Patio Heater; Two Styles, Three Fuel Types -- Which is Best for You?

5 minute read | Heaters

With Fall just around the corner, you can expect temperatures to start dropping soon. It's always tough to say goodbye to the sunny Summertime weather, but with a little preparation, you can extend your outdoor activities and get the most out of the cool Autumn evenings that are coming our way.

Whether it's for your own home, or for rental property owners to warm their tenants and guests, infrared heaters are ideal. This safe and effective heating technology works perfectly outdoors, indoors, and in any space when the chill of winter finally sets in.

Infrared Outdoor Heaters for the Patio

A well-designed patio is a great place for tenants and guests of apartment and condominium complexes to mingle, relax, and enjoy the outdoors as the weather cools. Outdoor living spaces are equally valuable to the homeowner who wishes to entertain guests or simply watch the sunset from the comfort of the patio. But as the nights gradually grow longer, an infrared outdoor heater can extend your enjoyment of your patio.

If you've ever dined on the patio of your favorite restaurant after Labor Day, then you are probably aware of the tall, mushroom-shaped heaters that are often used to warm guests in outdoor spaces. These are convenient, powerful, and take up very little floor space. But the pole-mounted mushroom heater design is not the only shape and style available. The best style and mounting option for you will depend on the shape, size, and layout of your patio as well as how you use the space.

There are mushroom and box-shaped infrared heaters. Either design can be mounted in a variety of ways. Both styles can be mounted, hung, or suspended from overhead rafters, making them well suited for use in a gazebo or any outdoor space.

Mushroom heaters are able to be mounted on top of a pole, securely mounted to the floor or deck, which is best when they are powered by natural gas. Alternatively, more portable versions are available that run on liquid propane. Liquid propane-powered units can be mounted on a wheeled base, which can be moved and repositioned as you prefer.

Box heaters are able to be mounted on the outside of a wall or hung from an overhead structure or ceiling. Some box heaters come with flush-mount kits that allow you to insert the heater into the wall or ceiling making them much less obtrusive.

Three Fuel Options: Natural Gas, Propane & Electric

The three power source options for your infrared heater are all affordable, efficient, and environmentally friendly. Certain heater styles are limited to one or two fuel types.

The Requirements of Each Power Source

For natural gas-powered heaters, you need to have an in-ground connection. Natural gas may be available in your area, if so your property will either have natural gas hookups, or your local utility provider can install the connections. Because natural gas heaters must be connected to a fuel line, they need to be mounted in a fixed position. Natural gas is available for box-shaped and mushroom-style heaters.

Electric infrared heaters come only in box form. These units are too powerful to be plugged into a traditional wall outlet like a lamp. They must be directly wired into the electrical system of the building by a contractor, developer, or an electrician.

Propane heaters only come in the mushroom-style variety. Because liquid propane is stored in a tank that is directly connected to the heater, these units can be mounted on poles or pedestals with wheels for mobility.

Fuel Types & Heater Styles at a Glance

  • Natural Gas: Box & Mushroom Styles available. Units must be in a fixed position.
  • Electric: Box Style only. Units must be wired into the power supply in a fixed position.
  • Propane: Mushroom Style only. Can be mobile, mounted on poles with a wheeled base.

Advantages, Disadvantages, & Use Cases of Each Fuel Source

Because each heater type and each type of power source has specific capabilities and parameters in which they are most useful, you should take the time to decide which style and fuel type will be best for the space in which you intend to use it.

Mushroom Style Heaters

You can obtain a mushroom-style heater that uses either propane or natural gas. This style of heater is designed to be mounted on top of a pole, or suspended above the space where it is used.

Because of their rounded, umbrella shape, these heaters project heat into a wide area in a downward direction surrounding the unit. They are ideal for warming a large circular area. They work well in open areas where large numbers of people are present, on patios and decks. If your mushroom-style heater is propane powered, it can be mounted on a portable mount, enabling you to reposition it at any time. This is especially useful for patios with no overhead structures, you can wheel the heater in the middle or far side of the patio to deliver heat where you need it.

Box Style Infrared Heaters

The box-style heaters can be powered by either natural gas or electricity. Both of these power sources require the unit to be stationary since they must be directly connected to a natural gas line or to the electrical system of the building.

Due to its box-like shape, this type of heater provides directional heat. The heat provided by these units does not cover as wide an area as a mushroom-shaped heater will, but they will deliver a cone of heat that is farther reaching.

Portable Patio Heater/Outdoor Portable Heater: Type & Fuel

  • Natural Gas Box Heater: This type of heater must be in a fixed position, mounted in a wall, or mounted overhead. It must be connected to a rigid natural gas line that cannot be moved. They are ideal for providing a directional cone of heat in a fixed direction. They work well in any outdoor patio or space next to buildings or with sturdy outdoor structures like gazebos, restaurant patios, or valet waiting areas.
  • Natural Gas Mushroom Heater: These patio gas heaters can be mounted on a pole or suspended/mounted from an overhead position. They are ideal for projecting heat downward into a wide circular area, rather than projected down a hall or corridor. They must remain in a permanent position due to the fact that they are tied into a natural gas line.
  • Electric Box Heater: These units must be wired directly into the electrical system of the building and are therefore not mobile. They are ideal for projecting heat directionally in a wide arc that can suit almost any outdoor area. Because electrically powered infrared heaters are more amenable to electronic controls, they have the most options for settings. You can exert more control over heat levels and heat projection levels since their control systems are more refined.
  • Propane Mushroom Heater: These residential propane heaters can be mounted on a pole, to project heat downward in a 360-degree area. The propane tank is hidden in the base of the unit itself, making it possible to move the unit as you like. They are excellent for a wide variety of uses since they can be repositioned to suit your needs.

To learn more about your options, which fuel type and heater style is best for your needs, get in touch today.

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