If you have an outdoor seating area, you know just how profitable those spaces are! Customers love eating outdoors where they can enjoy good food, fresh air, and vibrant city views or sweeping rural vistas. By using commercial patio heaters to increase the number of days your patio is open every year, you’ll increase the profitability of your outdoor spaces which in turn will boost your bottom line.
Best Types of Patio Heaters
Make sure you choose a power type that best fits your location and the utilities you have available. Also, keep in mind that electric and gas units each have different mounting and ventilation requirements.
There are many considerations when choosing between electric, natural gas, and propane. For example, in a rural location, you may not have access to natural gas so electric heaters might be the best option for you. If your business already uses natural gas for cooking and indoor heating, this fuel type may be the best choice for you because it is readily available and often less expensive than electricity. The choice between an electric patio heater, a natural gas patio heater, and a liquid propane patio heater is usually easy to make, but read on for additional pros and cons of the different fuel types!
Outdoor electric patio heaters provide heat from a renewable energy source, while providing heat instantly and with no wait time. Analyze the list of pros and cons for electric patio heaters.
Another alternative to fuel your outdoor patio heater is with natural gas. Learn all about the pros and cons of a natural gas patio heater.
Lastly, learn about patio heaters that run on propane. Just like electric and natural gas patio heaters, propane patio heaters also have pros and cons.
Extend your patio seating season! Since spring and fall can be cool in many climates, a lot of restaurants can only use their outdoor spaces during a few of the warmest months. By properly heating your patio or deck area with a system of outdoor heaters, you can make those spaces comfortable for customers to use earlier in the spring, later into the autumn, and even potentially during the wintertime if you choose to make your patio a destination for winter dining.
Even in warm climates, customers may become chilly sitting outside after sunset. By adding patio heaters to your space, you can ensure more available seats for the dinner rush – boosting your profits over the long term! Or, if you open early in the morning for breakfast, you can allow customers to comfortably enjoy the sunrise from your deck.
When you make your outdoor seating areas usable for several more hours each day and for several more months in each year, that adds up to a substantial increase in profits for your business. While the upfront costs of installing patio heaters may seem daunting, you can make up those expenditures and get a return on your investment very quickly with the increase in revenue.
This table lists an example calculation that demonstrates how much additional yearly revenue your outdoor spaces could generate. To see what the additional revenue could be for your business, simply follow this formula and use the revenue information from your own restaurant.
How much revenue does each seat generate per shift (in dollars)? x How many additional shifts will your patio operate per day? x How many additional days per year will your patio operate? = Estimated Total Additional Revenue per Year
Example: 40 x 50 x 1 x 60 = $120,000
What to Look for in a Restaurant Patio Heater
One of the factors that affects patio heater performance is called wind resistance. What does wind resistance mean? It doesn’t mean that patio heaters won’t tip over in a strong wind – it is actually a factor of how well a patio heater warms the surrounding area when there is a slight breeze.
Typically, infrared heaters have better wind resistance because they work by warming objects rather than the air. Units with greater wind resistance will also operate more efficiently. They will use less energy to provide the same amount of heat to the surrounding area.
Traditional gas and electric patio heaters may require more energy to heat the area. Also, non-infrared heaters may lose their effectiveness more quickly when the breeze starts because they work by warming the air. If your patio is usually affected by a breeze, you might need to use additional patio heaters to make up for the heat loss caused by the movement of the air.
The BTU rating or wattage of a patio heater can sometimes be an indication of how much area it can cover, but this is not always the case. Some patio heaters operate more efficiently than others, so one of the most important things to be aware of is a unit’s coverage area as listed in its specification sheet and user manual. You can also find the coverage area for most units listed on their product pages, too. Keep in mind that weather conditions will affect the actual coverage area of a patio heater.
WebstaurantStore offers units that cover anywhere from 25 sq. ft. all the way up to 275 sq. ft. so that you can match the right heater to your patio or deck.
Do you need more heat during some seasons than others? You might need a little bit of heat during summer months and more during the spring and fall. This is where models with different numbers of stages come in handy.
If you need just a little heat during the day and more at night, two stage units are a great option. While they may be more expensive than single stage models and require special controls, a two stage patio heater lets you turn the unit on to either half power or full power. Not only does the half power option save energy, but it also provides the operator with greater control over the climate in an outdoor space.
Single stage units, either in gas or electric, are always either fully on or fully off. When you turn on the patio heater, it will come on with its full power. And when you turn it off, it will shut down completely. The single stage patio heater is a great option for many locations where you need a consistent amount of heat throughout the patio season.
A single control for each patio heater, mounted on the unit itself. Usually a simple on/off toggle.
Works like a ceiling fan remote. Wired and wireless controllers are available that send a signal to turn the heater on or off.
Allows heaters to be set up in zones for greater control over which heaters are turned on, and when.
Laying out your patio heater system can be tricky, so knowing the dimensions of the space, the clearances available, and the amount of coverage you need is important.
If you only need to heat a small space, it is easy to choose the patio heaters yourself. When you are deciding what patio heater will best suit your business, there are a few questions to ask yourself:
If, however, you need to create a system of patio heaters to warm a large outdoor space the process can be a little more complicated. You might want to consult with the installer or a professional designer to make sure that the system of heaters you choose is properly suited to your space and that the heaters are placed in the right positions. Many patio heater manufacturers also offer consultations and free resources to help create the perfect outdoor heating solution for you.
While some electric patio heaters may be approved for use inside, most electric models and all gas models should only be used in open, outdoor, well-ventilated areas with a minimum of combustible surfaces nearby. Be sure to check your local building and fire codes to make sure that there are no restrictions on the use of outdoor heaters in your municipality.
While you want to be sure that your patio heater puts out enough heat and is close enough to the area you wish to keep warm, it’s also important to remember that the patio heater itself will get hot. Placing a patio heater too close to flammable materials like wood, cloth, or paper can be dangerous.
Plus, be sure not to allow furniture or other items to come into contact with the heater to protect your furnishings and prevent damage to the heater itself. Most outdoor heaters have specific requirements for installation in locations that are near combustible surfaces.
If you need to hang your heater from a wooden patio overhang, mount it to a sided exterior wall, or place it near non-metal patio furniture, be sure to consult the specification sheet and manual for the unit you choose. Make sure that your location can accommodate the clearances recommended by the manufacturer. In some cases, an additional shield or heat deflector may be required. Additional commercial patio heater parts and accessories are also available for proper installation and maintenance of your new outdoor heating system.