Propane Fire Pit vs. Patio Heater: How do they compare? - This Cookout Life (2022) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to As an affiliate, this website earns from qualifying purchases.

Most of the times, you would want to be ready when the cold weather sets off. You would desire to stay warm even when you are outside.

While it may not measure up to the warmth you would enjoy inside the house; you would keep away enough chills to be reasonably relaxed.

Well, there is a wide array of options that you can choose from to get the ideal solution to keep you warm and cozy while outside.

Typically, you may consider some primary options to start you off- fire pits and patio heaters.

You would also want to find a solution that would be relatively affordable.

That said, how do you compare a propane fire pit vs. patio heater?

Knowing the features that differentiate the two would enable you to choose the right one: Below is a guide to give you more insight and help you narrow down your options.

Patio Heaters

These are radiant heat devices that are used to generate thermal radiation outside significantly.

While the most popular types utilize propane as the primary fuel source, others use natural gas or electricity.

From various unique features of a patio heater, you can choose the one that suits your needs best.

Ease of Use

Patio heaters are extremely easy to use as long as you know how to operate them right.

Subsequently, you would experience the least hassle and effort when you have a manual to show you how your heater functions.

In this case, the type of your patio heater also matters.

The models that are fueled by gas say propane, would only require the effort of flipping a switch.

(Video) Patio heater, fire pit or chiminea: Which one should I buy? - Which?

The installation or assembly also defines the ease of use. Gas patio heaters are also kept in open spaces to prevent fire hazards.

Safety of use

In essence, patio heaters have rusks involved. When setting one up on the floor, you will have to consider its stability to withstand windy weather.

An unstable installation would risk a fire when it falls.

While various patio heater models include an auto-shutoff to minimize risks, anchoring the heat down would still be ideal for enhancing safety.


The cost of patio heaters varies depending on the type, size and the style you prefer.

The ones that use propane gas or natural gas may go a little over your budget.

However, they may be worth the effort because of their long term economic aspect.

For comfortable and straightforward desires, tabletop, floor standing or hanging patio heaters are at your disposal.

In light of this, gas patio heaters are relatively cheaper than electric types.

They can be an excellent option for anyone looking to use them occasionally and save more.


Patio heaters come in a variety of designs.

Whether you are looking for the ideal piece to define your party or a solution for warmth, you can choose from different options to serve the purpose.


Ideally, patio heaters that use a gas such as propane are more portable than electric versions.

Since they come with gas tanks, you can easily attach and disassemble them to move them around wherever you are.

Nonetheless, the portability aspect is also influenced by the size of the patio heater.

(Video) Assembling A Gas Fire Pit

A larger one, for instance, is heavily built to stand on one location, though they are still movable.

They are also fitted with wheels to make it relatively easy to move them.

Heat control

Patio heaters have heat controls to make the operation simple and straightforward.

The package comes with on and off switches, timers and temperature dials to control heat effectively.

Depending on the uniqueness of your heater, you can control it digitally from the comfort of your home.


  • They are easy to use
  • Installation is less of a hassle


  • The heat is not enough for a crowd.
  • Most designs are not conducive for roasting.

Propane Fire Pit

Firepits have become increasingly common for outdoor heating. They can be utilized in backyards for significant maintenance of high temperatures.

In light of this, a propane fire pit is mainly built for individuals who want to get substantial heating outside without having to run a gas line.

Safety of use

Propane pits are great for adding a little flame and magnificence to outdoor heating.

Concerning safety, the safety of propane fire pits begins with your location.

Propane is highly flammable; therefore, you would want to utilize the gas on a secure ground far from trees and shrubs.

The gas should also sit on a non-flammable surface as much as possible.

The pit is also set up near a water source or fire extinguisher to enhance the safety of use.

Another aspect of safety is easily controllable flames.

(Video) DIY: Make a propane fire pit from a flower pot

Propane fire pits come in handy, particularly if you have children around. They don’t risk sparking or other unsafe features like in wood pits.


Propane fire pits are built with various designs. Several are structured with unique features to improve the home and also serve as an outdoor attraction.

They can be traditional, curvy or rustic depending on your choice and preference.

Alternatively, you can go with stone or brick structures to improve the overall appearance of your outdoor space.


Propane fire pits use propane gas, which is usually filled in a tank. As such, one can easily change the location of the pit to set it where it seems to fit best.

Ease of use

One thing that would probably put you off is the hassle that comes with re-fueling fire pits to keep them burning.

Propane fire pits allow you to relax without having to worry that your fire would go off when you least expect it.

As the flames are fed with gas, you can sit back and enjoy the comfort of your outdoor living space.

Similarly, the fire pit demands less space for storing the gas tank. It would keep you warm as long as the tank stays connected to the pit.


Realistically, propane fire pits come in different sizes and shapes. These, and the materials used to build them determine the average cost.

Since the propane versions require you to refill that tank when exhausted, one has to refill the tank every time it gets empty to keep the flames up.


Besides creating heat, the significance of providing heat, propane fire pits have a lighting aspect.

They come in handy when the sun goes down to provide ambient lighting and unique glow outside.

No mess

Propane fire pits are neat and clean. Unlike the options that use wood for heating, these pits don’t leave being ash, wood, debris, or smoke to mention a few.

You wouldn’t be left with piles of dirt to clean once you are done enjoying a relaxing moment of outdoor warmth.

(Video) DIY Gas Fire Pit Table

The pit could be used comfortably by people who have allergies to such residues.

They can be used on open porches with the quality of air or comfort.


Propane fire pits are incredibly versatile.

They can fit perfectly in any environment or backyard, depending on the ground space.

The wide range of sizes also gives people multiple choices to suit a pitch-size or stamp-size space.

Adjustable Heat Control

The flames of propane fire pits can be controlled easily.

As the gas can be quickly turned on and off, no risks are involved when left unattended around children.

The tight containment of the flames also ensures they burn within the fire pit, regardless of the temperature’s intensity.


  • They come in a variety of sizes and designs
  • They are more accessible to light
  • They burn cleanly


  • Propane fire pits are expensive.
  • They are not ideal for very cold temperatures.
  • They serve for a more decorative purpose but not for roasting.

From the above propane fire pit vs. patio heater insight, you would expect more heat and energy from a fire pit compared to a patio heater.

Similarly, the temperature of the pit continues to rise more efficiently as it generates abundant light and heat.

A patio heater is easier to use. It is built to produce enough heat needed for adequate warming.

The device is also great for emergencies since it features shut-off mechanisms to minimize risks.

While the features of the two are several, it always runs down to the option that suits your needs best.

(Video) How to Build a DIY Patio and Fire Pit Seating Area

Featured image credit: Image ID: 1732820735 (NOTE: Image does not feature products highlighted in article)


Which is better fire pit or patio heater? ›

Firepits provide a small circle of warmth, ideal for warming chilly hands and toasting snacks. If you need a big area of warmth, consider a patio heater, instead. As with any live fire, extra caution needs to be taken with fire pits. Mesh covers can help with leaping sparks.

How long does a 20lb propane tank last on a patio heater? ›

The most common patio heaters produce roughly 40,000 BTUs per hour - meaning a 20-pound propane tank will provide upwards of 10 hours of heat on the highest setting.

Is a propane patio heater worth it? ›

Propane patio heaters are a great option as well, as they heat quickly and can be easily moved from one spot on the patio to another. However, propane tanks are more expensive than natural gas and tanks do require replacement.

How much propane does a patio heater use per hour? ›

The average portable propane patio heater houses a 20lb propane tank or about 4.7 gallons of fuel. A 20lb propane tank can last up to 10 hours and costs between $15 - $20 to fill up, making the average cost per hour between $1.5 - $2. A typical 40,000 BTU patio heater will cost about $1.70 per hour to use.

Do propane fire pits give off much heat? ›

Propane fire pits can get pretty warm, putting out anywhere over 10,000 BTUs. The average fire pit for use at home usually averages about 30,000 BTUs. In some cases, the warmth of a propane firepit can reach up to 70,000 BTUs.

Will a fire pit keep you warm? ›

Neither a traditional fire pit nor a chiminea will warm you in the way a heater will. Although Levy does sell these, he calls them “toys” and says they tend to make everyone smell of smoke. If the charcoal or wood you are burning is truly sustainable, you will not be contributing to net CO2 emissions.

How long does a 20lb propane tank last in a fire pit? ›

For the Fire Pit, a 20# propane tank will last approximately 4 to 4 ½ hours at a continuous burn at the maximum output. The tank will last approximately 8-9 hours at a moderate gas output. For the Fire Table, a 20# propane tank will last approximately 4 to 4 ½ hours at a continuous burn at the maximum output.

How long will 15 lbs of propane last for a patio heater? ›

A 15-pound propane tank usually lasts between 8-10 hours on a 40,000 BTU patio heater.

Can outdoor propane heaters be left out in the rain? ›

Although outdoor heaters like propane and natural gas heaters are designed to resist accidental water contact, it is not recommended to use a patio heater in the rain. Heaters like Infrared heaters are non-waterproof electrical devices, so they should not be used in the rain because of the possibility of electrocution.

Which type of outdoor heater works best? ›

Included in this guide:
  • Hampton Bay. 48000 BTU Patio Heater (NCZH-G-SS) ...
  • Hampton Bay. 42000 BTU Gold Gas Patio Heater. ...
  • Dr. Infrared Heater. ...
  • AmazonBasics. Commercial Outdoor Patio Heater. ...
  • Fire Sense. Propane Table Top Patio Heater. ...
  • Hiland. FS-1212-T-10 Aluminum Scroll Propane Pit. ...
  • Fire Sense. ...
  • Bromic Heating.
Jul 21, 2022

Which outdoor heater gives off the most heat? ›

Propane patio heaters tend to put out more heat than electric heaters—about eight times as many BTUs on average. This radiant heat does more to warm the ambient air, instead of heating you directly. As the name suggests, this type of heater requires a propane tank.

Which is better propane or electric patio heater? ›

As for patio heater safety, Electric patio heaters are generally safer than propane heaters. Electric heaters don't need ventilation and don't produce carbon monoxide. Electric patio heaters are also better for the environment because there are no fossil fuels used.

How long will a 20lb propane tank last on a 10000 BTU heater? ›

Equipment Rating20lb Propane Tank – Run time
10,000 BTU43 hours
15,000 BTU29 hours
20,000 BTU21 hours
30,000 BTU14 hours
6 more rows
Nov 14, 2021

How long will a 20 lbs propane tank last? ›

As mentioned above, 20-pound propane tanks are used for modest tasks like cooking individual meals. As a rule of thumb, one tank of propane will typically last between 18-20 hours if you're grilling on a medium-sized grill. Whereas larger grills can burn through 20-pounds of propane in as little as 10 hours.

How long does a 1lb propane tank last on a heater? ›

The most commonly used Coleman propane tank – the 16.4oz or 1lb small tank – will last for two hours when used with a small 75,00 BTU stove with both burners on high flame.

Do propane fire pits keep bugs away? ›

Propane Fire Pit and Bugs

That's because burning firewood creates smoke, which naturally repels bugs like mosquitoes.

What type of fire pit gives off the most heat? ›

Dense woods like hickory and oak generate the most Btus. Because they can produce a fire larger than a gas burner, wood pits are usually the best choice for the most heat. To some, wood fires smell as good as they look, but to others, the smoke and particulates they emit go beyond nuisance to health hazard.

Can you use propane fire pits in the winter? ›

With a Dekko concrete fire pit, you'll be enjoying a gas flame, using either natural gas or propane, so you won't have to worry about keeping your woodpile dry throughout the winter.

Do tabletop fire pits keep you warm? ›

A standard tabletop fire pit will burn at about 800 degrees Fahrenheit. This can increase the radiant heat around the table to keep you substantially warm. There are several factors that will impact how much heat you feel, standing or sitting by a tabletop fire pit.

How do you heat an outdoor patio? ›

Best Way to heat a patio| Whats better gas or electric heaters? - YouTube


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