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It’s seriously cold here in Texas today, but for the last week or so it’s been pretty nice, hovering in the upper 50s.  That’s almost warm enough to feel like spending some time outside with the BBQ grill or hanging out on the back patio with friends, but not quite

I first saw these heaters in widespread use on a visit to California, where the constant 70 degree days were accompanied by upper 50 degree nights — which most restauraunts brought to reasonable comfort with commercial versions of this kidn of heater.

So do any of you have experience with these directly?  Would one of these be a decent solution for a small patio, or would one need a dozen of them.  And more to the point, is there a better (or cheaper) way to get the same satisfaction?

Patio Heater [Sears]
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12 Responses to Hot or Not? Patio Heaters

  1. Richard says:

    A pointless waste of energy at a time when the frugal misuse of the planet’s natural resources needs to be curbed more than ever before – especially in the US…

  2. Tomp says:

    Up north we use these things when its actually, you know, cold. I don’t think that they heat as large an area as you think they will. While it may work better in a warmer climate, they really only work when you are standing next to them. Being huddled around a pole isn’t what I call hanging out with friends.

  3. HunterB says:

    These are great if you enjoy melting like a wax candle within 4 feet of it and freezing while standing 8 feet away staring at the melting people with envy because you can’t feel your fingers.

  4. Tony says:

    A bunch of bars in central IL had them when I was in college and made for decent sittings in the outdoor patios, but the range of heat wasn’t that great. Next to a table with four people is about right. Get a longer table with six people and two are cold.

  5. Rob says:

    By definition, isn’t this automatically hot? They use these at restraunts in the area to warm the outside deck areas when it starts to get cold here. Like most of the other commenters have said, about 4 people around one is the limit to it’s comfortable range.

  6. kythri says:

    Richard amuses me. 🙂

    As others who commented, these are at a lot of bars/pubs here in the Mid-Willamette Valley of Oregon.

    They seem to do a pretty decent job of taking the edge off around the table they’re next to.

    If I was going to be spending some serious time out on a cold patio, I’d think about building an outdoor woodstove of some kind.

    Nothing beats burning fossil fuels quite like burning trees. 🙂

    Of course, the woodstove wouldn’t be quite as handy as the propane heater that can be shut off.

  7. Crashin says:

    I used to see these a lot in SoCal for outdoor patio venues and they worked well. I now live in Missouri and they are just about a necessity if you like to do any kind of socializing outdoors at night from November to March.

  8. Baron says:

    We have some great places here in MS that use them for those days when it’s to cold to eat outside without help. What they do here that works best (IMHO) is use them for outdoor decks that have a roof (usually tin) and/or they will take the area and put up some all weather plastic around the outside of the deck (good b/c it tends to be rainy here when it is cold, so it stops the rain from blowing in). That way, the heat is better trapped in the area and it tends to keep the temp warm, but as other posters have said, if you sit too close, you will bake.

  9. Lots of places in Atlanta have gas IR heating. But these things aren’t really the way to go. They’re convenient, but if you have natural gas, you’re MUCH better off with a more uni-directional IR heater mounted on the eave of the house.

    For temporary use a cheap bold on top of the tank heater costs $40 for half the BTUs and takes up next to no space in the off season.

    If you don’t enclose the patio it isn’t really going to matter much. You could save a LOT of money

  10. Paul says:

    C’mon grow a pair! It’s supposed to be cold in the winter for crying out loud. Drink the right things, or wear the right clothes or something. And as far as barbequing goes for me barbequeing on Chistmas day is sort of a tradition. Snow sleet I don’t care I’m gonna start me a fire! The colder it is well, the more briquettes I chuck in the grill. Yes getting totally faced drunk is another holiday tradition of mine but that’s another story …

    Just looking at this thing doesn’t heat rise? Shouldn’t then the heat source be placed as low as possible? If I am running a process in the cold that needs to be warmed up I have a couple of 250,000 BTU block heaters we call them. It looks like a little garbage can with a big burner in it, and runs on LP gas. I’ve used them with a tent to paint cars in the dead of winter, just shut the thing down before you start spraying is all. Suck out the cloud with a fan then bake. I could hit temps of 110F when it was 10F outside. The trick is to have a ceiling fan though to drive the heat back down onto your target. My neighbors loved me when I was doing that. The whole tent would blow up like a hot air balloon. I got a picture of it someplace.

  11. Bohemian says:

    Here in north Texas those things would be useless due to wind. The heat would be ripped away with no benifit to anyone standing by them.

  12. Andrew says:

    In Arizona they’re fine – I had lunch by one yesterday. But I still think it’s a waste of energy to use one when you have a perfectly warm BBQ nearby – and maybe a sweater.

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