For a lot of people, shorter days and crisp weather are signs that the outdoor entertaining season has ended. Those lazy outdoor lunches with the family and nights spent with friends on the patio are turned into glorious memories from a summer that’s long since faded. But things don’t have to be this way.
In this gorgeous country of ours, there’s no reason why we can’t entertain and create beautiful memories in our outdoor spaces all year round. Colder days shouldn’t mean the end but rather a cosy new beginning because any outdoor space can be transformed into a warm winter sanctuary with the right heater for patio.
You can find a variety of heater for patio models that can provide you with year-round comfort outside. When it comes to what’s the best outdoor heater, it will largely depend on how you like to use your outdoor area and its setup. The main types of outdoor heaters are gas, electric and solid fuel including wood, heat beads or briquettes. The main benefit of choosing gas or electric is that you can heat your outdoor area by simply flipping a switch. Solid fuel, on the other hand, requires some preparation, but for many, the atmosphere fire creates is unrivalled. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each type of outside heater.
- Provide warmth quickly;
- Most designs are portable or able to be connected to mains power;
- Easy and convenient to replace the fuel;
- Isn’t effective at heating large outdoor spaces;
- Running costs more expensive than gas or solid fuel.
Gas patio heaters are a popular option to heat outdoor areas as they are available in a range of sizes and can be easily repositioned as required. You can find gas patio heaters in freestanding columns to tabletop designs that can be stored away out of the sight in the warmer months.
Unless connected to the mains, gas patio heaters will run on gas bottles, allowing for up to 11 hours of heat when operated on a high setting. Depending on the model, a gas heater for patio has the capability to warm up an area of approximately five metres. However, because they are radiant systems, they’ll only warm up people and objects, not the air.
- Provide warmth quickly;
- More cost-effective than gas;
- Easy to use;
- Require installation.
Electric patio heaters are a great option if you are looking for a discrete and easy way to warm up your entertaining area. The slimline design of these heaters emits radiant heat from above, providing a comfortable and even temperature. They’re easy to maintain and are relatively cost-effective to run. These heaters will, however, cost more initially than a portable gas patio heater.
SOLID FUEL HEATERS
- Can double as a cooking amenity;
- Add to the ambience of an outdoor area;
- Greater options available;
- Can be custom designed;
- Must be used in a well-ventilated area;
- Require more planning for fuel;
- Require safety consideration around children.
Types of solid fuel outdoor heaters include fireplace, firepit and chiminea. An outdoor fireplace is not only a great way to add warmth to your space but also to the whole ambience. Often made from stainless steel, a fireplace can be surrounded by a variety of materials to suit different aesthetics such as natural stone, brick or tile.
Outdoor fireplaces also offer the benefit of being able to radiate heat. Plus, they don’t always require a chimney and can be incorporated in other areas of your entertaining space such as an outdoor kitchen or stone outdoor walls. Using wood in the fireplace can also make it double as a place for roasting the perfect marshmallows.
Firepits have become a popular outdoor heating solution in the last years due to their ability to enhance the social aspect of spending time outdoors. They are also budget-friendly and can be moved around the garden or taken with you if you move home. Firepits can also be built into the garden to create a seamless look. If you’re interested in a firepit, make sure you consider the surface you place the firepit as well as the safety of young children when lit.
Chiminea is a large clay or cast iron heater with one side open and a small funnel above acting as a chimney. It uses a solid fuel source and when the chimney is removed, it can act as a barbecue. Unlike a firepit, chimineas are better at withstanding wind. If choosing a clay design, make sure it has cured properly and isn’t left outside in the cold to avoid cracking and shrinkage.
Choosing an Outdoor Heater
Before you settle on a type, take into account the heating reach you’ll need. For example, a tabletop gas heater can typically generate heat for up to 6 square metres and is a great option for dining under the stars, while a patio heater with a multi-reflector has the capability of warming an area up to 17 square metres, making it ideal for larger outdoor entertaining areas.
Another thing to keep in mind is the size and function of your outdoor area. Is your patio an open or undercover area? Do you use it to relax or entertain? How many people can you fit in the space? Answering these questions will help decide on which heater you should be looking at, as well as save you from spending a fortune on the wrong type of heater.