Consumer Reports: Best outdoor heaters to stay safe and warm

ByConsumer Reports
Thursday, December 31, 2020
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With indoor gatherings banned all over Illinois, a lot of people are trying to figure out ways to get together outside while staying warm.

Instead of home for the holidays why not consider embracing a new tradition and head outdoors for the holidays. Consumer Reports says some outdoor heating options can help keep your holidays toasty and keep you and your loved ones safer.

"To be clear, even if you do have an outdoor get together, you do still need to wear masks and socially distance," said Consumer Reports Home Editor Paul Hope. "But you can shake things up by meeting up for a hike or gathering outside around a fire pit."

A fire pit is a good choice if you want a lot of heat. If you're bothered by the smoke, a chiminea might be more for you as they are designed to funnel that excess smoke up.

No matter your heat source, think before you light. Place fire pits or chimineas at least ten and ideally 25 feet away from any structures. Keep the overhead area clear, too.

"Never use a fire pit or chiminea on a deck," Hope said. "Instead, look for a propane fire pit table that's designed for use on a deck or patio."

If you want even more flexibility consider patio heaters which burn gas or use electricity.

Consumer Reports says if you have outdoor outlets you can consider a few strategically placed space heaters.

"Never use a space heater outdoors with an extension cord," hope said. "It poses a fire risk just like it would inside. Instead plug them in directly and look for a model with a safety tip over switch."

A $55 Comfort Zone performed excellent in Consumer Reports tests for spot heating.

One compromise - while not as charming as bundling up outdoors - is a well-ventilated garage. Keep the doors open, wear masks and stay at least 6 feet apart.

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