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I love cold weather. I’ve lived in a warm climate my whole life, and have come to relish the feel of cool wind on my face. Even when living in a place with harsh winters, I remembered to enjoy what I could of it before I ended up back in the land of nearly perpetual warmth I call home.
Still, even I can admit that cold is not exactly the best feeling to have long term, and “cold and miserable” are two words that roll right off the tongue together for a reason. Nothing puts a damper on festivities faster than being genuinely uncomfortable to the point that you can’t stand to stick around any more.
So, what to do? In my opinion, buy an outdoor heater. That way you don’t need to compromise when it’s cold outside. Continue your parties all throughout the year with a nice, warm heater.
Let’s take a quick look at some good ones, but first an even quicker look at how I decide what exactly it is I look for.
Our Top Choice...
For the complete product list, please continue reading...
7 Best Tabletop Patio Heaters Reviews
1. Golden Flame Patio Heater
This one, rather than being small enough to FIT on a tabletop, instead comes equipped with its own tabletop.
The increased size also brings vastly increased power, with a very solid 46, 000 BTUs of heat output making a good wide area around it nice and toasty, while still leaving you room to sit your drinks.
It looks nice as its own decorating piece, and can also be easily blended into the background if you so desire, making it a great versatile addition to a lot of patios.
It’s easy to use and incredibly safe, with a pilotless burner system and easy start ignition. It’s also very stable when filled with sand, being able to hold up to 25 lbs. worth in its base to give it extra heft and make it very resistant to accidental jostles or bumps, while remaining easy to wheel around due to the wheels attached.
If you want something that will make a bit more of a permanent fixture to your patio in cold climates, this is absolutely your best bet for a patio heater.
Very good area heating.
Safe and easy to use.
Easy to light and no worry of the pilot light blowing out in strong winds.
Blends in with most decorative sensibilities.
A bit large, if you have a space restricted or enclosed patio.
2. Brian and Dany Ventless Tabletop Portable Fire Bowl
This fire pit makes for a great tabletop heater as well as a nice decorative centerpiece for any intimate backyard patio setting.
Unlike a lot of other types of tabletop outdoor heater, this one provides light as well as heat, while remaining smoke free and safe, with a good glass shield protecting it from the wind and you from a flame that may blow around a bit.
It produces about 2000 BTUs over the course of its roughly 1 hour burn time, using a bio ethanol fuel to provide a real flame (hence the needed precautions.
This is a bit of a mixed bag, and its desirability is going to entirely depend on what you need a tabletop patio heater for. If you’re looking for something to ward off a subzero chill, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for a nice decorative piece that can keep a few friends seated around a table nice and comfortable when it’s a bit nippy outside, this thing is absolutely perfect.
Lightweight and portable.
Easy to use.
Burns a reasonable time on one fill of fuel.
Produces a comfortable warmth.
Burn time varies from 30 minutes to an hour, making it unreliable.
Not suitable for heating up large areas or extremely cold weather.
Filling up the bio ethanol receptacle can be a pain.
3. Hiland Stainless Steel Tabletop Portable Heater
This little guy is exactly what we look for as a baseline tabletop outdoor heater.
It has a simplistic design with very little thought given to form save that it’s not completely ugly; it should fade from most peoples’ minds pretty quickly.
What this thing is focused on is performance and value, which is great. It’s very cheap for what you get, which is a great 11, 000 BTUh of heat, putting out enough to heat a roughly 550 ft. square area to nice and toasty status pretty quickly, and keep it that way even in fairly cold weather. You can get a bit more out of it than that in most circumstances as well; that’s basically the worst case scenario.
It’s easy and safe to use, with a simple power switch and variable control knob, and it has a bunch of features designed to keep it from burning anyone, like anti-tilt devices and a burner screen guard.
If you want something that keeps you warm above all else, and you don’t need it to do an overly huge area, this is perfect.
Easy to use.
Relatively lightweight and portable.
Hard to tilt.
Great heat output for the size.
Fits on most tabletops without issue; you’d need a very fragile table to worry about the weight.
Not terribly aesthetically pleasing; makes a poor decoration.
4. Protemp Variable Propane Forced Air Heater
If you want a heater that’s design primarily to keep you and your family and friends from freezing to death, this Protemp forced air heater has you covered.
Its primary function is to power blast very hot air very fast over a wide area, heating an area up to 1500 square feet (bigger than some homes) quickly and efficiently, with a whopping 60, 000 BTUh of raw heat output.
This thing is perfect for setting up on a table or in a corner somewhere and just enjoying the nice feeling of a warm outdoor oasis even on bitterly cold days.
It’s also very user friendly, as well as safe, with a nice variable control knob if you don’t quite need that much power at a given moment, tough construction, an easy carry handle, and the ability to burn continuously (on a 20 lbs. propane tank) for 11 hours. It is a powerful heating machine, in other words.
What it is not, however, is a decorative piece. This thing is pretty unsightly, at least as far as a patio decoration goes. The bright redness of it is meant for easy visibility, and it’s eye catching in all the wrong ways. This is something you would purely buy for its performance; if you’re looking for something that will heat you up and make your patio nicer, look elsewhere.
Lightweight and portable.
Immense 60, 000 BTUh heat output; enough to heat a whole home, or back yard barbeque.
Directed heat helps you focus the area you want to warm up.
Fast and efficient.
Long 11 hour effective run time.
Doesn’t even try to pretend to be a decorative piece; purely utilitarian.
5. Star Patio Electric Tabletop Outdoor Heater
This one is a very nice mix between decorative and effective, with a decent heat output and nice design.
It looks a bit like a lamp, and controls like one as well, but it produces much more heat than light, with a respectable 5100 BTUh heat output, enough to render a nice sized room (about 250 feet, give or take a little) habitable even in the cold winter.
The lamp-like look is a huge plus to its aesthetics as well, making it both a good indoor and outdoor heater, backed up by its electric power source making it safe to use in both venues.
Overall I would say this is in terms of sheer quality one of the better options on this list.
Unfortunately, its cost is its fatal flaw. While it looks nice, that is not nearly enough to offset the fact that it comes in at over DOUBLE the price of the Hiland heater above…and has about a half the performance.
By my estimation that means it’s charging about 4 times what it’s actually worth; even if we’re generous and we call it 3 times for the vastly superior aesthetics. That’s still way too much extra cash for something that just doesn’t cut it in terms of performance.
Easy to use lamp-like design.
Looks nice both indoors and outdoors.
Good safety features, like automatic shutoff if it tips over.
Decent enough heat output.
Performance to price ratio is way out of whack.
6. Bond 50857A Lara TableFire Firebowl
Another nice tabletop fire piece. In most ways I like this one a lot better than the Brian and Dany fire pit above, to be honest.
The appearance is roughly identical, save the darker color, and this one provides a much less natural flame, which doesn’t look as nice.
On the other hand, it provides a much less natural flame, which is more resistant to windy weather and can be tweaked to provide much more heat. Instead of the relatively piddling 2000 BTUh (if that) that the bio ethanol fueled fire pit provided, this propane powered option gives you a more than respectable 33, 000 BTUh upper limit, enough to heat a large portion of a home or a large back yard.
This performance more than justifies the over double price tag and puts this in the upper echelons of fire pits in general, much less tabletop ones.
It’s warm, looks all right, the price is not half bad, and it’s overall a very good buy to keep your dinner parties warm in the cold weather. Snap this one up if you like the real flame look.
Looks nice enough.
Great heat output for such a small fire pit, though it uses large tanks.
Safe and easy to use.
Not super lightweight, but enough to be portable, and slim enough to be easily stored away if need be.
A little pricey for a fire pit style tabletop heater.
7. Trustech Remote Controlled Space Heater
Last but not least, we have this guy. Much like our winner, it does not fit onto a tabletop but provides its own, being a pretty good sized coffee or drink table to set in the center of large gatherings.
It’s a great versatile heater, rolling easily between anywhere you’d want it and being conveniently controlled by a remote with a great number of heat settings.
It heats up fast and provides enough heat (1500 watts, or about 5100 BTUh) to heat up fair large rooms and good sized back yards with ease.
It’s safe to use, with both overtip and overheat protection, as well as great settings for auto shutoff after a certain amount of time has passed, and other useful options.
Overall if it weren’t for the high price, I could wholeheartedly recommend this, but its usual full price is a bit much for my tastes.
While still an option you should strongly consider, if it were a bit lower it’d be a “must buy” for a versatile and reasonably powerful outdoor and indoor heater.
Lightweight and very easy to move around.
Convenient wheels offer easy portability.
Great versatile use as an indoor and outdoor heater.
Decent heat output.
Good safety features.
Wide variety of useful and convenient controls.
Just too slightly too expensive for what it offers.
Our winner this time is the Golden Flame patio heater, but it’s a close run thing. I like every single one of these tabletop outdoor patio heaters for different reasons, and so it’s practically a 7 way tie. If I had to choose my least favorite it would be the Star Patio tabletop outdoor heater, largely because of its massively overinflated price, but I’d still highly recommend picking it up on sale.
The rest are all excellent examples of their kind of patio heater, and provide a strong variety of options for anyone looking to buy a nice heat source for their cold weather outside leisure time.
How Do I Choose the Best Patio Heater?
Choosing a good tabletop patio outdoor heater comes down to three factors: heat, looks, and price. That’s really it.
How do I Figure Out the Right Amount of Heat
The heat is measured in BTUs, or BTUh, standing for British Thermal Units per hour. Long story short, that’s the measure of how much heat it takes to make a single pound of water raise by a single degree. For our purposes, it takes 20 BTUs to raise to raise the temperature of a single square foot to a comfortable temperature; on average, these things vary based on circumstance.
So a higher BTU value is usually better, up to a point. You obviously don’t need more heat than you actually need, so if you only need to raise the heat of a small room a bit, or only need to add a very small amount of heat to a room of any given size, you can get away with a lower BTU value.
What About Looks?
The aesthetics of a space heater are largely going to come down to personal preference and decorating style, but in large part aesthetically pleasing outdoor patio heaters fall into two main categories: unobtrusive, and eye catching. Same goes with other heating unit like fireside.
An unobtrusive patio heater is just something designed to be as subtly bland as possible. You stick it somewhere, forget about it, and your guests will probably give it a single glance if that. These are great if you don’t have a specific style in mind.
Eye catching heaters try to be decorative as well. If they blend with what you’re going for, then good; they look nice. If the colors or other aesthetic stuff clashes with your design, then it’s bad.
I mostly base price on heat output, so usually I’m not looking to pay more than $100 to $150 for a heater like this. That’s usually enough to gets something in the at least 10, 000 BTUh range, and going lower should lower the price. The price gets jacked a bit for looks sometimes, but overall unless you really like how something looks, base the pricing on how efficiently it heats.