The Patio Heater vs. The Chimenea - The Season Extenders
Are outside temperatures chilly? Well, you don't need to give-up on the patio if you have a patio heater. Once found only in restaurant courtyards, patio heaters are seen more often now in home patios. So, you and your family and guests can be comfortable in your patio even when the temperatures have dropped.
There are several types of heaters. While electric heaters are available, they are not the most popular. Natural gas and propane heaters account for most heaters that are sold. Increased popularity of restaurant courtyards for smokers and increased home patio entertaining has meant that outdoor heaters have become easily available and their prices have come down.
Patio heaters are very quiet. They're safe and they extend the period of time of usefulness of a patio or deck.
Many freestanding units are seven feet tall and have a gas canister located in the base of the unit. They have a long, sleek look that resembles a light post. Many have an umbrella-like top to help radiate heat downward. Typical gas and propane heaters will provide warmth for up to 20 feet away. That should be enough for a small gathering of friends for cocktails under the stars.
Keep in mind that wind can be a problem when you are trying to heat an outdoor area. Many restaurants use screens or roll-down shades that act as an efficient wind block. Heaters work most efficiently in a sheltered or semi-sheltered area. The ideal location is an intimate area next to a wall or fence and under an overhead structure.
Some models come with wheels for easy moving. When not in use, some come with a case for easy storage. There are also smaller tabletop and footstool versions of the more popular tall units.
Outdoor heaters are rated by the amount of BTU's. A standard unit will have around 45,000 BTU's. That is enough for an average patio.
A Chimenea Alternative
An interesting alternative to a modern patio heater is an old traditional Mexican wood-burning chimenea (or chiminea). They're versatile! Not only can you use it as an outdoor fireplace, but you can use it to cook dinner. On top of that, since they burn wood, the smoke can help to keep bugs away. All this in one unit.
Chimeneas use to be made of clay. However, today they are usually made from iron, copper, and cast aluminum. Iron as the most popular metal because of its long lasting heat retention and because they are long lasting. They come in a variety of designs and can be used year round. If you intend to cook, then you will want to make sure it has a removable grate.
While chimeneas can be stored, many keep them outside and simply cover them during the off season and during long stretches of rainy weather. Iron does require more upkeep but it is very attractive. Some may want a cast aluminum model because of easy maintenance. But I suggest an iron or copper chimenea. We have a large iron chimenea that has given us many years of excellent service. Our kids have named it "Ole Burt."
The type of wood you select to burn is important. You should never burn a wood that has been pressure or chemically treated in any way. You never know what dangerous vapors will come out of them.
While any untreated wood can be used, hardwoods do burn longer. Pine tends to crackle and pop. Mesquite is a nice wood to burn if you'll be using it for grilling.
As always, when starting a fire, use precautions! Don't place the chimenea close to trees. Always make sure you have a fully charged fire extinguisher and know how to use it.
Patio heaters can be a welcomed addition to your patio. They will allow you and your guests to enjoy the outside even in chilly weather. A chimenea is an interesting addition to a patio, deck, or backyard. You and your guests can enjoy a nice fire while cooking dinner. It's a pleasure more people should try.
About the Author: Sebastian Van Deyck is a successful writer and a noted authority that writes for http://www.better-patio-furniture.com, providing practical insight and moneysaving tips. Also visit their Glossary of Home Improvement, Construction, & Landscaping at http://www.better-patio-furniture.com/glossary/index.htm.