Patio Heater vs Fire Pit: Which One is Better

  • By: Mike Hale
  • Date: July 17, 2022
  • Time to read: 7 min.

Having outdoor seating enables you to hold gatherings outside. You can eat there, sit around and share stories, or just look at the view and enjoy the breeze. But, when the cold months begin, you’d have no choice but to take everything inside. Or wouldn’t you? If you install a patio heater or a fire pit, you can still enjoy the outdoor area of your home without freezing. But which heater is better? Which one should you install in your space, a patio heater or a fire pit?

Both the patio heater and fire pit are effective ways to heat your backyard. A patio heater is great if you can’t use open fires. It is easier to clean too. Fire pits can be more economical and can be used as a barbeque.

If you love staying outdoors, having a heater in your backyard will allow you to enjoy the space even during cold months. There is no need to huddle under blankets to stay warm. Let’s find out which heater will fit your outdoor space.

Fire pit vs Patio Heater

All About Patio Heaters

A patio heater, simply put, is a device that enables you to heat the patio area of your home. It utilizes fuel as a source of heat. Some use electricity to produce their flame. Others burn wood or gas. There are also patio heaters that use butane for their fuel.

Patio heaters are not like fireplaces. They are designed to be used for the outdoor area. It comes in many forms, and each is designed for a specific purpose. You can choose to purchase or rent one that is floor-standing, wall-mounted, hanging, or even placed on top of a table.

Different Patio Heater Fuel

Before deciding on which type of patio heater you should buy, you need to know each fuel’s benefits and disadvantages.

If you already have a natural gas line installed, you may want to consider getting a patio heater that utilizes natural gas as fuel. This type burns cleaner than heaters that use wood. It is also easier to maintain because you don’t have to keep sweeping away ash and debris.

However, its installation may be more expensive because it has to be done by a professional. Additionally, you won’t be able to move this heater around. If you have a large area to heat, you might need to get several units installed.

If you need something portable but still easy to use and maintain, your best option is the electric patio heater. You can move them around your yard as long as you have an accessible outlet. Plus, like the gas-burning heater, you don’t have to worry about too much debris.

Additionally, since you need to plug it in for it to start working, you won’t need to hire a professional to install the heater for you. You save up on the initial cost.

A major downside to electric heaters though is that it uses electricity. This can prove costly in the long run. And most models that use electricity take a while to heat a small area. Additionally, if it rains, you’d have to unplug your heater and store it somewhere dry.

If you want to heat your space quickly, you can look at propane patio heaters. These are easy to use and can be used for heating even enclosed areas. You can even move this heater around if needed.

Some models, like the Golden Flame Butane Patio Heater, come with a built-in table and wheels. You can place the heater in your yard, put some chairs around it, and you’d be able to eat, drink your coffee, and enjoy the heat at the same time.

One major setback to using propane heaters is the price. They are more expensive to operate than the models that use natural gas. The tanks will also need replacing periodically.

If you want something economical, wood-burning patio heaters are the choice to beat. You don’t even have to buy firewood if you have a wood source in your backyard. The trade-off is that you’d have to work a little harder to maintain this heater.

You would have to clean out the ash and debris every time you use it. You might find lighting the fire a little difficult. Additionally, burning wood can produce embers or sparks that can cause accidents.

Advantages of using a patio heater

Patio heaters are very versatile. You can use it to heat any residential or commercial space. It is also relatively safer to use than open fires. For most models, you can control the temperature and move it around to heat different areas in your backyard. Some models are child and pet-friendly.

Disadvantages of using a patio heater

Unlike open fires, where you can use any combustible material as fuel, you’d have to buy fuel or pay for a power source to get heat. This can become expensive, especially if you use the heater every day for long periods. For electric models, the cords can cause people to trip.

All About Fire Pits

Just like the patio heater, a fire pit is a great addition to your backyard if you enjoy spending your afternoons and evenings outside. You can gather around it and keep warm as you enjoy the cool night air. Additionally, fire pits can be double as a barbecue. It can also be your source of ash to serve as nutrients for your plants.

Fire pits use different fuels for their heat source too. Some pits use wood, coal, and propane. Some are equipped with an electronic ignition feature to make lighting fires more convenient.

Fire pits also come in a variety of designs. You would surely be able to find a look that will complement your house’s theme.

Different Fire Pit Fuels

If you are considering getting a fire pit installed in your yard, you would also have to think of which fuel you’d need for its heat source. There are pros and cons for each type of fuel, and you need to consider these before making any purchase.

If you love the feeling of camping and enjoy sitting around a campfire, the wood-burning fire pit may be your best option. This type allows you to feel, hear, and smell the wood-burning. You can even roast marshmallows on this.

Since it uses firewood, you’d have plenty of fuel if you live near a forest. It is going to be economical even if you light a fire every day. Plus, you won’t need to call a professional to get it set up. If you have the materials and design in mind, you can make a fire pit yourself.

The features of the wood-burning fire pit are very similar to those of the coal-burning type. The only difference is that you’d have to buy coal to use the heater.

The downside for both fuels is that it can spit out embers that can cause fires if it is unattended. Additionally, it may not be safe to use if you have young children at home. If you hate clean-ups, it would probably be best to look at the other types of fire pits.

Propane fire pits may be the easiest to maintain and is the number one choice of homeowners when it comes to heating an outdoor area. Some models are quite portable, so you can move the pit around depending on which part of the yard you want to heat. Its rim can be used to support plates and glasses, making it a great choice for people who love dining outside.

The downside is that you’d have to buy a propane tank whenever it gets used up. This can be an expensive choice if you like staying outside every night.

Advantages of using a fire pit

The main advantage of a fire pit over a patio heater is that it can also be used for roasting. It can also be used as a source of light, although it wouldn’t be a great substitute for actual lamps.

The fire pit is a great substitute for campfires, and it can be moved around. Plus, it is easier to clean up than an open fire.

Disadvantages of using a fire pit

Just like the patio heater, the range that the fire pit can heat is pretty limited. You would also have to deal with open flames.

Additionally, since we are dealing with flames and embers, there is a bigger risk of causing a fire on your property. That is unless you get a fire pit that has a spark screen. The Kingso Fire Pit, for example, has a wire mesh cover that is designed to prevent embers from flying out.

Of course, a fire pit cannot be used indoors or in enclosed areas. And you won’t be able to regulate the temperature as well as you can a patio heater.

Finally, the biggest shortcoming of a fire pit is that it requires more effort in keeping it clean. You will need to clean up the ash and debris once your firewood or coal burns out.

Patio Heater VS Fire Pit

Both the patio heater and fire pit will give you enough warmth to let you stay outside during cold months. If you live in a really cold place, your best option would be a patio heater because it can significantly heat an area better than a fire pit. You also have better control of the temperature using this heater. Plus, you can opt to use electricity or natural gas. You can also use this even if you have young kids or pets at home.

If you enjoy the smell and sound of burning wood or coal, then a fire pit is a better option for you. Being able to cook over the fire is also a bonus.