In-ground –Built for permanence, power, and stability, in-ground models generally heat a broader radius than portable models. They are usually built to tap into an established natural gas supply – although the Zubri Classic Stainless Steel Patio Heater houses a 20-pound propane tank. They are ideal for commercial establishments.
Power rating/range -Power ratings are expressed in BTUs (British Thermal Units); the higher the BTU rating, the broader the heater's range. Products boasting the same range can be compared by BTU rating; the higher the rating, the more effective the heating over the described range.
Construction –The vast majority of patio heaters are made from steel, although some at the lower end of the price range include lower-quality aluminum parts. The type of steel used – stainless, weather-treated – varies by price, as does the size of the base (for portable heaters) and the diameter of the pole.
Dome -Another important feature of the construction is the dome. Domes with bigger diameters allow better, more effective heat distribution. Most patio heaters have single-dome construction, but the Endless Summer Triple Dome Commercial Outdoor Patio Heater is easily distinguished by its triple-dome construction, which guards the heating element against wind and diffusion.
Fuel –Most patio heaters are fueled by liquid propane tanks; some are designed to tap into an established natural gas source. Others come in two models, allowing you to order by fuel preference. Please note that for models that use tanks, the fuel is generally sold separately.
Ignition –Only the most basic models require anything more than the push of a button to ignite. Most models come with a form of Piezo electric ignition, which produces sparks that interact with the fuel; higher-end heaters can have automatic or electronic ignition.
Safety features –Patio heaters are available with a wide range of safety features – the most basic of which are automatic shut-off switches, to prevent leaking gas, and safety tilt shut-off switches, to prevent heaters from lighting objects on fire should they fall. Other features include heat adjustment, pilot lights, tip-resistant construction, and shut-off switches to guard against severe weather.
Heater accessories –The primary accessory line for patio heaters is covers, which guard against dust, dirt, and insects – all of which shorten a heater’s life and limit effectiveness. Another option is a clamp to hold tabletop models in place.
What should I know about spot heaters?
Energy –Most spot heaters are electric-powered and must be hard-wired. The Sunpak S25 Infrared Spot Heater can come in propane-powered or natural-gas-powered models but features electronic ignition.
Power rating – Electric spot heater power is measured in watts; propane or gas spot heater power is measured in BTUs. The more BTUs or watts, the more effective the spot heater in warming its target.
Mounting/portable –Many spot heaters are designed for ceiling or wall mounting; other, free-standing models can be moved from place to place where the heat is required. Most of those that are portable are usually lower in wattage rating.
Application –Along with standard use in heating specific outdoor and indoor areas (like restaurant decks and warehouse aisles, respectively), spot heaters are perfect for greenhouses and garages, and for tucking underneath balconies and awnings to provide inconspicuous warmth and comfort.