A lit fire pit at night

Gas, electric or solid fuel: what’s the right patio heater for you?


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As the nights draw in and the weather takes a distinctly chilly turn, our gardens start to look less enticing by the time we get home from work. But after months of hard work to get your lawn and other parts of the garden looking fantastic it seems a shame to start spending all our evenings tucked up inside already.

If you want to prolong the amount of time you can spend outdoors come autumn, then you might be considering investing in a patio heater. But there are many types and price points all of which have their pros and cons. So, what’s right for you?

Solid-fuel options

a rustic firepit

These types of patio heater include fire pits and chimeneas. Burning logs, charcoal, or woodchips these options are the right choice for those who love the crackle and pop of a real fire. They create a romantic ambience, and you can even cook on some varieties.

Sadly, if you’re looking to use your patio heater every single night, they can be rather impractical and expensive to run.

In addition to the fact that you need to build and light a fire every time you want to use them, they produce smoke which is harmful to inhale and – especially with fire pits – can be blown into the faces of your guests, stinging eyes, and leaving a smoky smell on clothes.

So, in short, this option is cheap to buy (with some options available for as little as £25) and perfect for relaxing with friends on a Saturday night, but not the best option if you want a heater to keep you warm for 30 minutes while you read a book outside after work.

The Independent lists the Indigenous recycled firepit as the best option money can buy. While it might seem a little on the pricy side, it is robust and comes with a grill, allowing you to also use it as a barbeque.

Gas patio heaters

a modern, chrome, gas patio heater, not on.

Gas patio heaters have seen a surge in popularity in the past 18 months as pubs, cafes and restaurants utilised them as a cheap-to-buy solution to keep patrons warm during periods when Coronavirus restrictions only permitted outside dining.

Gas heaters provide instant, omnidirectional heat from a clean-burning, smokeless flame – it may not crackle like a log fire, but on the plus side you can turn it off at a moment’s notice. This makes them considerably more convenient to use than a fire pit or chimenea in certain instances.

Gas heaters essentially offer a compromise between the aesthetic advantages of solid-fuel heaters with the convenience of electric solutions, but this does come at a considerable cost. While gas heaters sometimes have a lower upfront cost than electric options, they are considerably more expensive to run, and the money you save on purchase may soon be eclipsed by the amount you spend on propane. They also produce CO2 which attracts mosquitos and is bad for the environment.

Real Homes lists the Dellonda Pyramid Gas Patio Heater 13kW as the best option in their list of patio heaters. Its contemporary design will appeal to many with a yellow flame suspended in a tube within the 2-metre chrome pyramid.

Electric patio heaters

The head of an electric patio heater

Electric heaters are the cheapest kind of patio heater to run, as they can direct their heat in one direction, they are vastly more efficient. This means they are likely to be the best option for those who know they will be getting a lot of use out of their purchase.

Different types of electric heater can be wall-mounted, operated by a timer, or even remotely controlled as well giving you lots of options when buying. There are lightless options, like fan heaters you’d find inside, which are good for those who are looking for a discreet choice.

From a convenience, cost, and environmental perspective then, electric heaters beat all the competition and they are also safer which means they will probably be the first choice of parents with young children. But to many, they simply lack the appeal of a real fire, meaning they will not consider electric solutions.

If an electric option seems right for you, then Horticulture Magazine recommends the Heatsure 2KW Electric Patio Heater, priced very reasonably at 49.99. This heater can heat a whopping 15 metres squared on its highest setting. It also has adjustable height settings and an easy setup, making it perfect for people who want a quick solution.

Looking for more garden advice?

Check out the rest of the blog, we’ve got advice on everything from buying the right lawnmower to what garden chores you should do each month.

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