You step out onto your veranda. In the afternoon sun, the birds are chirping, children are playing, while a breeze ruffles the trees. You take a moment to enjoy the view.
However, after a few minutes the nippy air starts getting into your exposed hands and face. Instead of sitting pleasantly on your patio chair, you retreat back to the warmth of the house.
“An outdoor heater sure would’ve been useful right now,” you sigh as you go back to the couch and immerse yourself in old reruns of Friends.
This is what hanging heaters are for.
What are hanging heaters?
As their name suggests, hanging heaters are miniaturized heaters that can be hung from the ceiling. They are typically used in outdoor spaces such as gazebos, patios, and balconies to provide a measure of warmth against the chill. They can also be used in less insulated parts of the property, such as a shed or garage.
How do they differ from other heater types?
Hanging heaters provide a better alternative when traditional standing heaters are too bulky, or where space heaters aren’t a good option.
Since they are meant to be used outdoors, most hanging heaters are rated for the elements, with robust housing and waterproofing not usually found in indoor heaters.
Some hanging heaters have stylish designs that mimic the appearance of chandeliers or ceiling lights, in order to blend well with the patio or gazebo.
Types of Hanging Heaters
There are three types of hanging heaters, based on power source:
1. Natural gas
These use either natural gas using the existing gas line to produce heat. Gas units tend to heat up an outdoor space faster than electric ones. However, they require professional installation.
Like gas heaters, propane provides quicker warmth than electric heaters. They are more flexible, since they can be installed in areas with no existing gas lines, but they do require a propane tank.
Electric models form the vast majority of hanging heaters, for three reasons: they only require a electrical main, they can be set up easily, and they can be used safely in confined spaces since they don’t need venting. The tradeoff is that they are slower to heat up the surrounding space.
How to Choose a Hanging Heater
Determine where you’ll use it
Look up the requirements of the space where you intend to install it — this will determine which type of heater you need. Is it a large area or a smaller space? Is there a gas line or power outlet? Does it have enough space for venting, or is it enclosed?
To help you narrow down the factors, here’s a handy table we created:
|Propane line or tank||Power mains|
|Professional||Professional||Homeowner or Professional|
|Ideal use case||
Large open areas with plenty of people
Areas without a gas or power line
After pinpointing the heater type, it’s time to choose the size. In general, electric heaters are good for about 65-108 sq. ft, while gas models can service between 160-215 sq. ft.
However, sizing also depends on other factors like geography. A gas heater that is ideal for an outdoor patio in warm states like Nevada may be inadequate for colder climates like Maine. For cost efficiency and long-term effectiveness, location, seasonality and application have to be taken into account. For help sizing an outdoor heater for your specific needs, please contact us.
As surprising as it may seem, altitude plays a role in determining the size of your hanging heater. If you live higher than 8,000 feet above sea level, the air is less dense, which makes heaters less efficient. This means you need a more powerful hanging heater to compensate for the lower air density.
If you live in a high elevation, choose a heater that is specifically rated for high altitude use.
Out of the three, electric heaters are usually the least expensive, but are also the least efficient in terms of heating vs. cost. Natural gas and liquid propane-powered heaters are roughly equal in price, but require professional installation.
Other factors that affect the price include the BTU rating, brand name and warranty, and features like wireless capabilities.
The Best Hanging Heaters for 2021
This ceiling or wall mounted outdoor gas heater has a heat output of up to 23,600 BTU. It uses Bromic’s patented ceramic technology that focuses the heat for vastly improved energy conversion, making it up to 300% more efficient than traditional heaters. It can also handle winds up to 11mph.
For larger spaces that need heating, Rinnai/s 50,000 BTU gas heater has you covered. This infrared heater is made with 316 marine-grade stainless steel to prevent rusting and prolonged resistance to the elements. It can also be paired with an optional matched assembly to help it blend into your outdoor space more stylishly.
It is available in single stage or two-stage options, and four units can be hooked up to a single switch.
Like its natural gas counterpart, this heater is rated for 23,600 BTU and can cover about 160 sq. ft. of outdoor space. It can operate in wind speeds of up to 11mph, and even comes with wireless connection capabilities that allows seamless integration with your home.
This infrared heater offers one of the most flexible installation options among liquid propane heaters. It can be installed suspended from the ceiling, mounted on a post or support column, or extended from the wall. Like its gas-powered cousin, it is constructed out of long-lasting 316 marine grade stainless steel that’s highly resistant to rust. It comes in 35,000 or 50,000 BTU capacities, and one or two-stage heating options.
Electric (Entry level):
This tungsten infrared heater uses a spectral reflector for efficient directional heating, with minimal light emission. It is designed for both indoor and outdoor use, and can be mounted on the wall or ceiling. It also includes wireless capabilities for seamless integration with your home.
This 2300-watt heater can cover 65 sq. ft., or a space that’s about 10 ft x 6.5’.
It has a sleek and stylish look, boasting a blacked out glass ceramic face. The glass front is not just for form: the tint helps minimize any excess light, while spreading the heat evenly across the front.
The housing itself is made of corrosion-resistant stainless steel, in a slim frame that’s only 8 inches wide. This makes it suitable for recessed or flush mounting on the ceiling. It even comes with Wi-Fi capability so you can integrate it seamlessly with your smart home.
For other types of outdoor heaters, you can refer to our comprehensive guide to outdoor heating.