What heater should I buy for my deck?
July 13, 2020 7:43 AM   Subscribe

I am lucky to have a little private deck, and I want to be sure that I’ll be able to use it as long as possible this winter. What’s my best option for an outdoor heater?

The deck is uncovered and about 10’ x 10’. The area to heat could be minimal; I'm really just seeking something to point at 1-2 seated people. The flooring is made of plastic composite, but I’ve got some concrete blocks that a heater could sit upon. If relevant, there is an electric outlet.

I’m ideally looking for something that is quiet and weatherproof enough to be stored outside under a tarp, and to spend under $150. And of course, I want to ensure that my setup is safe. I’m fine to buy a propane tank and definitely want to avoid the wastefulness of running through a bunch of single-use Coleman camping canisters. Thanks!
posted by veery to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
A kerosene heater. The come in round shapes that radiate in all directions and square-ish shapes that point most of the heat in one direction. The big danger is using them indoors without ventilation which shouldn't be a problem outside. They're basically just a tank and a wick like an oil lamp but they heat a wire mesh to glowing-red-hot and radiate the heat. Cheap and easy. There are big ones that look like a jet engine with a fan that can heat a whole floor (space heater).

The tall ones (patio heaters) tend to be propane because it's easier to get the gas up high and give off heat. The kerosene ones tend to be low to the ground and use gravity and a wick to do the heat.

Sitting in front of a square-ish kerosene heater is almost like sitting in front of a fireplace. They're pretty common in rural areas where people use fireplaces or wood-burning stoves for most of their heating to warm up a room or something.
posted by zengargoyle at 9:49 AM on July 13, 2020

Mod note: One deleted. Let's keep the thread on-topic, and help the poster find answers to their question. Please do not derail further.
posted by travelingthyme (staff) at 10:50 AM on July 13, 2020

Growing up we had a chimenea on our deck.
Check your fire code / home insurance / fire safety / fire proofing info but it was a nice way to be warm.
posted by Crystalinne at 11:26 AM on July 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

How cold does it get in your area? Or more specifically how cold when you'd like to be out on the deck? I'd much rather a propane source rather than kerosene if going with a fuel heater because of the smell of kerosene. Propane is also easier to refill in that you don't have to worry about spilling it. just swap the tank. And you can share the tanks with a propane BBQ if you have one.

This sort of Dish type radiant heater is about is simple as it gets and is quite adequate. There are also versions that have stands you can use with a hose which are a bit less bulky at the heat source and easier to move around. IMO it's worth getting one that has a built in igniter.

This unit is essentially the same as the tank tops but in much nicer packaging and with better guarding of hot parts of the heater. Mr Heater is a good brand though the tank tops are so simple practically any brand will do.

There are also lots of options for radiant electric heat that are more than adequate for chilly 10 degree days. Electric are all 100% efficient so essentially pick one with a form factor you like. They also have the advantage of being able to be used inside. The dish types (or really any without a fan) are noiseless. I really like the style that mounts to wall/ceiling rather than sitting on the floor but that works best if your seating area is along the wall. Their limit is a receptacle can only supply 1500W so they struggle as the temperature drops. Electric heaters shouldn't be left outside or used when raining though. Delonghi Makes great heaters but they don't make dish type heater. However their fan units are pretty quiet.

Check your fire code / home insurance / fire safety / fire proofing info
Also local by-laws. Here we can't use solid fuel outdoor space heaters.
posted by Mitheral at 11:31 AM on July 13, 2020

Best answer: In my neck of the woods everybody has a Mr. Heater Buddy. Pretty cozy and they last forever. I think they're better than the dish type and certainly easier to move around. But the best warmth comes from overhead heat, like you get with those restaurant patio heaters.

(Now I'm curious what the derail possibly could have been . . . )
posted by HotToddy at 11:59 AM on July 13, 2020

Seconding Mr. Buddy! Those things are great.
posted by nosila at 11:28 AM on July 14, 2020

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