Can You Use A Patio Heater Indoors?

infrared patio heater glowing red and orange inside a clean luxury living room

To get the best experience outdoors in the shoulder season and the winter, we all know how helpful a patio heater can be.  A simple patio heater can be the difference between unseasonably cold and comfortable.  But what if it’s a little too cold in your house?  What if your garage is just a little too cold and you want to take the edge off?  Can you use a patio heater indoors?  In this article we will examine why you want to avoid it, and when it might be okay.

Can You Use A Patio Heater Indoors?

First, if you have a gas or propane powered patio heater, never use it indoors.  Let me reiterate that.  Never use a gas or propane patio heater indoors at any time.  Much like using a propane portable grill indoors, there are numerous ways you can destroy property, injure yourself or others, and even cause death.  

Propane and natural gas patio heaters give off carbon monoxide which is a tasteless and scentless gas.  This will cause you to lose consciousness in areas which are not properly ventilated.  There are risks of the heater igniting the ceiling above the heater, there are risks of the heater falling over, and of course risks of the propane being left on and the propane itself being a danger.  

Propane can explode, and propane can also kill through inhalation of propane gas.  Unlike natural gas, propane will flow to the bottom of the room.  If you have a propane leak on the first floor, it can flow down the stairs and fill up the basement. Suffice it to say, do not use your gas or propane patio heater indoors.

Which Patio Heaters Can Be Used Indoors?

When asking the question can you use a patio heater indoors, there are some heaters which can be used both indoors and out.  These are purpose built infrared heaters.  Some infrared heaters are only meant for outdoors, while others are only meant for indoors.  There are some infrared heaters however which can be used both indoors and out.  Before bringing your heater indoors from the patio however, make sure you check the owner’s manual.

Best Patio Heater For Indoor + Outdoor Use: Briza Portable Heater

If you’re seeking a patio heater that you can also bring inside, you’re limited to infrared options. The Briza electric heater is our favorite because it’s really easy to move around. It weighs less than 10 pounds and is designed to withstand all weather conditions.

Briza Infrared Electric Patio Heater – Indoor/Outdoor Heater – Portable Wall/Garage Heater – 1500W – use with Stand -…
  • DUAL USE – Comes with hardware for mounting on walls or ceilings. Also comes with an adjustable tripod stand.
  • CONTROL WITH EASE – With the remote, power your heater on and off, adjust the timer and heat levels from anywhere on your patio or in the room.
  • SAFETY FEATURES -The Briza has a built-in sensor that will automatically shut off the unit if tipped over, significantly reducing the possibility of a…

Propane/Natural Gas vs. Infrared Patio Heaters

Thankfully, since infrared heaters do not use propane/natural gas to create heat they don’t have an explosive risk.  They have a far less likely fire risk as well, given their heat is produced with infrared radiation.  There is still a fire risk with an infrared heater.  Make sure you don’t have any combustibles like paper, styrofoam, or plastics within the distance outlined in the owner’s manual.  It’s highly unlikely, but still possible for an infrared heater to start a fire because it’s too close to combustible substances.

large black infrared patio heater in a big living room with beige carpet showing can you use a patio heater indoors as yes as long as there's no gas

If your heater is not designed for use indoors, we’d recommend not risking it.  Infrared heaters have gotten so much less expensive, we’d recommend buying a heater solely for indoor use.  They are usually a bit more attractive than the indoor / outdoor models. But if aesthetics aren’t a concern, an indoor / outdoor model can give you the flexibility of owning a single heater with multiple use case options.

Whenever you are using an electric infrared heater, make certain you have your electrical wiring up to code. These heaters have become more and more efficient over the years. However, they still draw some serious current and this can cause problems for antiquated electrical systems.  

Can You Use A Patio Heater Indoors Summary

To sum up, the answer to can you use a patio heater indoors is that depends on which heater you have.  If your heater is gas or propane, absolutely not.  If your heater is infrared, the answer is maybe.  Always refer to the owner’s manual to confirm your heater’s compliance with indoor use, and double check any required clearances from combustible materials, walls and the ceiling.