather- and rust-resistant, this tabletop patio heater has a pilot light and multi-speaker igniter. The heat level is adjustable and it can run as long as two to three hours on high with one propane tank. It does not come with an adapter for a traditional propane tank to be attached. AZ Patio Heaters’ Propane Tabletop Patio Heater is covered by a one-year limited warranty.
With a design that is just like the full-size outdoor heaters, this 11,000 Propane Tabletop Patio Heater from Legacy Heating looks great anywhere and puts out a great amount of heat. A heat range diameter of 26 feet means you’ll have good warmth on your deck, patio or porch. The highly portable tabletop heater uses a standard one-pound propane tank, which fits neatly inside the base and is accessible through a handy door on the side. A weight plate adds stability for safety and a screen guard and anti-tilt device mean that the heater is safe to use.
With a pilot light and knobs for adjusting the heat, you’ll be able to sit outdoors comfortably in cooler weather, perhaps even into the winter depending on your climate. Assembly is required for this tabletop patio heater and it is covered by an unspecified warranty. Happy reviewers say that it works great, puts out a nice amount of heat, and is perfect for a table in a screened porch.
Contemporary design and multiple finishes make the SUNHEAT International 11,000 BTU Propane Tabletop Patio Heater a very stylish addition to your patio or deck. The variable flame is contained in a glass tube that creates an attractive centerpiece.
Easy to adjust, control knobs for the heater are inside behind the front panel. Also inside is a one-pound propane tank that’s hidden from view, fueling this heater for up to three hours on high. Ignition is simple with a push-button system that’s also safe. And, speaking of safety, this industrial-quality tabletop patio heater incorporates a tip-over shutoff safety switch, so you can enjoy it with confidence.
Weather- and rust-resistant, the heater keeps you and your friends toasty when the thermometer drops with its heat range diameter of five feet. Plus, the portability means that you can take it to the beach, the woods, the lake — or even tailgating — for some added warmth. If being portable isn’t important to you, the heater can be converted to run on natural gas. The SUNHEAT Propane Tabletop Patio Heater is covered by a one-year limited warranty for parts and labor.
The unique round design of this 11,000 BTU Propane Tabletop Patio Heater is different from SUNHEAT’s original square silhouette but is no less stylish and works with any style of patio decor. Featuring a variable and decorative flame, the heater looks as attractive as it is functional.
Its five-foot heat range diameter will keep the whole family comfortable in the evenings and on cooler days in the spring and autumn — or even winter. In fact, the 11,000 BTUs it puts out will keep you warm for up to three hours on the high setting using a single one-pound propane tank.
Industrial quality means it will last through seasons of enjoyment. This tabletop patio heater is also safe to use thanks to its design as well as the built-in tip-over shut off safety switch. Ignition is super simple with a push-button system and adjusting the flame is done with a control knob just inside the front panel. If desired, an adapter is available so that this SUNHEAT Propane Tabletop Patio Heater can be hooked up to a larger 20-pound propane tank.
For organic ambiance and some heat that you can use just about anywhere, the Terra Flame Wave Gel Fuel Tabletop Fireplace is ideal. It’s a compact size that will help you relax and unwind any time. This tabletop patio heater is a hand-cast concrete bowl created with natural materials and is filled with stones. At the center is a canister of gel fuel that burns clean and odor-free. You can use this type of fuel indoors as well as outdoor, so feel free to move the bowl indoors when you’re finished being outdoors. In the off-season, the wave gel tabletop fireplace is perfect for cozy ambiance indoors, especially if you don’t have a fireplace.
The golden 7-inch smoke-free flame that the Wave Fire Bowl holds puts out 3,000 BTUs of heat and is environmentally friendly. It comes with three Gel Fuel canisters, which burn for approximately 2.5 hours each. When you’re finished, simply put the lid back on to snuff out the flame. Replacements are readily available. This tabletop patio heater is filled with smooth Mexican river pebbles that have an organic look, but they can easily be replaced with fireglass if desired.
Keep the whole family cozy outdoors with the Napoleon Tabletop Patio Heater 11000 BTU Propane in Stainless Steel. With up to 11,000 BTUs and a seven-foot heat radius, you can enjoy your outdoor space far more each season. The stainless steel construction means its sleek design won’t rust and will last for years. In fact, happy buyers say they pulled it out of winter storage and it fired right up with the electronic push-button igniter. It is also passed as heavy duty and good quality.
Like many others, this tabletop model is fueled by a one-pound propane tank that discreetly fits inside the base. Propane fuel and the heater’s manageable weight of 18 pounds also makes it portable for family gatherings away from home. For convenience, an adapter is available for purchase that allows you to connect the tabletop patio heater to a 20-pound propane tank.
For a great amount of heat, the Dura Heat 360 Degree Instant Radiant Double Tank Portable Indoor Outdoor Propane Heater is a real winner because it’s appropriate for use outdoors as well as indoors. Indoors, you can heat up an all-season room, workshop or garage with this handy tabletop patio heater. It’s also useful as an emergency heat source. Outdoors, it will keep you toasty in colder weather because it provides 360° of instant radiant, infrared heat up to 25,000 BTUs. It runs off of two disposable one-pound propane tanks and for outdoor use can be adapted to hook up to a 20-pound tank.
Safety is top-notch with this heater because it is equipped with an oxygen depletion sensor to allow indoor use. It also features a protective grill guard, safety tip-over shutoff, a built-in carrying handle and a swivel valve for easy tank loading. Better yet, you can light it and control the heat with the touch of a button. Happy reviewers who own multiple tabletop patio heaters say that this is the best and provides good heat.
Among the most popular portable propane heaters, the Mr. Heater MH12B Hunting Buddy Portable Space Heater is great for outdoors as well as indoors. It has a patented radiant heating system that puts out 6,000-12,000 BTUs to keep you warm whether you’re on the deck with friends, camping in the woods or tailgating on those crisp autumn days. The Hunting Buddy tabletop patio heater uses a one-pound propane canister and provides enough heat for an enclosed space, such as a cabin, of up to 300 square feet.
Outdoors, this tabletop heater can be attached to a 20-pound propane tank for convenience with a hose and filter that is purchased separately. Lighting the heater is easily done with a knob and a built-in electric ignition. Safety is also critical with propane heaters so the Mr. Heater Hunting Buddy has a number of features including an oxygen depletion sensor and an accidental tip-over safety shut-off. Buyers should be aware that this product cannot be sold in Canada and Massachusetts.
A new alternative fuel for tabletop patio heaters and firepits is bioethanol, which is what the very stylish Regal Flame Avon Ventless Indoor Outdoor Fire Pit/Tabletop uses. Vent-free and portable, this patio heater can be used indoors or outdoors so that means after a long summer of enjoying your deck or patio, you can take this indoors for a cozy evening at any time. The glass design offers a 360-degree view of the beautiful flame and can be enhanced with Regal Flame logs or pebbles. The design is chic but it also puts out 3,900 BTUs of heat to warm a room of up 400 square feet.
Clean-burning and smokeless, lighting it is easy and the fire generates no ashes to clean up. A full tank of bioethanol lasts from two to four hours, depending on how high you turn the flame and how cold the space is. Reviewers who love the Regal Flame Avon ventless indoor/outdoor fire pit tabletop patio heater are pleased with the look, portability and ease of use. This heater is not suitable for use in windy conditions or inclement weather.
How Long Does a Propane Tank Last in a Table Top Heater?
A regular 20 lbs. propane cylinder will power an outdoor gas heater for up to ten hours. An outdoor gas heater powered by liquid propane with a 40,000 BTU rating will cost on average $1.60 per hour to operate. This figure is based on the outdoor gas heater’s operation and the typical cost of filling the propane cylinder, which is approximately $16 for a regular 20 lbs. cylinder.
Can You Use a Table Top Propane Heater Indoors?
Due to the potential of carbon monoxide buildup, avoid using external propane heaters in enclosed areas unless the appliance incorporates an obvious safety function that prevents operation when oxygen levels are insufficient.
What Patio Heaters Provide the Most Heat?
Gas heaters provide more warmth than electric heaters. Electric patio heaters have a maximum output of 1,500 watts and hence produce less heat than gas heaters, making them ideal for smaller patios. Alternatively, if you require greater heat output, consider installing two or more electric heaters on your patio.
Are Electric Patio Heaters Warm Enough?
It depends on the size of the patio you’re looking to cover. Even if electric patio heaters are effective, they are not as warm as gas heaters, but they can still warm up a small patio. However, as mentioned before, you might need more than one electric patio heater for a larger patio.
Are Electric Patio Heaters Effective?
Electric patio heaters are considered to be the most energy-efficient patio heaters on the market. They convert up to 98 percent of their energy into heat through a process called radiant heat transfer.
Radiant heat is conveyed directly to a person or item, requiring no energy to warm the surrounding air. Because the heat generated will not be carried away by the wind, it is the most efficient method of heating your outside space.
Whether you’re after high style, premium ambiance or higher heat functionality, there’s a tabletop patio heater that will fit your needs. Check the specifications and find the one that works best for your needs and get set to enjoy the outdoors even more.