Patio Heaters Outdoor Heat Lamp Buying Guide

If you’re a homeowner who’s trying to extend the length of their summer for a few days, or even an extra month or two, an outdoor heat lamp is an excellent option. Depending on where you live, a heat lamp can be one of the most useful outdoor appliances you can own. You can create a comfortable outdoor setting to entertain guests almost any time of the year. Many people like to use outdoor heat lamps while hosting outdoor parties and get-togethers. Designer outdoor heat lamps are also used for outdoor seating at restaurants, and other places where an establishment wants its patrons to feel comfortable. Heat lamps can also be used for working outdoors while it’s cold out.

The Types of Outdoor Heat Lamp

  • Portable – Portable outdoor heat lamps are full-sized heaters without a fixed fuel line that can be transported and set up wherever heat is needed. These heaters can provide warmth for people up to 20 feet away without becoming too overbearing or being ineffective. The majority of these portable units come with compartment for a fuel tank to be stored, but some models run on electricity and have a heavy-duty power cable. A portable outdoor heat lamp works well for small parties and can sometimes be set up in a tent to aid entertainment
  • Tabletop – A tabletop patio heater is compact, powerful, and portable. Tabletop heat lamps are a good option if you have a few people sitting around a single table and you want to heat the surrounding area to a comfortable degree. Many tabletop patio heater brands store their fuel tanks inside the base, so the device can stay as compact as possible.
  • Ceiling Mounted – Optimized for smaller spaces, a ceiling mounted outdoor heat lamp can provide powerful results if put in the right place. The lamps can easily be installed into the ceiling like any other type of lamp, and the device doesn’t take up too much surface area. Ceiling mounted outdoor heat lamps are designed to be installed permanently and primarily use natural gas. Many users like to have a ceiling-mounted heat lamp on their porch to help fight off cold nights
  • In-Ground – Usually only found in commercial establishments, in-ground heat-lamps project a large heat radius in a single spot. The device is usually directly fed from a natural gas supply, but some models use propane instead of natural gas

What Fuel Sources Are There?

There are three main fuel sources for outdoor heat lamps including: natural gas, electric, and propane. Each fuel type has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the fuel efficiency can vary depending on the model of outdoor heat lamp.

  • Natural Gas – Natural gas outdoor heat lamps burn a stored supply of natural gas to create heat. To prevent gas leaks, natural gas heat lamps should be installed by a professional and treated with care. After installation is complete and the fuel supply is connected, the operational costs are minimal. The outdoor heat lamp has is constantly supplied with fuel, so you don’t have to worry about refilling the tank or fiddling with the back end of the device
  • Electric – Many electric outdoor heat lamps don’t require very much electricity to run, which makes them very popular among homeowners who don’t want to spend too much on their monthly electric bill. Electric heaters do not produce a combustion reaction, which makes them safe for both indoor and outdoor use. Many electric heaters take a full 30 to 60 seconds to reach their full heating capacity, but they are just as efficient as other types of heater. Instead of using a combustion reaction, electric outdoor heat lamps typically use radiant heat or convection heating methods
  • Propane – Propane patio heaters can be transported easily and don’t require any professional installation. Propane heat lamps require very little maintenance and they can be stored easily when not in use. Propane gas is non-toxic to the environment, so it won’t damage the surrounding water or soil. Nearly every hardware store or home improvement centers sell propane, so the fuel is quite easy to get a hold of. Make sure you think about the safety of propane patio heaters (more info).

Some Things To Keep In Mind

While there are many different makes and models of patio heaters (wiki) / outdoor heat lamps, it’s important to remember that each one comes with it’s own benefits and drawbacks (ehow). When purchasing any kind of heating device it’s good to know what you’re looking for and other general information. Here are a few of the most common heat lamp features and general parts:

Power Rating and Range

The power rating of a device is expressed though its BTU rating. A BTU, also known as a British Thermal Unit, is the traditional unit of measure for heat. To be exact, a single BTU is the amount of energy it takes to raise one pound of water by one degree Celsius. When a heating device talk about BTUs, it’s referring to the amount of heat the device projects. A product with a higher BTU rating will heat an area more effectively than a device with a low BTU rating. Also, the Higher the BTU rating, the wider the device’s range will be, so keep that in mind when purchasing an outdoor heat lamp.

Construction

While the majority of patio heaters are made from stainless steel, some models include aluminum parts. High-end models are made from 100 percent, stainless, weather-treated steel, and will feel much sturdier than other designs. The prices may vary depending on the other features of the heat lamp and its size, but the quality of the materials is usually a good indicator of whether or not you’re getting a good deal.

Another important feature to consider is the structure of the dome. Domes with bigger diameters allow for better, more efficient heat distribution. Most patio heaters have a single-dome construction, but other high-end models come with multiple domes that help guard the heating element against wind and falling objects.

Fuel and Ignition

Many models only require a push of a button to activate the heater, but some older models require the user to light the fire themselves. Most models come with some form of piezo-electric ignition, which has become the industry standard for heat lamp ignition systems. A piezo system produces a spark that interacts with the fuel and starts the combustion cycle. Some high-end models have an automatic electronic ignition, but those are typically in a different price range than a regular piezo electric system.

Safety Features

Outdoor heat lamps come with a wide range of safety features, but very few modern lamps come without an automatic shut-off switch to prevent overheating. Another basic safety feature that is included in nearly every outdoor heat lamp is a tilt shut-off switch. This feature keeps the device from setting objects on fire or leaving fuel if the device were to fall over. Other safety features include heat adjustment, pilot lights, anti-tipping construction, and weather shutoff switches.

Accessories

The main aftermarket accessory that’s sold for outdoor heat lamps is a cover, which helps guard the lamp against dust, dirt, weather, and insects. All of these things can shorten the heater’s life and limit its effectiveness. Another popular option is a clamp to hold tabletop models in place on windy days.

What to Consider When Purchasing an Outdoor Heat Lamp

One of the most important things to look in to when purchasing any type of heater is what the weather in your area is like. Most freestanding propane heat lamps can produce 40,000 BTUs or more, but that might not be enough for some places. Manufacturers often claim that the lamp can raise the outdoor temperature by 10 to 25 degrees within an area of nine feet, but in practice that is usually not the case. On a cold, windy day, the effective range of your heater is reduced to three to five feet. Smaller tabletop models produce about 10,000 BTUs, so they are only capable of providing warmth for anyone within a few feet of the heater. Placing the device under a canopy or awning will help keep in the heat, but that might not be enough in some cases.

Some types of heaters work better in different weather conditions. For instance, propane heater might be hard to light and the flame might blow out in windy conditions, but an electric heat lamp won’t blow out because it doesn’t use an open flame to create heat. Wind is also a major issue for thin-bodied heat lamps that will want to blow away if they’re not fastened securely. Most models of outdoor heat lamp are weighted, so they don’t blow away or fall over easily, but the lamp’s dome will act as a sail and catch the wind it you aren’t careful.

Another important thing to keep in mind is whether the area will be safe for children and pets. The only thing more dangerous to your brand new outdoor heat lamp than wind is a child or a dog running around. Electric heat lamps are usually preferred around children because there’s no flame, but many models come with extra safety features to ensure that they won’t malfunction. Read this article to find out more about safety when using patio heaters. Outdoor heat lamps don’t have that much to do with HVAC systems or electric heaters but they do provide comfortable temperatures in colder evenings for a lot of people. These patio heaters are great heaters to spend some more time on your patio to extend the nice summerly feeling.

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