Patio heaters can help to keep you and your guests warm on a cool night, but they can also add a touch of luxury to your outdoor area. However, when your budget or space requirements won’t allow for the large, free-standing heaters, there are also a number of smaller tabletop models available.
The Basics of Tabletop-Style Propane Heaters
While you decide which type of patio heater to buy for your outdoor space, consider how you expect to use it, and the size of the space that it will be heating. Are you going to be hosting larger parties on your patio, or will it be used mostly for you and your family? What is the square footage of the area you’re planning to heat? Do you plan to heat more than one seating area or table? Is there an accessible natural gas line, or could you install one easily?
The large, free-standing gas patio heaters are a great option. However, they require a refillable 20lb. propane cylinder or access to a gas line for operation. If your deck or patio is on the small side, these large heaters can waste energy when a smaller heater would do just fine.
Thankfully, tabletop propane heaters have entered the picture. Thanks to their smaller design and fuel requirements, they can be operated in almost any outdoor space. Use them as a “centerpiece” of an outdoor table, supplemental heat in a patio, or even to warm a small garage or ventilated workspace.
Finish, Fuel, and Function
These smaller heaters most often run on the 1lb. cylinders of propane available for purchase at retail stores. Because you don’t need to refill the bulky 20lb. cylinders, fueling these heaters are more convenient. In addition, tabletops are portable heaters, and therefore you won’t be restricted with the location of the heater as often happens with natural gas heaters.
As is often the case with propane heaters, the total heat output of tabletop heaters is rated in BTUs. As an example, a 20,000 BTU heater would warm a space about 10 feet in diameter. If you only are looking to heat one dining table, an even smaller heater may work just fine.
A strong selling point for these tabletop propane heaters are their attractive design and the large number of available metal finishes. They blend well with any decor, and they simply look luxurious when warming a nice patio table. While you’ll common see tabletop propane heaters in rust-free stainless steel, copper, brass, and brushed finishes are also available.
Tabletop Propane Heater Shopping Tips
In addition to your local retailers, you can also find a large array of tabletops available at online vendors. Amazon.com has a rather impressive selection, at great prices. We recommend keeping these tips in mind while shopping:
- Look for a heater that features an auto-shutoff sensor that detects if the unit has been knocked over. These sensors are typically standard with modern space heaters, and helps to avoid fires and accidental burns.
- We also recommend purchasing a heater that includes a protective cover, especially if it will be used on an uncovered patio or deck. This helps to protect the unit from storm damage or other accidental damage.
Also, double-check the suggested square footage info for the heater’s BTU rating. Purchasing the correct size and heat output for your space will allow you to efficiently heat, and be sure you don’t waste money and propane.