Whether you like to sit outside with a book, eat alfresco, or enjoy a drink on the deck with loved ones, it's frustrating that in some areas it's only warm enough to do so for a few months a year. With an electric patio heater, you can enjoy more outdoor time, whatever the temperature. Read on for all the information you need to find the best electric patio heater. Our favorite option is Fire Sense's Frisco Stainless Steel Halogen Patio Heater. It's a powerful freestanding model that can heat areas of up to 150 square feet. Considerations when choosing electric patio heaters Wattage It's not an exact science, but the wattage gives you a rough idea of how warm an electric patio heater feels and the area in which you can feel its effects. The higher the wattage, the warmer the heater. You can expect to heat roughly one square foot around the heater for each 10 watts of power it has. So, you feel the effects of a 1,000-watt heater for roughly 100 square feet around it. Of course, this figure is influenced by factors such as the ambient temperature and the windchill. Heater style Electric patio heaters come in a range of styles. Freestanding models are perhaps the most common. They look somewhat like small lamp posts and stand between five and eight feet tall. You can also find tabletop patio heaters that are compact versions of freestanding models. Other types of patio heaters include hanging heaters and wall-mounted heaters. Power requirements The majority of electric patio heaters can simply be plugged into a standard power outlet, but some may need to be on their own dedicated circuit for safety reasons. Ideally, you should have an outdoor socket, but otherwise you can run the power cord indoors. Some wall-mounted options can be wired in by an electrician. Features Temperature control If you want to be able to control the output of your patio heater — using full power on extremely cold days or less power on slightly chilly days — look for a model with temperature control options. Cord length Make sure the cord is long enough to reach the nearest compatible power outlet. Auto shutoff Auto shutoff is an important safety feature to have. This function automatically switches the heater off if it gets dangerously hot or displays any other signs of electrical fault. Price Small electric patio heaters cost around $60 to $100. Mid-range options for home use generally cost between $100 and $300. Commercial options can cost up to $700. FAQ Q. Are electric patio heaters safe? A. Electric patio heaters are very safe and far less likely to cause a fire than gas patio heaters or any other heating option with real flames. However, they are still very hot and aren't without their risks. As such, you should look for models with safety features such as tip protection and auto shutoff. Also consider choosing a model that's approved by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), an organization that runs independent safety tests. Q. Can I use my electric patio heater indoors as well as outdoors? A. One of the benefits of electric patio heaters is that they don't emit any harmful fumes, so you can use them indoors if needed. They're great for warming up cold garages or can even be used in your home in the event of a heating emergency. Electric patio heaters we recommend Best of the best: Fire Sense's Frisco 1,500-Watt Stainless Steel Halogen Patio Heater Our take: If you need to heat a large space, you're in luck. This 1,500-watt heater can warm areas up to 150 square feet. What we like: Freestanding with a simple yet attractive design. Can be used inside or outside. Reaches 100% of heating capacity in just a matter of seconds. What we dislike: No temperature controls. Best bang for your buck: GreenTech Environmental's pureHeat Garage & Patio Heater Our take: The rugged weatherproof design makes this a great choice for patio use, but you can use it in your garage or home, too. What we like: Offers three heating modes with an efficient carbon fiber element. The 360° tip protection helps prevent accidents. Handy shutoff timer. What we dislike: Angle isn't adjustable. Choice 3: Fire Sense's Indoor/Outdoor Infrared Heater Our take: This heater attaches to any standard patio umbrella pole, giving you an easy way to keep warm while you sit. What we like: Also suitable for indoor use or use in covered outdoor areas. Folds down neatly when you don't need it. Produces 500 watts per arm — 1,500 in total. What we dislike: Only fits on an umbrella pole (or another pole of the same diameter). Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds. BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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