Daytime temps are on the rise with the arrival of spring, but in many areas of the country it still gets chilly after the sun goes down. Adding a heater or fireplace to your outdoor living space allows you to stay warm while enjoying the night. Multiple options exist in terms of design, finish and what fuels the fire.
Gas Patio Heaters
These floor-lamp-height heaters use liquid propane or natural gas and can produce up to 66,000 BTUs, depending on the model. That makes for a toasty patio. Multiple designs and finishes are available, including stainless steel, bronze, copper, nickel and designer colors. Look for features such as wheels that allow you to easily relocate the heater and anti-tilt devices for safety.
Electric Patio Heaters
The majority of the electric models available use infrared heat. While they do not produce as many BTUs as gas heaters, fans of this type say that does not matter. Since wind does not affect the heat, they offer a more consistent warmth and operate at about 1/10 of the energy cost of a gas heater. They also prove more convenient as they simply plug into an existing outlet. These heaters are available with incandescent, LED and halogen bulbs and in the same heights and variety of designs and finishes as gas patio heaters.
Tabletop Patio Heaters
If you do not want to devote floor space to an outdoor heater, opt for this type. It simply sits on the table. They come in gas - topping out at about 11,000 BTUs because of the intended location - and electric and with the same functionality and design options as their taller counterparts.
Wood-Burning Fire Pits
Perhaps the most varied in terms of style, these outdoor heaters feature a steel base, either sitting on legs or on the ground, and often a cover. They come in square, rectangular and round shapes and in simple designs to elaborate. Some may even have moon and stars cutouts or resemble a large lantern. You can even find wood-burning pits that come with an attachable grill on which to cook food.
Gas-Burning Fire Pits
This type of fire pit also comes in a wide range of styles, but because there does not need to be space for wood more often resemble a planter. Some burn from crystals or tumbled glass pieces, while others include faux logs or lava rocks. The gas cylinder fits within the case, or some models can be connected to a gas line.
For a more permanent addition to your patio, opt for an outdoor fireplace. They can be built from scratch or purchased as a kit or already assembled. There are both wood and gas options, with materials ranging from concrete paver stones to brick to faux stone to stucco to porcelain tile. This option proves the most expensive but can really turn your patio into a true outdoor living space.
Installation of these outdoor heaters and fireplaces ranges according to the complexity of the project. Electric outdoor heaters are simply plug and go, while gas outdoor heaters do require the placement and hookup of a fuel source.
Fire pits may come out of the box assembled or require you to put them together. It all depends on the model, and with the gas models you also must place and hook up the fuel source.
As mentioned, some outdoor fireplaces come as kits and can be tackled by a DIYer and assistant in an afternoon in most cases. The built-from-scratch offers the most permanent option, and unless you are skilled in masonry involves hiring professional help for best results
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