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Do Patio Heaters Need to Be Covered?

Depending on where you live, the climate may be cold, forcing you to spend more time inside than you would like. Owning a patio heater can help extend the time you can spend enjoying the outside of your home, even in the winter. These wonderful inventions provide an affordable source of heat on patios. But do patio heaters need to be covered for safety reasons?

Patio heaters do need to be covered to protect them from damage by weather, such as rain and snow. Covers help keep dirt, dust, and debris from getting inside the heater. They also protect against bugs and other small critters that may damage the heater and cause a potential fire.

Patio heaters should be covered for several reasons, as mentioned above. There are many different types of patio heaters that use different heat sources and have different safety risks and features. The type of heater you purchase will be based upon certain factors such as budget, size, and patio space. Read on to learn more about patio heaters, their covers, and which type is best for your home.

Why Patio Heaters Need to Be Covered

As stated above, patio heaters need to be covered for a variety of safety reasons. After investing money into a patio heater, the last thing you want to do is have to replace it because you failed to protect it with a cover. Covers can also protect against needless fire hazards.

While the answer is yes, patio covers do need to be covered, there can be some variance depending on where you live. For example, someone who lives in sunny California may not have much need for a patio heater cover to protect against inclement weather. 

To elaborate, someone who lives in Oregon or Wyoming would need a cover for their patio heater to protect against snow and rain, which is common in that region. For people in these states, it is not uncommon to store their heater safely indoors in a garage or shed when it is not in use, depending on how bad the weather is.

Here are a few other tips to remember:

  • Some models of patio heaters are made to be weatherproof. Check the manufacturing information to see if your model is protected.
  • Be sure to clean your patio heater at least one time per year (preferably more) to help protect against product failure and reduce the risks of fire hazards.
  • Purchase the cover for your patio heater at the same time you purchase the heater to make sure it is protected from the start.

Another reason why patio heaters need to be covered is to protect against damage from dust and debris. A build-up of dust and debris inside a patio heater can lead to a temporary malfunction, or to the heater breaking for good. It can also cause a possible fire if it is bad enough. Heater covers also help to keep bugs from getting inside the heater and causing similar problems.

Here’s a quick video showing how a common patio heater works:

Types of Patio Heaters

There are many types of patio heaters to choose from. The type you decide to purchase will depend upon how much space you have on your patio, whether you need it to be freestanding or plan to put it on a table, or if you will be mounting it on a wall. Generally speaking, the free-standing patio heaters usually put out a greater amount of heat.

Here are the most popular standing Patio Heaters (link to Amazon) available today.

Most patio heaters use propane as a heat source, however, some heaters are powered by natural gas, electricity and some are even wood-burning. If you have limited space on your patio, a tabletop heater may be best for you. This space-saving heater will provide some warmth for you and your guests and can easily be stored away when not in use.

Other types of patio heaters include:

  • Infrared electric patio heaters offer instant heat and most can be used indoors or outdoors.
  • Wall-mounted patio heaters offer a more permanent heating solution, save space, and can be a great alternative to a table heater.
  • Hanging patio heaters are another space-saving option that provides a good amount of heat.
  • Lighted patio heaters are very popular because they emit a large amount of heat and are an aesthetically pleasing addition to any patio area.
  • Fire pits are another alternative to purchasing a patio heater and will still provide warmth for you and your guests.

The mushroom-style heater is the type with which most of us are probably familiar. These are commonly used on restaurant patios and heat in a downward pattern, effectively heating guests while sitting at tables.

However, quartz tube patio heaters are one of the largest and most effective types of heaters. They generally cost more than other types of heaters but are capable of heating the largest areas. Keep this in mind if your patio is large.

As a general rule, you should cover your heater when it is not in use, regardless of what type of heater you are using. Different types of patio heaters will require different styles of covers.

Patio Heaters And Safety

Due to the many different types of patio heaters, the safety levels vary depending on which type you purchase. As discussed earlier, it is very important to use a cover on your patio heater to reduce the amount of debris that can build up and cause a possible fire. Cleaning your heater regularly will also help reduce the risk of unnecessary fire.

Another factor to consider when buying a patio heater is the shape and design. You want to make sure your heater is appropriate for the size of your patio and will not be too close to other items, posing possible fire hazards. If the heater is tall and top-heavy, you need to be sure to properly weigh it down to prevent it from tipping over and starting a fire.

Other safety concerns to consider:

  • If you have small children or pets, make sure to position your patio heater in a safe location out of their reach to prevent them from burning themselves. 
  • Some patio heaters put off a higher level of pollution into the air. If you are worried about the effect the heater will have on the environment, electric heaters may be best for you.
  • If a patio heater is used improperly inside of an enclosure, it poses not only a fire hazard, but can also cause carbon monoxide poisoning.

Most patio heaters come with some type of auto-shutoff mechanism to protect against fires. The mechanism is triggered in the event that the heater is knocked over and becomes too hot and poses a safety risk. These safety mechanisms are not fail-proof, however, and it is still very important to consider all of the tips listed above to prevent an accident from happening.


Buying a patio heater can be a wonderful investment that allows you to enjoy your patio nearly year-round, rather than in just the spring and summer. However, you will need to buy a cover for your patio heater to keep it protected from the elements. Purchasing a cover for your heater will also help prevent dust and debris from getting inside of it.

Be sure to weigh all of your options before purchasing a patio heater and make sure you pick one that is appropriate for your patio size and needs. The patio heater cover that you purchase will also depend upon the size and type of your heater but will protect your investment and ensure that you can continue to enjoy your patio for years to come.

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