Back to Articles

I used propane heaters for my restaurant’s outdoor dining area last winter. With propane heating now banned for outdoor dining, what alternatives do I have?

There are a couple of alternatives available for outdoor dining comfort heating going forward.

For a quick background, as of June 1, 2021, all portable propane heater permits and authorizations approved during October 2020-May 2021 have been revoked, and propane-fueled heaters and containers of propane used for comfort heating are no longer allowed within outdoor dining areas.

If you are planning on continuing outdoor dining through the coming autumn and beyond, your alternatives, depending on where your outdoor dining area is situated, are as follows:

Electric Heaters

Electric heaters can be installed for both sidewalk and roadway seating. The heater must be cleared for outdoor use, and you will need to get an Electrician or Electrical Engineer for assistance with installation, inspections, and permit filing.

More details on the application process and requirements can be found here.

Portable heaters fueled by natural gas

Natural gas heaters require a few more safety measures, since they must also comply with the NYC Fire Code Fire Code Section 313.6 and Fire Department rule 3 RCNY 404-03, which requires a Fire Department permit and supervision by a Certificate of Fitness holder. They can only be used for sidewalk seating, and must be cleared for outdoor use.

Rather than an electrician, you will need to get a Licensed Master Plumber (LMP) involved for inspections, installation, and permit filing to make sure the gas line connections are safe. Heaters with wireless electric ignition devices can be filed through the expedited LAA (Limited Alteration Application), but open flame, match start, and electrical hard-wired systems are not permitted through this program.

More details on the application process and requirements can be found here.

For more on outdoor dining under NYC Open Restaurants, check out our other articles on the topic. If you have a code issue that you’d like to resolve, please contact the code analysts at Outsource Consultants.