Tabletop patio heaters are great little appliances that can warm you up and create the perfect atmosphere for a get-together, but how do you decide on one?
I’ve owned a few outdoor patio heaters, so I’ve tested a few models and know how to get a great tabletop patio heater.
Check out these toasty tabletop patio heaters to liven up any outdoor living space!
The 8 Best Tabletop Patio Heaters
Here are the best tabletop patio heaters I’ve enjoyed using!
What I like
- Gorgeous stainless steel finish
- 1-year warranty
- Burner screen guard for added safety
What I don’t like
- The design looks a little plain
- Large footprint
- No cover or adaptor hose included
I’m starting with Hiland, my favorite tabletop patio heater! This stainless steel propane heater is perfect for long outdoor conversations against the winter chill.
Hiland’s portable heater is powered by a pilot light, making ignition quick and easy. I’ve used this for a few winters and have never had difficulty starting it up!
But while I love the instant heat my Hiland gives off, it’s a pretty big “tabletop” heater. Standing at 38 in. tall, this is not a compact tabletop heater.
I’ve discovered it also runs out of propane quickly, especially if you use the standard one-pound propane canister. Take my advice and get an adapter hose and a bigger propane tank.
After trying out this tabletop patio heater, I can’t return to a different model. It’s the king of outdoor heating for me!
Dimensions: 20.87″D x 37.8″W x 20.87″H | Heat Output: 11000 BTU | Weight: 19 lbs
What I like
- Remote-controlled heating
- 3 different heat settings
- IP65 rating
What I don’t like
- Not as hot as propane heaters
- The remote controller needs to be close to work
- Unstable in windy conditions
EAST OAK’s electric patio heater is another great heater I’ve tried. This patio heater radiates infrared heat in a 360° radius, so everyone nearby can get nice and toasty.
I recommend using this on a covered patio for the best results. While testing it outdoors, I found its infrared heating element weaker than I would’ve liked.
Its highest heat setting is a comfortable 1500W or roughly 5500 BTU, which was pleasant but can’t match a propane patio heater.
EAST OAK takes the “tabletop” part seriously, as I discovered. The base of this tabletop patio heater is fairly unstable and prone to wobbling unless you place it on a completely flat surface.
This heater has a mushroom-style design and works best in a covered area and when you’re closer to it.
Dimensions: 17.2″D x 17.2″W x 31.5″H | Heat Output: 1000-1500W | Weight: 13.5 lbs
What I like
- Handy oxygen depletion sensor
- Sturdy stainless steel burners
- Easy to refuel
What I don’t like
- Small heating radius
- It goes through fuel quickly
This handy propane heater is slightly shorter than the Hiland heater, so it won’t be so imposing on your table and is almost as warm!
I didn’t have trouble assembling it, but I’ve heard some models have drilled holes incorrectly. Check your Fire Sense heater and ensure all the parts are there before you assemble it.
After using it for an afternoon, I’ve found that a small propane cylinder isn’t enough. I recommend finding an adaptor hose and hooking your Fire Sense heater to a larger propane tank.
Once I’d hooked it up the next day, I enjoyed instant heat thanks to this heater’s Piezo ignition. It’s fast and efficient, just what I needed for a cold afternoon!
It also has an oxygen depletion sensor for safety, but I’d advise staying outdoors if you’re burning propane fuel. If you’re indoors, bundle up instead!
Dimensions: 13″D x 20″W x 34″H | Heat Output: 10000 BTU | Weight: 14.3 lbs
What I like
- Very stable base
- Beautiful glass tube and flame
- Included regulator
What I don’t like
- Produces little direct heat
- It needs a reflector shield for efficiency
- Propane cylinders not included
This pyramid-shaped heater from AZ patio heaters is a wonderful fusion of style and function. Its glass tube makes a great image that infrared heating elements can’t match!
AZ patio heaters have made a stainless steel beauty that’s a perfect centerpiece for casual nights and parties, and it struck me the first time I saw it.
Ensure your heater’s shipped properly because the glass tube is fragile. That stainless steel structure won’t do much good if the interior tube’s broken!
Fortunately, my tabletop patio heater arrived in perfect condition, but I’d advise checking your model.
I only used this outdoors, so I’m unsure if it features an oxygen depletion sensor, but I’d recommend keeping it outside.
Dimensions: 12″D x 12″W x 39″H | Heat Output: 9,500 BTU | Weight: 19 lbs
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What I like
- Easy to install
- IP55 Rating
What I don’t like
- Fairly short power cord
- Weak heating power
This heater’s slightly different from the others because it’s not for tabletops but under the table. You don’t have to sacrifice table room for your centerpiece; your legs will stay toasty!
You don’t need to worry about scalding yourself; despite being under the table, Ener-G+ has ensured this electric heater’s safe to touch.
After testing this “tabletop” patio heater, I recommend keeping it in a corner sheltered by couches, near a wall outlet, or underneath a table.
It’s wind and rain-resistant but has a weak heating radius. It would be best if you were close to feeling the warmth.
Dimensions: 7.8″D x 5.5W” x 25.6H” | Heat Output: 1000W | Weight: 10 lbs
What I like
- No propane cylinders required
- Sleek and unique design
- Light and portable
What I don’t like
- Can’t stand up to strong wind
If your patio’s become too cold and you’ve holed up inside, this tabletop fire pit is the perfect way to add some ambiance to the dining table.
This small fire bowl is just the right size for toasting marshmallows over or as a stylish candle. I haven’t tried cooking anything else over it, but I’d stick to the grill to be safe!
However, be careful when using it indoors. Remember to use only isopropyl or rubbing alcohol to fuel it indoors because anything else might trigger fire alarms.
As you’d expect, this fire pit bowl is also assembly-free! You have to open it and light it quickly and easily.
Stonhome ensures its tabletop heater burns cleanly without needing a bulk propane tank or adaptor hoses.
After using it, I can say this fire pit bowl is more suited to indoor use or in a well-covered patio corner than completely exposed. Its flame can’t last without a propane cylinder to fuel it.
Dimensions: 7.5″D x 7.5″W x 5″H | Heat Output: N/A | Weight: 0.81 lbs
What I like
- Easy to use
- 1-year warranty
- Very light
What I don’t like
- Very small heating radius
This next pyramid-shaped heater has a very high heat output but, unfortunately, a small heat radius. Despite this slight issue, I still enjoy its subtle design.
Tabletop heaters are typically made from stainless steel, and it helps accentuate the dancing flame within!
SUNHEAT’s heater can accommodate one propane tank within its frame, but I think you’ll need extra propane tanks if you want to use it for a full afternoon.
After testing it, I recommend this tabletop heater for small gatherings and get-togethers, but you’ll need to stay close to maximize its warmth.
Dimensions: 10″D x 10″W x 34.25″H | Heat Output: 11000 BTU | Weight: 11.6 lbs
What I like
- Oxygen depletion sensor for safety
- Tip-over safety shutoff
- Ideal for camping
What I don’t like
- Propane cylinders run out quickly
- Difficult battery installation
I’m a fan of the Buddy Flex heater because it’s a perfect traveling companion, whether you’re hiking or camping. That’s because it’s rugged, solid, and filled with safety features!
It won’t go out if you pick it up, but it’ll shut off if you tilt it, which is handy, but I never got to use it. Remember to keep this outdoors because it isn’t rated for indoor use!
This is fitted for a one-pound propane cylinder and, unfortunately, can’t be fitted with an adaptor hose. Remember to bring extra fuel for longer trips.
The heat output can also be controlled from 8,000-11,000 BTU. After testing it out, I’d advise setting this heater to the max for more warmth.
Dimensions: 13.5″D x 9″W x 14.25″H | Heat Output: 8,000-11,000 BTU | Weight: 10.85 lbs
Comparing Tabletop Patio Heaters
What Are Tabletop Patio Heaters?
Cold weather can dampen the appeal of an outdoor living space, but you don’t have to abandon your patio once it starts getting chilly!
An outdoor heater is a great way to make your patio usable for longer, and they come in various styles, from propane to electric patio heaters.
Tabletop patio heaters prioritize usability over design, so you’ll see shared designs regardless of the brand. Features like a solid base and stainless steel bodies are common.
I prefer smaller heaters because they create a cozier atmosphere for outdoor spaces.
Tabletop vs Full-Sized Patio Heaters
Now that I’ve mentioned my top patio heaters, it’s time to consider a different question: What outdoor patio heater should you get?
A tabletop heater may not be enough to warm up your outdoor space, especially if you have a larger backyard. It’s more suited for smaller groups, like a tableful of friends.
On the other hand, a full-sized patio heater can make a full restaurant seating area nice and toasty. Available in small to large sizes, finding the best patio heater is a matter of style preference and your patio’s size.
Unlike mounted heaters, a full-sized patio heater is also designed to be freestanding. However, they trade stability for portability. You’ll need help moving one, especially if it’s connected to a large propane tank!
Check your heater’s BTU rating and ensure it has proper clearance from any stray curtains or blankets nearby. Caution has helped me avoid accidents with my heaters!
Whether you choose a full-sized or tabletop heater, choose one that’ll help you enjoy your porch even during brisk winter nights.
If you don’t plan on moving around your patio, I’d advise installing mounted heaters. Sacrificing portability for reliability, a mounted heater is a permanent fixture.
A mounted heater needs to be professionally installed to avoid accidents. I also recommend getting a stainless steel model to protect your heater against the elements.
Since you can’t bring them inside during bad weather spells, check your mounted heater’s IP rating to ensure it stays sealed even during wet, chilly nights.
What About Fire Pits?
Before outdoor patio heaters, there was the humble fire pit. And unlike a standard heater, these aren’t just for warmth; they can also serve as a handy barbecue grill!
However, I recommend getting an honest-to-goodness grill if you have the space. A fire pit has 2 main weaknesses:
- No temperature control
- Sparks and embers
You can’t turn up the heat with a fire pit because it typically relies on solid fuel like charcoal and logs, so you can’t “add more heat” conveniently. While propane pits are available, I’d stick with a grill instead.
A curious child or pet that brushes too close to a fire pit risks catching some sparks from the open flame. You can fix this with a stainless steel or mesh cover, but that’s another expense.
Firepits require more attention and cleanup than tabletop heaters, but they’re more useful for a larger outdoor space. You can even get a portable fire pit for easier storage!
How to Find the Best Tabletop Patio Heater for You
Finding the best tabletop patio heaters can be challenging for backyard beginners, but I’ve picked up a few tips. Here’s how to choose an excellent tabletop patio heater!
Like a space heater, a tabletop patio heater relies on radiant heat for warmth rather than directly warming you up.
Conversely, fire pits and campfires rely on direct heat to warm people around them. Radiant heating warms the air before you feel it, warming the space around it.
Heating power is measured in either kWh or BTU, depending on whether you use propane or electric heaters.
You’ll feel toasty even with smaller propane heaters since they usually output 3000-12000 BTU.
Measure in BTU or kWh
Tabletop patio heaters use either kWh (kilowatt-hours) or BTU. Electric models use kWh to determine how much energy the appliance consumes in an hour.
Meanwhile, a BTU (British thermal unit) measures energy and heat. It’s the energy needed to raise 1lb. of water by 1°F.
Most propane heaters, whether full-sized or tabletop, are rated by their BTU. Find out how large your patio is before you look for the right BTU output.
Naturally, a larger space and taller height require more BTUs and a stronger patio heater to heat up.
BTU ratings measure how much of the generated heat you feel, not the tabletop patio heater’s heat output. The rating also tells you how efficient your heater is.
Know Your Space
The next step to finding the perfect tabletop patio heater is finding the dimensions of your space. I assume you’re heating a rectangular patio table to simplify the calculation.
You’ll need the length and width of your outdoor space for the square footage. Next, determine how much you want to raise the temperature in °F.
To find your perfect BTU, multiply your patio’s size by your desired temperature increase. For example, let’s say you want to warm up a 250 sq. ft space by 24°F.
250 x 24 = 6000, so I’d suggest getting a 6000 BTU heater. However, this isn’t an ironclad rule!
You may need a stronger tabletop patio heater if you live in extremely cold or windy areas or if walls or an overhang don’t protect your patio.
You may also see this written as “IP Rating,” and it’s a vital measurement for propane and electric tabletop heaters. The IP Rating tells you how well-sealed the patio heater is against intrusion from solids and liquids.
As you can imagine, an electric patio heater must be protected from the elements, especially if you live in a rainfall-prone area.
IP ratings read “IP” and 2 numbers, like “IP46.” The first number signifies the device’s protection against solid objects ranging in size from 50mm in size to dust.
The second number tells you how well-sealed your heater is against water and other liquids, from light droplets to high-pressure water jets. An IP24 rating is the bare minimum for an outdoor patio heater.
From the heaters I’ve tried, I’d suggest looking for an IP65 rating heater and taking care of it.
If your heater’s IP rating reads “IP00,” it’s completely unprotected against solids and liquids, so beware!
Shape and Looks
Most tabletop heaters share the “mushroom-style” heater design, but pyramid-shaped patio heaters are also available. I’ve seen both styles, and they’re very similar.
Both styles share the same components and functions, so their main differences are their looks and stability.
Mushroom heaters have a cone-shaped top and solid base but look slimmer. They’re a practical choice for smaller spaces because their minute profiles won’t take up too much table space.
Pyramid heaters have the same function but are more bottom-heavy, with a wider square base and a quartz glass tube running from top to base. They also feature an eye-catching flame.
While both styles keep you warm, I’ve found that pyramid heaters look nicer but take up more table room. If you lack tabletop space, I recommend the mushroom-style design.
Gas or Electric?
The two most common tabletop patio heaters are propane gas and electric. Both models offer portability and can be set up and stored quickly.
To find the best tabletop heater, decide whether you want a gas or electric model. Both are ideal for different scenarios.
Electric Tabletop Patio Heaters
An electric tabletop patio heater heats areas directly using infrared heat. Unlike sunlight, electric patio heaters can’t burn you, but they may become uncomfortable if you’re too close.
They’re also called electric radiation heaters. They require less setup than a propane heater because they’re electric!
You only need a power outlet to turn on these heaters; they produce fewer emissions than propane heaters. However, their range cannot be safely extended, even with an extension cord.
As their name suggests, tabletop propane heaters are powered with liquid propane. In my experience, the main cost comes from refilling the one-pound propane tank.
They’re cheaper than electric heaters, but you’ll make up the difference in propane tanks and refills!
Propane gas heaters are favored over electric patio heaters because they’re more portable and can be used practically anywhere outdoors. You don’t need to be glued to a wall socket!
Based on experience, I’ve also found that propane models burn hotter than electric ones, making propane the better option for colder areas.
Natural Gas Heaters
Not everyone needs a portable patio heater; maybe your patio’s a much cozier gathering spot, removing the need for portability.
If your patio heater’s a fixture, you can get a natural gas-based one instead. You’ll need to contact a professional to install your heater but never worry about the gas supply again.
I’ve found this is typically the cheapest outdoor heater, but that’ll also depend on your heater’s efficiency and gas prices in your area.
Once installed, you can use extension hoses to move the warmth around.
Weight and Portability
I’ve found that most tabletop patio heaters are portable and fairly light, even with the added fuel weight. This makes them great traveling heaters if you’re going camping!
Ensure you get a compact heater with either an adjustable height or easy to disassemble.
When shopping for the stablest and toughest outdoor heaters, I’d recommend looking for a unit with stainless steel construction. This will keep your tabletop heater safe from rain and snow.
Since you’ll typically use them in colder months, ensure they’re corrosion-proof, and don’t leave them outdoors year-round!
Clean your heaters and bring them inside after use. If you have to leave them outside, ensure they’re well-covered and placed on a sturdy surface.
Added Safety Features
Flames and heat are a toasty but dangerous combination and require proper safeguards to prevent injuries on a cozy night.
Here are some safety features your patio heater should have, whether a propane or electric patio heater.
Don’t risk injuring yourself while using your table top heater; ensure it can withstand a stiff breeze. Fortunately, most patio heaters, whether full-sized or tabletop, have a weighted base for added stability.
I’ve found that placing a tabletop patio heater on a flat surface is the best way to secure them. You can also stabilize them with water weights.
If using an electric tabletop heater, ensure its cables are long enough to tuck away.
Look for this safety feature if you’re shopping for propane heaters. A safety shut-off valve lets you turn off the gas in case an accident happens.
I’d also recommend looking for burner guards to stop stray hands from getting burned.
A table top heater is a source of more direct heat than a freestanding patio heater, which can damage your table if you’re not careful.
Ensure your heater won’t leave your tabletop singed!
Similar to the soft lighting a space heater emits, a tabletop heater can add ambiance to your patio. But since their main job is heating instead of light, you’ll need extra lighting.
Similar to electric fires, some smaller heaters have a decorative flame to enhance the atmosphere. But these aren’t the standard.
I’ve found them warm but not well-lit enough. I’d suggest turning up the heat settings and grabbing a few candles instead.
Watch out for infrared heat, too! Many infrared heaters I’ve tested have a strong red glow which can be uncomfortable on your eyes.
Does It Have a Warranty?
Don’t be too hasty while shopping for a table top heater! Check if it has a warranty first.
I’ve learned through experience that longer warranties are better because the manufacturers are more confident in their products. High-quality models typically have longer warranties.
Cost and Budget
Like everything else, outdoor heaters are available in a wide price range, so research your options carefully!
An electric patio heater is more expensive than propane but heats areas more efficiently. Conversely, a propane heater is less efficient but cheaper to purchase and run.
But these are only generally true. Your propane gas heater may cost more to run if you use it more often than an electric heater.
What’re the Downsides of Tabletop Patio Heaters?
These smaller heaters work great for their purpose: gather a few friends around the patio, and they’ll be nice and toasty. However, they’re not ideal in all situations.
Here are a few issues they have:
- They can’t warm up larger areas
- They reduce the amount of table space
Tabletop Patio Heater FAQs
Learn more about tabletop patio heaters here!
A tabletop heater is a useful appliance that can extend the usability of your patio at a small cost. How well they work will depend on your outdoor space’s size and the heater’s maximum heat output.
An electric tabletop patio heater is more energy-efficient than a propane model but won’t produce as much warmth. Their main benefit is their reliable energy source.
On the other hand, propane heat is warmer, but in my experience, you’ll need an extra propane tank for long nights on the patio.
An outdoor heater is a great investment if you love staying outdoors but don’t want to let the weather chase you back inside. However, neither electric, propane, nor natural gas options are environmentally friendly.
Outdoor patio heaters are worth it to stave off the cold but produce CO or CO2, depending on the model. I’d consider if my warmth is worth the increased carbon footprint!
You can skip the electric heaters and enjoy your patio the old-fashioned way: Bundle up, wear extra layers, or stay indoors.
Yes, but with a few conditions: if you have an electric patio heater, it’s safe to use indoors. If you have a propane heater, don’t use it indoors!
Propane heaters are designed to be used outdoors with adequate ventilation, and the emitted CO or CO2 won’t get trapped. Running a propane tabletop heater indoors is dangerous.
Before you use a propane tabletop heater indoors, ensure it’s designed for outdoor and indoor use.
Here’s a quick recap of my top patio heaters!
This quick-starting Fire Sense heater is easy to use and will keep you toasty on chilly nights. Don’t forget to bring an extra propane tank!
EAST OAK’s 360° heater works best for covered patios or indoors.
Hiland’s portable heater is tall, warm, and easy to ignite. What more could you want?
Nothing beats a toasty evening on your patio, warmed against the winter chill. Pick up a tabletop patio heater to complete your al fresco dining setup.
As the name suggests, the heaters I’ve covered are designed to warm up small groups of friends, not a backyard’s worth of party-goers. Pick the right size for your patio heater!
Before dropping money on a new tabletop heater, research and ensure you get the best patio heater for your needs!
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