Most outdoor patio heaters will heat an area to a radius of at least 10 feet, but some can blast warmth a bit farther than that. Determine how much or little space you need to heat on a regular basis. If the area you want to heat extends farther than 10 feet from the heater, you might consider purchasing two heaters.
Style: Pole or pyramid
The two main styles are traditional pole heaters and more modern pyramid-style patio heaters. This is more a matter of taste, but it’s worth noting that the pyramid heaters we tested were slightly more difficult to assemble.
Cost an value
Reliable patio heaters start at around $150 and go up from there. The more powerful patio heaters with sleek design elements will cost you closer to $400 or $500.
View from the side showing the temperature increase at every measured point. Data was recorded at 10-inch intervals, starting at 10 inches below the heater’s cap and extending 4 feet out from the heater.
Chance Lane/CNET Real-world application
After crunching the data, the Hiland heater emerged as a strong contender. It was one of the hottest models I tested, and when you combine that with the cool visuals of a flame darting up a glass tube, it seemed like a no-brainer.
But then I added an additional step to the test: sitting outside beside each heater on a cooler evening. That revealed something that the thermocouples didn’t: the traditional pole-style heaters give off a much more concentrated heat. When I was sitting next to one, I felt comfortably warm. While the glass tube of the Hiland heater still performs pretty well — and looks neat — having the heat dispersed along the length of the tube simply didn’t warm me up as thoroughly.
As I mentioned earlier, a lot of the heaters were similar. But when I tested them, it was clear that the Hiland and Amazon model 62516 — despite being nearly identical pyramid-style tube heaters — weren’t alike. The Hiland was one of the best-performing; the Amazon 62516 was one of the worst. Upon inspection, the reason was clear: the only difference was in the regulator controls. That simple variation made all the difference, and it proved true among several of the identical pole heater models, too.
When all of these heaters appear so similar, it may also be tempting to choose one based on additional accessories. The model from HomeLabs had one that stood out: a table attached to the heater. However, I wouldn’t recommend putting your cold beer on a table attached to a heater.