We chatted with Joseph Wortman, president of Detroit Radiant Products Company, to learn more about the hottest options when considering an outdoor heater for your Northern Michigan patio.

Tell us about your company.

Detroit Radiant Products dates back to 1955. At that time, we were a manufacturer of heating products for the auto industry. Now fast forward 65 years. We are still owned and managed by the third generation of my family, only now with a global presence. Our headquarters is in Warren, Michigan, but we have operations in close to 20 countries. Our company offers many types of infrared heaters, forced air heaters and LED lighting solutions. One of our strengths is with outdoor infrared patio heating.

Your heaters are used in both commercial and residential settings. What sets them apart from other outdoor patio heaters?

Our heaters are fix-mounted and are typically hung from an overhead structure to heat a deck or patio. They ideally would be part of the design phase and drawn into the patio construction plans. We offer a variety of heater styles to fit the aesthetics of the space. Our heaters are also installed in high-profile golf ranges where people can tee off comfortably in 20-degree weather.

Fix-mounted as opposed to the kind that sit on the floor?

Yes, those are called umbrella style heaters. They emit heat in a circular pattern. They are lower in cost and easy to move but they have big drawbacks including constantly needing their propane tanks refilled. They are also easy to trip on, can tip over easily, they block the sun and take up valuable floor space. Not to mention needing to store them in the off season.

Your heaters come in both electric and natural/LP gas versions. Pros and cons of each?

Gas is the most popular as it gives the most energy-bang for your buck while offering more coverage and better heat. The down side is that you need to consider emissions and make sure the unit is venting properly. You also need to plan for gas piping and electrical connections.

Our electric products are great. They heat a nice area and do it comfortably. You will need to make sure that your home is wired for the amount of electrical consumption they take. You also need to choose between short wave and medium wave. Short wave heat can be intense and also emits a bright light. This can challenge the ambiance of the space. The medium wave is a softer heat which is not as hot as the short wave but has a soft subtle orange glow. Beyond that, electric units are aesthetically very appealing.

Any safety considerations?

Yes, there always needs to be room to maintain the heaters clearances from combustible materials—things like wooden fans, sprinkler systems and lighting. The gas-style products will require proper venting if the room can be sealed.

How many square feet do these heaters cover?

We typically try for about 150 BTUs per square foot. The average gas-fired heater covers an area of about 8 ft. x 8 ft. Our bigger heaters can cover about 12 ft. x 12 ft. But there will be exceptions to these coverages pending product selection and available mounting height. Typical mounting heights are from 9 to 14 feet high.

Creating a longer patio season in Northern Michigan is pretty enticing. Can you give us an idea of the cost?

Sure. Gas patio heaters run from $800 to $1600 per unit. Most residential patios utilize a single unit. Installation costs can vary depending on how much gas piping and electrical will be required to reach the heater.

If electric-style heaters are desired, they can run from $300 to $800 per unit but generally you need more of them to cover the same size space as a gas-fired product.

How can I find out more about them?

To find our product offering or to locate a distributor go to reverberray.com.

Photo(s) by Detroit Radiant Products Company