This Amazon Patio Heater is Less Expensive—But Does It Work?
This affordable patio heater can help keep your outdoor living space more comfortable when chilly weather arrives.
Outdoor living areas may be most associated with summer afternoon barbecues and lazy nights stargazing in the backyard. But enjoying outside space needn’t stop as fall and even winter arrives. To turn that backyard deck or patio into a three- or four-season setting, warm it up with a powerful outdoor heater.
When I began my search for a device to extend our patio usage well into the shortest days of the year, I had two things in mind: I wanted a unit that would keep us toasty, without jackets, after temperatures dipped well into the 40s—and I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on it.
That’s why I chose the Amazon Basics patio heater. With 46,000 BTUs of output, I knew it could create enough heat to keep my family comfortable well into December in North Carolina. And while this model doesn’t offer the aesthetics of the higher-end, pyramid-style space heaters, at just about $175, it was the right price.
Amazon Basics Patio Heater: At a Glance
- Puts out 46,000 BTUs
- Integrated wheels for mobility
- Affordably priced
- If thermocouple becomes dirty, startup can be difficult
- No cover included
- Not as attractive as other tower heater types
What is the Amazon Basics Patio Heater?
This standard patio tower heater is about 7 feet tall and consists of a round base that houses a 20-pound propane gas tank and a metal pole that extends to a large gas burner. Controls just under the heater head allow the user to light the heater and adjust the size of the flame. A round metal heat shield mounted to the top of the burner reflects heat downward onto the surrounding area. The Amazon Basics patio heater differs from our outdoor pick for the best non-electric heater, which is similar in height but has four flat sides with a burner that runs from the base to the top of the unit.
Similar to other tower heaters on the market, this Amazon Basics model uses its propane fuel source to power a large flame at the top of the tower that produces radiant heat to warm the surrounding outdoor space. With a 46,000-BTU output, the Amazon Basics Patio Heater produces about the same heat output as most other tower models currently available.
It offers similar features to other patio heaters: a 7-foot height, durable steel construction, wheels on the base, and a piezo ignition system for easy lighting. Amazon Basics also comes in eight different colors (more than most competitors) to coordinate with your outdoor space. What sets this patio heater apart from other propane tower heaters is the price: At just about $175, it’s more budget-friendly than many other models.
How easy is it to put together?
Though the Amazon Basics patio heater required assembly, I didn’t find it complicated to put together. Out of the box, the heater consists of eight main pieces and a variety of different sizes of screws, bolts, washers, and nuts. Everything was clearly labeled with a letter to make finding the right part or piece of hardware easy.
However, while the kit includes a wrench to tighten the nuts, the wrench is flat, and I found it difficult to get a solid grip on the bolts. So I grabbed a socket wrench from my tool bench to speed things up. A Phillips head screwdriver, which isn’t included, is also required.
Once I was properly equipped, assembling the heater went smoothly. The instructions were easy to follow thanks to clear explanations, and thoughtful illustrations with labels that made it a snap to select the right parts and hardware. In all, assembling the heater took me about an hour.
While I didn’t run into any hitches while putting the heater together, I chose to forgo one step. The Amazon Basics Patio Heater includes a plastic basin that goes inside the base, which can be filled with either water or sand to add weight and stability to the unit. I didn’t want to go through the tedious process of funneling sand through the basin’s small hole, and I worried that water would freeze and potentially crack the base in the winter. So, while I didn’t fill the basin, I found that the weight of the base and the 20-pound propane tank provided plenty of stability.
Is the heater easy to use?
Operating this patio heater is pretty straightforward. Prepping the heater for use requires lifting the cylindrical metal cover and placing a 20-pound propane tank inside the base. Given that a tank weighs upwards of 40 pounds when full (it weighs 20 pounds empty), getting it into place takes some doing. Luckily, the heater’s curved post supports provide a good place to rest the cover, so there’s no need for a second pair of hands to hold it aloft while positioning the tank and attaching the regulator.
To start the heater once the tank is installed, the user must hold the control knob in to release the gas, and then press a button to create a spark with the piezo ignition. While piezo ignitions are more convenient than using a lighter, I was impressed by the ease of use this Amazon Basics model afforded. That’s because the piezo ignition on the gas fireplace I own often leaves me clicking the ignition repeatedly in an effort to get the pilot to light. In contrast, the Amazon Basics Patio Heater tended to start up on just one or two attempts.
Once lit, I was able to adjust the size of the flame and heat output by simply rotating a control knob.
Were there any starting issues?
After more than a year of reliable starting, the patio heater began to show some wear, periodically struggling to stay lit during the start process. On occasion, the flame would go out when the starter knob was released, even after holding it for an extended period of time.
After researching the problem online, I figured out this was the result of build-up on the tip of the thermocouple, a small device responsible for keeping the heater lit. While cleaning the thermocouple’s tip was easy, accessing it required me to take apart the heater’s housing by removing a few screws with a Phillips head screwdriver. This was maintenance I hadn’t expected to do when I bought the heater.
Just how warm is it?
A patio heater is really only worth its salt if it can keep those gathered around it warm on chilly days. Having had a chance to test it for an entire fall, winter, and spring, I can say that it works as advertised.
The manufacturer claims it can provide heat up to a 9-foot radius, and I was amazed at how well the saucer-shaped heat shield directs heat downward. When turned to its highest power setting and sitting within 6 feet of the heater, I found it to actually become a bit too warm for me when outdoor temperatures were in the 50s. But staying comfortably toasty within that 6-foot radius when temperatures fell well into the low 40s—without the need for a jacket or hat—was great. While the unit can still provide heat as the mercury approaches freezing, it’s not enough to make sitting for long periods comfortable without warmer outerwear—at least not for me!
As for proximity, the patio heater begins to lose its effect the further one sits from it. At a distance greater than about 9 feet it provides little warmth. Of course, any wind blowing over the heater works to dissipate the heat around it, narrowing its effective radius.
Is the Amazon Basics Patio Heater worth the money?
At $175.99, the Amazon Basic Patio Heater is a mid-priced model compared with other heaters of similar design, heat output, and features. While there are cheaper models available, this heater has thousands of overwhelmingly positive reviews in addition to my overall positive experience.
While I experienced trouble starting the patio heater after a year, this issue can be fixed with annual cleaning of the thermocouple. Covering and/or storing the heater might also help extend its life, so it would have been nice if it included a cover to protect the unit from bugs, dirt, and rain. All in all, it’s a quality model for the price.
Is Amazon Basics Patio Heater right for you?
If you’re looking for an affordable way to expand your outdoor living space when the temperature drops but aren’t willing to fork over $300 to do so, the Amazon Basic patio heater is a great option. It has a quality build, is fairly easy to assemble and operate, and it even comes in a spectrum of color options. Though utilitarian in looks, this 46,000 BTU-heater puts out just as much heat as the more physically attractive pyramid patio heaters that hover around the $300 price point.
Just keep in mind that, like other outdoor appliances, the Amazon Basics Patio Heater does require some maintenance to keep it in proper working order. If the heater is going to take up a permanent spot on an uncovered deck or patio, I suggest investing another $30 or $40 on a cover that will protect it from rain and dirt.