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The next hot pandemic purchase is ... a heat lamp

They’re hot. Literally. And they’re starting to disappear.

One of Frontgate's models is the Lightfire Patio Heater. It sells for more than $4,000.Frontgate

Krysta Chauncey-Allen of Somerville did not want to be late on a trend again.

She hadn’t moved fast enough during what she jokingly calls the “Great Hammock Rush of 2020,” when many people, including her friends, decided it might be nice to rest outside during the summer.

“You had to scour the Internet for one,” she said. “I didn’t want to do that again, so I started the conversation [with friends] about, like … what’s the next hammock?”

The next hammock, as it turns out, is a heat lamp.

Some people are buying small, portable, lantern-style lamps for their city decks. Others are investing in the tall, mushroom-shaped lamps you might find on the patio of a restaurant. Chauncey-Allen bought her heat lamp — a Well Traveled Living black, electric patio heater — from Lowe’s.


In New England, where it could be very cold in a just a few months, residents still want the option of hanging out safely with friends. That means they need a heat source strong enough to keep people cozy even if they’re many feet away from each other and outside.

Fire pits are also in style, but that can be a bigger project — one that only works if you have the space. A heat lamp is simple. Most of the time.

But they’re going fast.

A spokesperson for Wayfair said searches for patio heaters are up more than 70 percent in the last five weeks compared to this time other years. (Fire pit searches are up 60 percent). Wayfair sells a variety of heaters for properties of all sizes, like electric patio heaters that can be attached to the top of a covered porch. Mobile gas and electric heaters include popular sellers such as the Baner Garden Patio Heater, an almost 74-inch-tall propane patio heater with a 20-foot heat range diameter (on Sunday, it was out of stock), and Northern Trail’s Propane Tabletop Patio Heater, which looks like a tabletop version of what you’d see at a restaurant. It’s been on sale for $103.99 and is about 20 pounds.


Frontgate, a brand known for design-friendly, upscale outdoor decor, has a small variety of heat lamps in its collection. They sell to commercial and residential shoppers, but these days there’s less distinction between the two.

Lindsay Foster, senior director of merchandising for Frontgate, said the company started to see an uptick in interest in heat lamps this month. She said the question of the moment is “How do we extend the season?” Many people improved their outdoor space after March and want to make use of it throughout the winter.

Frontgate's commercial patio heater, which runs about $500.Frontgate

“We even see customers buying two and three, you know, or multiple heaters at a time,” she said. “Because they want to stay outside as long as possible and they know that as November hits, you can’t go anywhere. They can at least go outside.”

A popular Frontgate model is the propane-fueled Carillon Patio Heater, which has been on sale for $1,139.05. There’s also the Lightfire Patio Heater, which looks very Miami and costs more than $4,000. It heats about 450 square feet of outdoor space.

Of course, if you miss the rush, you can get more creative about where to find them. Some restaurant supply companies are now finding that private consumers want their products.


Andy Starr, of restaurant supplier Boston Showcase Company, which has had clients such as Davio’s, Grill 23 & Bar, and Uni, said that in normal times the company wouldn’t keep a surplus of patio heaters in stock. But because of the pandemic, it brought in a supply to have them on hand.

Boston Showcase Company has some mushroom- and pyramid-shaped models that run about $600. Of course, Starr recommends buying very soon.

“With a normal product that we carry, they’d run out and we’d order more,” he said. “But with the two particular models that we brought in, there is nothing to re-order.”

Meredith Goldstein can be reached at