Best Outdoor Heaters: How to Keep Your Patio Warm and Cosy

It’s no secret that Australians love outdoor entertaining, and it can be a shame when warm summer nights get replaced by the colder weather of winter. But, there’s no reason why you can’t still enjoy the outdoor space of your home during winter.

Why? Well, with a wide range of great heating options available, from electric heaters to fire pits, you can keep using the outdoor entertaining areas of your home even during winter. 

 

What Do You Need to Consider Before You Buy?

It’s a good idea to consider what is most important to you when buying the best outdoor patio heater for you. These are common considerations:

Purpose

Consider the size and shape of your patio and outdoor space, this will change the size of the heater that you need. Also, if your patio is enclosed then you should only use an electric outdoor heater.

If your family and friends often gather around a table, then perhaps a tabletop heater is perfect. Or, if you want your outdoor heater to serve as the focal point that people can gather around, a fire pit is a very popular choice.

Budget

Depending on the size and style of your heater, you can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $1000 for your outdoor heating. Tabletop heaters are often the cheapest option while standing heaters are often the most expensive. 

Power

How much power do you need? Every heater has a different heat output, which you can find measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units). Most manufacturers will indicate how much space their outdoor heater can effectively keep warm on their product packaging or other marketing materials.

Safety

Regardless of whether you’re using an outdoor gas heater, a fire pit or a wall or ceiling mounted heater, you will face risks. 

A standing outdoor gas heater can create a fire if it falls over. Modern models will automatically turn off when not standing properly, however it is still best to ensure that your heater is left exposed to strong winds or uneven ground. 

It is strongly advised to place your gas outdoor heater or fire pit in an open space. Placing these in an enclosed space will at worst put you at risk of carbon monoxide buildup and at best will leave your entertaining area filled with smoke or smelling of gas. 

If you want an outdoor heater in an enclosed space such as a patio, it’s recommended that you choose an outdoor electric heater.

Design Features

There is a range of features available across a wide variety of heating options. 

If you want an eco-friendly option, then using a fire pit combined with eco-friendly compressed logs will expel less CO2 than other types of outdoor heating.

If being energy efficient is important to you, then consider using an electric outdoor heater. Most modern electric outdoor heater designs are energy efficient.

Ease of Use

Different patio heaters will require different levels of installation and maintenance. 

Most fire pits can just be placed on the ground and they’re ready to be used. 

An outdoor electric heater might require some assembly before being plugged into a power supply. A gas outdoor heater might also require some assembly and require a gas canister installed and occasionally replaced.

For a common outdoor gas patio heater or outdoor electric heater, you’ll only need to flip a switch to turn them on and off. Fire pits will require a bit more work as you’ll need to get a fire started yourself. 

 

Types of Outdoor Heaters

If you’re still unsure as to what the best outdoor heater is for you, here are the pros and cons of each type of outdoor heating available.

Propane Heater

Pros:

  • Quick to heat up
  • Little to no installation required for most models
  • Propane gas heaters are usually easily portable

Cons:

  • Propane gas is more expensive than natural gas
  • Should not be used in enclosed or small spaces, due to exposure to carbon monoxide.
  • Propane gas tanks will need to be replaced over time

Natural Gas Heater

Pros:

  • Natural gas is very affordable
  • Very easy to maintain

Cons:

  • An outdoor gas heater is very expensive to buy and install
  • Should not be used in enclosed or small spaces, due to exposure to carbon monoxide.
  • Requires a gas line, therefore may be hard to move, if at all possible.

Electric Heater

Pros:

  • Electric heaters only need to be plugged in. No additional installation required.
  • Safe to use in enclosed or small spaces.
  • Easy to use and maintain. 

Cons:

  • Cost of electricity is higher than natural gas or propane.
  • Your electric outdoor heater must be kept close to a powerpoint. You can use an extension cord but that may create a tripping hazard in your entertaining area.
  • As a heating source, it can be slow to heat up.

Wood Heater

Pros:

  • Very affordable
  • Creates a fantastic atmosphere for outdoor entertaining. Fire pits are a definite winter favourite. 

Cons:

  • Fire pits take longer to heat up since they require a live fire. You will also have to keep the fire going over time.
  • Maintenance is high as you will need to clean fire pits of ash and other waste from them after use.
  • Require an open area, as smoke will fill enclosed or small areas.

Electric VS Gas Heaters

Electric Outdoor Heater Gas Outdoor Heater
Purchase Cost Average price of electric heaters is $50 – $200 Propane gas heaters can cost as little as $150, but natural gas heaters are more expensive and can be as much as $1000 or more.
Running Costs Electricity prices in Australia make electric heaters more expensive than gas heaters. However, this is only the case when you have a natural gas connection. Otherwise, the debate between which is cheaper can be complicated. Gas heaters are very energy efficient. Check the energy star labels on your heater for more details.
Heat Up Speed Takes a while to start and has difficulty with large spaces. Incredibly quick to heat up.
Maintenance Should run fine if you take good care of the heater. Requires a professional service every few years.

 

Design Options Available

Standing

An incredibly popular sight in many homes and restaurants. These tall designs are often made with stainless steel and provide fantastic heat output. These are ideal of outdoor entertaining.

Wall Mounted

Keep your outdoor space open with a wall-mounted heater. Installing a wall mount is relatively easy, so you can enjoy electric heated outdoor entertaining with ease. While most wall-mounted heaters are electric, Australian manufacturer Bromic has a range of great gas heaters. Their Heat-Flo series is great and even come with handy accessories such as deflectors.

Tabletop

Small tabletop heaters are affordable ways to provide radiant heat in a small area. Portable radiant heaters are as common on the tabletop, as they are below to keep your feet warm. 

From a gas heater outdoor, to fire pits or an electric heater, there are plenty of fantastic options from great Australian brands such as Bromic and Fire Sense available. Make sure to consider which heater suits your patio or outdoor space before you make a purchase.

 

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