There’s nothing like sitting outside on a clear, crisp fall or winter evening – toasty and warm underneath your patio heater. Outside being the operative location.
Patio heaters are not safe to use indoors as they produce Carbon Monoxide (CO). While they are safe in the yard, on the patio, under a covered porch, or in a screened porch, it is unsafe to use them in your home or inside an unventilated sunroom or conservatory.
Enjoying an outdoor lifestyle at home is only possible if we’re sensible about safety for ourselves, our friends and family – so let’s consider why we can only use patio heaters in certain areas. After all, the clue is in the name 🙂
Can A Patio Heater Be Used On A Covered Porch?
The quick answer to this is a solid yes. The main reason is due to it being a ventilated space. Keep in mind that patio heaters are not like the standard Kerosene Heaters you might see in homes all over the world. Some might use gas or propane like those heaters (the rest are electric usually), but they work differently compared to in-home heaters.
In that, they are going to be a bit more powerful just because they have to heat a specific area outdoors. They will usually utilize the air around them where they will essentially (in layman’s terms) “warm it up.” These heaters are almost like fires in that, they will usually stay running unless you set them otherwise.
When you have an indoor heater of any kind, it does not have to work as hard (or stay on all the time), because it is going to be heating an area where heat will not easily escape. Outside, the warmer air will disappear much faster.
Therefore, power is important as it needs to be enough to heat an area and maintain that heat. Yet the amount of space it heats will also be of prime importance too.
This is why you might see heaters that go up to 48,000 BTU or 14,067.413 Watts. This can be a lot compared to an indoor heater, which tends to average a 1,500 Watt reach. On top of this, many places, such as restaurants, might have a few of these running at the same time on an outdoor patio.
It’s All Elementary…
You obviously can utilize one on a covered porch or patio because you’re keeping partially out of the elements. If it is raining or snowing, heck, even hailing….your covered patio will protect the heater from all of that. Now, you’re only having to warm up space around you.
It’s important to look at this the same as you would a fire. Especially if you’re using a propane heater. If you allow a fire to be rained on, it’s going to go out. An electric heater might struggle in the rain and propane types won’t fare well either.
Therefore, all you have to do is cover them up and you’re good to go. Patio heaters are, well, perfect for covered porches. In fact, this might be where they are in their prime.
We’d advise, however, that you do not sit right next to one. This could be problematic either due to overheating you or potentially being hot enough to catch some stuff on fire. Of course, the latter depends on the strength of your specific heater.
Can A Patio Heater Be Used In A Screened Porch?
The answer is yes. While some might assume this is an issue due to the screen, it’s not really a huge problem. Screens are, by design, not made to hold air in. They are usually present to keep bugs out ultimately. You’ll especially see these in the Southern United States.
A patio heater can be great on a screened porch for the same reasons they work for a covered porch. Most screened porches, at least the ones we’ve seen, will be covered too. Therefore, the same concept regarding keeping elements out will be present here.
However, there is one thing you might want to keep in mind. This has to do with your screen.
Always Consider The Screen…
The screen can easily melt or lose integrity when significant heat is applied to it. In fact, they could even catch on fire at times. They are not made to handle direct heat like this.
Some of them have problems during the summer period when direct sunlight shines on them for most of the day. They might not develop massive holes, but they could lose integrity. Part of them might melt or split.
Yet this is just when the sun is directly on the screen. Imagine having high heat directly blowing on them. You’ll start to see the issue pretty quickly. The same can happen to couches when you have a heating pad on them for a while on high. They could develop brown burn marks if you do this frequently.
Therefore, in order to save your screen, always keep your patio heater at least a couple of feet away from the screen where the heat is coming out. If you cannot do this due to, perhaps, having a smaller patio, do your best to avoid any high heat settings and settle for medium heat or lower.
If in any doubt about safe distances, always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Can A Patio Heater Be Used In The House (Like In A Sunroom Or Conservatory)?
While we can understand the idea that you should be able to use a heater anywhere you like to save money, there must be limits to this. There is a reason this is called a “patio” heater and not a “complete-use” heater.
It is made to use outdoors on a porch or patio, not inside the home. The reasons for this are, quite frankly, numerous.
First, they are often too powerful and will make your home much much warmer than one would normally like. This is due to being made for a place where heat can escape easily. In a closed home, heat will remain for a lot longer. Therefore, the warm air will just continue to mount.
Propane Gas Problems
Second, many utilize fuel sources like propane gas. Propane gas is actually not a good gas to use for a long period indoors. While it can be fine in the indoor heater models, those used for outdoor heaters do not always burn as cleanly.
Thus, you’ll actually get more of the gas indoors than outdoors. That can be drastically unsafe for your health. This is why kerosene is often the gas of choice for heaters indoors. It works by burning kerosene vapors, not the full kerosene.
Propane heaters, specifically for outdoor products, aren’t going to affect the environment negatively. However, they could affect your breathing when used indoors. It is not worth using something that will negatively affect your health.
When you use a Patio Heater indoors, you’re also exposing several portions of your home to them. This is a good way to get things burnt. If you have carpet, expect it to burn with a patio heater. It might not be enough to start a fire, but it will be negatively affected just like the screen we referred to earlier.
Yet it’s not just carpet that can be affected. Perhaps you have hardwood floors or even something like linoleum or vinyl. Yes, all could be burnt from patio heaters. However, your flooring is the least of the worries you should be concerned about.
Things like chairs, couches, or other furniture can also be compromised by patio heaters. If you have one in your living room, for instance, anything in that room could be compromised by the heater.
Of course, if you were to change up your set-up and use specific heaters on a lower heat level…then they might be okay. The number one rule, however, is to never leave one unattended. Simply make sure your model is capable of partial indoor use, such as an electric model.
Are Propane Heaters Safe Indoors? That’s a Hard No!
In summary then, patio heaters belt out heat and are not safer to use indoors or in a conservatory or sunroom.
However, you can use your patio heater outside on the erm – patio – or under a covered patio or porch area. If you’re conscientious and look after that screen, then you can use them in a covered screened patio or porch as well.
Ultimately, using a patio heater safely is all about following your common sense and always reading the manufacturer’s safety guidelines.
Now go and spark up that heater and go and enjoy a snugly evening out on the patio.
Homeowner and property investor Larry Jones founded Take a Yard in 2020 to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >