How to keep your deck warm in winter
As winter approaches and outdoor temperatures start to drop, many people abandon their outdoor activities and move indoors. But winter doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your outdoor deck. It may be cold in winter, but it’s usually still sunny. You should be on your outdoor deck, enjoying that sunshine. Of course, you’ll need certain ways to make the deck warm so you can be outdoors.
There are two ways to increase the temperature of your outdoor deck in winter. One is to add a deck heater, and the other is to alter the design of your outdoor deck. Both will increase the temperature on your deck and increase the comfort of outdoor living so you can enjoy your outdoor life all year round.
Inside the house, we heat the air inside the house via a furnace to further increase the temperature inside. Whereas on an outdoor deck, we cannot raise the temperature by heating the air and need to change the heating method.
Deck heaters need to be directional heating, such as a heater blowing directly on you. Or heating your skin and objects around the deck by infrared light.
Stationary deck heaters
The difference between this type of heater and other deck space heaters is that they need to be designed and installed as part of the deck construction, even on hot summer days. Fixed deck heaters need to be safe and easy to use in the winter deck, without affecting the aesthetics of the outdoor deck in the summer. A permanent deck heater will provide a higher level of comfort at a lower cost than other heaters.
Removable deck heaters
In addition to fixed decking heaters, we also have the option of portable decking heaters. These heaters allow you to take them out when you need heating and can be put into storage in the summer to keep your deck open for other things. Portable heaters are a good option if you don’t use your outdoor deck very often during the winter months.
As portable outdoor heaters, they are usually propane or electric fuel. Electric portable heaters need to be used close to an electrical outlet. It is important to note that extension cords and splitters should not be used with the heater and can easily create a fire hazard. If you plan to use an electric heater then an additional outlet will need to be installed on the outdoor deck.
Different types of deck heaters
Deck heaters can be powered by electricity, propane, or natural gas. The type of patio heater used depends on the local market as well as the price. There are also installation issues to consider, and different heaters have different installation difficulties.
Natural gas heaters are cheaper to use, but require professional installation and have a higher upfront cost. This may be worthwhile if you plan to heat your deck regularly for long periods of time during the colder months.
Electric heaters are the easiest to install and use. But it takes longer to heat up because electric coils take time to heat up. Most electric heaters are up to 90% energy efficient and provide a good level of heating.
Propane heaters are a hybrid of electric and natural gas heaters, with both advantages and disadvantages. They do not require specialist installation, but propane is generally more costly and requires regular visits to a filling station to be refilled.
Different area deck heater installation methods
Usually installed between the beams of a pergola, or suspended from the roof of a porch. Ceiling heaters are ideal for heating larger covered areas of the deck. It is more restrictive and requires a roof to attach, but is great for lounge areas to warm guests gathered under the pergola.
Similar to a ceiling heater, mounted on the wall of the house on the deck, about 6 feet above the deck. This type of heater can provide warmth without blocking the sun.
Floor standing heater
This type of heater is also heated from above but does not need to be attached to a wall or roof. The heater is placed on a pyramid-shaped cone 6 feet to 8 feet from the deck. Ideal for placing in the center of the deck area to provide a comfortable conversation area.
The biggest advantage of floor standing heaters over mounted heaters is the built-in bracket. A permanent deck structure is not required and they can be rotated around the deck, but their size and weight limit the range of movement.
Deck fire pits
Fire pits can bring the warmth and atmosphere of a campfire to your deck. Prepare a roast or other food, have a family meal around the fire pit, and enjoy a fun and warm campfire on your deck.
Of course, care must be taken when using the fire pit to prevent accidental fires or damage to the deck, and the fire pit on the deck should be used on a fire mat. Natural gas or propane fire pits are safe compared to wood-burning fire pits, and no dangerous embers will explode out of the fire pit, which could start a deck fire.
Outdoor electric fireplaces
Suspended on a wall or mantelpiece, providing warmth through electricity. Safer than a wood fireplace, there are no sparks or open flames that could burn your deck. Electric fireplaces typically emit 4,600 BTUs of heat and can heat a 400 to 1,000 square foot room indoors; blowing winds and open skies can limit their effectiveness.
Portable patio heaters
Portable heaters need to be heated with infrared light. As we said earlier, a portable heater can only warm itself. Infrared heaters do a good job of warming your skin, but due to their small size, they must be pointed precisely at you when in use. Place safely around your deck to provide warmth as needed.
Hanging patio light
A decorative and portable heater is mounted on the ceiling. The lampshade provides aesthetic appeal while providing heat to those below. Electric heat is the safest, but hanging heaters can also be used with propane or paraffin. Ensure that hanging patio lights are hung in a safe position with the necessary clearance. As with any heat source, it needs to be watched from time to time to avoid fire.
Passive deck heating
A heater is not the only way to heat a deck. There are many ways to warm your outdoor deck without a heater, build your deck by collecting or reflecting heat and warm your outdoor living space with natural sunlight.
Passive heating is not effective heating and is very dependent on natural sunlight. If it is a cloudy day, you are better off using a deck heater.
Deck Wind Wall
Cold winter winds blowing across a deck can be chilling. A well-positioned wind wall will keep the deck protected from the cold winds and increase the comfort level of the deck. A windbreak does not heat the deck, but it can increase outdoor deck comfort and warmth by blocking out the cold wind.
Enclosing the deck
Enclosing the roof and walls of your deck with glass will not only allow you to enjoy the sun and enjoy the view in comfort but will also effectively block out cold winds. With the sun shining through, your outdoor deck can be heated to the same temperature as your house. Allowing you to enjoy the great outdoors to the fullest.
The controlled temperature even allows your outdoor deck to be used as a greenhouse, allowing you to enjoy gardening all year round. If you build a sunroom on your deck and add a deck heater, the options are endless.
Composite decking to warm your feet in winter
Darker colored composite decking material will warm up quickly when exposed to the sun’s rays. Raising the temperature of the deck makes it possible to walk barefoot on it in the middle of the day, even in the cold winter months.
Outdoor rugs and blankets
If the outdoor deck is cold, outdoor rugs and blankets will warm your feet as you sit on the deck. Enjoy the sun’s rays while keeping your feet insulated from the cold deck.
Hot tub on the outdoor space
Hot tubs are one of the most popular ways to enjoy your deck during the harsh winter months. The pleasure of relaxing in a hot tub surrounded by snow is unparalleled. When you mention hot tubs, almost everyone is interested in coming over to enjoy your deck in the winter.
A summary of heating your deck in winter
All of these ideas for heating your deck may be helpful, but it is best to use several ideas in combination to be more effective. Active controlled heat, passive deck protection, plus a judicious arrangement of furniture to keep you warm.