Can a patio heater be used on a covered patio? - Backyards and terraces (2023)

Can a patio heater be used on a covered patio? - Backyards and terraces (1)

Cold nights and rainy days can ruin your outdoor patio party. A roof and outdoor heater can solve this problem, but is it safe to use them together?

It is safe to use an outdoor heater under a covered patio if you follow all precautions. Different heaters require different clearance distances from various roofing materials, but you can use more this way.

Follow the manufacturer's guidelines and the recommendations in this article to ensure a comfortable and safe space.

The best place to get answers for your heater is by looking in the manual. But this manual may not provide all the information for your specific needs. Here, we'll break down what you should know and use them safely.

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What are the most common types of patio heaters?

There are many models of outdoor heaters, and each has its own unique considerations when used in acovered court. Before we discuss minimum clearances and setting up your heater, we need to understand the different types of fuel.

Can a patio heater be used on a covered patio? - Backyards and terraces (2)

1. Propane heaters

Propane heaters are some of the most common for outdoor spaces. They are easy to install as it usually just means connecting the tank and hand tightening the hose fitting.

Propane heaters are also easy to light and provide immediate heat. They are clean burning, with little to no odor and smokeless.

They are also quite portable, with many now including a storage area for the tank. However, propane heaters release carbon monoxide and other toxic gases, and you should only use them in well-ventilated areas.

The most common types of propane heaters are flame or infrared.

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Flame heaters include:

  • propane fireplaces
  • Propanebonfires
  • blue flame heaters

Propane infrared heaters typically burn the fuel to heat another material, such as ceramics or metal alloys, and then radiate it as thermal energy. These include:

  • tube heaters
  • Mushroom heaters, freestanding or floor mounted
  • High intensity ceramic heaters
  • Building or spot heaters
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2. Natural gas heaters

Natural gas heaters work the same way as propane heaters, but they use your home's natural gas lines. To use this option, you must already have natural gas in your home.

Natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel and is suitable for heating. Unlike propane, you won't need to refill the containers and you'll save on energy costs.

They usually require professional installation. So your upfront costs might be a little higher and you won't have the portable flexibility of propanes.

Natural gas heaters are usually wall or floor mounted and are safer to use than propane heaters.

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3. Electric heaters

Electric heaters also use infrared to heat your body instead of the air between you and the heater. They are very efficient and do not require burning any fuel.

As no fuel is burned, they don't need ventilation like other heaters, making them ideal forclosed courtyardspaces.

Electric heaters are also the most portable and easy to connect, just plug them in. They are also the safest use around patio furniture, cushions and children.

While a plugin is convenient, it can also be a problem. It would be better to have outlets available or install extensions to operate them. They can also be energy intensive and take longer to heat the space than gas or propane.

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4. Wood heaters

Wood heaters can be the most attractive styles, includingbonfiresand chimneys. Also, if you live in rural areas or have a wood source, they are free to operate.

However, burning wood produces a lot of smoke, which can be inconvenient for parties and gatherings at home. It also means that you don't want to use them in a covered area unless you have a chimney or exhaust fan that goes outside.

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In addition, some cities have air quality measures that prevent the use of stoves or wood heaters on certain days or times of the year.

Each of the above heaters will be considered when operating on a covered patio or under a canopy. So when buying your heater, make sure you understand what you want from it. Also, plan for space and fuel or energy sources that are easier for you.

What considerations are important when using a heater on a covered patio?

In addition to the type of heater and fuel source, you should also consider other factors related to your outdoor space. The ideal type of heater and the care required will differ depending on the configuration.

1. Canopy or roof material

The flammability of various materials will be different, and this will help you decide how far away from them you need to keep the heater.

For example, let's take a look at a metal roof versus a vinyl awning. If your heater requires a minimum of one meter of clearance from the ceiling, then with a metal ceiling you can safely mount it exactly one meter away. But, if it's the vinyl canopy, you might want to go a little further to be sure.

Extra space is needed because vinyl can heat up very quickly when used for long periods of time or moved in the wind.

Excessive exposure to heat can cause it to melt or even catch fire. So you'll probably want to give it a little more than three feet of slack to be safe.

Therefore, evaluate the type of roof you have. If it is flammable, be careful and leave a little more headroom than the heater's instructions call for. If it is a non-flammable material, trust to follow the minimum recommendations.

2. Ventilation

As we suggested earlier, ventilation is an important factor in the type of heater you use and how you set it up. Airflow varies considerably depending on your patio setup, so be sure to understand your specific situation.

Ventilation shouldn't be an issue if you use an umbrella or canopy without walls. Any type of heater will work reliably.

But if it's a fully or partially enclosed patio, you may be limited to using electric heaters only. Never burn any fuel in an enclosed area, even clean burning fuels such as natural gas and propane.

How much clearance do you need over a patio heater?

Now that we understand the different types of heaters and consider our space, we can talk about headroom.

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The amount of free space required varies greatly depending on the type of product and manufacturer. Therefore, you will need to check your heater's specifications before installing or using it.

However, if you are still planning your purchase and want to see what fits in your space, here are some prices for some standard products.

heater typeMinimum distance from ceilingMinimum ground clearance
Smart Tungsten Heater(propane or natural gas)
wall mounted,Noheat deflector
36 inches8 cake
Smart Tungsten Heater(propane or natural gas)
wall mounted,swindlerheat deflector
14 inches8 cake
mushroom stylepropane heater24 inchesN/A (independent)
glass tubepropane heater24 inchesN / D
outdoor electricpatio heater18 inches6 cake
Standingnatural gasHeater24 inchesN / D
burning woodchiminea36 inchesN / D

As you can see, the distances between the heating unit and the ceiling vary.Typically, you'll want a clearance that exceeds 14-18 inches for electric heaters or those with heat deflectors, and about 24 inches for most others.

Is it safe to use a patio heater on a covered porch?

Is it safe to use a patio heater on a covered porch?as long as you follow the manufacturer's instructions and take precautions. Electric heaters are the safest., as there is no flame or fuel source.

Make sure you have adequate space if you want to use propane, natural gas, or wood heaters on your porch. Also, increase support if the roof is made of highly flammable material or moves in the wind.

It is also important to remove all flammable materials, especially combustibles such as gasoline or charcoal grill starter fluid.

Keep at least 3 feet between any heater andgarden furnitureor soft patio walls (screens, tarps, etc.)

Never use fuel heaters in a confined or poorly ventilated space, as they release odorless carbon monoxide and other toxic gases. Make sure your patio has adequate airflow to operate your outdoor heater.

What is the best outdoor heater for a covered porch?

The heater that best suits your covered terrace will mainly depend on your preferences.Some of the heaters, like theglass tube heaters, they are meant to be aesthetically pleasing and add to the look of your patio.

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  • others, likewall mounted units, they save space in small yards and are mostly out of sight. They are also safer for children and pets, as no one can touch or drop them.
  • electric unitsThey are affordable for anyone to install as you need an electrical outlet to plug them in. They are usually not as visually appealing, but they are smoke and odor free.
  • logs and fireplacesThey make wonderful meetings and focal points for any party. They also hold a lot of emotional value for those who grew up camping and the great outdoors.

There are many factors to consider, which is why we've made this short list of pros and cons for each heating unit.

heater typebenefitsContras
1. Propane heaters- Easy setup
- Portable
- fast heating
- High heat emission
– More expensive than natural gas
– Requires trips to fill the boat
- Susceptible to wind
– Propane leaks are dangerous/difficult to detect
2. Natural gas heaters– Cheaper than propane
- High heat emission
- fast heating
- Reliable
– Cleaner and safer than propane
– Not portable
– Requires professional installation
- Susceptible to wind
– Gas leaks are dangerous/difficult to detect
3. Electric heaters- simple connection
- no flames
– No gas/oil
- Does not require ventilation
- Portable
- Takes a while to warm up
– Not practical for large areas
– Often noisy or uninviting
– Expensive to use
4. Wood stoves- Attractive
– nostalgic/communal
– Cheap to operate
– Cheap to build
- Smoked
– Limits in some areas
- Difficult to light
– More maintenance required

Hope this can help you decide and choose the best outdoor heater for your needs. Remember to consider the size of your space, your area's heating requirements, and the time of year to select the best option.

What other precautions should I take when using an outdoor heater?

Most considerations for an outdoor heater involve design, fuel type, headroom and ventilation. But there are also other precautions you need to take to ensure safe use.

In the United States, space heaters cause 43% of all home fires. Additionally, they are responsible for 80% of equipment-related fire injuries. Therefore, use them responsibly.

Can a patio heater be used on a covered patio? - Backyards and terraces (6)

As with infrared units, all heaters will be hot to the touch, even without an apparent flame. So make sure they have enough headroom, not just on the patio deck, but on all sides.

Make sure party decorations are no closer than 2 meters from any heater. Also, do not use flammable party toys, such as silly string, near the heater.

If it tips over, most heaters these days have safety latches, so check and make sure yours has this feature. If not, consider stabilizing it when using in large groups or around children.

Gas leaks are dangerous as they are difficult to detect outdoors. Natural gas is lighter than air and will therefore dissipate upwards. It also smells like rotten eggs. If you notice a natural gas leak, get out immediately and call the fire department.

Propane is heavier than air and can build up in an enclosed space when it leaks, causing explosions. So make sure there are no leaks and close the tank valve when not in use.

To check for leaks, you can use a leak detector fluid. This fluid bubbles up like soap when exposed to a leak. You should periodically test all connections and hoses with leak detection fluid when setting up, performing annual maintenance, or after long periods of storage.


As this is a general guide only, it will not include all the safety information for your specific heater. Even if you've had similar heaters in the past, be sure to read all instructions and warnings carefully.

By following all these precautions and ensuring proper space levels, outdoor patio heaters can be very safe.

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While they used to be mostly seen in restaurant and commercial applications, outdoor heaters are becoming more widely available and less expensive for home use. Warmers mean you can extend your summer parties into fall or even into winter.

We hope this article was helpful to you and that you now understand how to use your outdoor heater on a covered patio or deck.



Can I use a propane heater on a covered patio? ›

Propane space heaters and tabletop heaters typically require small amounts of clearance and can be safely used under a covered patio as long as there is proper ventilation.

Where should you not use a patio heater? ›

Traditional propane patio heaters are not suitable for use under a gazebo, pergola, awning, or in a screen porch area. It's possible for the heat to cause damage to such structures, and there's an increased risk of fire.

Can a gas patio heater be used on a covered porch? ›

Yes, you can use a gas patio heater under a covered patio. Just make sure that there's nothing flammable within a few feet of the heater. Check the manufacturer's instructions for the exact range. Don't place the gas heater near any wooden beams or you could cause a fire.

How much clearance do you need above a patio heater? ›

Patio heaters must have clearance on all sides. It is recommended that there be three feet above the unit and two feet on each side of the unit.

How do I protect my patio heater from tipping over? ›

You can weigh down your patio heater with heat-resistant stabilizers such as sandbags or water weights to prevent movement. Alternatively, you can use flame-retardant ties such as bungee cords to peg your heater to the lawn as you would with a tent.


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