Patio Heaters: Ratings of Sources
Total of 17 Sources
For an explanation of how we rank reviews, see our ratings criteria page.
How to Warm a Chilly Patio
by Editors of Consumer Reports
Our AssessmentAlthough the three propane patio heaters tested here five years ago have been discontinued, two of them have been replaced by similar models. While it's disappointing that only three models from two brands were tested it's notable that editors found no real drawbacks to any of them. Editors do note that tall standing models can be hard to move unless you choose a wheeled version. Heating is limited, though. At 65 degrees, both standing patio heaters warm an area about 20 feet in diameter, while the table model warms an eight-foot circle, confirming manufacturers' and retailers' claims. (Note that if your table is very large, this won't be enough.) At 55 degrees or in wind, felt warmth drops dramatically.
Patio Heaters: Our Tests
Our AssessmentThese recent comparison tests are informal, based on the reactions of several partygoers, but they are interesting because they compare two radiant electric patio heater with three propane models. The Solaira electric heater is by far the most efficient, and the less expensive standing propane heater puts out as much heat as the one that costs more than twice as much. The propane table heater is the least favorite, since it just can't put out nearly as much heat. (Like most table patio heaters, both its price and its BTU rating are only a quarter of those of a standing patio heater.) Unfortunately it seems extremely hard to track down one of the brands tested, Axxonn.
by Editors of Good Housekeeping
Our AssessmentThis brief article recommends the BernzOmatic Outdoor Patio Heater, based on testing by the Good Housekeeping Institute, but doesn't document the testing methods. Earlier tests reported in the Sept. 2001 issue recommend a cast-iron chiminea as the safest type of wood-burning outdoor heater. The specific Axxonn San Simeon chiminea tested earns praise for its 4.5-foot height (which directs smoke away), good spark guards and easy assembly.
by Editors and contributors to Patio-Heater-Direct.com
Our AssessmentEditors name their Editors Choice picks and note which models are best sellers. The site also publishes owner-written reviews. A few patio heaters stand out here as top-ranked in all three ways. A few Editors Choice models get low ratings from owners, but usually the ratings correspond. It's notable that among the models categorized as "residential," editors select only table patio heaters for the Editors Choice awards, though owners give one standing patio heater high ratings. Instead, editors recommend moving up to a commercial patio heater if you want a full-size standing model. The site provides plenty of frank information about each heater's features, specifications and construction quality.
by Contributors to HomeDepot.com
Our AssessmentQuite a few of the patio heaters sold here have accumulated enough owner-written reviews and ratings to be useful. The range of ratings is dramatic, with five owners giving one of the more expensive patio heaters (The BernzOmatic Brushed Nickel model) an average rating of only 1.6 on a five-point scale, while two others earn average ratings above four. Ratings of fire pits cover an even wider range, with a few standing out.
Decorative Outdoor Heat
by Contributors to Lowes.com
Our AssessmentLowe's invites owners to write comments as well as ratings for the patio heaters and fire pits sold there. A wood-burning fire pit and a "faux stone" outdoor fireplace get much higher average ratings than the two propane patio heaters sold. Several other fire pits get low ratings, especially for quality. However, all these heaters and fire pits are from the same Garden Treasures brand, which is apparently a Lowe's house brand.
Nip in the Air? Time to Take the Party Outside. Really.
by April Fulton
Our AssessmentOne of several articles on outdoor heating at The Washington Post, this overview notes that tall propane patio heaters are actually the midpoint in options. They're more expensive than clay chimineas and the least expensive wood-burning fire pits, but much less expensive than fireplace kits, which run around $2,000, or custom-built outdoor fireplaces that cost much more. An earlier article by Sara Schaefer Munoz, published Oct. 22, 2005, recommends four specific patio heaters, but the BernzOmatic recommended here as boosting temperature by up to 40 degrees gets unusually low ratings at HomeDepot.com and Amazon.com, where owners say it's hard to feel heat from it.
Patio Heater Performance Reports
by Editors at the Food Service Technology Center
Our AssessmentThis California testing service tests commercial appliances for the food-service industry, so the 12 patio heaters tested here are all commercial-grade. Brands include Easy Radiant, IR Energy EvenGLO, Infratech, Roberts Gordon, Schwank, Sunglo and Sunpak. The test reports are quite technical, but emphasize energy efficiency and evaluate the comfort range of each model. Unfortunately, it's not logical to conclude that these are the best patio-heater brands, because it's not clear how these brands were chosen. It seems likely that the manufacturers initiated the testing process themselves. Some of the brands are carried primarily by restaurant retailers (like Schwank, for example) and are worth checking out since they don't cost more.
Bulletin 775: Patio Heaters
by Jim Dulley
Our AssessmentThis four-page buyer's guide provides a good overview of outdoor heater types and price ranges, covering some types not discussed in detail elsewhere. In addition to the usual propane patio heaters and wood-burning fire pits, Jim Dulley discusses outdoor gas-log fire pits and fireplaces, tank-top propane heaters, infrared electric heaters and more. The article describes some specific models but doesn't rank them. A diagram shows how to position a patio heater for best results, and a chart helps compare fuel costs. A few specific models do get extra attention.
Fire Pits Offer Warmth, Comfort During Cooler Months
by Autumn Shrum
Our AssessmentThis overview of the current outdoor-heating scene reports that wood-burning fire pits are the most popular type, partly because of their low price but also because of their ambience. Wood-burning chimineas are also popular, but are best used with pinion wood, which doesn't burn as hot as most. A retailer of gas outdoor heaters recommends annual inspection by a professional. The article doesn't recommend specific brands or models, but is still useful.
A Review of Garden Patio Heaters
by Editors of Garden Action
Our AssessmentThis article at British garden site Garden Action is mostly a buyer's guide to patio heaters, with an interesting viewpoint on the environmental aspects. The basic argument is that if a family sits outside on the patio into the evening, they're using less energy (and adding less carbon dioxide to the environment) than if they were sitting inside with lights and TV on, with the central heating turned up. It's not a wholly convincing argument, but it at least makes one think about when and how a family is apt to use such a heater.
Top Selling Patio Heaters
by Contributors to PatioHeaterStore.com
Our AssessmentThis retail site invites owners to publish reviews and ratings, but most patio heaters sold here have accumulated no more than two or three reviews. One model, the TillMark Quick Ship Residential Patio Heater ES001, stood out with good ratings from over 20 owners, but is no longer available on the site.
by Contributors to Walmart.com
Our AssessmentAt the time of our report, only two table patio heaters have accumulated reviews and ratings from owners here. However, the reviews are well structured, so they include the length of time the owner has had the heater, how often it's used and whether the owner would recommend this patio heater to a friend.
by Contributors to Amazon.com
Our AssessmentThis big retail site lists quite a few types and brands of outdoor heaters (many listed by third-party retailers). Several wood-burning fire pits stand out for high ratings from enough owners to make those average ratings significant, though some other fire-pit models get much more negative reviews. Radiant electric patio heaters get mixed reviews, with complaints about the bright orange light they cast. At the time of our report, propane patio heaters have received very few reviews here, except for rectangular portable heaters that mount directly on the tank, designed more for workshop and emergency use than for patios.
by Contributors to Target.com
Our AssessmentAt the time of our report, two propane patio heaters are sold here, but owners give several other options higher average ratings. Especially notable are three wood-burning heaters (two fire pits and a more enclosed fireplace) -- with reviews from enough owners to make their high average ratings significant.
Propane Patio Heaters
by Editors of BackyardCity.com
Our AssessmentThis online retailer doesn't publish owner-written reviews, but when we consulted them by phone, were very helpful in identifying brands made overseas vs. those made in Canada or the United States. Asked their best brand, they said Shaefer without hesitation, partly because their electric patio heaters are made in the USA and the company provides excellent customer service.
Portable Heaters Reviews
by Contributors to Buzzillions.com
Our AssessmentBuzzillions doesn't sell patio heaters, but publishes owner-written reviews and ratings of them. Oddly enough, the patio-heater listings are mixed in with all kinds of space heaters, so the easiest way to show them all is to filter the list by a patio-heating retailer. Most of the reviews just duplicate the owner-written reviews from PatioHeaterStore.com, but it does let you compare prices at other stores. It's interesting to see that like restaurant and pub owners, some homeowners get a patio heater to help household members smoke outside, to keep indoor air clean.