How to Heat Outdoor Tables with Overhead Patio Heaters

How to Heat Outdoor Tables with Overhead Patio Heaters

Posted by Eric Kahn on Feb 15th 2024

When you have a ceiling or pergola, investing in a permanent-patio-heater installation is a great move. Restaurants see returns from the convenience, reliability, lower footprint, and lower fuel costs of permanent patio heaters, as compared to portable propane heaters. Homeowners increase their ability to enjoy their patios later into the evening and later into the season, with just the flick of a switch.

There are three ways to effectively place heaters above tables in order to maximize the comfort of diners and minimize the discomfort from either being too cold or of anyone getting sunburned on the top of their head.

Method # 1: Bang for the Buck

Position one heater over one table, parallel to the table. (This method also works well over the center of a square or round table) This method uses only one heater per table. It heats the table top, and everyone’s faces, chests, and arms, and it does so fairly evenly, without burning people’s heads.

Method #2: Best Coverage

Two heaters are positioned parallel to the table, one on each side, three to four feet back from the table edge, angled in towards the table. With the heaters angled in on either side, everyone gets heat from one heater on their backs and shoulders, and some get more warmth from the heater on the other side of the table warming their chest and arms. The table itself also gets heat, and some heat gets under the table as well. The sweet spot here is three or four feet back from the edge of the table. Anything closer aims heat right at stationary people's heads. Anything further than that brings diminishing returns.

Method #3: Working Around Light Fixtures

If method one won’t work because there is a light fixture or fan in the center of the table, and method #2 won’t work because the area is less than 10’ wide and does not provide enough room to get the heaters far enough from the table, then this third method will save the day: Position two short heaters perpendicular to the table, directly over the table. Placement can be half way between the ends of the table and the center, in which case the heaters are directed straight down; or the heaters can be closer to the ends of the table (while still entirely over the table) and angled in towards the center of the table.

Follow these basic suggestions, and you’ll be on your way to warm heating for outdoor dining tables that will keep your guests warm and cozy and your customers comfortably seated, ordering, and repeating.

We Can Help You Choose the Right Outdoor Heaters

Now you know where to place patio heaters to heat a dining table in an outdoor covered area. The next step is to choose the right overhead gas patio heater(s) or overhead electric patio heater(s) and controls to suit your situation.

Alfresco Heating can help you with that. All we do is patio heating, and we actually work with the products we sell, so our advice—on gas vs. electric, which brands to choose for which specific applications, which model meets your needs the best—is the finest available. Whether your priority is to get the best bang for your buck or the best of the best, or anything in between, we’ve literally got you covered.

Please contact us with your dimensions, and two or three photos of the area to heat (or plans if not built), and we’ll be happy to make a review and help you choose the overhead gas or electric patio heaters that are best suited for your outdoor seating areas. We will then provide a quote and, upon approval, we will also handle delivery. Please let us know how we can help. Thanks!

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