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Planning Your Patio Heating Needs?

Review the following information to help in making your selection...

Goal:    Outdoor patio heating is the process of offsetting the existing cold air by applying an ray of heat to people and objects that come into contact with us.  Suppose you intend on serving lunch on the patio.  There is a table and chairs, currently the outside temperature is as 65 degrees and the sun is blocked by the building.  If you were to rest your arm on the table you will feel the coldness as you come into contact.  In the same nature you will feel the cold chair as you sit.  In this scenario we would advise to "pre-heat" your patio so the object you come into contact with will also be warm.  they are at the same t Is the area to be used in a reclined or sitting height such as an outdoor dining or conversation area or is it to be used as standing, like an outdoor bar where a higher mount should be considered.



Performance:    A heater layout first must be evaluated based upon the exposure to the elements.    How much of the patio area is to be occupied.  Is the patio open to all sides?  Is there landscape or man made wind blocks to reduce heat loss?   


I find that the most satisfied customer has two or more heaters installed in an outdoor environment.  We humans are three dimensional beings and as such it is comforting to feel warmth surrounding us.
The biggest thing people miss when planning for a major back yard project is HEAT.


Price:    There are several outdoor patio heaters on the market today.  Table top propane heaters, freestanding propane heaters, portable natural gas heaters, permanent natural gas units as well as electric. 


Style:    The propane units sell as low as $99.00 retail and as high as $1,100.00.  The benefits are they can be used almost anywhere you can move them.  The full size units can burn through a 20lb. propane tank in as little as 8hrs., when empty bring your tank into an exchange station or have it refilled for about $12.00 to $15.00.  


Natural gas units are offered by a few manufacturers and come in portable and permanent freestanding, wall mount or ceiling mount units.  There are the rectangular units as well as the traditional mushroom/umbrella shape.  They range from the low $700.00 to $1,300.00 for the all stainless steel units.  The great thing is you have virtually an endless supply of gas through your utility company.  (Watch for promotions in your gas bill from So Cal Gas.)  Another great benefit is the average freestanding units will burn about 1 therm every two hours.  On my bill that equates to .40 cents an hour, can’t beat that!


Electric units are just now becoming more popular.  They are excellent in areas where wind is the norm and clearances from above must be kept to a minimum.  One manufacturer offers a flush mount stucco finish unit that looks great.  Don’t be stingy on the number of electrics.  Their “BTU” value is generally lower that gas and will require more units for an effective application.  They range from $350.00 to $450.00 and normally need 240 volts and a hefty breaker.  There are stylish switches available for the deep pockets.


Now if you’re planning on making an investment on a custom built outdoor living area my advice is add a few extra bucks into the budget for underground gas or electric lines.  This would be a drop in the bucket during construction.  You are most likely plumbing the gas for your pool heater and that big screen needs some juice anyway.   The biggest thing people miss when planning for a major back yard project is HEAT.  Why pay all that money for something you can’t use because the cold makes it uncomfortable!  A well planned out heating system can extend your pleasure throughout most of the year.  We suggest to have your planner or architect pay close attention to the heaters capability as well as there clearance requirements so there are no surprises when it comes time to install.  Several customers I have spoken to install a "ruff in" utility supply, when its time to install the heaters you do not need a major project to get the heat you want.


Already have that dream patio!  No problem, a good licensed plumber can run a gas line from your meter to wherever you need it for about $15.00 – 25.00 per foot.


The comment I hear most is “but look how big it is, it’s going to be intrusive".  The reality is everything “new” you put in you back yard will well, be new!  Give it a few weeks and soon enough you’ll redirect your focus on that water feature or rose garden.




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Last modified: 07/28/14