Outdoor heaters are an absolutely fantastic way to enjoy the cool weather, without having to get too cold and bring your nice blankets outside. These heaters will provide the warmth your family and guests will appreciate and extend the relaxed discussions in a comfortable atmosphere. With spring coming around the corner it’s not a bad idea to consider purchasing one now, in order to get the best deals!
Hopefully by now you have some sort of an idea of what you want. If not, head on over to the outdoor space heater page and have a look at the three different kinds of heaters available. Once you have figured out the type and size you want, it’s a good idea to begin looking at the technical aspects, such as the range, energy use, price, and other characteristics.
For the purpose of this article, we’re going to assume you have a medium size porch or patio that can accommodate a group of 4-6 comfortably. We’ll assume the time of the year is mid spring, or late summer just when the temperatures are beginning to drop. Most people will be comfortable without a heater until the mercury drops to the upper 50’s or lower 60’s. Also, we’ll be looking at floor standing heaters; wall mounted and table top versions are not included in this list.
Most importantly, the quality to price ratio is a distinctive feature here. A better quality product will last longer and require fewer, if any, repairs than a cheaper made model. Thus I always see it better as paying a bit more for something to last longer.
Generally speaking you’re going to be looking at spending $150-$300 dollars on this kind of item, but it’ll be worth every penny you paid. This is not to say there are not good floor standing heaters under the $200 mark, there are plenty, but sometimes it requires a bunch of trial and error to figure that out.
So without any further ado, here are my top 3 picks for being the most affordable, floor standing outdoor heaters.
- AmazonBasics Commercial Patio Heater
For the quality and price of this unit, it really can’t be beaten. The Havana bronze, and slate grey colors start at $125.99, and the stainless steel colorway comes in at $152.99. What’s even better? If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can have this shipped to you in two days for free, otherwise a fairly small shipping charge is added.
What makes this unit great is it delivers an impressive 46,000 BTU’s of heat, which should be more than enough to cover a 10 person circle or more. It’s heated by a standard 20lb LP gas cylinder, which is not included, but if you own a grill you probably have one. Assembly isn’t difficult and should take at most an hour or two. This unit also features a safety auto shut-off tilt valve.
Compared to similar models across different brands, this unit comes in far cheaper with an average savings of roughly $30-$60. Not to mention you’ll receive Amazon’s customer support, which tends to be much better than most other companies.
- AZ Stainless Steel Patio Heater with Table
Priced slightly higher than Amazon’s stainless version, the AZ Patio heater matches fairly well, but puts out slightly less heat than my number one choice. You may be asking why I put this one in the list, when the AmazonBasics model clearly beats it in most categories. With AZ’s model, there are few things that do make it a bit better.
First, the assembly is quicker and easier. It takes roughly 20 minutes to put together, which is significantly shorter then almost all other models. Many of the parts come pre-assembled and the most you may be doing is peeling the protective plastic sheets off of the stainless steel finish. Although it only emits a rated 41,000 BTU’s, this won’t be significantly different than the 46,000 BTU’s the AmazonBasics puts out.
Similarly, it uses a standard 20 gallon propane tank, and includes an anti-tilt safety switch, wheels for easy mobility and is CSA approved. What this heater has, that many other models don’t is a small table at the base of the heater. I like this small touch, and think it is a practical addition. It’s a great place to set a beer or glass of wine when relaxing outside.
- Fire Sense XL – Series Patio Heater
This outdoor space heater comes in a little over $200 at $214.88, but gives you the best of both worlds with the first and second models listed above in addition to some other nice features. Generally speaking it has all the ‘basic’ features you would expect, just like the 2 models above do. This includes the safety anti-tilt turn off valve, wheels for added mobility, use of a standard 20lb tank, etc.
In the summer of 2015 Fire Sense released a new updated model that includes a “pilotless burner system, rapid spark ignition system, bottom weight-ballast, and an added table.” These features are what set this heater apart from other similar models.
Similar to how you light a grill, all of these heaters have an electronic ignition switch that is basically a button that creates a spark in a stream of propane gas. This is what lights the fire that keeps you warm. The company has claimed it has, “replaced the traditional thumb-aching, single spark switch, with an easy press, easy start, and “rapid spark” ignition system.”
If you’re unsure what a pilot light is, it’s a small flame that burns at all hours to keep a flame going on the stream of gas. If you own a home, odds are there is a pilot light going in your furnace or stove. For space heaters, it serves the same purpose, but unfortunately can waste gas. Fire Sense has fixed this problem, by creating a system that requires no pilot light all.
Finally, they added a weight to the bottom for more stability and to prevent the unit from tipping over and as mentioned above, a table isn’t a bad option to have. Nobody wants to set a nice wine glass on the ground or risk losing a beer to a spill.
Lastly, with whatever space heater you choose be sure to purchase a cover for it when it’s not in use, or have some area you can take it where it’s not exposed to the elements. Mother Nature can take a hardy toll on these pieces, so it’s important to take care of one meticulously. Besides, the better care of you take of it, the longer it’s going to last. Be sure to save all receipts, manuals, and register your product with the company if that is available to you. It’ll make returns, repairs, etc. a whole lot easier down the road.