Patio heaters make it so that you can enjoy the evening for longer, even after the sun has gone in. They can be wall mounted or floor standing to provide comforting heat while you enjoy the night with your friends or family, or even just with a good book.
How do patio heaters work?
There are 2 main types of patio heaters: gas and electric.
Electric patio heaters simply need to be plugged in to work. You may choose to get it properly wired in by a qualified electrician, but this isn’t necessary if you have a plug available outside. They are a preferred choice as they are simple to run and (when used with green electricity) have no carbon emissions. Electric patio heaters use radiant heat. This means they warm up people, furniture and objects directly rather than heating the air around the heater. This makes them perfect for outdoor settings as the heat won’t get wasted.
Gas patio heaters are powered either by mains natural gas or a propane bottle. If you choose to have it connected to your mains gas, it will need to be installed by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Gas patio heaters use a flame to heat the air around the heater which then slowly heats the area, making them less efficient than electric patio heaters.
Important considerations for your patio heater
Probably the first thing people will consider when looking to buy a patio heater is upfront costs and running costs.
Electric patio heaters are the more cost effective choice. As with all things there is a price range, but you can pick up an effective patio heater for relatively cheap when compared to the cheapest gas patio heater.
For running costs, mains electricity does cost more than mains gas (52 p/kWh for electricity and 15 p/kWh for gas*), but electric patio heaters use less Watts (an average of 2-3kW compared to 13kW) than gas patio heaters and are much more efficient.
Choosing the right size and placement
To make sure that the size of your patio heater is suitable, you should measure the area that you want to use it in. You also need to ensure that it can be placed on a flat surface at least 1 metre away from anything flammable – and this should be taken into consideration when choosing the right size.
As you would expect, gas patio heaters produce more CO2 than electric patio heaters. Whether you use mains gas or gas bottles, the impact on the environment for gas patio heaters will be higher than an electric patio heater, especially if you have ‘green’ electricity.
Patio heaters, especially gas patio heaters, need care and maintenance to keep working their best.
When not in regular use (for example during winter) your patio heater should be covered and moved into dry storage. Any debris should be regularly cleaned off and the outside should be wiped down from dirt or excess moisture.
Gas patio heaters should be checked over by a Gas Safe registered engineer to make sure there isn’t any fault or blockage that may cause gas to escape without combusting which may be dangerous.
Advantages and disadvantages of patio heaters
- Great for outdoor gatherings that go into the evening
- A range of sizes, mounts, and designs to suit every space
- Can heat large areas if needed
- Highly portable so can be moved wherever necessary
- Gas patio heaters may need professional installation
- Electric patio heaters need to be close to a plug
*Accurate as at 31/08/2022