It’s that time of year where outdoor gatherings often need a little boost of warmth. This is especially true as families and other groups of individuals continue the preference of gathering outside due to Covid and the risks that come with large indoor gatherings. As a result, patio heaters – as they were last year – are more popular than ever and have actually been selling out quite quickly. That will likely continue as Canadians put health and safety first.
If you’ve been contemplating purchasing a patio heater, you’ve probably looked at several types and styles. Perhaps which one is best for you may not be clear. Do you choose an electric patio heater or is a natural gas heater the right thing for your home and your family?
In truth, there are advantages to both and drawbacks as well but it’s likely that once you do a little research, one will emerge as the best option for your particular needs.
Thinking about your outdoor space
The layout and dimensions of your patio, or any other outdoor spot you want to heat, is the first consideration as you begin to research whether electric or natural gas heaters are ideal for you and your needs.
- How large (or small) is your space? This answer may have a huge impact on the type and model of heater you choose as some have a larger capacity than others.
- Take a look at the structure of your patio or other space you wish to heat. Is it totally open to the elements or is there a partial covering? If it is mostly or partially closed in, how’s the ventilation? These answers will also have a bearing on your decision.
- What is the overall climate of your area? If you’re in a place where you enjoy sitting out on a snowy night, your choice may be different than if you’re in an area where it just gets just chilly enough to be a little uncomfortable outside. Again, different heaters have different capacities and what you need from the heater will need to be taken into account.
- How readily available is power on your patio? Are there a lot of outlets? Are they conveniently located? If not, can you add more outlets? (FYI: It’s not a good idea to use extension cords for electric patio heaters.)
About electric heaters
Electric heaters are a logical choice for many homeowners who are hoping to take the chill off their patio areas this winter. They are readily available and come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so there’s usually one available that will fit your needs. In addition:
- Electric patio heaters are super easy to use. You just plug them in and turn them on and they begin to warm up. Some do so more quickly than others so ask your electrician what he/she recommends for your space.
- Electric heaters can be used anywhere an outlet is available and can be moved easily from outlet to outlet. Though they might be a little clumsy given their size, they are otherwise easy to move and can accommodate more than one outdoor space.
- This type of heater can work in an enclosed or partially enclosed space because you don’t need to be concerned about ventilation as you would with a natural gas heater. No fumes are emitted from an electric patio heater.
- They’re also ideal for a small space. If you’re only looking to heat a tiny patio, there’s no need to invest in a more expensive natural gas patio heater, which will likely be overkill for your cozy, intimate patio.
About natural gas heaters
You’ll find that while natural gas heaters work well, they certainly aren’t as easy to deal with as an electric heater. You can’t just purchase one, plug it in, and let it do its thing. A gas heater will need to be installed by a professional who will hook it up to your home’s natural gas supply. And, of course, if you don’t have a natural gas supply running through your property, you won’t be able to install this type of heater.
However, there are some advantages to choosing a natural gas heater.
- If you live in a very cold environment, a gas patio heater can be very efficient.
- Gas patio heaters are good for very large spaces.
- If you don’t plan on ever moving the heater, the gas type is ideal.
But if these parameters don’t match your space, it’s likely the electric heater will serve you better. As a matter of fact, at Stapleton Electric, we’ve found that electric patio heaters are often the answer for British Columbians seeking a way to keep their outdoor spaces warm throughout the year for themselves and their guests.