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Patio Heaters – A Great Way Extend Your Outdoor Living

Heaters specifically designed for outdoor patio seating areas have been around for well over 25 years. Early on, patio heaters were limited basically to the "mushroom" style propane heaters…. you know, the ones where a heater head sits atop a post (like a lamp post) and a mushroom shape shroud over the top reflects a circular pattern of infrared radiant heat in a 12’ diameter circle to the area below.

Years ago, these mushroom style heaters sold for up to $650.00. Today, those same heaters sell for under $299.00 and are readily available at many hardware stores, home centers and online from numerous sources.

Since the intro of the "mushroom" heater, patio heating has become a bit more sophisticated. Today, ceiling suspended heaters have become a popular choice for restaurant owners because they free up valuable floor space. Where a covered patio exists, gas-fired infrared radiant tube heaters have become very popular.

Infra-red (radiant) tube heaters are simple. They consist of a burner at one end of a 4" diameter tube (typically 10’ to 50’ in length) with a parabolic reflector running over the top of the tube - down its entire length. Hot gases shoot through the tube until it gets hot. A parabolic reflector over the top of the tube reflects the heat energy to the people zone. Just like the sun, people and objects are bathed in soft radiant heat, but without the harmful UV rays.

One benefit of infrared tube heaters is that they can cover a larger seating area with fewer burners. They are also available with optional deco grills, which help give the appliance a more finished appearance. They can even be recessed in drop ceilings.

To ensure good, even heat coverage, restaurant owners are advised to consult with a reputable infrared representative. Working with the restaurant owner, an experienced infrared person can help lay out a system in a pattern best suited to the arrangement of tables and seating and offer the best control options to meet the desires of the owner or manager.

Other ceiling suspended patio heaters, called "high intensity" infrared heaters, have been around for many years and are still very popular for restaurants and homeowners alike. Measuring about 4 feet in length, they can be suspended from a ceiling, a wall or an eave, making them very versatile and simple to install. Multiple units can be strategically patterned to cover large seating areas, whereas one or two heaters is just fine over a hot tub, doorway or picnic table.

So the question is, "Why heat my patio area?". For restaurant owners, the answer is simple. They do it to draw more people into their restaurants. A heated patio gives owners the opportunity to expand seating and increase revenue. Most people are drawn to places where they can enjoy being outside, especially when the sky is clear. Note also that in recent years indoor smoking restrictions and new laws from both local and federal agency’s have prompted restaurant owners to look for ways to keep their clients coming back. An outdoor heating system is a courtesy to these patrons, which can have a dramatic impact on customer satisfaction.

For homeowners – well, who doesn’t want to be outside, especially on those cool evenings? Patio heaters are a great way to prolong the outdoor season and ensure that friends and relatives are kept warm and happy.

Scott Workman owns and operates Infra-Red Products Supply, Inc. of Draper, Utah. In business since 1986, Infra-Red Products has become recognized as one of the foremost leaders in energy saving heating system design and sales for residential, commercial and industrial consumers.

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