We’re all aware that the British summer can be a fickle mistress, one night it’s a scorcher, the next humid as hell and then we’re blessed with a wash-out. Fortunately with the advances in patio heater technology, you need never miss another night in the garden!
If you’re thinking about investing in a heater for the garden or patio, but you’re unsure how much it’ll cost, keep reading and we’ll breakdown the cost of running your gas or electric patio heater in detail, before you buy one!
The difference between gas & electric patio heaters
Most patio heaters use either gas or electricity to generate heat. Electricity is by far the cheaper and more eco-friendly of the two, as it produces up to 90% less Co2 emissions than a gas heater. It is also less noisy and consumes less energy. As a whole they’re also cheaper to buy than gas heaters.
Infrared electric heaters and halogen heaters also heat up surfaces, which makes them more efficient than gas heaters which heat up the air around them.
Gas heaters have a lower upfront cost for commercial users that need to heat a large area – however there is a diminishing cost savings when you factor in the cost of gas (LPG/Butane/Propane)
For example, you can buy a 15000W gas patio heater with a 52,000BTU output for approximately £300 + £60 gas tank. To get the same BTU from a commercial electric heater you’d need to spend closer to £1,350 on multiple heaters (a Veito Blade S2000 has 9000BTU’s on full power). So we can say that gas heaters have a lower upfront cost in terms of power output vs initial investment.
However the gas patio heater will consume approximately 1.25kg of gas per hour. This quickly eats into our initial savings.
We’ve done the calculations below for gas vs electric patio heaters.
How Much Does It Cost to Run a Patio Heater?
If you just need a rough idea on how much it costs to run your patio heater — A 2kW electric heater on full power will cost about 30pence an hour (based on an average cost of 14.7p per kWh) while a 15kW gas patio heater costs about £3.00 an hour (based on a 13kg tank refill costing £33).
Still interested in buying a patio heater? Why not have a browse at our best patio heaters for 2020.
Running Costs: Gas vs Electric Patio Heaters
Cost of Running a Commercial Gas Patio Heater
In this example we’re using a 15000W Firefly Samos patio heater with 52,000 BTUs.
15000W heater running costs based on a 13kg gas refill (£32):
13kg / 1.25kg = 10.4 (hours per tank)
£32 / 10.4 hours = £3.08p
At full power we can expect this patio heater to cost us approximately £3.08 per hour.
15000W heater running costs based on a 19kg gas refill (£42):
19kg / 1.25 = 15.2 (hours per tank)
£42 / 15.4 hours = £2.76p
At full power we can expect this patio heater to cost us approximately £2.76 per hour.
This is dependent on the size of the tank purchased. A smaller tank would cost more and inversely a larger tank would net larger savings – however most commercial heaters have limited space beneath.
This setup will provide heat for up to 25sqm
Cost of Running a Commercial Electric Patio Heater
In this example we’re using 5.7 x Veito Blade’s S2000 with a consumption of 11400W producing 52,000 BTUs.
Hourly electric heater running costs (5.7 x Veito blades 2000W vs 1 Firefly 15000W) – to achieve 52,000 BTU’s:
2kW x 1 hour = 2 kWh x 14.7p
(29.4p x 5.7) = £1.67 per hour for 52,000 BTU’s
So we can see an hourly saving of between £1.09 and £1.41 on an electric vs gas patio heater! But this setup will provide heat coverage for up to 142.5sqm compared to the singular gas heaters measly 25sqm!
We’d need to have these heaters running for 990 hours before seeing a saving (vs 19kg tank), but assuming conservative usage of 6 hours a day we’d break even after just 165 days. Each element is rated for 10,000 hours. So if we were to run a gas heater for 10k hours vs electric heaters for 10k hours we’d save between £9,910 and £13,110.
Gas: £360 + (10,000 hours x £3.09 – 13kg tank) = £31,160
Gas: £360 + (10,000 hours x £2.76 – 19kg tank) = £27,960
Electric: £1,350 + (10,000 hours x £1.67) = £18,050
Total cost savings over 10,000 hours vs 13kg tank – £13,110
Total cost savings over 10,000 hours vs 19kg tank – £9,910
What About Residential Patio Heaters?
Most home users won’t need 52,000BTUs to heat their patio, but for the sake of fairness we’ve shown just how much you can save on an electric heater vs a gas patio heater in a commercial setting. Home users will save even more especially on budget patio heaters.
We’ll do some quick calculations below to show you the difference in price between 2 entry level gas and electric heaters.
Residential Gas Patio Heater Running Costs
A bottle of 13kg propane patio gas from Calor costs £32. Most modern patio heaters will use approximately 0.25kg of gas per hour at full power (3000W)
We calculate the hourly usage as follows:
3000W heater running costs:
13kg / 0.25kg = 52 hours
£32 / 52 hours = 0.62p
At full power we can expect this patio heater to cost us approximately 62p per hour.
£99.00 (heater) + £32 (gas bottle) = £131
5000 hours cost (bulb life of Oypla) = £3,100
Total cost over 5000 hours = £3,231
Home Electric Patio Heater Running Costs
2000W heater running costs:
2kW x 1 hour = 2 kWh x 14.7p = 29.2p
29.2p + 50% = 43.8p (3000W consumption cost)
5000 hours cost = £1,460
5000 hours cost at 3000W = £2,190
Total cost over 5000 hours = £1,499.99
Total cost over 5000 hours at 3000W = £2229.99
Our electric heater will cost us £1.001.01 less than our gas patio heater over a period of 5000 hours, or £1731.01 when factoring maximum consumption rate of 2000W.
In both instances we can see the electric heater is about 2/3rds of the price of the gas patio heater. We haven’t factored in transport costs of getting in replacement gas tanks either!
So if you’re looking to save money and reduce the impact on the environment, then electric heaters are the clear winner. If you’re not too fussed about costs or the environment then gas is for you! Bear in mind that the longer you use the gas heater, the larger the running cost difference will become.