If you like to entertain family and friends in your backyard, the late evening chill can take some of the fun out of the occasion. As temperatures start to drop in the cooler months, the best tabletop heaters can help you stay toasty warm long into the night – so you and your guests can enjoy more time outside under the stars.
Tabletop heaters are a great alternative to fire pits or full-sized patio heaters. Compact and lightweight, they take up very little space but can heat a large area at the flick of a switch. So, no matter the season, you can make the most of your outdoor space.
If you’re shopping for a tabletop heater but aren’t sure where to begin, you’re in the right place. In this guide, we have reviewed nine of the very best tabletop heaters on the market, so you can find the perfect model for your needs.
- 1 What is a Tabletop Heater?
- 2 Best Tabletop Heaters
- 2.1 Fire Sense Stainless Steel Table Top Patio Heater
- 2.2 Hiland Portable Propane Table Top Pyramid Heater
- 2.3 Mr. Heater Buddy Portable Propane Radiant Heater
- 2.4 Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater
- 2.5 Campy Gear 2 in 1 Portable Propane Heater & Stove
- 2.6 Hampton Bay Tabletop Propane Gas Patio Heater
- 2.7 Tectake Electric Patio Heater
- 2.8 Mr. Heater Little Buddy Tabletop Propane Heater
- 2.9 JHY Design Tabletop Fireplace
- 3 Buyer’s Guide to Buying the Best Tabletop Heaters
- 4 Propane Gas Heater Vs. Electric Vs. Bio Ethanol
- 5 Tabletop Heater Vs. Full-Size
- 6 Final Thoughts
What is a Tabletop Heater?
As the name suggests, tabletop heaters are designed to sit on your table or a similar surface, and provide outdoor heat on chilly evenings. They are available in a variety of designs, and can be powered by propane, electricity or bio fuels.
Tabletop heaters are a great option if you have limited yard space or a small patio. Their compact and lightweight design makes them easy to use without sacrificing too much space, and many models are portable enough to take with you on day trips or camping.
Propane heaters heat the surrounding air around the heater, while electric models use infrared radiation to heat nearby objects and people.
Best Tabletop Heaters
Sitting under the stars with your loved ones is a fantastic way to spend long summer evenings. When the temperature drops, a tabletop heater provides a comforting source of heat so you can enjoy more time outside.
To help you find the best tabletop heater for your needs, we have selected nine of the leading models on the market. Read on to find your perfect match.
Fire Sense Stainless Steel Table Top Patio Heater
First on our list is the Fire Sense Stainless Steel Table Top Patio Heater. This model comes in a sleek, stainless-steel finish that looks super stylish and is sure to get compliments from your guests.
The Fire Sense Stainless Steel Table Top Patio Heater stands at 35-inches tall, so you and your companions can feel all the benefits of its impressive 10,000 BTU output and heat reflector hood on chilly evenings. The controls are easy to use – a rotary dial adjusts the heat level, while the push button ignition fires it up in an instant for immediate warmth.
Perfect for late summer evenings or fall gatherings in the yard, this tabletop heater can boost the temperature by as much as 10-25 degrees – so you can comfortably spend more time outdoors with friends and family. It requires a 1-pound propane cylinder which is hidden away in a compartment in the base and provides around 3 hours of continuous heat.
We like that this tabletop heater is compact, lightweight and hassle-free to move around, so you can easily store it away out of season. The base is weighted for stability, but if it does get knocked over, there’s a built-in cut-out feature for safety. Furthermore, the integrated oxygen depletion sensor will shut off the fuel supply if oxygen levels in the air go too low.
This model comes with everything you need to set it up, (aside from the propane cylinder) but unfortunately, the assembly process is fairly complicated. The heater arrives in about 20 separate parts, which you may find overwhelming if you’re not familiar with putting items like this together without assistance.
Overall, though, this tabletop heater is a great choice for late summer BBQs or long evenings chatting with friends under the stars. It’s easy to use, kicks out a generous amount of heat and includes several safety features for your peace of mind.
Hiland Portable Propane Table Top Pyramid Heater
If you’re looking for a table top heater that can double up as an elegant centerpiece, then the Hiland Portable Propane Table Top Pyramid Heater is well worth checking out. This model boasts a beautiful pyramidal shape, that surrounds a vertical quartz glass tube with a flame-like center.
This heater stands at 39-inches high, so it’s a little taller than the previous model we reviewed. This isn’t a problem if you’re using it out in the open, but you should take extra care if you’re using it under a gazebo, for example.
Ideal for cold evenings, this model kicks out 9,500 BTU of warmth that can heat up to 15 feet from the unit itself. This is perfect if you like to have large gatherings, as your guests won’t have to be close to the heater to feel the benefit of it. The electric ignition makes it simple to start up in a second, and you can easily adjust the heat at the turn of a dial. We like that the flame height responds to the heat setting, so you can really ramp up the ambiance.
This model is also pretty lightweight at just over 15 pounds, but its unusual shape will make it awkward to move when lit. The square base is 12-inches in diameter so there should be plenty of room on your table, and the pyramidal shape ensures it’s naturally bottom-heavy to prevent tipping.
Although it’s designed for use with 1-pound propane cylinders, it also comes with a special adaptor so you can use it with standard 20-pound cylinders if desired for a longer burn time. This model arrives fully assembled which makes it great for beginners, as you won’t have to worry about putting it together before your guests arrive.
Mr. Heater Buddy Portable Propane Radiant Heater
It may be less aesthetically pleasing, but the Mr. Heater Buddy Portable Propane Radiant Heater is another great option to keep you and your companions toasty on chilly evenings in the Great Outdoors.
This super-portable model weighs just 10.6 pounds and comes with a molded in handle for easy transport. It requires the use of a 1-pound cylinder, but you can also choose to connect it to a 20-pound cylinder with an additional hose and filter to achieve a longer run time. The small footprint of this tabletop heater makes it perfect for BBQs on the beach as well as in your backyard – it takes up such little space it can be easily stored in your car or shed.
This model has an output of between 4,000 and 9,000 BTU, depending on the setting you choose. The hotter setting will consume more fuel, so you have the option to reduce it down to extend the burn time. The built-in Piezo start-up mechanism makes it easy to light up at the push of a button, without the need for matches or lighters.
Considering its small size, this tabletop heater is capable of heating an area of up to 225 square feet, so it’s ideal for large gatherings. The built-in safety features include a tip-over sensor and an oxygen depletion sensor, both will switch off the heater if triggered.
If you’re not concerned with aesthetics, this little tabletop heater is an excellent choice. The small size makes it easy to bring along to beach BBQ’s or tailgating parties, and it kicks out a lot of heat for a compact unit.
Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater
Next up, we have the Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater. This compact model is highly portable, so you can take it with you to your favorite beauty spot, or stand it on your table to keep the chill away when eating in the yard.
The Texsport has a robust stainless steel burner and an aluminum reflector that directs the heat outwards to keep you warm. Just like other tabletop heaters we have reviewed so far, this model uses 1-pound propane cylinders. it connects to the top of the cylinder and has a small footprint so you have plenty of space left on your table.
One drawback to this small tabletop heater is its heat output. At up to 2,890 BTU, it is significantly less powerful than other models on our list, so it won’t be able to keep large groups of people warm. That said, it could be a good option for couples or solo fishing trips.
In terms of safety features, this model has a wide paddlefoot base for stability and an integrated shut off valve that will turn off the fuel if the flame goes out. The manufacturer makes no mention of a tip switch or an oxygen depletion sensor, so we can only assume these features are not included.
All in all, while this compact model isn’t powerful enough to keep groups of friends and family warm, it’s worth considering if you’re looking for a small tabletop heater for up to two people.
Campy Gear 2 in 1 Portable Propane Heater & Stove
If you’re on the hunt for a multi-functional tabletop heater, we recommend taking a look at the Campy Gear 2 in 1 Portable Propane Heater & Stove. Not only can this versatile model keep you warm on cold nights, but it can cook your meals, too.
The Campy Gear 2 in 1 has a compact, yet powerful design that will take up very little space on your tabletop. It can support pots and pans from 3.9 inches all the way up to 12-inches, and the high heat levels make it quick and easy to cook with. Once you’ve cooked your meal or boiled water for your coffee, this model will keep you warm while you and your pals talk into the night.
This tabletop heater has an impressive 13,000 BTU maximum output, and directs heat in a 360-degree radius, so you and your companions can huddle around for warmth on chilly evenings. It uses a standard 20-pound propane cylinder and has integrated spark ignition for hassle-free start-up – eliminating any need for lighters or matches. The temperature is easy to adjust, and as a 20-pound cylinder will keep this heater burning for up to 42 hours, it has excellent burn time.
Aside from its versatility and power, this model also has numerous safety features for your peace of mind. The tip over switch will cut off the heater if it gets knocked over, and the built-in oxygen depletion sensors will also turn it off if the oxygen level in the air becomes too low.
We like that this model comes with a durable carry handle, but as it’s not removable, you’ll have to wait for it to cool down before grabbing it or risk burning your hands. Whether you’re relaxing in the yard, or camping out in your favorite spot, this model is an excellent pick for cooking and staying warm in the great outdoors. Its small size makes it easy to transport, while the 2-in-1 design will save you from packing a separate stove.
Hampton Bay Tabletop Propane Gas Patio Heater
Another great choice is the Hampton Bay Tabletop Propane Gas Patio Heater. This tall model has a bronze powder-coated base that brings a touch of elegance to your outdoor space. The reflector hood directs heat downwards so your guests stay toasty warm, while the large control dial makes the temperature simple to adjust in seconds.
Crafted from stainless steel, this tabletop heater is durable and resistant to damage from the elements. It has an impressive heat output of up to 11,000 BTU an hour, and can heat an area of up to 30 square feet – so it’s more than hot enough to keep yourself and several companions warm.
The heater stands at 39-inches high and has a wide, weighted base to prevent tipping, but if it does get knocked over, the anti-tilt switch ensures it’s automatically turned off. At just under 19 pounds, the Hampton Bay Tabletop Propane Gas Patio Heater is pretty lightweight and easy to move around as required.
This model requires the use of a 1-pound propane cylinder, which is hidden away in the base so it doesn’t ruin the aesthetics. At high heat, a 1-pound cylinder should last you for several hours, so it’s unlikely that you’ll need to replace it before the party is over.
The Hampton Bay Tabletop Propane Gas Patio Heater comes with everything you need to get set up, apart from the propane cylinder, which you’ll need to purchase separately.
The assembly process can be a little complicated, mainly due to the poor instructions, but if you have some experience with this type of product you shouldn’t have too much trouble.
Tectake Electric Patio Heater
If you’re looking for a budget option that’s safe for use both indoors and out, we recommend considering the Tectake Electric Patio Heater. This compact model resembles a household halogen space heater, and uses ceramic heating elements for efficient warming on chilly evenings.
The Tectake heater doesn’t require the use of propane cylinders, so you don’t need to keep a supply to hand in case the gas runs out when you’re still having fun. Instead, this model is electric, so you can keep the heat going as long as you need. However, one drawback to this is the need for cables which can be a little unsightly, depending how your patio or decking area is set up.
This model features a choice of two power modes, so you can ramp up the heat as required. The low setting uses 750W, while the high setting uses 1500W – plenty of heat to keep the chill off everyone as the night draws in. Another useful feature is the built-in thermostat controls, so you can just set your preferred temperature, rather than adjusting the heat manually throughout the evening.
Lightweight and portable, this compact tabletop heater is easy to transport if you’re heading to a friend’s house for a BBQ. The oscillating function covers 120-degrees, so you can be sure everyone will be bathed in warmth and no one is left sitting in a cold spot. In terms of safety features, this model has built-in tip over shut-off and overheating protection to keep you and your guests safe while you relax.
All in all, this little electric tabletop heater is a great pick if you’re looking for something that can be used both in the yard on summer evenings and inside your home during winter. Despite its size, this heater is pretty powerful and the thermostatic control option makes it efficient to use.
Mr. Heater Little Buddy Tabletop Propane Heater
If you need something super compact and powerful, the Mr. Heater Little Buddy Tabletop Propane Heater is well worth a look. This space-saving tabletop heater measures just 11 x 11 inches, so it won’t take over your table – leaving plenty of room for all your food and drinks.
The Little Buddy can heat an area of up to 95 square feet, so it’s a good choice for large gatherings. Like many of the models we have seen, it uses a 1-pound propane cylinder, which can provide continuous heat for around 5 hours on the maximum setting. It can be safely used both indoors and outdoors.
When compared to other tabletop heaters, this model has a less powerful output of just 3,800 BTU, but it’s still enough to make a considerable difference on cold evenings. It doesn’t create any unpleasant odors while in use and the integrated tip-over switch and oxygen depletion sensor provide peace of mind that it will shut itself off in dangerous conditions.
We like that this model has a wide base that the propane cylinder slots into for great stability. You need to leave at least 24-inches space in front of the heater and 30-inches of clearance above to reduce the risk of nearby items combusting, but as it’s so small to begin with, this shouldn’t be too much trouble.
The Mr. Heater Little Buddy Tabletop Propane Heater is easy to assemble, just screw in the propane cylinder, slide the bottom of the cylinder into the base and you’re good to go. It starts up at the press of a button, but keep in mind that it only has one setting, so you can’t adjust the temperature to suit your needs.
To sum up, this little tabletop heater is a good option for taking the chill off in cold conditions. It’s not as powerful as other models we have seen, but we like that it’s easy to use and can be assembled in minutes.
JHY Design Tabletop Fireplace
Our final recommendation is the JHY Design Tabletop Fireplace. This model features an authentic “dancing flame” design that replicates the ambiance of a real, warming fire. It creates no smoke or odors, and can be used both indoors and outdoors.
Unlike previous models we have reviewed in this guide, the JHY Design Tabletop Fireplace uses bio ethanol fuel rather than propane or electricity. This fuel source is an economical and environmentally-friendly choice, that’s just as easy to source as propane cylinders. In order to use it safely, it’s advisable to let the fuel burn out completely to avoid any ethanol remaining in the burner.
We particularly like that this tabletop heater looks beautiful from all angles, thanks to the fire-resistant glass cylinder that houses the flickering flames. The contemporary black metal base looks stylish on your tabletop, and is sure to be appreciated by your dinner guests.
The JHY Design Tabletop Fireplace doesn’t have a very high heat output at just 500 BTUs, but it can noticeably warm an area of around 20 square feet. The heater is incredibly simple to set up – you can use it straight out of the box with no assembly required – just add the fuel and you’re ready to entertain. However, this model doesn’t have any heat settings, so you can’t adjust the temperature as the night gets colder.
Buyer’s Guide to Buying the Best Tabletop Heaters
Still unsure which tabletop heater is best for you? Our in-depth buying guide has all the information you need to make the right decision.
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The price you pay for a tabletop heater will vary depending on the type of heater you buy, how powerful it is, and the range of features it offers. Propane tabletop heaters are usually the more expensive options, while electric models are often the cheapest. Price ranges are wide, ranging from simple electric models at around $30 to more fancy propane heaters at $200+.
It’s important to remember that a high price tag doesn’t automatically equal the best quality, though. Be sure to do your research and read through our best tabletop heater reviews before making a final decision.
We recommend choosing a tabletop heater that allows you to control the temperature as needed, rather than a model that simply has one setting.
Propane heaters are usually controlled via a dial on the front panel, which enables you to adjust the gas flow, and therefore the temperature, as required. The dial may have several fixed setting points that you must choose between, or it may be an incremental dial that allows you the freedom to set the temperature anywhere from minimum to maximum.
Electric tabletop heaters usually have fixed “low” and “high” settings that are controlled with buttons, switches or dials.
It’s also worthwhile looking for a tabletop heater that has a thermostat function. This allows you to set a preferred temperature, and the heater will work to maintain that temperature without you having to adjust it all the time.
The heat output for tabletop heaters is measured in either British Thermal Units or “BTUs” (for gas heaters), or Watts for electric heaters. The higher the number, the more heat a tabletop heater can produce.
Most small gas tabletop heaters can produce around 3,000 to 12,000 BTU. At the lower end of this scale, a heater should be powerful enough to keep 3-4 people warm, so long as they are seated close by. At the upper end of this scale, you can expect a tabletop heater to be capable of keeping 6-8 people warm, depending on the surroundings.
How warm you feel when using a tabletop heater can be affected by the environment. If you’re in a wide open space and there’s a breeze, you’re less likely to feel the benefit. It’s a good idea to look for heaters that include a reflector hood, so that the heat generated is directed down to those sitting below.
Area of Coverage
It’s important to consider the size of the area you need to heat before purchasing a tabletop heater. If you have a compact patio or yard, then a small tabletop heater will probably suffice, but if you have a large terrace, you’ll need to go for something bigger and more powerful.
Thankfully, the best tabletop heater manufacturers will specify the area that their product can effectively heat – so you can easily determine whether a particular model is going to be able to do the job.
Portability – Size and Weight
Tabletop heaters should be easy for you to move around as needed. No one wants to struggle to put their heater away at the end of the season.
Most models are designed to be relatively lightweight and simple to store, but keep in mind that they should have a disproportionately heavier base so that they are less likely to topple over.
When choosing the best tabletop heater for your needs, make sure you keep in mind the available headroom above your table. If you have a covered patio, you’ll need to make sure that there’s enough space between the top of the heater and the roof to prevent burning.
If you plan to take your heater away on trips, it’s best to look for compact models or those that can be easily dismantled for transportation. Small electric heaters tend to be best for this purpose.
Never buy a tabletop heater without checking what safety features and certifications it has. Here is a list of the main ones to look out for.
Anti-tilt – The anti-tilt feature prevents the heater from tilting over or tipping while remaining lit. It is usually operated by a pressure switch in the base, that will automatically turn off the fuel supply if pressure is eased.
Flame Failure Device – The flame failure feature is designed to stop gas from leaking out accidentally. If your heater goes out, either from a gust of wind or a fault, the flame failure device will shut off the gas supply right away.
Burner Guards – As their name suggests, burner guards create a shield around the flames or heating element to prevent them from accidentally being touched and causing burns.
Shut Off Valves and Stability – Freestanding tabletop heaters should have a wide, weighted base that helps to prevent the heater from tipping over and causing damage or injury. If you’re looking for a gas heater, check to see if it has a shut-off valve, so you can quickly extinguish the fuel source in an emergency.
Cables and Hoses – All cables and hoses that come with your tabletop heater should be of good, robust quality. In the case of gas heaters, make sure that the propane hoses and regulators are well made, and never use them if they appear to be weakened or damaged. Also, always use the type of hose that has been specified as compatible by the manufacturer.
Stays Cool Underneath – Lastly, make sure that the base of your tabletop heater is made from a material that won’t get too hot during use. After all, you don’t want to scorch your table or burn your hands when you move it.
Tabletop heaters are available in a variety of different fuel types. Let’s take a closer look at each of them below.
Propane is a gas fuel that is sealed in cylinders. It is easy to source at hardware stores and relatively cheap, but it can add up quickly if you use your heater often.
Propane doesn’t create any smoke when it burns, and propane tabletop heaters are often preferred because they can be moved around easily without needing to be close to a power outlet.
Most propane tabletop heaters have a small compartment in the base where the propane cylinder, usually a 1-pound cylinder, is connected and then hidden behind the door. One-pound propane cylinders have a decent burn time, but some propane heaters can be adapted to use larger cylinders so that they burn for longer.
Electrical tabletop heaters can be a convenient choice, as you don’t need to have a stash of propane cylinders or running out of gas. Simply plug the heater into an available power outlet and you’re good to go. Many models are safe for use both indoors and outdoors.
The drawback to electric heaters is that you have to be situated close to a power outlet to use them, and trailing power cables can be quite unsightly. Also, electric heaters often don’t kick out as much heat as gas models, and they can be quite power-hungry.
Bio Ethanol is a bio fuel that burns without creating any harmful emissions or unpleasant fumes. It produces a good amount of heat and burns with an attractive flame that looks great on your tabletop.
On the downside, bio ethanol doesn’t have a very long burn time, and this duration is decreased even further if there is a breeze. Furthermore, you cannot refill a bio ethanol heater until it has completely expired and is fully cooled. This feature can be particularly frustrating and is the main reason that bio ethanol heaters are less popular than other fuel types.
Propane tabletop heaters don’t tend to create much light, but electric models can be quite bright.
When choosing your tabletop heater, take the time to consider what level of light output you would like. A soft ambient glow can be nice and relaxing, but an overly bright heater can be uncomfortable when you are sitting close to it.
Propane Gas Heater Vs. Electric Vs. Bio Ethanol
The best type of tabletop heater for your needs depends upon your needs and intended use.
Propane heaters are easier to move around, so you have much more freedom to choose where you use them. They also give out a good amount of heat, have a decent coverage and the use of propane cylinders eliminates the need for unsightly cables. However, you must have an adequate supply of propane cylinders to hand, otherwise, you may run out of gas part-way through your gathering.
Propane heaters are better for heating wider areas than electric or bio ethanol heaters, although electric models perform well with direct heat. One problem with electric heaters is that you need to be quite close to them to feel the benefit, but if you’re too close they can burn.
The biggest drawback of electric heaters is that you need to be close to a power outlet in order to use them. The trailing of cables can also be unsightly, but on the upside, many models are safe for use both indoors and outdoors.
Bio Ethanol is less commonly used; however, it’s a good choice if you’re environmentally conscious. This fuel doesn’t create any harmful fumes when burned, but it is more inconvenient to use.
Bio Ethanol doesn’t burn for very long, and once spent, you’ll need to wait until the heater has cooled completely before refilling. This could mean that you’re left without a source of heat for some time.
Tabletop Heater Vs. Full-Size
Few people have enough space in their backyard for a full-size fire pit or large patio heater. The biggest advantage of tabletop heaters is that they’re compact and powerful, so you can keep yourself and your guests warm without sacrificing too much space.
Because you will be sitting close to a tabletop heater, you will feel the benefit of the heat much quicker. Tabletop heaters are also more energy-efficient than full-sized models, and as they are situated in the center of the table, everyone can enjoy the warmth while socializing.
Compared to full-sized heaters, tabletop heaters are much easier to transport from one location to another – thanks to their lightweight design and compact dimensions. This means you could bring it along with you to a friends BBQ or gathering on the beach.
Full-sized heaters have their place, and if you’re fortunate enough to have a large yard or patio space, you may decide that a full-sized model is best for your needs. However, as tabletop heaters are so effective and convenient, there’s little reason not to choose one.
Tabletop heaters are essential if you want to enjoy spending time in your yard in the cooler months. The right model for you will depend on your available space and your intended use – if you’ve read our reviews but are still unsure take a look at our recommendations below.
If you often host large groups of friends and family, the Fire Sense Stainless Steel Table Top Patio Heater is a great choice. This model boasts a 10,000 BTU output which is plenty hot enough to keep everyone warm. The heat reflector directs the heat downwards to those sitting below, and it can increase the temperature by as much as 25 degrees.
For smaller gatherings or if you have less space, the Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater is well worth a look. This model has an output of 2,890 BTU, which is enough to keep yourself and a couple of companions toasty on cold nights. The small footprint also leaves plenty of space on your table for your food and drinks.
Alternatively, if you’d like to combine heating and cooking in one handy device, the Campy Gear 2 in 1 Portable Propane Heater & Stove is our favorite choice. This versatile model can be used as a stove and a tabletop heater, so it’s great for camping trips or beach parties. The 13,000 BTU output is very effective at 360-degree warming, and the compact design makes it easy to store and transport.
Whatever type of tabletop heater you’re looking for, you’re sure to find the perfect model in our selection.