Keep the Party Going
As the weather cools and the days grow short, it's time to squeeze every last minute of fun out of your backyard patio or deck with a patio heater or a fire pit. What kind you buy depends largely on how large a space you have and how you use it. Freestanding propane patio heaters are best for open spaces where people are circulating, such as a pool area, or large deck or patio. They're designed to be portable, providing warmth where it's needed, though some are easier to maneuver than others. The chief drawback is that the propane tank will have to be replaced periodically, same as you would with a gas grill. Some freestanding patio heaters can be converted to natural gas, a nice option if you already have an existing gas outlet on your patio.
Electric patio heaters, which use quartz or infrared elements to radiate heat, are better for small, defined spaces where people stay put and need concentrated warmth, such as an outdoor dining area. Most of these are designed to be affixed to a wall or ceiling, though there are some freestanding and tabletop models available. If all you want to do is sit around a roaring fire outside and chill in the backyard, skip the patio heaters and invest in a fire pit instead. Bear in mind that patio heaters are (pardon the pun) a hot item with consumers, particularly in autumn. If you see a model you like on sale, buy right away — it may be sold out later.
Prices and availability are subject to change.