Whether it’s at home or your place of business, enjoying the outdoors with friends on your patio or serving customers on your terrace is an enjoyable activity — even when the long, hot days of summer are a long way off. Of course, to make everyone comfortable when it’s cool out, the key is to provide them with sufficient heat. There’s no easier way to do that than with outdoor propane heaters.

To help you understand how outdoor propane heaters work and select a suitable style for your needs, we’ve put together this guide that, along with our contact info, should give you the information you need to make the right choice.

Types of Outdoor Propane Heaters

Unlike a campfire that can emit smoke and burning embers, an outdoor propane heater radiates clean heat without any mess or cleanup required afterward. As long as you have a propane tank properly attached to the heater and ready for use, all you have to do is turn it on and enjoy.

Since outdoor spaces come in many varieties, propane heaters do too. A common style often associated with cafés and restaurants with outdoor seating are freestanding tall patio heaters. This type of heater is approximately seven or eight feet tall with a sturdy base that contains the propane tank. It has a long shaft going upward to the controls, heating element and a wide, disk-shaped cover on top.

Shaped much like freestanding models, only shorter, smaller and lighter, tabletop heaters operate in much the same manner. Some even come complete with their own built-in tabletop. Additionally, you can find heaters that are designed to be portable, as well as collapsible heaters that quickly attach to a propane tank in almost any setting.

How Do Outdoor Propane Heaters Work?

Propane heaters operate through radiant heat. Though you might not realize it, you’re already familiar with this type of heating, since it’s how the sun heats the earth. Think about how heat rises from the ground on a summer’s evening, even after the sun sets.

With propane heaters, radiant heat is generated as follows: The propane tank is attached by means of a gas line to a burner. Once the gas line is opened and an ignition switch or flame ignites the released propane, the flame comes into contact with the heating element, and the resulting warmth radiates directly outward. In many models, such as the freestanding style, a dome on top of the heater directs the radiating heat down to where people are seated.

One of the best features of radiant heat is that it warms everything in its path, so all objects around are gently heated — unlike a fan heater that can wind up creating more of a breeze than an ambient warm feeling.

Where Is an Outdoor Propane Heater’s Propane Stored?

A 20-pound propane tank, which contains approximately four and a half gallons of liquefied propane (LP) when filled, is the standard fuel choice for the majority of outdoor propane heaters. For this reason, most manufacturers build a storage space for a tank in the base of their heaters. As previously mentioned, the large majority of freestanding heaters include a tank storage space at the bottom of the unit.

For tabletop heaters with a table built into their design, there’s often a space beneath the table’s center where a propane tank can be stored. With other types of portable heaters, exactly where the tank is located in relation to the heater varies.

Benefits of Outdoor Propane Heaters

Neither natural gas nor electric outdoor heaters offer the most effective ways of obtaining outdoor heating. While natural gas might be a relatively affordable fuel source, the extra plumbing costs to run a new gas line add up. Plus, these heaters aren’t portable. Similarly, electric outdoor heaters require professional installation, and naturally, they’ll increase your energy bills.

Propane-fueled heaters, on the other hand, are easy to set up, as they require no plumbing or complex installation. After purchase, the only costs involved are those of refilling the propane tank. Since the tank is usually stored within the heating unit itself, a propane-fueled heater is also the most portable of all types of outdoor heating units.

Common Places Outdoor Propane Heaters Are Used

The style of outdoor heater you choose will be in part determined by where you plan on using it. For many homeowners, the idea of enjoying longer evenings outside means supplying extra heat to their backyard or deck area, where family and friends can gather and relax. Similarly, many restaurants and businesses with outdoor seating areas like to heat their patios or terraces.

No matter where you choose to use your propane heater, it’s crucial to remember that you should never use these types of heaters in enclosed spaces or areas without proper ventilation. And, of course, be conscious of any overhangs or awnings nearby, especially if you’re using the taller freestanding model.

At Foster Fuels, we’ve been supplying residential and commercial fuels and related products for over 90 years. Contact us today to get further information on outdoor propane heaters. With Foster Fuels, you’ll get more than a heater — you’ll get the expertise and dependability of nearly a century of trusted customer service.

Learn More about Outdoor Propane:

Post updated on January 14th, 2019