Outdoor Living

Comparing Gas Patio Heaters: Propane vs. Natural Gas

When the colder months approach, you don’t have to compromise your outdoor fun, thanks to gas patio heaters. However, choosing between propane and natural gas can be a challenge, especially if you’re not familiar with the pros and cons of each. This article aims to shed light on propane vs. natural gas patio heaters, helping you make an informed choice based on their differences in cost, ease of use, environmental impact, and safety.

Unpacking Propane and Natural Gas Patio Heaters

Before we delve into the comparisons, it’s worth understanding what propane and natural gas patio heaters are.

What is a Propane Patio Heater?

A propane patio heater uses liquefied petroleum gas or propane as its fuel source. It’s portable, self-contained, and often used for outdoor heating in areas where accessibility to natural gas lines is difficult.

What is a Natural Gas Patio Heater?

A natural gas patio heater, as the name suggests, uses natural gas as its fuel source. It’s directly connected to a home’s natural gas line, making it more stationary but providing a constant fuel source.

Comparing Propane vs. Natural Gas Patio Heaters

Comparison has always been the shortcut to make a difficult choice seem easier. So, let's compare these two types of heaters on different grounds.

Cost Comparison

Initial Costs

Propane patio heaters have lower upfront costs. They are less expensive to purchase and their installation does not necessitate a gas line connection, making them a budget-friendly option.

On the other hand, natural gas heaters have higher initial costs due to the cost of the unit, as well as the professional installation required to connect it to your home's gas line.

Running Costs

While Propane patio heaters might be cheaper upfront, they are more expensive to run. Propane gas costs more than natural gas per BTU.

On the contrary, natural gas heaters, despite their higher upfront cost, prove economical in the long run due to the lower cost of natural gas.

Convenience Comparison


Propane patio heaters steal the show when it comes to portability. Since they are not connected to a gas line, they can be easily moved around your patio or even taken to different locations.

Natural gas heaters, however, are less portable due to their requirement of a fixed gas line. But, their constant fuel supply eliminates the need for refills.


Maintenance for both heaters is relatively low. However, propane heaters may require more regular checks of the propane tank, hose, and connectors to ensure safety and performance.

Natural gas heaters require less frequent checks, mostly around the line connection, and can typically be serviced during your annual household heating system maintenance.

Environmental Impact and Safety


Both propane and natural gas are cleaner than other fossil fuels. Nonetheless, natural gas heaters emit fewer greenhouse gases compared to propane heaters, making them the greener option.


Safety concerns are almost equal for both heaters, provided they are correctly installed and properly used. However, given that propane tanks are highly pressurized, they could present more risks if not handled correctly.

So, Which is Better - Propane or Natural Gas?

The answer to this question is subjective. If you prioritize lower upfront costs and portability, a propane patio heater may be your best bet. Conversely, if you value long-term savings, lower emissions, and the convenience of a continuous fuel supply, a natural gas patio heater may be your optimal choice.

Remember, both heaters should be operated responsibly and safety precautions should always be observed.

To make a more informed decision on which patio to choose make sure to read our gas patio heater buying guide.

Closing Thoughts

Your choice between a propane and natural gas patio heater should be guided by your specific needs, preferences, and circumstances. Hopefully, this comprehensive comparison sheds light on these two types of patio heaters and helps you make an informed decision. Enjoy your outdoor living spaces year-round, no matter the chilly nights!

Note: Consult an expert or a professional before purchasing and installing any kind of gas heater to ensure safety and compliance with local regulations.