Electric Vs. Gas Heaters: Which Kind Is Best for Your Patio?

by Team HomeServe
Outdoor Heater

Are you only using your patio for half the year because cool weather chases you inside? Adding a heater does for you in the winter what installing an exterior ceiling fan does for you in warmer months. A patio heater can warm up your exterior space, letting you enjoy your patio even in low temps. But which should you buy — an electric or gas model?

This May Also Interest You: 7 Best Space Heaters for Your Specific Needs

Find out more about electric and gas patio heaters and learn which one might be the best choice for your space.

Electric and Gas Patio Heaters: What's the Difference?

The main difference between these types of outside heaters is the power source. Electric heaters must be plugged in to draw power from the grid. Gas heaters rely on natural gas or propane for fuel.

But the differences don't stop there. The type of power the heater uses impacts how it heats a space, which alters where you can place it and how it should be used.

Which Type of Patio Heater Is Best?

The type of patio heater that's best for you depends on how you want to use it and the space you need to use it in. When choosing your outdoor heater, consider the following:

  • The size of the space. How large is the exterior area you’re trying to heat? This determines the type and size of heater you may purchase. Some have a larger capacity than others.
  • The structure of your space. Is your patio completely open, partially closed-in or completely closed-in? The level of ventilation in your space determines which type of heater may be safest.
  • Is power available? Are there outlets nearby for an electric porch heater?
  • The climate of your area. Do you simply want to take the edge off chilly spring mornings, or are you going to fire up the heater so you can sit outside on snowy days? This helps determine how powerful the heater should be.

Gas Vs. Electric Patio Heaters

Here's a look at each type of heater to help you determine which is the right choice for your patio:

infrared heater

Electric Patio Heaters

Electric patio heaters have to be plugged in, so they only work in spaces where an outlet is nearby. That limits where you can put them in your outdoor space. You might think you can simply use an extension cord to expand the options for electric heater placement, but this is not a safe practice. Because electric space heaters draw a lot of power, they can overpower the cord, leading to fires.

Electric porch heaters are also slower to heat than gas options. They take longer to heat up the surrounding area and may not be able to heat larger areas.

That being said, electric heaters are easy. You plug them in and turn them on. They also don't require ventilation, making them a good choice for closed-in or partially closed-in areas.

Consider choosing an electric heater if:

  • You want portability. It's easy to move an electric patio heater to any area with an outlet.
  • You have accessible outlets for your outdoor space.
  • You want to heat a relatively small or enclosed space.

More Related Articles:

Gas Patio Heaters

Gas heaters may not be as easy to use as electric ones. You may need to splurge on professional installation depending on the model you choose. Once the heater is installed, you may not be able to move it to other areas of your patio or house.

You can find some floor-standing portable models that rely on propane, but those are slightly different from natural gas heaters. Either way, you need to use gas patio heaters in well-ventilated areas to avoid danger from the fumes.

The combustion of natural gas does help these heaters put out a lot more heat. They can heat up the surrounding area up quickly, which means they’re great for larger areas.

You should opt for a gas patio heater if:

  • You want to heat up a large area, or you want to use the heater in very cold environments.
  • You don’t plan on moving the heater once it’s installed.
  • The area you are heating is well-ventilated.

Is It Cheaper to Use Electric Heaters or Gas?

Cost can also be a factor. While operation costs depend on utility costs in your area, natural gas is cheaper than electricity in most parts of the country.

Since we’re all home now more than ever, being prepared for unexpected home repairs with a plan from HomeServe is important. Having a plan in place gives you peace of mind knowing that you can simply call our 24/7 repair hotline for covered breakdowns. See what plans are available in your neighborhood.