When going outside to relax on your patio, most people enjoy an outdoor heater to be just as comfortable outside as you are inside. To do so, however, you must operate the outdoor heater safely, and that means taking a few precautions when under a covered patio.
You can use an outdoor heater under a covered patio, but it’s important adhere to your specific heater’s owner’s manual precautions to keep the risk of fire low. This may include limiting what you put near your heater and what your patio cover is made of.
The mention of fire might scare you into staying away from using an outdoor heater, but the truth is, a lot of stuff we use every day can cause a fire if you aren’t careful. So, let’s talk more about how to safely provide warmth on your covered patio.
How to Use an Outdoor Heater Under a Covered Patio
An outdoor heater can be used anywhere outside that you would like some heat. But, when using an outdoor heater under a covered patio, you must be cautious of things surrounding the heater.
Items like an awning or umbrella above, furniture, and decorations shouldn’t be too close to it or they will overheat and could melt or light on fire. Most heaters have specific measurements included in their directions of how far to keep items away from the heater.
Make sure that wherever you choose to put an outdoor heater is open and provides ventilation. It should never be placed in a closed-off spot or inside, as that can greatly danger anyone who is in that area. Using an outdoor heater inside can greatly increase the risks of fires as well as possibly making the air inside unbreathable.
Propane heaters pose the highest risk when being used inside. Propane is highly flammable and it emits carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, and nitrogen dioxide. Using a propane outside heater inside could cause these toxic gases to circulate inside your home causing suffocation or even death.
These emissions are at a much higher capacity for outdoor propane heaters since there’s a lower chance of breathing in these gases outside.
Manufacturers don’t consider the use of an outdoor heater indoors because that’s not what it is made for. They do still consider the safety of their customers, though. Most outdoor heaters have anti-tilt mechanisms causing them to turn off and cut off any gas supply. Each individual heater also requires clearances as anything flammable should be a certain amount of distance away from the heater.
Some people might tell you that electric and infrared patio heaters are safe for indoor use, but that isn’t recommended. All outdoor heaters are made for outdoor use only, and using them for anything else isn’t recommended.
Choosing the Right Outdoor Heater for a Covered Patio
One thing you should do before even choosing the type of heater is to measure the space that the heater will be in and needs to heat. This ensure you get the right type of heater and one the correct size to for your space.
Most heaters require a specific distance between anything surrounding it for safety reasons so it’s important to know how large the space is that you’re wanting to heat up.
Heaters also have different capacities. Some heat up larger areas, while others can only warm a small room or corner of your space. Make sure you buy the right size for your space.
You should also check your access to power such as power outlets or gas lines which will determine where your heater would be best placed.
If you know that the heater will need to be moved often depending on where people are sitting, invest in a portable heater rather than a mounted or permanently-placed heater. If you do not get a portable heater, you may run into an issue where the heater isn’t being used efficiently as there are still cold spots where there are people.
Since outdoor heaters require clearances, taller heaters like mushroom heaters should be placed carefully. You must consider the space you have from the roof or awning to the ground to find out if a mushroom heater or any other tall heater is even an option for you.
One last thing you should always consider is any horseplay near a heater. If you have kids, they should always play at a safe distance away from the heater to avoid any injuries that could result in third-degree burns.
Are Different Heaters Better for Covered Patios?
Propane and electric patio heaters are available in several different styles including portable, tabletop, hanging, and ceiling/wall-mounted. This provides many options for you if you are considering a heater under a covered patio.
Propane Patio Heaters
Propane heaters are easy to set up and low maintenance which is very appealing for someone who already lives a busy life. More benefits include:
- Portable and permanent options
- Propane gas is non-toxic
- You can have it professionally installed if you are having it installed permanently
- Doesn’t require special plumbing or installation
- A large range in sizes
- Most portable heaters fit the propane tank conveniently inside the base of the heater
- It has safety features
Propane heaters are both versatile and convenient which makes things much easier for you. If you want, you can make it permanent, but you will need a gas line installed professionally. Another thing that makes propane heaters different from the others is the unfortunate price difference. Between propane, electric, and natural gas heaters, propane heaters are the most expensive.
Electric heaters are cheaper than propane heaters. That is far from the only benefit though which you can see below:
- Easily set up, maintained, and cleaned
- Safely usable for indoors and outdoors
- A remote or wall-switch can easily control the heat
- To have it permanently installed, you can hire a professional
- Integration for smart homes and zone heating
- No flames, toxic smoke, emissions, or greenhouse gases are produced
- 98% of energy can be converted to heat
Electric patio heaters are actually the easiest to set up! Some can use a standard 120-volt wall socket, but most produce a greater amount of heat at once meaning they have to require higher voltage. Proper wiring should be installed by a professional for the heaters that require a higher voltage. Here’s out list of the best electric heaters on the market, be sure to check it out!
Natural Gas Heaters
Natural gas heaters are actually permanent heaters meaning that you won’t be able to move them around once they are installed. They are available in ceiling/wall-mounted, hanging, and ground-mounted styles.
Natural gas heaters have one of the most appealing benefits which is the price. It is the most affordable fuel option meaning you will be paying less money to maintain a natural gas heater. Much like the other options, there are many other benefits that you can find below.
- A full range of heat is produced instantly
- Permanent installation
- Burns clean (natural gas)
- Essentially heats a larger area than portable propane heaters
- Large range of sizes available
- You’ll never run out of fuel
Special plumbing and installation are required for natural gas patio heaters. You’ll also need to hire a professional to install a gas line if there isn’t already one available. An electrical supply and gas supply is required to power wall and ceiling mounted natural gas heaters.
Infrared heaters, seen in all three types of heaters previously listed, are heaters that use technology similar to how the sun emits heat. Rather than heating the entire space, they target objects and people to heat them up.
Infrared propane heaters are most commonly used for outdoor jobsites where immediate spot heating is necessary. Much like infrared propane heaters, infrared natural gas heaters are common for outdoor use. However, they are the most common in patios and decks at restaurants. It’s important to note that infrared natural gas heaters and some infrared propane heaters need to be installed professionally.
A good perk for using infrared heaters is that it can be important to the quality of your health. Since the invisible infrared wavelength produced by these heaters heat up objects rather than the air, they are efficient at keeping the humidity levels consistent. They produce clean heat and some are made without the use of a blower which makes the air cleaner without any dust particles. They can even help minimize the production of mold, but that’s more commonly used for spaces like bathrooms rather than patios.
They are commonly used in yoga studios and saunas due to their ability to improve blood circulation along with several other health benefits like immune systems, arthritis, and drawing toxins from fat cells. However, this can still be useful outdoors on a patio.
Ground-mounted heaters are permanent patio heaters that use natural gas only. That means it never runs out of fuel which is useful in the long run! These are usually a bit larger in size as they stand taller than most besides the free-standing heaters.
One of the most commonly seen ground-mounted heaters is a mushroom patio heater. There are many on the market, but the Hampton Bay Stainless Steel Patio Heater is a great option. It produces 48,000 BTUs, making it very powerful.
By clicking HERE to view the manual for this specific heater, you’ll be able to learn a lot about the heater including that it’s an infrared heater and the clearance required for use. The guide states that there should be at least 3 feet of clearance from any combustible material, such as a cover above your patio.
Free-Standing or Portable Heaters
Free-standing patio heaters are very similar to the ground-mounted heater, except they are portable. Free-standing heaters are typically powered by propane gas, and the propane tank is usually hidden in the base of the heater.
Since portable patio heaters typically produce 35,000 to 50,000 BTUs (British Thermal Unit), they require at least 30 inches of clearance around and above the heater. This will allow a safe distance between the heater and anything that could combust.
Just like the permanent ground-mounted heaters, one of the most commonly seen free-standing heaters is the mushroom heater. These are different though as they are portable and the propane tank is stored in the base of the heater. If that interests you, the Hiland AZ Patio Heater is a great deal.
According to the manual, the clearance for this specific heater is 3 feet from the sides and 2 feet from the top. This allows quite a bit of flexibility, even if you have a lower roof on your covered patio. Be sure to follow our tips on preventing a patio heater from tipping over.
This type of heater is ideal for anyone who is worried they don’t have enough room for a heater on the ground along with the required clearance around the heater. You would be sacrificing the heat distribution that you’d get for the larger patio heaters.
Some tabletop heaters look like lamps so you should be able to find one that goes along with your decorations rather than sticking out like a sore thumb.
Here are two options for tabletop heaters that will provide a decent amount of heat without taking up any standing or sitting room. The first one is basically a mini mushroom heater. It is the Hiland AZ Tabletop Patio Heater. The second choice is a more decorative option. It is the Lasko Designer Series 1500-Watt Ceramic Electric Portable Heater.
The manual for the Hiland AZ Tabletop Patio Heater states that the clearance is 3 feet from the sides and 2 feet from the top. However, the manual for the Lasko Ceramic Electric Portable Heater states that the clearance from the front is 3 feet and 1 foot from the sides and back.
Ceiling/Wall Mounted Heaters
Ceiling/wall-mounted heaters are available in all three fuel types. You can find one that uses propane, electricity, or natural gas. Hence the name, these patio heaters can be mounted on the wall or ceiling. This means that it is a great solution if your problem is having the space for a patio heater.
If you are wanting a ceiling or wall-mounted propane patio heater, it will require a permanent gas line that forms a connection between the leather and large, residential, or commercial propane tank. The gas line will of course need to be installed professionally.
There are many options for ceiling/wall mounted heaters considering the options for fuel. One option that seems like a great affordable option is the Comfort Zone 1,500-Watt Electric Infrared Ceiling Mount Portable Heater.
For this heater, the manual states that the clearance for the front is 3 feet and it only states that people should stay away from the sides rather than giving a specific number.
Hanging heaters are commonly grouped in with the ceiling-mounted heaters as they both get support from the ceiling. However, they are actually different in the sense that ceiling mounted heaters are more connected to the ceiling while hanging heaters are just hanging from the ceiling. It’s common to compare hanging patio heaters to chandeliers as a lot of them are designed to resemble chandeliers.
If you’re interested in a chandelier-type heater for your patio, a hanging heater is the perfect choice for you. There is a great hanging heater available on Outdoor Lighting Pros which you can view by clicking HERE. It is much like a chandelier or any other type of inside lights that hang.
It doesn’t seem that there is a manual for this specific heater available online so there isn’t any specific numbers for the clearance. However, this heater hangs from the ceiling so it should be okay as long as there isn’t anything too close to it.
If you’re excited to see this on the list, you’re probably not the only one. Having a fire pit under a covered patio would be nice because it is multi-functional. It would give off heat to keep you and your guests warm, but it would also bring together a camping atmosphere that would be sure to make everyone happy. You’d even get to make s’mores and hot dogs without taking a trip into your kitchen!
You’re probably thinking that sounds too good to be true. Well, you’re in luck because it is true! You can actually put a fire pit under a covered patio. Like with everything though, there are things you have to be aware of.
For starters, wood-burning fires should never be used under a covered patio. If there isn’t enough airflow, the toxic smoke produced by the wood can build up quickly making the ratio to toxic smoke and oxygen dangerous.
For starters, most cities require pre-approval before installing any fire pit. Though this isn’t the case everywhere, you should be sure before you do anything that involves a fire pit. You should also make sure that the location, ventilation, flooring, and ceiling height meets the requirements of that specific fire pit.
Though this might make you fearful to even have to think of this, you should always have a fire extinguisher within reach. Though the chances are low, there is still a chance of the flames to spread. It’s better to be prepared and scared than to be unprepared and with a patio in flames.
If you are interested in buying a gas fire pit, this Kingsland gas fire pit would be a great purchase! According to the reviews, it is easy to assemble and operate. Though they didn’t have many bad things to say, there was one review that said it used a lot of propane and didn’t radiate a lot of heat.
This specific gas fire pit requires at least 50 inches of clearance from any combustible materials. Anything being stored closeby could be permanently damaged by the heat. It could become quite dangerous if anything is close enough to catch fire. To be completely safe, you should check this manual that goes more into detail about the clearance and more!
Can You Use an Outdoor Heater Under a Covered Patio? Now You Know
If you want to use an outdoor heater under a covered patio, you must be prepared to do your research and take precautions as it is important to have a fire hazard-free space for your patio. There are many options for you which all have different requirements and guidelines. It’s important to know about these requirements and guidelines for safety and long-term use.