Never place anything above or below your patio heater or check the manufacturer’s recommended inches of clearance, which varies according to the number of BTUs the heater radiates.
Also, never place your patio heater directly on grass, as this can make the unit unstable. If you plan to position the heater on your lawn, always place it on top of a solid, stable surface.
Patio heaters come in a variety of fuel types, all of which have benefits and drawbacks when it comes to operational safety.
Upright patio heaters typically come in two different fuel types: propane and natural gas. Due to the combustible nature of gas, you must take precautions when handling tanks and valves to minimize leaks and damage.
Propane-operated patio heaters are favored for their portability. To keep your propane tank safe and performing optimally,
always close the gas tank valve when the patio heater is not in use as well as turning off the switch. If you keep a spare tank, store it away from open flames and heated areas. After changing over gas tanks, check valves and hoses for leaks by applying soapy water to the components and checking for air bubbles.
Once you have checked the safety features of your patio heater and selected a unit, there are a few factors to consider to ensureyou use your patio heater safely.
Patio heaters are not designed to radiate intense heat over long distances; instead, they heat nearby objects and people. If your heater is located too close to certain materials, it can become a fire hazard.
Keep patio heaters away from combustible materials. This includes planters and potted plants, outdoor textiles and grass, but it also includes flammable items such as propane tanks used for grills or lighter fluid.
The recommended distance away from combustibles is approximately three feet. This will ensure these flammable items and compounds are not exposed to high temperatures. However, always consult the manufacturer's directions in the instruction manual for your particular model as your patio heater may have additional features or structures necessitating alternative placement.
Patio heaters are only suitable for use in outdoor areas, and care should be taken to ensure that your heater has adequate clearance and safe surroundings to prevent fire hazards.
Outdoor areas are defined as open or semi-open spaces and should have proper ventilation and air circulation
to prevent carbon monoxide buildup, which is a by-product of combustion. Before placing your patio heater,
check to see if your outdoor area is obstructed in any way by buildings or structures such as water tanks,
which reduce the level of air flow.
Patio heaters that use natural gas offer a more cost-effective alternative to heaters that use propane tanks,
with many models also able to heat a larger area. However, it is essential that you have the heater connected to
the natural gas line by a professional and always safely secure the unit to the ground using the included ground mounts.
Patio heaters are constructed to be tall to disperse heat better; however, this can also make them top-heavy and put them at risk of tilting and toppling over. Even when the heater is turned off, residual heat from the reflectors or tubes can become a fire hazard if exposed to flammable material. While some models of patio heaters feature anti tilt devices
that minimize the amount of movement, you should also take precautions to avoid knocking over your patio heater
and try to secure and stabilize the heater where possible. You can weigh down your patio heater with heat-resistant stabilizers
such as sandbags or water weights to prevent movement. Alternatively, you can use flame-retardant ties such as bungee
cords to peg your heater to the lawn as you would with a tent. You could use a tabletop patio heater if you have a small or
windy patio space as their more compact design offers more stability.
Patio heaters are ideal for creating a warm, cozy outdoor environment during the colder months, and while most patio heaters have some weather-resistant coating, there is nothing more dangerous to a patio heater than wind.
Wind can easily knock over thin-bodied patio heaters, especially domed heaters, which act as an umbrella to catch the wind. You can protect your patio heater from the wind by anchoring it with weights or by placing it in a location that has less exposure.
Wind also has a significant effect on the efficiency of your patio heater. The more your patio heater is exposed to wind, the more fuel it needs to use to achieve the same level of BTUs (the radiant heat measurement). So, to get the most out of your patio heater and avoid overworking it, keep it out of the wind as much as possible.