Fire Pit Table vs Patio Heater: 5 Tips to Help You Choose

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The patio is a great place to be when the outdoor season rolls around. However, weather fluctuations can bring evening chills on some days, sending you indoors earlier than normal. Propane fire pit tables and patio heaters can make the space more comfortable and provide warmth, but which one should you go for?

Propane fire pit tables are an excellent choice if you want to stay warm beside visible flames without the risks associated with standard wood-based open fires. Patio heaters provide more radiant heat, but they don’t come in attractive designs. 

The rest of the article will go over both options to help you decide on the better option for your patio.

1. What Is a Propane Fire Pit Table?

A propane fire pit table is a decorative piece that warms up a given space with visible flames. They are an alternative to costlier in-ground pits and open fires and are easy to move around. 

Most designs of propane fire tables feature an ignition for easy lighting. They also come in a wide range of designs, from rustic to modern. You’re sure to find one that’ll accentuate the wider patio décor.

Fire pit tables can keep you warm on most chilly days, but their heat range is limited. If you have family and friends over, you may have to reposition the seating arrangements for everyone to stay warm while out on the patio.  

You also need to keep children and pets away from the table as it gets very hot while working. Most models come with a mesh to keep sparks from flying. A propane fire pit table is a top choice if you want to replicate that campfire feel without needing to lug firewood around or stoke dying embers.

Advantages of Propane Fire Pit Tables

  • They come in more design options to choose from.
  • You can move the table around when necessary.
  • It doesn’t require any permanent construction.
  • Propane fire pit tables are less messy than conventional campfires.

Disadvantages of Propane Fire Pit Tables

  • Propane fire pit tables have a severely limited heat range.
  • Some fire pit table designs feature open flames posing an injury risk.
  • It’s not ideal for closed patios.
  • Propane costs can add up.

A great option for a Fire Pit Table is the BALI OUTDOORS Gas Firepit Table.

This high BTU fire table (available on is a magnificently designed centerpiece bound to breathe new life into your patio. It runs on a nicely concealed 20 lbs (9.07 kg) tank covered by a well-designed rectangular bottom.

The unit also doubles as a coffee or dining table once you cover the fire area with the lid in the box. The durable construction is weatherproof, and the covering lid keeps out moisture from the fire area on wet days.

2. What Is a Propane Patio Heater?

A propane patio heater is a lamp-like standing heater that draws on propane fuel to heat a space. Most propane patio heaters have a simplistic appearance, but they deliver a powerful surge of heat energy.

Children and pets are safe around the pole-style units as there’s no risk of flying embers. Some designs are wall-mounted, but the vast majority of the products in the market have pole designs.

The units feature automatic ignition, and an automatic turn-off function regulates the generated heat. Most patio heaters aren’t meant for use in an enclosed patio. However, some models are safer than others.

Advantages of Propane Patio Heaters

  • They’re a good fit for most patio sizes.
  • They’re family-friendly.
  • The automated temperature control ensures more efficient fuel usage.
  • Propane patio heaters can heat larger areas a lot faster.
  • They’re easier to move around.

Disadvantages of Propane Patio Heaters

  • There’s very little variation to the heater design.
  • You’ll need extra lighting around the patio as the sun goes down.
  • You’ll spend money regularly on propane fuel.

My suggestion for a propane patio heater would be the EAST OAK 50,000 BTU Outdoor Patio Heater.

The Hampton Bay Heater (available on is an affordable example of a powerful propane patio heater. The heater features the standard pole design, but moving it around can be challenging since it has no wheels at the base. 

The unit is 86.6-inches (219.96 cm) tall when mounted, which is a lot of ground clearance. It’ll heat your patio without getting in the way of your fun activities. With a 48,000 BTU rating, the unit can warm up most small to medium-sized patios in minutes.

It comes with lift-up housing, which ensures easy access to the tank. The covered flame is easy to control and fully adjustable. With stainless steel construction, the unit’s durability is not in question.  

3. Propane Fire Pit Table vs. Patio Heater Comparison Chart

The table below shows the major differences between these heating options at a glance:

 Propane Fire Pit TablesPropane Gas Heater
Multiple Design OptionsYesNo
Heat RangeSmaller rangeWider range
Heat-up SpeedSlowerFaster
Use in Enclosed PatiosNot idealNot ideal
Child and Pet FriendlyNoYes
Use in Open PatiosYesYes
Cooking Over the FireYesNo

4. Propane Fire Pit Table vs. Patio Heater: Which Is Best for Closed Patios?

Some patio heaters are better in closed patios, but all propane-powered heaters are unsafe indoors. Apart from the inherent risk of a gas fire in the event of a leak, the fumes generated may be toxic.

You should consider alternative sources of heating your patio if it’s enclosed. Electric-powered heaters may leave a dent in your energy bill, but they’re inherently safer.

5. Propane Fire Pit Table vs. Patio Heater: Which Is Best for Open Patios?

Patio heaters are better for open patios. They heat the patio space fairly quickly and have a wider heat range overall. Propane fire pit tables take some time to get going, and the range may require a special sitting arrangement.

However, the more important factor here should be looking at the BTU rating of your chosen heater. It needs to be powerful enough for the space. Multiply your patio’s square feet measurement to get the right BTU to aim for.

A 50,000 BTU heater of any kind will be more than enough to heat a patio that’s 100 square feet wide.

Final Thoughts

Propane fire pit tables and patio heaters will both deliver enough warmth to keep you warm on a chilly day while you’re outside your patio. The right option to go for will come down to your individual preferences overall.

A standard patio heater works well if you want a fast heating solution. On the other hand, a propane fire pit table may be the better choice for you if you enjoy the sight and smell of burning fire.


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In my early years, I had worked small jobs with landscaping and construction companies to boost other homeowners' home value and have worked on similar projects on my own homes. I suppose you can say that we are "slow house flippers" since we tend to live in them for a few years while working on improvement projects.