5 heat lamps that can turn your frigid patio into a cozy oasis

Winter is coming. You know what must be done.

Winter is coming. You know what must be done. That’s right, get those fires roaring and spike that cider because back porch living might be even better when the temperatures drop. Some people hunker down all winter and subject themselves to cabin fever, and those people are doing it wrong. We have warm clothes, we have drinks that warm our insides, and grills work just fine in the snow, thank you very much. The last piece of this puzzle is a heat lamp to melt the frost right off of that patio and give you a comfy place to kick back and relax. These heaters are safe, generate plenty of heat, and can extend your back porch living into an all-season arrangement.

There are so many styles of heat lamps to choose from that we’re willing to bet there’s something that checks all your boxes.

Hampton Bay patio heater

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This Hampton Bay patio heater is a great place to start your search. It does what most people need their heat lamp to do, and serves as a great jumping-off point for those who want something else. Brushed stainless steel looks great, and withstands the elements so you can leave it outside without issue. The 87.25-inch height spreads heat over a wide area, and the 33-pound weight is easy for one person to move. The heating element uses standard 20-pound propane tanks. Output is rated at an impressive 48,000 BTU. That’s enough for outdoor restaurants and will make a great addition to your porch, too. Secure this heater to your patio surface with the appropriate anchors using the provided attachment points. Professional assembly is available for an extra fee. [Buy]

VCF tabletop heater

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The VCF tabletop heater is a premium option for those who prioritize build quality. A weighted base adds stability for raised applications. An automatic shutoff valve offers a second layer of defense in the event of a tip-over. This design uses high-quality materials like stainless steel and thoughtful features like a protective guard around the heating element. An ignition button and adjustment knob are conveniently located on the base. A maximum output of 11,000 BTU makes this a great fit for medium-sized outdoor areas. Power comes from a one-pound propane bottle placed inside the base, or a remote 20-pound tank attached with an adapter hose that can be purchased separately. If you don’t want to mess with assembly, professional assistance can be added to your order. [Buy]

Briza electric patio heater

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If you need a powerful heat lamp that’s also portable, check out this electric option from Briza. This 1,500-watt unit plugs right into standard wall outlets and provides infrared heat comparable to a 5,000-BTU propane heater. Because this design doesn’t radiate heat like a conventional heater, the heat guard stays much cooler. It also includes a shut-off function that kicks in if the heater is knocked over. The included tripod extends as tall as seven feet. The safety and power output of this heater makes it a great indoor option. Since it’s unaffected by wind and requires minimal maintenance, it excels outdoors, as well. We also love that it comes with a remote control, because you’ve got better things to do than get up every time you want to change the temperature. [Buy]

Pelonis ceramic space heater

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This Pelonis space heater is perfect for people who need a budget-friendly way to heat a garage, basement, or enclosed porch. With power output rated at 1,500 watts, it’s similar to other electric options but less powerful than most gas-powered heaters. Still, electricity makes this a safe indoor option, and it’s extremely portable and compact. The efficient radiant heating elements reach 70 degrees Fahrenheit in just three seconds. Choose from high and low settings, or let eco mode adjust to the ambient air temperature to use as little electricity as possible. The rotating base distributes heat evenly across a 70-degree path. A safety shutoff activates if the heater is knocked over. The balance of safety, size, and output make this a top choice for indoor use. [Buy]

Dr. Infrared heater

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When you need to maximize space, take advantage of the wall-mounted Dr. Infrared heater. Aluminum construction makes this a durable choice for outdoor use, and the infrared heating element is designed to withstand exposure to water. The unit measures 36 inches long, eight inches tall, and just four inches deep, making it one of the most compact options out there. A remote control offers three power settings and lets you mount this heater out of reach. Choose from output levels of 900, 1,200, and 1,500 watts. There is also a timer function, so you don’t have to worry about remembering to turn it off. An adjustable wall and ceiling mount is included. The hard-mounted design of this heater means it’s not portable, but for small areas that need reliable heat, it’s a worry-free solution. [Buy]

Related: 7 ways to upgrade your campsite

Types of heat lamps

The main factor that distinguishes heat lamps from one another is the amount of heat they’re capable of producing. The electric output is measured in wattage, and propane output is measured in British thermal units. One BTU is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. Pounds of water seems like an odd choice, but there you have it. Plug-in electric units are simple and easy to use, but not the most powerful. If you want the most heat possible and don’t mind refilling canisters, propane is the fuel for you.

Key features of heat lamps

  • Size: The first difference you’ll notice when shopping for heat lamps is size. The smallest units can be wall-mounted and provide heat to a small area, while larger units are free-standing and can warm a sizeable outdoor area like a porch or patio.
  • Fuel: Heat lamps use either electricity or propane, and both have their merits. Electricity is quick and easy, but propane creates more heat.
  • Heat rating: The more heat a lamp produces, the better it will perform in cold temperatures and large spaces. Compare electric units by looking at their wattage, and propane units by looking at their BTU rating. One watt is equal to 3.41 BTU.
  • Intended use: Before clicking that “buy now” button, make sure your selection fits your needs. Every heat lamp has its time and place, but you don’t want to get caught in the cold or spend more money than you have to. Consider things like the space you want to heat, the fuel you want to use, and the amount of money you’re willing to spend.

Benefits of heat lamps

Heat lamps are a great way to get more enjoyment from the outdoors. Adding a little warmth to a small area can make a big difference, and these heaters really do a number on the winter blues. Their simplicity and ease of use is also a major selling point. Installation is almost nonexistent, and you can roll most of them out of sight when they aren’t needed. Some are small enough to be used in a garage or shed, so you can take advantage of indoor and outdoor versatility. Cost is also a big factor. Compared to building a heated, enclosed sunroom, these are extremely economical.

Heat lamp pricing

Entry-level heating units can cost as little as $65. These are compact heaters designed for places like the garage, workshop, or sunroom. They work great but don’t expect a huge amount of heat from them. Prices go as high as $600, and that will land you a professional-grade heat lamp as you’d find at an outdoor restaurant. These premium options are very powerful and use the best materials available. In between, there are plenty of options for different uses and budgets.

Related: 9 of the best camping and survival hatchets money can buy

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