Sure, patio heaters help keep you toasty while enjoying a cool night out on your deck or patio. But they also add a luxurious touch to your outdoor kitchen or patio. But when your budget or smaller space won't allow for a large, free-standing patio heater, the smaller tabletop models are a fantastic option.

Tabletop Propane Heater Basics

Tabletop Propane Heater

When deciding what style of patio heater to purchase for your space, keep in mind how you plan on using it, and the space that it will be warming. Are you going to be hosting larger parties on your patio, or will it be used mostly for you and your family? How large is the space you plan to heat? Is there more than one table or sitting area that you would like to heat? Do you have access to a natural gas line, or could one easily be installed?

Free-standing patio gas heaters are a great choice, but they require either a natural gas line or 20lb. propane cylinders for operation. Plus, they are often a bit too large and can waste energy if installed in a smaller space.

Thankfully, tabletop propane heaters have entered the picture. Because of their smaller size, they can provide heat almost anywhere it's needed. As they can provide heat for a table and the surrounding area, they are best used as a "centerpiece" for a outdoor dining or coffee table.

Fuel, Finish, and Function

These smaller heaters most often run on the 1lb. cylinders of propane available for purchase at retail stores. These cylinders are very convenient, as you avoid the hassle of refilling a bulky 20lb. cylinder. In addition, tabletop heaters are extremely portable, and therefore you won't be restricted with the location of the heater as often happens with natural gas heaters. This makes tabletops a great choice if you're looking for portable heaters.

As is often the case with propane heaters, the total heat output of tabletop heaters is rated in BTUs. For instance, a 45,000 BTU unit will heat a space roughly 20 feet in diameter. If you only are looking to heat one dining table, an even smaller heater may work just fine.

A strong selling point for these tabletop propane heaters are their attractive design and the large number of available metal finishes. These units will inspire envy in your guests, and they can blend in with nearly any decor. The most popular units come in a nice, weather-resistant stainless steel finish, but you can also find copper, brass, and brushed finishes.

Need Shopping Tips for Tabletop Heaters?

Online vendors such as Amazon and Heater-Home have an enormous array of tabletop heaters for sale, and most of them have a handful of useful reviews and tips. We recommend keeping these tips in mind while shopping:

1. Look for a heater that features an auto-shutoff sensor that detects if the unit has been knocked over. These sensors are similar to the type found in household ceramic space heaters. They help to prevent accidental fires and burns, and are a must-have with most modern space heaters.

We also recommend purchasing a heater that includes a protective cover, especially if it will be used on an uncovered patio or deck. You don't want your heater's nice stainless finish to be scuffed or dented by storm damage or other mishaps.

You'll also want to be sure you're buying a heater with enough power (BTUs) for the square footage you want to heat. Purchasing the correct size and heat output for your space will allow you to efficiently heat, and be sure you don't waste money and propane.