Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Taking Inside Comfort Outside: A Look at Outdoor Patio Heaters for the Home

One of the biggest trends among homeowners today is building or improving outdoor rooms around the house, such as patios and decks. According to a recent survey conducted by the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC), 50 percent of homeowners in the U.S. spend more time at home now than they did five years ago. Further, 80 percent of those surveyed thought that it was very important for a home to have a relaxing outdoor room. One of the top items PERC recommends for creating the perfect outdoor room is a patio heater.

A study conducted by the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association (HPBA) shows that 56 percent of all grill owners, and 69 percent of gas grill owners, now grill out on a regular basis year round. By using an outdoor patio heater, or perhaps an alternative such as a chiminea, many of those people could continue to enjoy the entire outdoors experience by also eating outside during cold weather.

The Safety of Patio Heaters

Safety is of the utmost importance when it comes to home appliances. Patio heaters these days are very safe, and getting better all the time. Many gas heaters come with a piezo electric starter, so there is no need for matches and no pilot light. Another common safety feature is an automatic emergency shut off. If a unit with this feature is ever overturned or even hit too hard, it will instantly shut itself off.

Fuel Types

Patio heaters are manufactured to run off one of three different fuel types: propane, natural gas, or electricity. Natural gas is used for permanent, stationary heaters. Propane, conveniently available in tanks, allows a heater to be moved about. Infrared heaters are often powered by electricity, though some are run by natural gas.

Choosing Between Various Options

New types and sizes of patios heaters become available regularly. As you look through the various options below, consider your specific needs. Do you want a stationary heater, or a portable one? How much heat do you need considering the people you will entertain? Asking yourself these kinds of questions will guide you to the heater best suited to your outdoor room.

Free-standing, table-top, or wall-mounted?

Free-standing heaters are larger (about 95 inches tall) and more powerful than table-top heaters. Table-top heaters, though, because they are lighter and smaller, are also much easier to carry around, wherever you want to go. A good example of a table-top heater is the Lil Arctic Sun Original, which can radiate heat in an 8 foot diameter.

For larger groups, you might want to try the free-standing Arctic Sun Bullet, an affordable commercial grade heater that radiates heat in up to a 20 foot diameter. Infrared heaters are often quite versatile; they can be be hung on a wall, on a pole, or even possibly overhead.

Portable or stationary?

Stationary heaters are advantageous because they hook up to your natural gas lines, and so do not have tanks that need to be replaced or refilled. If you plan on moving the heater to different locations, though, you will need a portable propane model. Portable heaters can be either free-standing or table-top models. Many of the free-standing units come with hidden wheels to make movement easier.

One of the newest and most unique types of portable heaters now available is the Dayva Tiki Torch. It is small heater with a long spike that can stick in the ground or the umbrella hole of a table. This heater is perfect for camping or a late-night trip to the beach.

How much heat?

The strength of a patio heater is rated in BTU's. As an example, a 45,000 BTU heater will produce a 20 foot heat diameter. Free-standing heaters are generally more powerful than table-top heaters, and so can be used for larger groups.

In conclusion . . .

Patio heaters are a welcome and useful addition to America's increasingly outdoor lifestyle. They safely and efficiently turn chilly nights into warm, comfortable evenings, perfect for you and your family to get together and relax. After all, relaxing is one thing we just do not do enough these days.