Electric Vs. Propane Patio Heater: Which Should You Buy?

Enjoying your outdoor space on cool nights becomes a whole lot better with patio heaters. They warm you up and keep you cozy, but there are lots of patio heaters out there. The top two are the electric and propane patio heaters. So which one should you go for? 

In this blog post, we will tell you all you need to know about the two top patio heaters on the market and help you make the perfect choice for your patio!

Electric Patio Heater

For our first pick, we’ll take a look at the electric patio heater. The electric patio heater does its job of keeping you warm by using strong lamps shielded by protective glass. So you can say goodbye to cold nights in your blanket on your patio. But how do they work?

Electric patio heaters generate heat through electricity and this makes them a safe and efficient solution for your outdoor heating. All you need is to have access to a nearby electrical source.

Variations of Electric Patio Heaters (Types and Models)

Infrared Electric Patio Heaters

Infrared electric patio heaters emit infrared rays that directly warm you and any object nearby. These electric patio heaters create a cozy ambiance by delivering focused heat, making them an excellent choice for your backyard. It’s like basking in the sun without actual sunlight. 

Halogen Electric Patio Heaters

Halogen electric patio heaters, on the other hand, use halogen bulbs that emit heat at higher temperatures. Despite the heat, these bulbs remain cool, making them a safe option, particularly for households with small children or pets. Plus, their ability to generate intense heat nudges it as the ideal choice for cooler evenings.

Now, let’s explore the different models of electric patio heaters:

  1. Hanging Electric Patio Heaters
  2. Umbrella-Mounted Electric Patio Heaters
  3. Wall-Mounted Electric Patio Heaters
  4. Free-Standing Electric Patio Heaters

Keep in mind that electric patio heaters require electrical outlets to function. So always consider this fact, along with the different types and models of electric patio heaters, when deciding what patio heater to go for. Go for the one which best fits your style, practicality, and desired warmth.

Propane Patio Heater

And now for the propane patio heater. If you’re seeking something close to a furnace to get you through the coldest winter days, the propane patio heater is your best pick! Propane patio heaters burn liquified petroleum gas (LPG) to generate intense heat and sometimes reach up to 60,000 BTUs or more! That’s a lot of heat, which can keep an area of 20 square feet warm and toasty.

Propane patio heaters are usually big in size, letting them emit heat from lofty heights. They are able to cover a larger area with a more even distribution of heat, making them ideal for heating up large outdoor spaces like patios and decks. But how do they work?

Propane patio heaters operate by using liquified petroleum gas (LPG) as their power source. The LPG is stored in a removable and refillable propane tank connected to the heater. Ignite it with a lighter or a switch, and the propane gas generates a flame that radiates heat to keep you warm and cozy in your backyard. Propane patio heaters do not need electricity to work, but they need you to refill the propane tanks whenever they’re empty frequently. 

Types of Propane Patio Heaters

There are two main types of propane patio heaters, each with unique characteristics to fulfill your heating requirements.

Free-Standing Propane Patio Heaters

Free-standing propane patio heaters are a preferred choice for those going for flexibility and mobility. These propane heaters feature a standalone design with a sturdy base, which allows you to position them wherever you want the heat. They come with larger propane tanks which mean longer heating sessions. You can also adjust the heat output by controlling the flow of propane gas, enabling you to tailor the warmth to your preference.

Tabletop Propane Patio Heaters

The tabletop propane patio heater creates a cozy and intimate ambiance in a smaller outdoor space. They are compact heaters designed to sit atop tables and provide radiant heat for those gathered around. Although they have a smaller propane tank and heat output compared to their free-standing counterparts, they offer convenience and style, thereby increasing the enjoyment of your outdoor dining or socializing experience.

Pros and Cons

Now, let’s dive into the pros and cons of electric and propane patio heaters to help you decide based on your specific needs and preferences.

Electric Patio Heaters

Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of electric patio heaters:


  • It is easy to set up and use. Simply plug and play
  • It is safe to use without any fire hazards
  • It is very efficient in providing targeted warmth to objects or people
  • Easy to use and maintain
  • It can be mounted anywhere; on walls or ceilings which saves space.


  • It may incur high electricity bills
  • It needs electrical outlets to function which may limit placement options
  • It is vulnerable to power outages during blackouts

Propane Patio Heaters

Propane patio heaters offer a different set of advantages and considerations. Let’s explore the pros and cons of propane patio heaters:


  • It can be placed anywhere since it is not dependent on electricity like its counterpart. 
  • It is portable and comes with mobile gas cylinders
  • It is immune to power outages, ensuring continuous warmth
  • It is best for colder nights with its ability to provide substantial heat
  • It can heat up larger outdoor areas efficiently
  • It has a lower initial cost compared to electric heaters


  • Since it uses gas, it requires periodic refills
  • Proper ventilation is necessary for safe operation
  • You may need assistance from a technician during the installation
  • It has a potential for ongoing cost due to purchasing and replacing gas canisters

Factors To Consider When Choosing Either The Electric Or Propane Patio Heater

Even though electric and propane heaters keep you warm outside, they differ. We’ll show you how:


Regarding safety, electric patio heaters take the lead with their impressive features. These heaters don’t require any ventilation and produce no carbon monoxide or greenhouse gasses, making them a reliable and environmentally friendly option. Additionally, electric heaters are often installed overhead or designed to remain cool to the touch, making them a safer choice, especially for households with children. However, with proper precautions such as adequate weight distribution, propane patio heaters can also provide a safe heating solution.


If portability is a key consideration for your patio setup, propane heaters have the upper hand. These heaters offer the freedom to move them around as needed without the constraint of proximity to an electrical outlet. However, it’s essential to ensure proper ventilation when using propane heaters to maintain a safe environment.


When it comes to user-friendliness, electric patio heaters take the spotlight. With a simple plug-and-play setup, you can quickly enjoy their warmth. Propane patio heaters, while capable of heating large spaces, require more setup. This involves connecting the propane tank, igniting the heater, and occasionally manually lighting the flame. Electric heaters provide a hassle-free experience, akin to a smooth magic trick, while propane heaters offer a more involved, grand performance.

Heat Output

For those seeking optimal heat output, propane patio heaters are the go-to choice. These heaters can provide intense warmth, even on the coldest of evenings. However, it’s important to note that propane heaters rely on fuel, meaning that once you run out, the heat will dissipate. In contrast, electric heaters provide continuous warmth as long as they remain plugged into a power outlet.


When it comes to cost-effectiveness, electric patio heaters shine in the long run. With their energy-efficient design, they consume less power, resulting in lower electricity bills. They also don’t require additional fuel expenses, making them a wallet-friendly option. On the other hand, while propane heaters may appear more affordable initially, the ongoing costs of refilling the propane tank can add up over time, making them a more expensive choice in the long term.

As you weigh the factors of safety, portability, user-friendliness, heat output, and cost, consider your unique outdoor needs and priorities. Whether you opt for the convenience and long-term savings of electric heaters or the mobility and powerful heat output of propane heaters, choose the patio heater that aligns best with your preferences.

Choosing the Patio Heater For You

In the quest for the ideal patio heater, deciding between electric and propane can feel like navigating a maze of options. Both types offer their own set of advantages and considerations, making the choice a personal one that should align with your specific needs. 

Electric patio heaters excel in terms of convenience and low maintenance. With their user-friendly operation and minimal upkeep requirements, they offer a hassle-free heating solution. Additionally, their inherent safety features, such as no open flames, make them a preferred choice for households with children or pets. The ability to mount them on walls or ceilings adds versatility to their placement, while the absence of canisters eliminates the need for regular replacements.

On the other hand, propane patio heaters shine in situations where strong winds or larger outdoor areas need to be heated. Their initial cost is typically more affordable, making them an attractive option for those conscious of their budget. With no reliance on electricity, they provide a reliable heat source even during power outages. However, it’s essential to ensure proper ventilation and consider the ongoing cost of gas canisters when choosing this type of heater.

Ultimately, the best choice lies in your hands. Consider your habits, budget constraints, local climate conditions, and utility prices. Reflect on your priorities and the specific requirements of your outdoor space. By analyzing these factors and trusting your instincts, you’ll find the perfect patio heater that suits your needs and preferences.

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