It’s been a long, cold, snowy winter, and the frigid air does not look like it will be making an exit any time soon. This is the time of year cabin fever usually begins to set in, and we can all relate to the urge to escape the confines of the house and get back outside, even if it’s just to sit out on your backyard patio or deck. Luckily, you do not have to wait for the snow to completely melt or for the temperatures to reach above freezing, and the simple addition of an outdoor heating unit can make the icy tundra of your backyard instantly inhabitable again. There are a few things to know and consider about outdoor heating units before you make your purchase, however, and in the spirit of a very chilly start to the month of March, this week’s topic highlights two most popular modes of outdoor heating – fire pits and patio heaters – as well as tips for choosing the best kind of unit for the space you wish to heat.
Wood-Burning and Gas Fire Pits
Fire pits are favored for their ability to efficiently heat a variety of outdoor spaces, and, of course, for how great they look doing it. A wood-burning firepit gives off plenty of heat while creating the illusion of a real campfire, complete with a large, radiant flame, the sound cracking sap, and the scent of burning wood. Gas fire pits, too, produce a real, captivating flame, yet are preferred by those who are looking for an easier ignition and smoke- and scent-free fire. Fire pits come in a variety of sizes and designs, allowing you to not only heat your outdoor space, but spice up the aesthetic, as well.
Before purchasing or using your fire pit (be it wood-burning or gas), it is important to consider basic fire safety precautions. Fire pits should only be used outdoors, unless it is specified that the unit is also certified for indoor use. For wood-burning units, it is important to keep in mind the possibility of potentially dangerous sparks jumping out of the pit, so keep persons and other objects a safe distance from the pit at all times. Gas fire pits are generally safer in that the size of the flame is easy to control, but it is real fire after all, so still be sure to keep people (especially children) and animals a safe distance away.
While patio heaters do not offer all of the ambiance of a fire pit, they do offer some pretty great and efficient heat. Patio heaters are capable of heating larger spaces than fire pits, so they are a good choice for those who are looking to heat more vast outdoor spaces evenly and entirely. There are many different types of patio and outdoor heaters to choose from – portable, tabletop, freestanding, hanging/wall-mounting – which are generally fueled by liquid propane or electricity. Natural gas units are also available, but must be installed as more permanent fixtures.
Patio heaters, even gas-fueled ones, are generally very safe and usually come equipped with a tilt safety switch, which will automatically shut off the unit if it tilts beyond a certain degree. It is always important to read the use and safety guidelines that come with your unit beforehand, but these heaters are virtually worry-free, allowing you to walk away with no concern. Patio heaters also come in a wide variety of sizes, so you can match the size of the space you wish to heat to the type of heater you choose to purchase. Small, portable heaters are great for heating a small sitting area or the space around your grill, while large, standing units are efficient in heating the entire patio or deck, perfect for parties and gatherings.