Can You Use A Patio Heater Under A Covered Patio?

large propane patio heater under covered patio with gray furniture

When the fall and winter are upon us it’s easy to move all your entertaining activities indoors.  However, there’s no reason to stay inside all the time, especially when you’ve spent so much time and money on your backyard paradise.  When the weather changes many of us will look into a good heat source for the outdoors.  One of the questions which will inevitably come up when considering how to heat your outdoor space is can you use a patio heater under a covered patio?  

Are Patio Heaters Under Covered Patios Dangerous?

The balancing act of safety versus comfort should always weigh heavily on safety.  Especially when using a patio heater.  Whether you are using an infrared, gas, or propane patio heater, clearances are important.  Granted, the clearances required for an infrared heater are not going to be as strict as gas or propane. Nevertheless, they still remain important.  Like gas and propane, infrared can create enough heat to start a fire if there are combustible materials too close to the heat source.

Unlike propane however, an infrared heater does not have the additional hazard of carbon monoxide.  Carbon monoxide is the dangerous exhaust gas produced whenever you are burning propane.  Propane gas requires a properly ventilated area when it is being burned.  This means you not only need to take the clearances in your owner’s manual into consideration. Also, you need to keep in mind where the gasses will go.  

How Can You Use A Patio Heater Under A Covered Patio?

If you have the clearances around the patio heater to the ceiling and walls, that’s a good start.  Usually the manufacturer will require 3’ above the heater and 2 or 3’ on all sides clear of any obstructions.  However, if you don’t have open air on the sides, you have a potentially dangerous situation.  Always refer to your manufacturer’s owner’s manual for clearances required for your heater.  If you have any concerns you can always contact your local fire marshal for guidance.

You may think you’ll just give it a try and if you smell anything funny, turn it off.  That approach can get people sick and in the worst cases, can kill. Carbon monoxide symptoms are hard to detect because it is colorless, tasteless and has no scent.  You often will not know when it’s building up until it’s too late.  You may get dizzy and feel a headache coming on. you also may not know until you pass out.  It’s best to avoid the situation altogether by only using propane patio heaters outdoors in the open air.  

two large white patio heaters showing can you use a patio heater under covered patio as yes as long as there is ventilation points nearby

Make sure you know where you have fresh air intakes for your HVAC system in your home as well.  If you have a fresh air intake near where you are using your patio heater, you may wind up sucking the exhaust gasses right into your home.  This may sound like an unusual circumstance, and it certainly is, but it’s no less dangerous.  

Can You Use A Patio Heater Under A Covered Patio?

So can you use a patio heater under a covered patio?  In many cases, yes.  You need to make sure you have proper ventilation and clearances.  One way to avoid the exhaust gas issues is to consider electric powered infrared heaters instead of using natural gas or propane. These heaters are quite different than traditional propane.

The increased safety and convenience of infrared heaters is a big benefit. It’s the main reason we have seen their use grow measurably in the past ten years.  Additionally, many homeowners find them easier to use. They can be installed in strategic places that don’t disrupt use of your patio.

What’s The Best Way To Install A Patio Heater?

Permanent installation of infrared heaters above outdoor dining tables, grill stations, outdoor kitchens, and seating areas has become the new standard. Infrared heaters can help make the difference between an outdoor space you avoid for the winter, and an extension of your living space. To turn them on there is no worrying about an igniter or fuel supply.  You flip a switch and the heat radiates out into the space.  

When considering can you use a patio heater under a covered patio, the alternatives to fossil fuel in this case are often the best solution.  This usually means an electric patio heater. If you want to find a good option, here are our favorite electric patio heaters. We’ve tested several heaters and figured out which ones actually do a good job of heating decent sized patios.