In the summer, a patio is a wonderful thing. There’s no better way to enjoy a sunset, eat a meal outside, or have an excuse to get friends over. As soon as winter starts closing in, though? It’s more like an abandoned house – full of old memories.
The good news is that there are ways to heat your patio and enjoyable throughout the winter months.
This is mostly due to heating, but there’s also plenty of other little tricks you can do to keep the outdoor party going. Ready to find out how? Then let’s dive in.
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There’s no greater impact on your patio than the heater you choose for it.
With many different options, it’s important to choose the right one for your space (and your guests).
I’ve gone through each of the best ways to heat a patio throughout the winter months below. I recommend reading with your space in mind – to find out which would be the best option for you.
#1 Infrared Heating
Starting with my favorite, infrared heating is always one of the best options available. There’s a good reason why most commercial patios use infrared heating.
When it comes to heating a patio, infrared heating is:
- & Wind Resistant
How does infrared heating work?
In short, infrared heating works just like the sun does. It emits infrared rays that heat anything that it connects with. The key downside here is that the heater needs a clear line of sight to the person (or object) that you want to heat. It also works in a direct line, and not a 360o radius.
Infrared Heater Types
One of the reasons I’m such a big infrared fan is the range of options you have with it.
You can install a heater flush to the ceiling or hang it from the roof. A wall-mounted heater would be a good choice or place one on a stand. You can even place one inside a mirror!
Infrared heaters also tend to be high-tech. It’s expected that you’ll get some kind of remote with them, making it easy to choose the perfect setting without moving from your patio chair.
The best reason to get one, though, is the wind resistance. Since you’re heating objects and people, the wind doesn’t blow the hot air away like with normal heaters. This means you’re not burning money just to produce a warmer wind. Instead, you’re keeping yourself and your guests warm, no matter the weather.
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#2 Propane Heaters
If you’re not going with infrared, the next best option is a propane heater.
While it can only heat air, propane heaters have the main advantage of being super powerful. In short, they are:
- Easily available
- Easy to refill/resupply
- Great for big areas
While their heat isn’t “wind-resistant” like an infrared heater, they can produce WAY more heat – so it kind of counteracts the wind.
My one gripe is that they run on fuel. Which needs to be replaced or refilled regularly. Thankfully this is quite easy, but it’s still a downside.
With a propane heater, you need to be sure you can place it in a good position. These only really come in standing lamp post-style heaters, so they generally need to be at the center of your group. If you have a lovely coffee table or centerpiece it might need a bit of a workaround to get a propane heater in there, too.
#3 Alternative Heating Options
Lastly, there are a few less ‘mainstream’ heating options for a patio during winter. Including:
You can’t get more classic than a pit full of fire. Isn’t that right Caveman Joe?
A patio fire pit perhaps has the widest price range of any part of your home.
You can make one for free with a careful bending of metal or placing of stones. Alternatively, you can pay up to $10,000 or more for a custom-build patio fireplace!
In the end, a real fire is an authentic experience that is bound to guide the conversations to a deeper level. There’s something irreplaceable about a late-night chat while looking into a real fire.
Portable fire pits are also a great option. Check price here
Looking to have the most luxurious patio in the neighborhood? Underfloor patio heating is a thing – and it really works. You do need to combine it with some other insulating options, but you’ll never be able to replace the look on everyone’s face when they realize the floor itself is what’s keeping them warm!
Another form of fire-based heat, a chiminea is also an option rich in history. Used across the historical US and Mexico for centuries, these heaters are a great way to harness real fire – but to do so efficiently.
Covering A Patio From The Elements
You can cover a patio from the elements in a bunch of different ways. Some classic examples are using a gazebo, pavilion, or an enclosed porch. There’s a ton of options.
My favorite discovery is the idea of a semi-permanent patio cover.
A permanent cover would be an enclosed patio – something you can’t undo. A temporary cover would be a kind of thermal sheet you’d throw up at the end of every night. Or a kind of wind-block.
A semi-permanent cover is the best of both worlds. It could include something like patio curtains and a makeshift patio cover. A structure that would take maybe a day to put up then lasts until next summer.
Being A Good Host
This last tip isn’t about keeping your patio warm, but your guests. I’m sure your guests would appreciate the warmth.
If you’re hoping for people to stay out in the patio on a winter night, make sure you’ve got:
- Good cushions. The quickest way to shiver is to sit on something cold. Thick, fluffy, insulating cushions can work wonders.
- Good blankets. Don’t for a second let your guests sit uncovered. Glass of wine or not, some sacrificial blankets are easy to pick up at the local store. Just beware they may get ruined if you’re sitting next to a real fire! (But it’s worth it).
- Cozy socks. I don’t mean normal socks – but those big, thick, fluffy sock tubes you can get in an outdoor shop. Combine these with a hat and your body practically loses zero heat.
I hope this quick guide gave you a few good ideas to keep your patio warm!
As a summary, my recommendation is to combine a quality infrared heater (the style is up to you), with some insulation from the elements (such as patio curtains), and plenty of cozy blankets, socks, hats, and mulled wine.
If this content was useful, please consider checking out some of the related articles below.
What is the best way to heat a patio?
Heat patios are becoming more and more popular in Europe and the US, but not everyone understands how to maintain them efficiently. Heat can be hard to manage in some climates; especially so when you have a patio that is exposed to the elements. You don't want to be freezing while you enjoy your home's outdoor space. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to keep warm on the patio this winter.
The best way to heat a patio is with the help of portable heating devices such as portable propane heaters and kerosene heaters. They provide reliable solutions when it comes to heating up a patio and can be used in all weather conditions.
If you don't have access to electricity for heating, then wind chills should be taken into account before deciding what type of heater is best for your patio. You should also consider solar-powered systems as these can save you a ton on your electricity bills.
Do patio heaters work in the winter?
In the winter, heating your patio is important for both your comfort and your health. There are many ways to heat them.
For most people, however, it is not advisable to use their outdoor patio heaters in winter months because they do not produce enough heat. One solution for this is using a fireplace instead, but it may not be enough.
In most cases, heating a patio with a gas heater is a great way to go because they're efficient and safe. However, they can be expensive and difficult to install depending on how far from your home you're sitting. If you want to heat your patio in winter, the best way is to use a propane heater. It will not only heat up the patio, it can also be used for cooking and other activities.
Some of the factors that contribute to whether or not a patio heater will work in the winter include: The duration between when you turn off your heater and when it could start working again, how cold it is outside, and if there are any snowstorms.
How do I keep my guests warm at an outdoor party?
There are some ways that you can keep your guests warm at an outdoor party, such as using a heat lamp, heating bricks or stones and using a portable stove.
There are different ways to keep your guests warm at an outdoor party, depending on the weather conditions. In cold weather, use a heat lamp. If you’re going to be outdoors in milder temperatures you might want to use heating bricks or stones in lieu of space heaters. And if it’s too cold for both of those options then use a portable stove.
Do outdoor patio heaters need to be covered?
Outdoor patio heaters are a popular way to keep your outdoor area warm in the cold winter months. However, do patio heaters need to be covered?
No! Patio heaters don’t need to be covered because they won’t damage anything when they are left uncovered. When you place the patio heater on a table top or other surfaces, it will keep the table top or surface cool and maintain air circulation.
About the Author
Previously a Civil Engineer, Craig built his content writing business around his day job and is now proudly running it full time. Find him over at ApplianceAnalysts.com.