How to Light Patio Heater Manually in Eight Steps

Nora Held
Nora Held
Research Writer
Apart from being our main writer, Nora also works for a number of gardening-related sites and magazines, sharing her experience as an owner of a small farm in North Carolina read more
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Bruce Williams
Bruce Williams
Expert Consultant
Bruce owns a small farm and loves to grill since his early childhood. He’s a professional cook, but hiking and enjoying the great outdoors is his no less favorite part of read more
Last updated: September 12, 2023 is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here

Some of the safest and efficient options for outdoor heating are smokeless fire pits, deck fire pits, and gas patio heaters. Gas-powered patio heaters can be used very flexibly thanks to their drive type. Because they run on gas, you are independent of a power source. Its functionality compared to the other devices is similar.

The propane patio heater is usually operated with a standard 20-pound gas bottle, as you can buy it in any hardware store or online shop. The gas is ignited – depending on the equipment – either with the integrated piezo igniter or with a lighter or match.

In this article, we’ll see how to light a patio heater manually. The piezo igniter is the easiest way to light up a fuel-powered patio heater. But you can use a lighter or match if your patio heater won’t light automatically.

As safety should be the first consideration for any heating appliance, whether electric or gas-powered, we will also inform you of some vital safety measures to ensure. We will also help you find out why your heater isn’t lighting up.

Safety tips before you light your patio heater

As with all devices that work with an open flame, safety with gas patio heaters is the be-all and end-all. However, with most safety organization-certified devices that are on the market, you don’t have to worry.

Meanwhile, if the safety information is missing in the manual and the manufacturer generally does not provide any information as to whether the device complies with certain safety standards, then you have to scrutinize the heater before buying. And if in doubt, ask questions from your seller or verified users.

Operational safety can be increased by taking the following precautionary measures:

Check the gas regulator

How to Light Patio Heater Manually in Eight Steps

For connection to the gas heater, high-quality accessories (gas regulator, gas hose) should be used. This must be checked for damage before each use.

The regulator controls the pressure at which the gas is released to the burner. A bad gas regulator may be a safety hazard. Signs of a bad gas regulator include yellow flames, popping noise, a heavy deposit of soot, leakages, or no propane flow.

If gas cylinders are handled properly, they do not pose a significant risk either. Do not open the gas cylinder valve fully. Close the gas bottles tightly after switching off

Check if there’s a gas leakage

Before starting the heater, check the connections, pressure reducer, and hose for leaks. Gas leakage may lead to an unexpected fire outbreak.

Keep the gas pipe and burner clean

For regular and unhindered flow, the gas pipe must be clean. It rarely gets clogged but this can be a possibility in case of old age and rusting internal components.

Keep any flammable materials away from your heater

This is a no-brainer. No flammable material should be around the space where the heater is due to the possibility of an explosion or fire outbreak. Maintain a minimum distance to flammable materials (at least 1 m) (observe manufacturer’s information!) Only operate gas heaters on fire-proof surfaces. Also, keep foreign bodies away from the flame.

Only use outdoors

It is also important to observe the manufacturer’s specifications for operation. Above all, this concerns the question of which applications the device is suitable for and whether it is approved for indoor use. Burning gas produces toxic carbon monoxide, which in large quantities can lead to unconsciousness, respiratory failure, and death (carbon monoxide poisoning).

Even in ventilated rooms, there is no guarantee that the gas can be discharged sufficiently. The risk is high because carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless. The device can only be used in closed rooms if the manufacturer of the gas heater expressly allows it to be used indoors.

Choose an anti-tilt patio heater

Gas patio heaters are factory-equipped with several safety features that you should familiarize yourself with before starting to use them. One of the most important is tip-over protection.

Despite great care, it is sometimes impossible to prevent a patio heater from being knocked over. If it has tilt protection, the gas supply is interrupted and the device is automatically switched off. Especially families with children and/or pets should choose a gas heater with tip-over protection.

How to light outdoor propane heater automatically

Ignition in a gas-powered patio heater occurs in an extremely simple way, thanks to the exercise of pressure on the button or knob where the command is inserted.

In models where there is only one knob, after having opened the gas from the cylinder tap, it must be held down for a few seconds. While maintaining the pressure, it must be rotated in the same direction as the gas delivery, at this point, the system returns a slight resistance that must be forced to give the impulse and generate the spark.

In models where there is both the knob and the button, the procedure is similar. You have to keep the knob pressed on the first position and after a few seconds, press the button and this will give rise to the ignition.

The piezoelectric is characterized by the creation of an electric charge. This is generated when the pressure is exerted, which flows through an electric cable to the piezoelectric mechanism positioned at the gas outlet of the heater.

One of the best gas-powered patio heaters with a piezoelectric system is the Amazon Basics Outdoor 46,000 BTU Patio Heater. It has a push-button for easy ignition and startup.

However, at some point when the ignition system is activated, the pilot light may not come up. If the problem is from the piezoelectric mechanism, you may have to light your patio heater manually.

Lighting your patio heater manually: Step by step

How to Light Patio Heater Manually in Eight Steps

So you’ve tried to turn on your patio heater the old-fashioned way using the ignition button and it’s not working. Don’t worry, we’re going to show you how to light it up without the button.

Lighting your patio heater using a lighter is easy and simple. This is so simple anyone could do this. Just go through the following steps.

Step 1

Look on the sides of the patio heater (usually to the left side of the knob). Here, you’re going to see a screw (usually a Philips’s head) with a flat wing attached to it.

Step 2

Pass the Philips head screwdriver and loosen the screw. Get the flap to twist. If you notice the flap is already loose, you don’t have to turn the screw.

Step 3

If you follow the same direction of the hole, you’re going to notice a single wire or a pair of wires that come from the ignition switch to the pilot light on top.

Step 4

So basically you’re going to go through the same step as you would by turning on the pilot light with the ignition button. You’re going to twist the knob. Press it down and hold it for 45 seconds to 1 minute.

Step 5

Now, using your other hand you’re going to take your long lighter. One of the easiest and safest to use is the Suprus Lighter Candle Arc Lighter. This is a flameless model that works with a built-in battery.

Step 6

Insert it in the hole and while you do this, hold the button and press once you get to the 45-second mark or 1 minute. Turn on the lighter and it should turn on the patio.

Step 7

And just like using the button, you would leave the pilot light on for 30 seconds. If the lighter doesn’t turn on, it could be that the lighter did not turn it on. You would have to turn it on again.

Step 8

If that didn’t work, you would go ahead and turn it off and repeat the step once again from the beginning. Now that the pilot has been on for 30 seconds, you can go ahead and press the button. You can twist the knob to low or high to your preferred heating.

Possible reasons why your heater doesn’t start automatically

Some of the reasons your heater isn’t turning on automatically are:

  • Pilot light not turning on: A gas furnace or a patio heater may not turn on due to a faulty or dirty pilot. This is usually caused by a lack of maintenance.
  • Low gas pressure: A patio heater may not turn on due to low fuel pressure. Ensure there is enough fuel and the regulator side is turned on. Also, ensure this pressure regulator is working well and not worn.
  • Faulty anti-tilt switch: a faulty or failing tilt switch can prevent gas from entering the control valve.

Final thoughts

Most devices have a so-called piezo ignition, which generates a gas flame at the push of a button. It is particularly safe to use and should always be preferred to a lighter or a match. However, if the piezoelectric system is not working, you will have to turn the system on yourself following our step-by-step procedure on how to light a patio heater manually.

Piezo igniters are also available separately in stores if the mechanics in the device fail. In general, however, it is possible to ignite the gas with a lighter or a match if you exercise the necessary caution.

Remember our safety tips. The first thing and most important thing is safety: the last thing you want on a beautiful clear night with friends and family over is to get hurt. Let’s leave the fireworks for the sky and not on the ground or at least not today!

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