We love our covered patio off our kitchen, and as soon as we toured our house the first time, we knew we would spend lots of time there. It is covered, a huge feature in the rainy PNW. It has a wood-burning fireplace with a gas starter – hello convenience! And once we put in a comfy RH sectional, it’s got plenty of seating. See the full review of our new outdoor furniture.
But, we were missing a key feature – heat! The fireplace has great ambience and some heat, but we had a vision of using this space year-round. And for that, we needed outdoor heaters.
We narrowed our selection down to the Bromic Platinum Smart-Heat natural gas line of products and the SunPak line. I ultimately went with Bromic because the SunPak looked very utilitarian and functional, and not at all residential.
Bromic’s Platinum line offers two heaters, the 300 and 500. The difference is in size and BTU. We have a fairly small space, 225 sq ft, and the 500 series is rated for 200 sq ft each. I debated about installing 2 or 3 heaters, and ultimately I’m glad we went with 3. They are fairly high up on the ceiling, which causes us to lose a little of the heat, and 3 usually feels right.
Considerations when choosing the Bromic Platinum 500 Natural Gas Heater
I learned a lot about heaters during this process, and some of the considerations I didn’t initially recognize are things like minimum clearance above the heater and whether or not you need the heat deflector (required depending on how close the heaters are to combustible surfaces like wood).
I ended up needing to buy both the heat deflectors and the ceiling-mount arms to lower the heaters to the required minimum clearance. Ceiling mount arms come in a variety of heights, so you can get one that works for your space, but they do make the overall appearance more bulky and obtrusive. And heavy! We ended up having to reinforce the wood ceiling of our covered patio to ensure the heaters are not going to fall on our heads – yikes!
What to know about the Bromic Platinum 500 Natural Gas Heater
I believe the Bromic Platinum is the best outdoor heater on the market right now when you consider both looks and performance. However, there are some things to know about it before diving in:
- They take a long time to assemble – I hired a handyman to install these and it took him several hours just to assemble the heaters on the ceiling-mount arms with the heat deflectors, so depending on your setup, plan to set aside a chunk of time or budget for a handyman
- They are heavy – the arms are heavy, the unit is heavy, and the heat deflector is heavy. If you are mounting these, make sure you have enough strength in your mounting area to handle the increased load.
- You have to have gas run to each heater – It was a huge challenge getting someone to come run gas from our meter to all 3 heater locations, and the handyman needed the gas run almost exactly to the right spot for him to take it across the finish line. Account for this work in both time and budget.
- You should do a gas audit prior to running a new line – Depending on your usage, you may not have enough gas capacity to add new appliances and might need permits and upgrading your meter. We worked with our local utility to audit all the appliances using natural gas on our property – which for us includes the pool and spa – and their total BTU. Luckily, we still had capacity and could add our heaters with no additional work from the gas company needed.
- The heaters require both power and gas – I wasn’t initially aware that we would have to run both gas and electricity to power the heaters, but they do have to be plugged into a standard outlet. Luckily, we already had power run through the ceiling of our covered patio and we were able to easily piggy-back off this, but it was a surprise to me. I thought that a gas heater, unlike an electric heater, would not require electricity.
- The heat deflectors get discolored quickly – As they are exposed to heat, the heat deflectors turn from their shiny silver color to a darker, more matte finish. I assume this is exhaust buildup and they could be cleaned, but they are affixed to my ceiling and in all honesty, I will never clean them. They looked so nice on day 1 that it annoys me, but I’m not sure there’s anything to be done about it.
How to Control the Bromic Platinum 500 Natural Gas Heater
We purchased a controller and a wireless remote that was supposed to allow us to control the heat settings on all 3 heaters simultaneously, allowing us to run them at lower heat in warmer weather. To this day, we don’t know how to program the remote to recognize the heaters. Both my handyman and I spent ages pouring over the instruction manual, and I have decided that a NASA-level physics degree is a requirement for figuring this thing out.
When I contacted Woodland Direct, where I purchased the units from, they sent me the same manual I already had and were unable to provide any additional support. They referred me to Bromic’s customer service, and I have yet to reach out and try again with them. For $334, the wireless remote is currently a very expensive decorative object mounted to my door frame, and my heaters are always on full blast until further notice.
What we did invest in was putting the heaters on the Lutron controller system, which allows us to turn the heaters on and off with our phones. We have a switch in our kitchen which can also control them, but it is nice to be able to do it from our phones if we are already outside and want to adjust the temperature.
The Lutron connectivity also lets us set up a schedule as a fail-safe, so we never leave the heaters running all night by accident. I’m breathing a sigh of relief, and so is my gas bill!
Comparing the Platinum and Tungsten Models
Bromic has another line called the Tungsten, which is slightly lower-end but completely functional, from what I can tell. I didn’t like how it looked, so I was willing to pay up for the Platinum. If you’re looking to save money, the specs are pretty similar between the two models, and you don’t get any benefits on things like the need for the heat deflector and the minimum clearance requirement.