If you’re shopping for a patio heater, you’ve likely (or will likely) come across a category known as glass tube heaters.
These heaters combine form and function, typically generating tons of heat sufficient for a large area while simultaneously displaying a dancing flame inside a glass tube that can add invaluable ambiance to your patio.
Nearly all the heaters run on propane gas, natural gas, or butane. However, they offer more charm than your average patio heater. The pyramid architecture is specially created to highlight the tall flame inside the glass tube – a feature that will easily mesmerize your guests.
Read on to learn more about these unique heaters, what they are an excellent choice for patio heating, and factors to consider when shopping for a glass tube patio heater.
Before we get to the tips and considerations, though, below are five of the best glass tube heaters to consider. These heaters pack plenty of heating power (most are rated at over 30,000 BTU) and made from durable materials for weather resistance and long life.
What’s a Glass Tube Heater?
The glass patio heater is a unique outdoor heating appliance that features a tall glass tube encasing a real fire. The setup is typically held atop a pyramid-style to add style and stability. The broader base of the pyramid keeps the setup stead even during the windy/stormy days.
The glass tubing (usually made from quartz) serves two primary purposes. Its main job is to preserve the fire. It shields the flame from winds that may potentially put it out. However, it’s also purposely designed to showcase the flame and bring some style to the party.
How Does It Work?
The glass tube patio heater runs on LPG, propane, or natural gas. Many people prefer portable models that run on propane as they’re easier to maintain.
For instance, you can disassemble the unit and store it away during the summer. These models typically use a 20-pound gas tank, often tucked away under the base of the pyramid stand.
When the heater is lit, the flame shoots through the entire glass column up to a flame-screen capped by a heat reflector. As a result, the flame provides both heat and entertainment. A 20-pound gas tank runs for about 8-10 hours on a standard 40,000 BTU glass tube heater.
The heat from the fire travels through radiation to reach the people nearby (though a small amount of the heat also travels through convection).
The great thing about radiant heat transfer is that very little heat is lost in the process if the heater is set correctly. You should feel the heat up to 10+ feet away, though you’re likely to feel cozier within five feet of the glass tube heater. The heat reflector ensures that no heat is lost upwards.
How Do You Light a Glass Tube Patio Heater?
Lighting a glass tube patio heater isn’t much different from lighting a gas stove. Many of the heaters employ electronic ignition. All you need to do is light the pilot by turning the knob and pressing the pilot button. Then, turn the knob to the high setting to ignite the column of flame.
When you retain the heat setting on HIGH mode, the flame should reach at least two-thirds of the way up the glass column. This would be a great choice when holding a party or get together.
Otherwise, the LOW setting, which gives a flame that typically rises to one-third of the way up, is more than sufficient. There’s no crackling but also no smoke. If you notice smoke, there’s something wrong.
Considerations when Shopping for a Glass Tube Patio Heater
If you’ve done your homework and decided that the glass tube patio heater would be the best solution for your outdoor patio heating, the following considerations should help you pick the right one.
The first thing you want to consider is size. Glass tube patio heaters are rated in British Thermal Units (BTU). If you come across one rated in kilowatts, remember that 1KWH = 3,412.14 BTU. The size of the unit will determine the fuel consumption.
But more importantly, it determines the space it can effectively heat. A standard model sized at about 40,000 BTU can heat up to 15 square meters.
Since the glass tube patio heater stays outdoors for most winter seasons, weather resistance is vital. The unit must resist extreme cold, strong winds, water splashes, and other extreme weather conditions.
Therefore, stainless steel is one of the best build materials if you can find a powder-coated model, which makes it even more weather-resistant.
Interestingly, the heaters are also ranked based on height. Taller models are seen as more attractive as long stability is guaranteed. It’s partly why 85+ inch models are the most popular.
If you decide to go with a taller type, ensure that the base is sturdy enough to support the extra height. Adding the propane tank to the base usually helps. Also, ensure that there’s sufficient clearance to avert any safety risks.
Convenience features are any controls and parts that make the unit easier to use and more helpful. So, the first item to consider here is the ease of assembly.
Remember that you need a ladder to install the heater. How long does the assembly process take, though? Secondly, consider mobility. Does the unit come with wheels for mobility?
If not, what are the mechanisms provided for mobbing it around? Finally, always look out for adjustable heat settings, digital controls, and any smart features.
All great glass tube heaters feature several built-in safety features. These may include auto-shutoff in case of tilting, tip-over, and overheating. Two other things to consider are an oxygen depletion sensor and empty-tank alerts.
- Glass Tube heater vs. Patio Heater, Which is Better?
Glass tube heaters are essentially patio heaters. They are one of the many categories of patio heaters. Compared to the other patio heater types, they offer exceptional style and arguably better ambiance (except for fireplaces). However, they are also more expensive than standard patio heaters.
- Patio Heater Thermocouple Problems, What Causes them, and What’s the Solution?
A familiar problem patio heater owners complain about often is keeping the unit lit. This problem is mainly caused by a pilot flame that has become too far away from the thermocouple, causing the light to go out. When it’s too far away, it tricks the gas valve into thinking that the pilot light is out.
A simple solution to the problem is to remove the top of the heater and the front control panel that covers the pilot light and control knob. Then, remove the brackets holding together the pilot light and thermocouple. This creates the best access between these two parts.
Best Glass Tube Patio Heater
1. Hiland HLDS01-GTSS 91-Inch Tall Quartz Glass Tube Heater
This modern-design quartz glass-tube flame heater from Hiland brings irresistible style to outdoor heating. It’s unique, virtually mesmerizing flame provides heat in every direction.
Watch your family and loved ones gather around the beautiful piece of patio art and enjoy the yellow flames or real-life heating. The heater features a 91-inch tall radiant heat glass tube and a striking stainless steel finish. It delivers 40,000 BTU at maximum output.
It’s also a very safe heater for outdoor use. For one, an anti-tilt-over protection mechanism shuts off if the unit isn’t flat on the surface. Secondly, a thermocouple helps keep track of heating levels in the home. It’s also CSA approved.
This heater uses a 2-LB propane tank that lasts up to 10 hours on the high setting and comes with mobility wheels for easy movement around the patio or deck. A one-year warranty backs it.
- Powerful 40,000 BTU heater
- Attractive quartz glass tube design
- Durable stainless steel finish
- Includes wheels for easy mobility
- 1-year manufacturer warranty
- A bit pricey at over $500
- Extra safety precautions required
2. Dyna-Glo DGPH401BR 42,000 BTU 73-Inch Pyramid Flame Patio Heater
This second option, the Model DGPH401BR from Dyna-Glo, is almost similar to the above heater. However, it’s shorter at 73 inches tall and comes in a hammered bronze finish.
Apart from those few differences, it offers the same warm ambiance and mesmerizing centerpiece heating. At 73 inches, it’s also easy to assemble and keep an eye on during operation.
The 42,000 BTU heater is equipped with electronic ignition. It uses a 20-pound propane tank (not included). An easy-open door makes it easy to change the tank.
A variable heat setting allows you to adjust heat output as you wish, while attached wheels make it a breeze to move the heater around or to storage.
The clear glass flame tube allows you to enjoy the ambiance with no boundaries. Simultaneously, an anti-tipoff safety valve is included to shut off the heater in case of tip-over instantly.
- Powerful 42,000 BTU output
- Gorgeous hammered bronze finish
- Anti-tilt safety
- Clear glass flame tube
- Electronic ignition
- A bit pricey at over $400
- Requires assembly
3. ROVSUN 40,000 BTU Pyramid Flame Outdoor Patio Heater
The ROVSUN deluxe pyramid-style outside patio heater is the perfect solution for multi-purpose outdoor heating.
It creates an inviting, warm ambiance and comes in a unique styling that provides endless versatility. From personal use at home to commercial applications in restaurants, weddings, pool parties, and more, this is the real deal.
Its key features include a side door that gives you easy access to the 20-LB propane tank. This makes it easy to change the tank when needed.
The heater is also equipped with simple-to-use ignition, allowing for instant heat output. You’ll also appreciate the variable heat settings and built-in control valve to adjust and regulate temperatures at your liking.
This heater comes with overheat protection and an anti-tilt shutoff valve that automatically shuts of the unit if there’s a tip-over. The 87-94-inch tall heater features a beautiful glass flame tube that’s guaranteed to liven up any atmosphere.
- Up to 40,000 BTU of heat
- Attractive stainless steel finish
- Durable stainless steel build
- Includes wheels for easy mobility
- Reliable pulse ignition
- Pricey at over $500
- No remote control
4. ZG Propane Patio Heater – Floor-standing with Round Dancing Flame
A retractable bronze heater from ZG manufacturers is one of the most unique glass tube patio heaters. Unlike the other options on this list, it’s not a pyramid-style heater.
Instead, it looks more like a lamp on a base. It’s still fairly tall, though, at six feet, allowing the heat to reach several meters away. In total, it delivers 36,000 BTU at the maximum heating output.
Some of the things we love about the ZG are the easy set up (takes less than five minutes without any tool) and the range of safety features.
The safety features include a protective grill (in one single piece) and a cool-to-touch design. The base adds weight to the unit to prevent tip-over when it gets windy.
However, a safety auto-shutoff valve is present in case of accidental tip-over. The heater also shuts off automatically when the tank runs out of fuel.
This heater weighs 66 pounds, which is about average for patio heaters, and features a pilot light for easy ignition.
- 36,000 BTU of heat output
- Enjoy the ambiance of a dancing flame
- The gorgeous quartz glass tube
- Easy set up in less than five minutes
- Multiple safety features
- Empty tank auto-shutoff
- Propane tank sold separately
- It’s priced at over $1,000
5. AIMCAE Commercial Pyramid Glass Tube Propane Heater
Finally, the highest-priced product on this list and one of the best glass tube patio heaters you can find, AIMCAE, is a multi-level temperature heater that allows you to adjust power output to suit your comfort needs freely. It releases water vapor during the combustion process to prevent the air from drying out.
With this heater, there’s no need for preheating. The unit warms up in no time, and the temperatures should reach your desired setting in less than three minutes thanks to the reflector radiation heating technology.
Triple action protection is another key feature of the heater. It combines anti-dumping, flameout technology, and hypoxia to ensure that you and your guests are safe throughout.
Additionally, it features an oxygen depletion sensor for extra protection. The ODS system prompts the window to be opened for ventilation every one or two hours during heating to ensure air balance.
- Quick heat-up in under three minutes
- Multi-level temperature adjustment
- Triple intimate safety protection
- Oxygen deficiency protection
- Movable pulley for easy mobility
- Highest priced on this list at over $1,400
The glass tube patio heater is a unique solution for outdoor patio heating. It brings the ambiance of fireplaces but with enough shielding from winds and breezes.
This would allow you to enjoy your patio more, especially if you’re entertaining guests. However, remember that glass patio heaters are significantly more expensive than standard patio heaters. Still, they’re worth the extra investment.