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Top 8 Outdoor Heating Ideas for Your Deck or Patio

January 29th, 2024 | 5 min read

By Aaron King

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Are chilly evenings keeping you from enjoying your outdoor space? As the seasons change, finding ways to keep your deck or patio warm becomes a top priority for many homeowners.

Our team has over 15 years of experience remodeling outdoor spaces transforming decks and patios into usable and comfortable havens.

In this article, we'll explore the top outdoor heating ideas for your deck or patio:

  1. Fire Pits
  2. Outdoor Fireplaces
  3. Gas or Electric Patio Heaters
  4. Infrared Heaters
  5. Built-In Outdoor Heating Systems
  6. Chimineas
  7. Tabletop and Hanging Heaters
  8. Tiki Torches

Get ready to elevate your outdoor experience with these top-notch heating ideas:

1. Fire Pits: A Warm Gathering Hub

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Fire pits are more than sources of warmth; they're centerpieces for social gatherings. A gas-style fire feature is a wise choice for safety and aesthetics. They not only provide a beautiful flame but also come with covers, protecting them from the elements when not in use.

It's crucial to avoid the potential hazards associated with free-standing, wood-burning fire pits. Since these fire pit types don't include stone barriers, they can become fire hazards and damage composite decks.

2. Outdoor Fireplaces: Where Elegance Meets Warmth

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If you desire elegance and warmth, an outdoor fireplace might be the perfect addition. Building a masonry fireplace around your deck can be a stunning feature. You can add features like a wood-fired pizza oven with careful building, ensuring it follows setback rules and safety measures.

3. Gas or Electric Patio Heaters: Portable Comfort

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Patio heaters are versatile, offering portable warmth during cooler seasons. Whether installed or portable, these heaters provide effective heating solutions. The key is positioning them far away from combustible materials to prevent hazards.

Taller heaters with heat coming out of a stack add an extra touch of comfort to your outdoor space.

4. Infrared Heaters: Efficient and Controlled

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Infrared heaters come in gas and electric variants, offering energy-efficient heating options. Ensuring the heating elements are positioned well above combustible materials is essential to avoid damage and safety concerns. With various infrared heaters available, they provide controlled warmth without compromising safety.

5. Built-In Outdoor Heating Systems: Long-lasting Warmth

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PC: Patio Heat and Shade

Built-in outdoor heating systems offer a seamless and efficient way to keep your deck or patio warm and inviting. These systems are integrated into the design of the outdoor space, often in the form of radiant heating elements embedded in the walls. They provide consistent warmth throughout the area, eliminating the need for visible heaters or fire pits.

Built-in systems usually run on electricity or natural gas, making them easy to use and dependable. They are discreetly integrated and heat effectively, providing a stylish and cozy solution for enjoying outdoor spaces all year.

6. Chimineas: Rustic Charm Safely Placed

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PC: Lowe’s

Chimineas bring a rustic charm to your outdoor space. Safely placed within a recommended distance from combustible materials, they can be an excellent addition to your deck.

However, caution is advised against placing them directly on your deck rather than your patio. Intense chiminea heat can warm and, in some cases, melt or burn your composite or wood decking.

7. Tabletop and Hanging Heaters: Portable and Versatile

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PC: Walmart (Tabletop Heater, Hanging Heater)

Tabletop and hanging heaters offer portable and versatile heating options. Whether you opt for a portable fire feature or hang heaters from pergolas or posts, maintaining a safe distance from combustible materials is crucial. Gas options are often more cost-effective than electric alternatives.

8. Tiki Torches: Stylish Heating Sources

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PC: Decoist

Tiki torches are a fantastic option for heating your deck or patio. They give off both light and a bit of warmth, creating a cozy atmosphere. Fueled by torch fuel or citronella oil, they not only provide a lovely ambiance but also help keep away insects.

Tiki torches are easy to move around and set up, making them a flexible choice for outdoor spaces. With their stylish design, these torches add warmth and charm to your deck or patio.

Things to Consider While Choosing an Outdoor Heating Solution

Choosing the right outdoor heating solution for your home involves carefully considering several key factors:


First and foremost, safety should be a top priority. When opting for fire features like fire pits or outdoor fireplaces, it's crucial to choose gas-powered options for a safer and more controlled flame. Gas features often come with covers to protect them from the elements and are designed with safety measures in mind.


Efficiency is another essential factor to weigh in your decision-making process. Patio heaters, both portable and permanent, offer effective heating solutions, but it's crucial to ensure they are placed at a safe distance from combustible materials. Infrared heaters, which come in various types, should be used cautiously, keeping the heating elements well above any materials to prevent damage or potential injury.

Weather and Climate

Consider the weather conditions in your area, especially in Michigan, where the climate can be unpredictable. Some heating options may not be suitable for all-weather use, so it's essential to choose a solution that can withstand the elements.

Here are a few outdoor heating options that aren’t recommended for Michigan’s weather:

  • Electric Heaters with Minimal Weatherproofing: Certain electric heaters may not be adequately weatherproofed, making them susceptible to damage from rain, snow, or freezing temperatures.
  • Open-Flame Tabletop Heaters: While these can provide localized heat, their open flames may struggle in windy conditions, and they may not offer sufficient warmth in Michigan's colder weather.
  • Basic Patio Heaters with Limited Weather Resistance: Some budget-friendly patio heaters may lack the durability to withstand Michigan's harsh weather conditions, leading to wear and potential malfunctions.

On the other hand, here are outdoor heating options that can endure Michigan’s climate:

  • Fire Pit or Fire Table: A sturdy and versatile option that provides warmth and a focal point for outdoor gatherings. Choose durable materials like stainless steel or cast iron for longevity in Michigan's weather.
  • Chiminea or Outdoor Fireplace: A stylish option that adds warmth and ambiance. Choose a durable material like cast iron or steel, and position it in a sheltered area to protect against harsh weather conditions.
  • Outdoor Gas Heater: Efficient and practical, these heaters use propane or natural gas to generate heat. Look for models with weather-resistant finishes and consider positioning them strategically to combat Michigan's colder temperatures.

Budget Constraints

Additionally, budget constraints may influence your decision, as specific heating systems, like elaborate outdoor kitchens or masonry-built fireplaces, can be more expensive options. By weighing these factors thoughtfully, you can make an informed decision and create a cozy and functional outdoor space for year-round enjoyment.

Next Steps to Installing Outdoor Heating

If you're considering enhancing your outdoor space with reliable and effective heating solutions, you've likely faced the challenge of choosing the right option for your deck or patio.

Throughout this article, we've delved into various outdoor heating ideas, considering factors like safety, efficiency, and practicality. By understanding the nuances of each option, you've gained insights into what could work best for your specific needs.

As a seasoned outdoor living space remodeling expert with over 15 years of experience, we've shared our knowledge to assist you in making informed decisions about the heating elements for your deck or patio.

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Now that you know more about the best outdoor heating ideas for your deck or patio, explore how Custom Built will approach your project, how much your new outdoor living space will cost, and how long it’ll take to build:

Aaron King

Aaron has been in the building industry his entire life. He worked in his family’s housing business growing up in Dewitt, MI, and for nearly 40 years, built homes in the Mid-Michigan area. He has also worked with the Greater Lansing Home Builder’s Association since he was 18 years old.