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The sale of propane patio heaters has increased dramatically over the last few years, largely due to the pandemic keeping people at home more. Propane patio heaters were mostly available for commercial uses, but now consumers can pick one up just about anywhere that household items are sold. The Hampton Bay model that I got recently (pictured above) was around $169, came neatly packaged in a box that easily fit in my small car’s trunk, and was moderately simple to assemble.
- Propane patio heater heats up to 200 sq. ft. for optimal use
- Control valve lets you adjust temperature to desired level
- Durable stainless steel patio heater is built to last
- 48,000 BTU burner
- Piezoelectric ignition for quick, easy starts
- Adjustable heat control system
- Propane gas cylinder sold separately
I only have two complaints about the assembly process. I was short one washer. It was one of the washers used for assembling the heat deflector shield. Not a big deal, but it’s nice when you have all the parts that you’re supposed to. I wasn’t about to return it over something so insignificant. The other problem was that the instructions say that the tools required for assembly are included. They were half correct. Included is a small double-sided wrench that can be used to tighten the various nuts and bolts. The trouble is that when you’re tightening a nut/bolt combo, you need to have leverage on both sides. That means you need two wrenches. Again, not a big deal, but if you don’t have tools on hand you’re going to have to wait until you have an additional 10mm and 12mm wrench available to snug up all the connections.
I know most of you awesome folks out there probably have experience using a propane cylinder, but I have not. I’ve been using a charcoal grill my whole life and have otherwise never needed propane for anything. Picking up a propane cylinder is easy enough. Most places like Home Depot, Lowes, and other hardware stores keep them outside in metal cages. They’re pre-filled with roughly 20lbs of propane, which equates to around 4.6 gallons.
The convenient thing to do when your tank is empty is to take it back to one of those places, and simply swap out your tank for another full one. After a moment of consideration, I decided that doing that was a rip off, and here’s why. It’s hard to tell if your tank is actually empty, and it would be more cost effective to just refill the tank you have to avoid giving back perfectly good propane. You don’t get a refund for any remaining amount when you swap the tank. As an example, I used my patio heater for the first time the other day, and it was extremely cold outside. The long duration of use, combined with the extreme cold cause the propane tank to develop a sheet of frost on the outside, and for the performance of the patio heater to diminish. I thought the tank was empty after about 4 hours of use. I took it to a local U-Haul where they refill propane tanks, and paid for 2.5 gallons of propane. If I had swapped that tank out, I would have lost two gallons! It’s worth it to check around for a place that can do refills instead of exchanges, in my opinion.
Owning a propane patio heater is a luxury that I wouldn’t have been able to afford if it weren’t for a Christmas gift card. As a person trying to live the FIRE life, and save, save, save, I don’t think it’s something I would have purchased unless I had expendable cash and plenty of money in the bank. That being said, now that I have it, I love it! I had folks over the other day to help me celebrate my 40th birthday, and we chilled outside eating snacks and drinking booze in the freezing cold temperatures, huddled around the patio heater, and everyone had a great time!
I might consider getting a heater reflector next, for when there are fewer people hanging out to one side of the heater.