Warm Your Outdoor Get-Togethers

R. L. Rhodes
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A stone fire pit.

With temperatures steadily inching their way downward, you may be thinking that this year’s opportunities to comfortably entertain friends and family outdoors are numbered. Add a heating fixture to your deck or patio, though, and that need not be the case. Below are several popular options, along with some consideration of the pros and cons of each. Armed with that knowledge, you can check the wide variety of heat lamps and heating structures at your local Home Depot.

Fireplaces

There’s not much that can beat the charm of a cozy fireplace. The open flame not only generates heat, but also provides a warm light that can add ambiance to a gathering. The structure itself helps shield the flame from gusts of wind, which is one major benefit fireplaces have over other structures like fire pits.

The major drawback is that most fireplaces are open only on a single side. Depending on the arrangement of your patio, that may limit the number of people a fireplace could warm at one time. Additionally, fireplaces tend to be comparatively large structures, which can increase both the cost and the amount of space you’ll need. If your patio won’t accommodate a full-sized fireplace, the traditional chimenea offers a more compact and portable alternative.

Fire pits

The charm of a fire pit is usually more rustic than that of a fireplace. Because the structure is open on all sides, more people can warm themselves at the fire at once, creating a camp-like atmosphere. Fire pits also tend to be easier to construct, and therefore less expensive. With a little effort, you can easily build your own.

Bear in mind, though, that to take full advantage of a fire pit, you’ll want to make sure that it’s accessible from all sides. The larger the pit, then, the more square footage you’ll need. Since fire pits are more open than fireplaces, it’s also wise to take more precautions to ensureĀ  there’s little danger of errant sparks or tall flames spreading fire beyond the pit.

Heat lamps

Some municipalities frown on open flames, and maybe you don’t want the responsibility of dealing with fire anyway. In those cases, there are a range of electric heating appliances designed for outdoor use. The most common is the tower-style design, but if your patio has an overhang, such as a pergola, you might also consider a hanging lamp or a wall-mounted heater. The great advantage of heat lamps is their portability, which allows hosts to adjust the arrangement of multiple lamps to better suit the needs of guests.

Depending on the type of heat lamp you use, the major drawback could be the ongoing cost associated with heating your deck or patio. Many free-standing heat lamps run on propane, which means dealing with clumsy tanks every time you need a refill. Even electric lamps can add significantly to your energy costs if you’re not judicious in your heating practices, so bear that in mind that the cost of the fixtures is never the grand total for heating your outdoor spaces.

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