Can You Use A Patio Heater Under A Covered Patio? (Find Out Now!)

Ryan Womeldorf
by Ryan Womeldorf

The patio can be a great place to hang out, especially during the summer. But the warm months will eventually fade, giving way to cooler temperatures. When that happens, you can still hang out on the patio but staying warm may be a challenge.

That is, unless, you have a patio heater. A patio heater can be a great way to stay warm when the air starts to get a bit more crisp and chilly. But can you use a patio heater on a covered patio? You can, so long as you have the right type and the heater fits within your patio dimensions. Each type of heater requires a specific (and different) amount of clearance.

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What is a Patio Heater?

A patio heater is pretty self-explanatory. It is meant to heat an outdoor space, keeping you warm even when the temperatures begin to fall. Because there are different types of patio heater, they may work in different ways.

How Does a Patio Heater Work?

The heating elements of the patio heater radiate heat, which then spreads throughout the designated area. This is important because you are not at risk of an open flame at any time. Granted, the infrared heat is still not something you want near flammable materials, but it is a good measure safer.

The key is radiant heat. It’s not blowing hot air around like a blow dryer, but literally heating the molecules around the heater. The radiant heating then heats the objects within a certain range around the heater.

Using a Cover with Your Patio Heater

Depending on the type of patio heater that you use, there is one thing to keep in mind. The more it is exposed to the elements, the greater potential of speeding up the wear and tear. When there is increased wear and tear, there is an increased risk of it not working.

Invest in a patio heater cover. The cover is both easy and effective. Most importantly, it keeps your patio protected from rain and any other elements. For areas with inclement weather, a patio heater cover is a must-have.

Types of Patio Heaters

Ultimately, your ability to use a patio heater with a covered patio comes down to the type of patio heater that you plan to use. Some are fine to use with a covered patio while others are not. Don’t just use any old patio heater.

Another thing to keep in mind is that patio heaters are not waterproof. So, if you live in an area that gets a fair amount of snow and sub-freezing temperatures, you may be best off keeping your patio heater in storage during those months.

Portable Mushroom Heaters

Perhaps the most common type of patio heater out there and for good reason. That is because these heaters run off of propane. Propane tanks for patio heaters are capable of lasting for a good, long time, which makes them a more attractive option.

Generally speaking, a portable mushroom heater means needing at least a few feet of space between it and the patio’s roof. Portable mushroom heaters use infrared heat technology, which means there are no open flames to worry about.

Typically, mushroom-style patio heaters are about seven feet tall, so you would need to have a patio roof height of at least 10 feet to use this type of heater. You could also slightly angle the heater, which would not only provide proper clearance but would better heat the space.

Fixed Mushroom Heaters

These are much the same in terms of style, though a fixed heater uses natural gas as compared to the portable with propane. Mushroom-style patio heaters are quite a popular option in general. Mushroom-style patio heaters are safe to use around lattice, wood, umbrellas, and any other type of combustible material so long as there is six feet of distance between the two.

As is the case with the portable mushroom heater, there is infrared heat here so you won’t run the risk of having to deal with an open flame. So long as there is two feet of clearance between the heater and the roof, there should be little to no issue.

Keep in mind that these are called fixed for a reason. They are connected directly to your gas lines, so that means they cannot be moved. Keeping them around the edge of your patio is advised.

Electric Infrared Heaters

If you are noticing a trend here, it is that infrared heating is being used. You want to avoid using an open flame as a heater if you can, especially where patio roofs are involved. The obvious difference here is that electric heaters plug in while the others use some sort of fuel (gas or propane).

You will no doubt notice this type of patio heater being used for indoor spaces. These are the most compatible for covered patios since they need just six inches

Angling Heaters

So, as we covered in the portable heater section, you can angle your patio. While the gas and propane mushroom-style heaters can work with enough clearance, they are definitely not recommended for covered patios.

To give yourself additional clearance, angle the heater towards the open side of the patio. By doing so, you can better heat the space while also gaining additional clearance. It is a safe, easy measure to implement to ensure that no matter what type of heater you get, it will work under your roof.

Use Safety Measures

All that said, it is never a bad idea to have certain safety practices and measures in place. Remember that while you are not using an open flame, infrared heat can still be dangerous. Without the proper clearance, you will at best damage the roof of your patio and, at worst, start a fire.

  •         Keep the right amount of clearance between the heater and your patio’s roof.
  •         If you do angle your heater, make sure that it is secure and safe so that it does not tip over.
  •         Clean your patio heater regularly to prevent wear and tear as well as any unnecessary objects from lodging near the infrared heating element.
  •         Keep any combustibles at least six feet away from the heater at all times
  •         Know your heating radiance before lighting it as they all have a different heating radius.

With these safety measures in place, you can comfortably and safely use your patio heater without worry.

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So, What’s the Verdict?

So, can you use a patio heater if your patio has a covering? The short answer is that, yes, you can. But the long answer is that you should be aware of the type of patio heater that you are using as well as the clearances that you have to work with.

The further you can keep your patio heater from the roof or other combustible materials, the better off you will be. But generally speaking, if you have at least a few feet of clearance between the roof and your heater, you should be okay.

Always err on the side of caution by giving yourself a few additional feet. This way, you can keep warm even in the chilly months without having to worry about it.

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Ryan Womeldorf
Ryan Womeldorf

Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.

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