How Do Patio Heating Systems Work?

by Greg on May 5, 2020

patio heater closeup

If you have a patio, then it’s very likely that it’s one of your favorite parts of your home. You probably spend a lot of time there hosting barbecues for your friends or simply enjoying some alone time while reading a book.

The weather, however, doesn’t always cooperate. The patio may be your favorite area of the house, but it can get too cold during the winter, right to the point where you can hardly stand a minute sitting out there.

Fortunately, you can still hang around your patio without becoming a popsicle. If you really love kicking your heels in your home’s outdoor area regardless of the weather, then you should install patio heaters. Whether it’s a fire pit, a gas-fired heater, or an electric outdoor heater, keeping warm outside even during the winter is entirely possible.

So how does a patio heating system work?

Heat Through Radiation
A patio heater works by transferring heat through radiation. The patio heater will heat a material to the point where it can emit heat via invisible shortwave infrared. We may not see those infrared waves, but we can definitely feel the warmth it gives off, as our body quickly absorbs them and makes us feel comfortable fast.

Essentially, a radiant patio heating system generates heat similar to what the sun produces. Since radiant heat also heats up the surface of surrounding objects, the ambient temperature rises as well.

One radiant patio heater, however, won’t likely be enough to warm the entire patio, especially if it occupies a big area. To make sure everyone is warm, it’s a good idea to put up multiple radiant heating systems in your patio

Types of Radiant Patio Heaters
Modern radiant patio heaters typically run on propane or electricity, although technically speaking, even a fire pit can be considered a radiant patio heater, especially when its glowing embers are providing much of the heat.

A fire pit would be a great choice for a patio heater, if only for its energy efficiency. It doesn’t need gas or electricity to run. A few pieces of wood or coal will do. However, for all its energy efficiency, a fire pit isn’t exactly the safest option for patio heating. After all, a fire pit, while usually designed to contain flames safely, is still an open fire. If you have children or pets, a fire pit can still pose a risk of hurting them, especially if they’re a little too energetic and don’t have qualms about running around the patio area. A fire pit also produces smoke, which can cause respiratory issues.

A gas patio heater, on the other hand, produces clean, smokeless flames. It is capable of heating a particular area quickly, and increasing the heat is easy. You only have to turn up the dial, and the area will become so much warmer. It doesn’t require much maintenance and is perfect for large outdoor areas as well.

If you don’t like the idea of flames or fumes anywhere near your kids, then an electric patio heater is the best option for you. Since it converts most of the energy it uses to heat, an electric patio heater is quite efficient. And if you go for strip heaters that you can install on the ceiling, you’ll have a more even way of heating the entire patio. Like gas patio heaters, it’s also easy to control the heat an electric patio heater generates.

With the help of radiant patio heaters, your patio will remain your favorite part of the house, even when it’s chilly outside!

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