How Does A Patio Heater Work?

Types of Patio Heaters

Not all patio heaters are made the same. There are different types of patio heaters out there and each of them offers their own characteristics, which you should consider when you’re looking to purchase a patio heater for yourself. You can go through our review of some of the top patio heaters to help you decide on one.

In order to best understand how patio heaters work to provide us with warmth and comfort on the cold winter days, we’re going to take a look at each of the most common types and how they work. There are two main methods of providing heat: radiant and convection.

Radiant Heaters

​Among the two different ways of how a patio heater works, radiant heaters have surfaces which are heated by the infrared rays. Instead of trying to heat the air around the unit, radiant heaters focus on heating its surface and the objects around it using infrared radiation.

Because of the infrared heating, anything in front of the heater is immediately going to feel warm when the heater is turned on. Similarly, it will immediately feel cooler when the heater is switched off. There is also the fact that only objects in the direct line of sight will be warmed. While radiant heaters do not focus on circulating warm air, any air that comes into contact with the warm surface also becomes warmer.

Examples of Radiant Heaters

Now using the same principle of how patio heaters work with radiation, there are several types of radiant heaters. The most common are:

  • Glass tube heaters (also known as halogen heaters)
  • Infrared heating panels
  • Gas heaters
  • Dome heaters

​Convection Heaters

​While convection heaters also provide you warmth, there is a difference in how a patio heater works with the convection heating system. You see, the radiant heaters work by providing warmth to the objects and surrounding by radiating infrared heat. The surrounding air gets heated as a byproduct.

How a heater works with the convection system is ​not the same. Instead of infrared radiation to heat the objects directly in its line of sight, it focuses on heating up the air through convection and circulating it in the room to provide warmth. They usually draw the air in through fans and expel warmer air into circulation. Another thing about convection heaters is that they heat up the surrounding area at a slower pace but keep it warmer for longer than infrared heaters after they are switched off. They don’t rely on direct line of sight to provide heat.

Examples of Convection Heaters

After understanding how patio heaters work with convection, here are some of the common types of convection heaters:

  • Electric panel heaters
  • Wall mounted or free standing fan heaters
  • Wall mounted panel heaters

For more information, do take a look at our article on electric vs. propane patio heaters. If are wondering what other sources are there for outdoor heating, check out the article on fire pit vs. patio heater.

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