Fire Pit vs. Patio Heater

Patios and backyards are excellent places to unwind after a long hectic day. But during the cold seasons, warm clothing solely wouldn’t suffice to make the outdoor ​experience completely worthwhile. ​That is ​where a proper outdoor heating source comes in. Both fire pits and patio heaters will do the job well, but the area you intend to cover, budget and convenience might be some of the deciding factors between the two. And that is where we come in. This article is here to shed some light on the debate and ease your dilemma to help you settle on one.

Fire Pits

Fire pits ​come from a lineage of fireplaces and are a smaller, portable version. Capable of using a variety of fuel spruces, they provide a significant amount of warmth to make the outdoor environment more comfortable, and thus, is an excellent source of outdoor heating. It ​can function as a grill too while simultaneously being a beautiful focal point for your outdoor setting. It is a good alternative ​when you compare them to patio heaters or outdoor fireplaces. They do their intended job of providing warmth and light​ along with being an embellishment.


  • Fire pits are a lot shorter than patio heaters and that means they do not interrupt the view outside.
  • A varying range of materials and designs used to ​build these offer you good options that can enhance the beauty of your backyard.
  • They provide warmth and light, essentially becoming a central part of the outdoor seating to create a more social and natural experience.
  • The fact that there is an open flame means you also have the option to retrofit it in order to roast something over the fire.
  • It is a lot less messy than a typical campfire because all of the wood and fire is contained within a specific area – not your garden’s floor itself.
  • Easy to move around and a better alternative than built-in fire pits.


  • While the open flame provides a good option for roasting food over the fire pit, there is also a danger of sparks from embers.
  • There is a limited area it can cover.
  • Limited temperature control unless you’re using a gas powered fire pit.
  • Cannot be used indoors.

Patio Heaters

Quite commonly used as a means to heat outdoor seating sections in restaurants, patio heaters are also used as an addition to residential settings. Capable of heating large areas, they use either an electrical source or propane to provide heat and make outdoor environments warmer and comfortable. ​Patio heaters have safety features and anti-tilt mechanisms that ​automatically stops the gas connection ​when the heater is tilted. Electric heaters ​are intelligent enough to shutdown on its own ​in cases of overheating. Patio heaters can cover larger areas and are potent enough to produce up to 40,000 BTUs, but are not quite as powerful ​like fire pits.


  • Patio heaters are mobile and versatile. They perform an excellent job when it comes to use at home and also in commercial settings like restaurants.
  • Since the direct source of the heat is completely covered, they are relatively much safer to use around pets and children.
  • They are easy to assemble, move around and come with plenty of safety features to provide an extra bit of convenience.
  • They are low maintenance and provide a quick heating solution.
  • Patio heaters are able to keep a large area warm.
  • You can control the temperature of warmth it provides to the surroundings.


  • Compared to the likes of fire pits, a patio heater has limited choices in design and material.
  • The aesthetic is quite industrial and a distinctly commercial look which does not necessarily look good with your setting outdoors.
  • It requires a constant fuel source for the propane or a high amount of electricity on a consistent basis.
  • It provides plenty of heat but there is little to no aspect of using it as a light source as well.
  • The cords or pipes for the patio heaters can become a hazard for people.

​Fire ​Pit vs. Patio Heater - Final Thoughts

In terms of power, fire pits lead the race hands down. They can produce a significant amount of heat pretty fast and can cover an impressive area, ​but lesser in ​range than areas a patio heater can cover. ​And it does have the factor of potential hazard and accidents, where patio heaters score a point by having added safety mechanisms. This makes fire pits more suitable for residential settings with a limited number of people around and makes patio heaters appripriate for commercial settings with a larger number of people encompassed.

In context to ease and convenience, patio heaters top the list as they are much more easier to assemble and use. Some fire pits do tend to be a handful to be set up and arduous to maintain. But then again, regarding aesthetics, patio heaters lean towards a more formal and polished look with very limited choice while fire pits hold a natural, rustic charm with an array of options.

Your outdoor space can look and feel a lot better with either of these two as an addition to the backyard. The fire pit actually presents more advantages when it comes to using for someone’s residence but patio heaters are more favorable for commercial environments ​as they don’t ​give off much light and can heat a much larger area.

Therefore, choosing ​one is a matter of ​your needs and expectations from ​the heating source suitable for your ​space.

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