Outdoor Heating – Gas or Electric Heaters?

Patio and deck heating has been around for many years, beginning in North America in Southern California as pool side heaters to warm bathers and swimmers when they came out of the water on cool evenings. European infrared heater manufacturers began to explore the outdoor heating concept many years ago as well, with various portable designs. In both cases, these pioneer manufacturers early models were portable, and used infrared heating devices. 

Even before this product category came along, infrared heating systems were being developed for indoor space heating applications. Dating into the early part of the 20th century, infrared heaters began to take off commercially after the second world war in Europe, and later in North America. Understanding the infrared heating mechanism, and knowing how to build infrared burners and electric emitters paved the way for their usage in outdoor applications.

As the patio heating concept grew, many restaurants,  pubs and cafes began to heat outdoor serving areas as customers chose to sit outdoors, and demanded more comfortable spaces in which to do so. Different types of outdoor heaters were developed to meet this market, especially permanent and overhead mounted heaters. These typically  sturdy and robust commercial products began to migrate into higher end residential patios over time, no better example being the acceptance into higher end Hollywood homes as movie stars fell in love with Sunglo patio heaters.

In recent years the outdoor living concept has been greatly expanded with the growth of the outdoor room in residential settings. Virtually all commercial decks and patios receive some type of heating to be able to compete for customers. Another more recent development has been the appearance of low cost, primarily propane fired, but also including inexpensive 115V electric powered patio heaters. Required by big box retailers, these products are typically low quality, poorly engineered, throw away items with no replacement parts available anywhere, having only a price appeal to a certain segment of the consumer marketplace.