Can you use a patio heater under a covered patio?

When you think of your patio, most of the time you think about summer. A time when you can host barbecues and dinner parties at home with family and friends. You also love the idea of having that extended living space where you can enjoy the sun, dine out, and just relax.

When the colder months come, you go back to being cooped up indoors and not being able to utilize this space on your property. But the truth is, you don't just want the joy of having a patio to be limited to the summer.

You can enjoy being outside even during the early spring or late fall months, that is if you invest in a patio heater. But can you use one under a covered patio? The answer will depend on a few important considerations.


A patio heater needs proper ventilation to keep it from overheating. In the case of a covered patio; you need to check if your heater is going to get enough airflow to make sure that it won’t overheat.

If your patio is covered by a simple awning or roof, then you’ll most likely get a lot of ventilation. But if your covering is designed in a way where there is limited airflow to the patio itself, it may no be ideal to use a patio heater.

Patio size

Aside from ventilation, clearance is a crucial element to consider before investing in a patio heater. This is why it’s highly important to know whether or not your patio is big enough to accommodate the heater that you want with its given clearance requirements.

Most outdoor heaters require 24 to 36 inches of clearance on all sides. These clearance requirements include the top of your patio heater. They also will increase depending on the strength of the heater that you want to purchase. If an outdoor heater is close to or brushing up against your patio cover, it could lead to some serious risks in the long run.

Other considerations

Some patio heaters give off smoke that could cause some stains or damages to your patio covering, so you need to be cautious when choosing the right heater for this space.

Type of outdoor heaters

You will find different types of outdoor heaters in the market today, but not all of them are suitable for use on a covered patio. You should also remember that outdoor heaters are not for all-day use.

Instead, they are designed only to be utilized for a few hours when you’re entertaining outdoors during the cooler months. Here are some common types of outdoor heaters and whether they’re suitable for a covered patio or not:

Natural gas

If you have a gas line in your home, then a natural gas outdoor heater would be a great option. They're easy to use and generally safer for covered patios, as long as you have at least 2 feet of clearance between the heater and the roof of your patio. But if you don’t have an existing gas line yet, installing a natural heater can be very expensive.


This is your best option for a covered patio. They are portable, easy to use, and very safe. Just be sure you have proper clearance around it. The only downside is that an electric patio heater is expensive to operate and you’ll need an outlet nearby to use it.


If you’re on a tight budget, a wood-burning patio heater is the cheapest option you can find in the market. But the problem is, the smoke it produces could easily damage your covered patio. It could even cause stains and damages to your roof.


The least recommended option is a propane patio heater. It is the most common type you’ll find. It’s a favorite among many because it’s inexpensive, portable, and heats up fast. The problem with using it on a covered patio is its BTU output. The higher the output of a heater, the least safe it is to use in a covered space.


You’ll see infrared heaters being used in the al fresco dining areas in restaurants. They are the best option for use on a covered patio if you’re willing to spend the money on it.

Since an infrared patio heater has focused heating, it’s pretty efficient at keeping humidity levels consistent. This ensures that the quality of air on your patio is maintained. It even prevents the production of mold.


Outdoor heaters are generally designed for use in open spaces like patios. So in the case of a covered patio, you need to be extra cautious to avoid getting into serious safety issues that could harm you and your family:

  • Try to avoid using a propane heater on a covered patio because it is highly flammable. It also emits nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and nitric oxide. If you use this kind of outdoor heater on a covered area, these toxic gases could start circulating on the patio and even inside the home. This could put you at risk for suffocation.
  • Clean your patio heater regularly to maintain its condition and keep debris from being lodged near the flame.
  • Keep the patio heater away from all combustible materials like fabric, wood, or plants. It’s also very important to maintain at least a six foot distance from your heater to any furniture, décor, or other furnishings on your patio.
  • If you want to tilt your patio heater toward an open space, make sure that it is secure enough to keep it from tipping over and causing a fire or hurting someone.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and requirements before using your patio heater to avoid any adverse circumstances.
  • If you notice anything unusual about your patio heater, have it checked by a professional right away to avoid more serious problems in the long run.

Outdoor heating is definitely a smart investment because it allows you to enjoy your patio all-year round. It even adds value to your property as a whole.