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.
Patio Heating Options
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.
Read more about Use the Best Mosquito Repellent for the Patio
#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.
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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.