Can I Use a Space Heater Outside: What You Need to Know!

Debarghya Roy

It’s getting cold out there, and you’re wondering how to safely heat your outdoor space. Did you know that according to the National Fire Protection Association, improper use of space heaters can lead to serious fire hazards? This comprehensive guide will provide essential tips on using a space heater outdoors safely—from proper placement to fuel safety—giving you the warmth you desire without compromising security.

Let’s turn up the heat on safety!

Key Points

  • Types of outdoor space heaters include propane patio heaters, electric outdoor heaters, tabletop patio heaters, infrared patio heaters, gas fire pits, and hanging or ceiling mounted heaters.
  • Outdoor space heaters come with safety features such as tip – over switches, overheating protection systems, and flame failure devices to prevent accidents and ensure safe use.
  • Proper placement of outdoor space heaters is essential. They should be placed on level surfaces away from flammable objects and at a safe distance from the house and other structures.
  • Fuel safety is crucial when using outdoor space heaters. Propane tanks should be stored in well – ventilated areas away from open flames and heat sources. Electric outdoor heaters should be plugged into appropriate outlets without overloading them.

Understanding Outdoor Space Heaters

Outdoor space heaters come in various types and offer different safety features to ensure safe usage, making it essential to have a good understanding of their characteristics and functionalities.

Types of outdoor space heaters

Outdoor space heaters come in a variety of types, each with its unique features designed for different outdoor environments.

  1. Propane Patio Heaters: These are portable and efficient heat sources that run on propane tanks. They are ideal for large, open spaces but remember to take necessary precautions as propane heaters can pose a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if improperly used.
  2. Electric Outdoor Heaters: Easy to use and maintain, electric heaters simply need to be plugged into an outlet. They do not emit harmful substances, making them environmentally friendly options. However, they should be plugged into appropriate outlets and not overloaded with other electrical devices.
  3. Tabletop Patio Heaters: Perfect for small spaces such as screened-in porches or windy patios, these compact heaters provide targeted heat while taking minimal space.
  4. Infrared Patio Heaters: Highly energy efficient, infrared heaters directly heat people and objects without warming the air in between. They have been deemed safe by NFPA guidelines for outdoor areas when used appropriately.
  5. Gas Fire Pits: Offering a cozy atmosphere along with warmth, gas fire pits serve dual purposes as both heating devices and decorative elements.
  6. Hanging or Ceiling Mounted Heaters: These space-efficient models are fixed to walls or hung from ceilings to provide comfortable heat while saving ground space.

Safety features of outdoor space heaters

Outdoor space heaters come equipped with various safety features to ensure safe use and prevent accidents. One important safety feature is a tip-over switch, which automatically shuts off the heater if it accidentally falls or gets knocked over.

This helps prevent fires and potential injuries. Another key safety feature is an overheating protection system that automatically turns off the heater if it reaches unsafe temperatures, preventing any damage or risk of fire.

Additionally, most outdoor space heaters have a flame failure device, which shuts off the gas supply if the flame goes out unexpectedly, reducing the risk of gas leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning.

It’s crucial to always check for these safety features when choosing an outdoor space heater as they provide added peace of mind and protect you from potential hazards. Remember to carefully read the owner’s manual for specific instructions on how to properly operate your chosen model and make sure you follow all recommended safety guidelines outlined by reputable organizations like NFPA (National Fire Protection Association).

Tips for Using Outdoor Space Heaters Safely

– Place outdoor space heaters on level and flat surfaces, away from cabinets, tables, furniture, and carpet that can overheat and start a fire.

– Keep patio heaters at a safe distance from the house and other structures to prevent accidents.

– Never leave space heaters unattended to ensure safety at all times.

– Avoid placing space heaters near fabrics or other flammable materials to eliminate fire hazards.

– Plug space heaters into appropriate outlets without overloading them with other electrical devices.

Proper placement of outdoor space heaters

To ensure the safe use of outdoor space heaters, it is crucial to place them correctly. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  1. Find a level surface: Place the outdoor space heater on a flat and stable surface. This will prevent the heater from tipping over and causing accidents.
  2. Maintain distance: Keep the heater a safe distance away from any flammable objects or materials, such as furniture, plants, curtains, or outdoor textiles. This will reduce the risk of fire.
  3. Avoid enclosed spaces: Do not use outdoor space heaters in enclosed areas like tents or covered porches without proper ventilation. Carbon monoxide buildup can occur in these spaces, posing a serious health hazard.
  4. Consider wind direction: If you’re using an open-flame propane heater, make sure to position it in a way that the wind won’t blow the flame towards anything combustible.
  5. Follow manufacturer’s instructions: Always refer to the owner’s manual for specific placement instructions provided by the manufacturer of your outdoor space heater. They will have detailed information about clearances and distances needed for safe operation.

Ensuring safe surroundings

To ensure a safe outdoor environment when using a space heater, follow these guidelines:

  1. Clear the area around the space heater of any flammable objects such as paper, cardboard, or leaves.
  2. Keep the space heater at least three feet away from any combustible materials, including furniture, curtains, and plants.
  3. Avoid placing the space heater near high – traffic areas to prevent accidental bumps or contact with children or pets.
  4. Make sure there are no trip hazards or obstacles near the space heater that could cause accidents or damage to the heater.
  5. Use a stable and level surface to place the space heater on, ensuring it won’t tip over easily.
  6. If using an extension cord, make sure it is rated for outdoor use and can handle the wattage of the space heater.
  7. Consider using a patio heater cover when not in use to protect it from debris and adverse weather conditions.
  8. Always turn off and unplug the space heater when not in use or when leaving the area to prevent accidents and save energy.
  9. Regularly inspect and clean the space heater according to the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure proper functioning and safety.

Fuel safety

When using a space heater outdoors, it’s crucial to prioritize fuel safety. Whether you’re using a propane or electric outdoor heater, following the proper guidelines is essential. Propane heaters should always be used in accordance with NFPA® 1 guidelines to minimize the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and fires.

Make sure to keep propane tanks in a well-ventilated area away from open flames and heat sources, and never store them indoors. For electric outdoor heaters, ensure that they are plugged into appropriate outlets and not overloaded with other electrical devices.

By taking these necessary precautions, you can enjoy the comfort of your outdoor space heater without compromising on safety.

Tilt reduction

To ensure the safe use of outdoor space heaters, it’s important to minimize the risk of tilting. Keep in mind that a tilted heater can potentially lead to accidents or fires. To prevent this, always place your space heater on a level and flat surface.

Avoid using cabinets, tables, or furniture that may not provide stable support. Additionally, be cautious with carpeted areas as they can overheat and pose a fire hazard. By maintaining proper tilt reduction measures, you can enjoy the warmth of your outdoor space heater without any worries about potential accidents or hazards.

Remember to refer to the owner’s manual for specific guidelines on placement and safety precautions for your particular model.

Weather protection

One important aspect of using a space heater safely outdoors is ensuring weather protection. Outdoor space heaters are designed to withstand various weather conditions, but it’s still crucial to take precautions.

For example, if you have an uncovered patio or porch, consider investing in a weather-resistant cover for your heater. This will help protect it from rain, snow, and other elements that could damage the unit or pose safety risks.

Additionally, make sure there are no leaks or cracks in the cover that could allow moisture to seep in. By taking these steps to protect your outdoor space heater from harsh weather conditions, you can ensure its longevity and maintain a safe environment for enjoying warmth outdoors.

Alternative Outdoor Heating Options

Consider using heated seats and seat cushions, heated blankets or wraps, as well as hand warmers as alternative options for outdoor heating.

Heated seats and seat cushions

Heated seats and seat cushions are a great alternative to outdoor space heaters. They provide warmth and comfort without the need for an external heat source. Here are some benefits of using heated seats and seat cushions:

  1. Instant warmth: Heated seats and seat cushions can quickly warm up, providing instant comfort when you sit down.
  2. Portable and versatile: These heating options are portable and can be easily used in various outdoor seating areas such as chairs, benches, or even on the ground.
  3. Easy to use: Most heated seats and seat cushions come with adjustable settings, allowing you to customize the level of warmth according to your preference.
  4. Safety features: Many heated seats and seat cushions have built-in safety features like automatic shut-off timers or overheating protection, ensuring your safety while using them.
  5. Energy-efficient: Heated seats and seat cushions consume less energy compared to traditional space heaters, making them a cost-effective heating option for outdoor use.
  6. Durability: These products are designed to withstand outdoor conditions, including weather-resistant materials that can resist moisture and UV damage.
  7. Multiple power options: Heated seats and seat cushions can be powered by batteries, USB ports, or car adapters, giving you flexibility in choosing the power source that suits your needs.
  8. Comfort enhancement: In addition to providing warmth, heated seats and seat cushions can also enhance comfort by providing cushioning and support while sitting outdoors.

Heated blankets or wraps

Heated blankets or wraps can be a convenient and cozy option for staying warm outdoors. Here are some important tips to keep in mind when using them:

  1. Check the safety features: Look for heated blankets or wraps that have built-in safety features like automatic shut-off after a certain period of time or overheating protection. This helps prevent accidents and ensures your safety.
  2. Choose the right power source: Heated blankets or wraps can be powered by electricity, batteries, or USB ports. Make sure to choose the one that suits your needs and preferences. If you’re using an electric blanket, ensure that it is plugged into a safe and grounded outlet.
  3. Follow manufacturer instructions: Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper usage and care of the heated blanket or wrap. This will help you maximize its lifespan and ensure safe operation.
  4. Proper placement: When using a heated blanket or wrap outdoors, make sure it is placed on a clean, flat surface away from any flammable materials like leaves or grass. Avoid folding or bunching up the blanket to prevent overheating.
  5. Avoid direct contact with skin: While heated blankets provide warmth, it’s important not to place them directly against your skin for extended periods of time as this may cause burns or discomfort. Use a layer of clothing between yourself and the heated blanket for added protection.
  6. Don’t leave unattended: Just like space heaters, never leave a heated blanket or wrap unattended while in use. This helps prevent any potential accidents and ensures your safety.
  7. Store properly: When not in use, store your heated blanket or wrap in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight or heat sources. This helps maintain its longevity and prevents any damage.

Hand warmers

Hand warmers are a convenient and portable option for staying warm outdoors. They are small packets that generate heat when activated. Here are some key facts about hand warmers:

  1. Hand warmers come in various types, including disposable options that provide single – use heat for several hours.
  2. Activating hand warmers is simple – you simply open the packet and expose them to air, which triggers a chemical reaction that generates heat.
  3. These compact heaters are typically made of iron powder, salt, and other substances that produce heat when exposed to oxygen.
  4. Hand warmers can reach temperatures of up to 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54 degrees Celsius), so it’s important to handle them with care and avoid direct contact with the skin.
  5. They can provide warmth for activities such as skiing, hiking, camping, or even just walking around on chilly days.
  6. Hand warmers are designed to be safe for outdoor use but should never be placed directly against the skin or used while sleeping.
  7. To maximize their effectiveness, place hand warmers in pockets or gloves where they can provide direct heat to your hands.
  8. Some hand warmer models have adhesive backs that allow you to attach them to clothing or other surfaces, providing targeted warmth where it’s needed most.
  9. Remember to carefully read the instructions provided with your hand warmers to ensure safe use and prevent any potential accidents.
  10. Always dispose of used hand warmers properly according to the manufacturer’s instructions or local regulations.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I use a space heater outdoors?

Yes, you can use a space heater outdoors as long as it is specifically designed for outdoor use and labeled as such. Outdoor space heaters are built to withstand the elements and have safety features that ensure safe operation in outdoor environments.

2. What safety precautions should I take when using a space heater outdoors?

When using a space heater outdoors, always make sure to keep it at least three feet away from any combustible materials such as furniture, plants, or flammable liquids. Avoid placing the heater on uneven surfaces that could cause it to tip over. Never leave the heater unattended and always turn it off when not in use.

3. Are gas-powered or electric space heaters better for outdoor use?

Both gas-powered and electric space heaters can be used safely outdoors, but there are some differences to consider. Gas-powered heaters provide higher heat output but require proper ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide buildup. Electric heaters tend to be more convenient and easier to move around but may not produce as much heat.

4. How do I properly store an outdoor space heater when not in use?

When storing an outdoor space heater, make sure it is completely cool before moving or covering it. Clean any dirt or debris from the unit and store it in a dry area protected from moisture or extreme temperatures. If applicable, disconnect any propane tanks or power sources before storage


In conclusion, using a space heater safely outdoors requires proper placement, adherence to safety guidelines, and consideration of weather conditions. By following these precautions, you can enjoy the warmth and comfort provided by outdoor heating devices without compromising on safety.

Stay cozy and stay safe!

About the author

Debarghya Roy: A heating systems author, Passionate about energy efficiency and sustainability, Sharing insights and empowering readers through informative blog articles.