Best Patio Heaters
The weather is cooling off, and soon we will be donning our big winter coats. This will lead many to winterizing their RVs and heading indoors, longing for the day they can get out and camp once again. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. Fall and winter camping can be an absolute blast, especially if you have the right tools.
One of the best tools for cold weather camping is an outdoor space heater. These little devices will keep you toasty warm, so you can continue enjoying the great outdoors without feeling uncomfortable.
Of course, you will want to purchase a good patio heater, and considering how many different types there are on the market, picking one can feel a bit overwhelming. Lucky for you, we’ve already done the legwork. Below, you’ll find all the information you need, including a list of the best outdoor heaters on the market today.
Different Types of Outdoor Heaters
While we’re calling the heaters in this category “portable heaters”, others might refer to them as tent heaters or personal heaters. No matter what you call them, the heaters in this category offer heat for your campsite in a small, but usually powerful package.
Portable heaters can be electric or propane. The problem with portable electric heaters is that they…well, require electricity. That said, if you’ll be camping with electric hookups, this isn’t a problem at all, and might even be a benefit, as you will save money on propane. If that is the case, you will probably find an electric heater to be perfectly acceptable.
We like propane portable heaters because they can be used even when no electricity is available. We also find that the radiant heat offered by propane outdoor heaters is often more effective than electric heat, easily offering heat to one or two people when outdoors, or heating the inside of a tent or RV in no time.
Mushroom-Style and Pyramid-Style Propane Heaters
These are much larger than the portable styles mentioned above. That said, if you won’t be moving your rig much, one of these types might be the best part of the heater for you.
Both mushroom and pyramid-style heaters are very tall—like what you’d see at a restaurant—and they both use propane to fuel a flame and create heat. Mushroom-style heaters use a “mushroom hat” to spread that heat. Meanwhile, pyramid heaters contain the flame in a glass tube and radiate the heat from there.
These types of heaters are very effective, with the mushroom-style throwing off a bit more heat but concentrating it to a smaller area, and the pyramid-style offering a safer option.
Tabletop heaters are a mix of portable heater and mushroom-style heater. As the name suggests, they sit on a table, supposedly offering heat to those sitting around it. They attempt do this by spreading heat using a “mushroom top” like the mushroom-style heater.
The problem with this is that, for the most part, the heat gets pushed down rather than out, leading to warm food but chilly diners.
Tabletop heaters come in both electric and propane models. As is the case with portable heaters, the type you choose will depend on whether you have electric hookups and how much heat you’re looking to get.
The final option is a heat lamp. These can be on a stand or something you hang from a ceiling. Obviously, you’d need the type with a stand for camping.
Heat lamps tend to run off of electricity and are often shaped much like the mushroom-style heaters mentioned above, leading to some of the same problems with how the heat spreads. That said, there are some models that are made a bit differently, allowing heat to spread more evenly.
In any case, this is not our first pick for most camping trips. Heat lamps are awkward to move, require electric hookups, and don’t offer as much heat as other options out there.
Do Outdoor Patio Heaters Really Work?
Some people doubt that outdoor patio heaters actually work. This doubt does make sense. After all, you’re outdoors and there aren’t any walls to hold heat in.
While it is true that an outdoor heater won’t keep you as warm as you might be should you stay indoors snuggling under a blanket, they do offer enough heat to take the bite out of a chilly night and ensure everyone is relatively comfortable while you spend time outside.
Can I Leave my Outdoor Heater Outside?
Lugging a heater in and out throughout your camping trip may sound like a bit of a chore. For this reason, many people wonder if they can just leave their outdoor space heater out in the elements. The answer? It depends.
For the most part, propane heaters can be left outside in the sun and even light rain. That said, leaving a heater outside for a long period of time will begin to deteriorate more quickly. Therefore, it makes sense to move your propane outdoor heater under some sort of covering if at all possible.
What about electric patio and garden heaters? Well, as you might’ve guessed, heaters that use electricity should not be left out in the rain. Water and electricity simply don’t mix well, and leaving your electric outdoor space heater out will almost certainly damage it.
Outdoor Heater Pricing
Need to know how much to budget to keep you and your family warm outdoors this fall and winter? Well, one of our favorite patio heaters is a smaller unit that costs just under $100. However, the bigger heaters out there can cost as much as $1,000 or more.
Top Outdoor Heaters
Don’t want to sift through dozens of outdoor heater options to find the best patio heaters? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! We’ve done our research and narrowed down the options to our top 3 patio heaters. Below are our patio heater reviews, offering all the information you need to pick the best heater for you.
Mr. Heater MH9BX Portable Buddy Heater
The Mr. Heater Portable Buddy Heater is our favorite all-purpose heater by far. It can be used outdoors or in a tent or RV, spreads heat evenly, and has a wonderful safety feature that causes the heater to shut off when tipped.
This heater uses about one pound of propane to run for 3 hours on high heat, or 6 hours on low. While it is made to use small, one-pound propane bottles, an adapter is readily available that allows the heater to be used with larger bottles, meaning more heat for a longer period of time.
Ignik 2-in-1 Heater-Stove
Want a multi-use appliance? The Ignik 1-in-2 Heater-Stove is the perfect option! This small, bright orange appliance is easy to pack away, easy to find, and easy to use. It offers plenty of heat, and works perfectly as an outdoor tabletop heater.
As its name suggests, the Heater-Stove also functions as a nice little camping stove, and while it doesn’t offer much in the way of temperature control, it is definitely sufficient for making simple meals.
The heater is designed to be used with Ignik’s Gas Growler Deluxe, a 5-pound tank that lasts longer than the 1-pound tanks but weighs significantly less than the 15- and 20-pound options.
Hampton Bay 48,000 BTU Stainless Steel Patio Heater
Finally, there is the Hampton Bay 48,000 BTU Stainless Steel Patio Heater. This beauty is much bigger than the other heaters mentioned, making it ideal for those who plan to remain in the same campsite for longer periods of time. It offers a ton of heat—especially if you’re able to stand right under it—and is perfect for those times when you wish to entertain several people at your site.
This heater uses standard 20-pound propane tanks and is weather resistant. It doesn’t have wheels like some larger heaters do, but is easy enough to move from place to place.
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