Carmen Bodziak December 16, 2020 at 4:06 PM 12 min read

Heaters for Outdoor Events: The Top 5 Things Event Profs Need to Know

As the winter months start arriving, inventory items like fire pits and heaters for outdoor events will be in high demand. Even when it’s chilly outside, people still want to safely gather and celebrate special occasions. Make these events possible for your clients by adding heaters to your inventory collection and following the proper guidelines. Melissa McKelvey of Park Avenue Parties in Colorado sat down with us to share some of her expert industry knowledge on the topic.

All About Inventory Management for Event Professionals

1. Always encourage clients to go for heaters for outdoor events

Too often, clients choose not to purchase a heater for their event because they don’t want to spend unnecessary money. However, they’re not only paying for the heater— they’re paying for the peace of mind that comes with knowing they’re covered in case of unexpected cold situations.

Melissa explains, “As a planner or client, it’s much better to be safe than sorry. For us as the vendor, we’re looking out for their best interests when we suggest heating equipment. At Park Avenue Parties, we keep the “less sexy” things— like heaters— at an affordable price because we want everyone to have a great event. You’re not just getting the inventory item, you’re getting the peace of mind and knowledge that your guests are going to be comfortable.”

2. What to consider when ordering/providing heaters

When clients are shopping for heaters for outdoor events, they’ll be asking questions like, “How long will I need it for?” and, “What will conditions be like during my event?” To provide for all types of events, you should have a variety of options on hand (or the ability to sub-rent from other vendors). To determine what type of heater to use, Melissa and her team look at a few factors: 

  • Time of year
  • Size of the tent or outdoor area
  • Amount of people attending the event.

For instance, Colorado-based Park Avenue Parties receives lots of destination clients from people who’ve never been to the area. Even if the event’s in September, which is warmer in some states, these Colorado natives know the weather can drop lower than people expect, and encourage a heater.

While many heaters work with both propane and butane fuel, propane is your best bet in the winter. Butane does not work well at high altitudes and actually freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. If temperatures are colder than this at your event, you’ll need propane to keep the party going.

You’ll also want to look at the maximum amount of BTUs. Determine what you need by multiplying the cubic footage of the space you want to heat by the number of degrees you want to increase the heat. For example, say your space is 1,800 sq. ft., the ambient temperature is 40° F, and you want the temperature to be 60° F. You will perform the formula 1,800 x (60 – 40) to get 36,000 BTUs. Simple!

How to calculate BTUs needed for heaters at outdoor events

Finally, you’ll only want to provide high-quality heaters that have been certified for safety. All heaters should have a safety logo or certificate on them. This will give both you and your clients confidence in the heater, and peace of mind at the event.

3. Heater setup and safety

Because heaters use fuel and can be dangerous if set up properly, it’s important to follow all safety measures. Some of the most important are:

  • When purchasing, ensure the heater is CSA or UL certified
  • Set up the heater on level ground to reduce the chances of tipping
  • Keep it at least 3 feet away from flammable materials (furniture, drapery, dry leaves, etc.)
  • Inspect all cords (no fraying) and ensure each plug is securely plugged into its outlet
  • Ensure the thermocouple is working properly so explosions are avoided
  • Do not use it around water or if you’re wet. You don’t want to get shocked!
  • Only use fuel-burning heaters in the outdoors. If you have no other choice, proper ventilation is a must.

As far as other safety concerns go, you should always have a fire extinguisher on hand (Melissa and her team have a mandatory anti-fire device policy). In addition, both your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be working properly. On top of all this, Melissa recommends having a backup fuel tank in case the first one freezes. This backup should be stored in a warm, dry place to make sure it’s ready to go if needed.

4. Train staff and clients how to handle them

Any team member who is handling heaters should be aware of all safety measures and processes. They should also be experts in how to set them up and how to teach clients to use them. This reduces the chances of any issue or dangerous situation.

When dropping off and setting up a heater for a client, make sure you inform them and any others who may be operating the heater of all safety precautions. Show them how to plug and unplug the item, and go over all the above do’s and don’ts. Warn them not to allow children to touch or play around it.

To ensure all team members have access to all safety instructions and setup diagrams, you can use Goodshuffle Pro’s event rental software. Add safety instructions on the internal notes of the heater or other item, and then drop a setup diagram in the files for that item. Boom! Everyone who needs it can see it.

internal notes on heater in Goodshuffle Pro
Wholesale heater setup diagram and safety regulations, files in Goodshuffle Pro
Heater

5. Inventory management tips for heaters

You can buy heaters for outdoor events wholesale from companies like EventStable and Patio Heater USA. Look for recommendations from other event professionals in forums and online groups. What if you don’t believe it makes good business sense for your event company to purchase your own heaters? Have no fear! You can always sub-rent from other vendors and decide to purchase your own later on.

It’s important to keep track of all your heaters, especially if you’re sub-renting. You’ll want to use flexible technology that gives you a bird’s eye view of not only the heater itself, but all the accessories such as fuel, cables, safety gear like fire extinguishers, and more. If you’re just now investing in heaters, you’ll also want to track how often they’re being rented and how much money they’re bringing in for your event business. You can do all this within Goodshuffle Pro, which Melissa and her team love for organization and reporting purposes.

Ready for safe outdoor events?

Outdoor events will be the safest way to gather in the 2020-2021 winter season. Be prepared to offer your clients the safest, best options for their events. Since heaters for outdoor events will be in high demand, make sure you know the ins and outs when it comes to shopping for them, safety regulations and practices, and inventory management.

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