We feel the need to mention that “best” is a subjective term, so rather than just produce a list of 10 random heaters, we have created a list of different heaters that excel in their particular field. We’ve based our list on cost effectiveness, style, consumption, popularity, as well as taking features and price into account.
Please do let us know what you think in the comments at the end and if you end up purchasing a heater, come back and leave a review for others to read!
Introduction to the Different Types of Patio Heaters
Before we get started, let’s cover some of the basics of the different types of patio heaters available on the market.
Whether you’re looking to provide heat in the garden, on the patio or deck, or even if you’re a commercial users that require heating in the pub, restaurant, club or smoking area, fear not. There are a huge number of practical solutions to outdoor and indoor heating depending on your requirements.
First you need to decide what style of patio heater you want, as they come in an array of different types, which include (but are not limited to) floor standing / free standing, ceiling mounted, parasol, table top or wall mounted.
Once you’ve figured out the style of heater you’re after, you need to decide on which type of fuel you’re going to be using.
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Different Fuel Types
Most standard patio heaters will consume either gas or electricity. There are other types of heaters on the market that consume bio-fuel, wood (or alternative solid-fuels) and ethanol heaters, but they aren’t “traditional” patio heaters and tend to fall under either chimineas or fire tables.
The vast majority of patio heaters will consume either electricity or gas as their energy source.
If you’re looking for something different, there are a few unique products on the market, we’re fans of the fire table style heaters – although be warned, they come at a cost.
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Efficiency, Energy Consumption & Heating Type
Consumption is measured in Watts – e.g 2000W or 2kW but consumption doesn’t indicate efficiency or heat output, so buying a higher wattage heater won’t necessarily result in more heat! We’re looking for BTUs (British Thermal Units) and heat coverage as our primary indicator of efficiency.
For example a 3kW Gas Powered Patio Heater vs a 3kW Electric Powered Patio Heater will yield vastly different results as shown below.
|Heater Type||Consumption (W)||Heat Coverage||Hourly Running Cost|
It doesn’t end there, as these heaters also offer different types of heat. Gas heaters will provide convective heat, which means it heats the air around it as well as objects in the nearby vicinity. In contrast, most electric heaters will give off radiant heat, usually via infrared bulbs or elements, be it quartz, halogen, carbon, ceramic or otherwise!
An advanced 3000W electric infrared heater will be able to provide heat coverage for up to 30sqm, whereas a 3000W table top gas patio heater will provide around 5-7sqm of coverage.
The cost of running a patio heater isn’t just limited to what you’ve paid for it and the cost of fuel, be it gas or electric. You’ve also got to factor in how long the heater and parts will last. For example, a cheap gas patio heater with powder coating and no waterproof cover will rust after 1 season, so we recommend that you purchase a gas stainless steel patio heater whenever possible, as these last substantially longer for just a few quid more.
If you’re choosing an electric patio heater (which we recommend over gas heaters, but you won’t always have access to an outlet so we won’t preach!) – you’ll find that the patio heating unit itself will last “forever” but you have to be mindful that the elements or lamps within these heaters need replacing after a certain number of hours. Traditionally halogen and quartz bulbs or elements last between 3,000 to 5,000 hours, while carbon elements tend to last 7,000 to 10,000+ hours!
We’ve given you a rundown of the average life expectancy and cost of the different types of electric heaters below. As a general rule of thumb, the more you pay for the heater, the longer the elements will last and more bells and whistles it’ll come with. Replacement elements will be more expensive but will also need replacing less often.
Commercial users or those of you that need to heat a larger area will do better with patio heaters that use carbon elements, whereas home users may be better off with halogen or quartz heaters.
|Element / Bulb Type||Lifespan (Hours)||Heater Cost||Replacement Element||Heating Area (sqm)||Consumption (Watts)|
|Halogen||3,000 to 5,000||£30-80||£8-25||3 to 12||900 to 3,000|
|Quartz||3,000 to 5,000||£30-200||£8-60||5 to 15||1,200 to 3,000|
|Ceramic||5,000 to 10,000||£100-400+||£30-60||10 to 30||1,200 to 4,000|
|Carbon Fibre||7,000 to 10,000+||£70-400+||£35-120||15 to 35||2,000 to 4,000|
Electric heaters are by and large the most efficient of the two, as they convert over 94% of the energy consumed into heat and produce up to 90% less Co2 emissions than their gas counterparts. They also cost substantially less over the course of time than gas heaters.
Curious how much a patio heater costs to run? Or how long a bottle of gas will last in a patio heater?
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Features of Each Heater & Suitability
Another thing to look out for, is the added features of each heater. Whether it’s a free protective cover, a remote control, glare reduction or suitability for indoor or outdoor usage.
All of the heaters listed today are suitable for garden or outdoor use and all the electric heaters listed can be used indoors as well!
When looking at protection from the elements, you’ll be looking for an ingress protection (weatherproof / waterproof) rating of at least IPX4, which would indicate protection against splashing water. Most electric heaters come with a rating of IPX4 or above, but some go as high as IP67 – offering complete protection against dust ingress and submersion in water up to a depth of 1 metre! Most users won’t need a fully weatherproof heater but try to aim for IPX4 and above. You can read more on IP ratings here.
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If you’re looking for an electric patio heater that can be used outdoors, whatever the weather, then make sure it has an ingress protection rating (IP rating) of at least IPX4.
Different Types of Infrared & Glare, Low-Glare or No-Glare?
Electric patio heaters offer one of three different types of infrared heat: A) Short-wave or “near” infrared, with operating temperatures up to 2,700C. B) Infrared or “middlewave / medium” infrared heat operating at temperatures between 500 to 800C. C) Far-infrared or “longwave” infrared with temperatures of less than 500C.
These infrared heaters are different to the traditional fan heaters that you may have come across, or had to use when your boiler is on the fritz, which provide convectional heat by heating up a coil and blowing air over it to heat a room.
In terms of glare, it’s quite simple – ceramic heaters provide no glare as there are no light emitting elements, carbon fibre heaters tend to be glare or no-glare with light reduction elements, usually gold covered, which increases heat coverage by up to 20%. Halogen and Quartz offer glare or low glare options. Low glare elements are more expensive due to the increased manufacturing cost but may come with an extra 2,000 hours of lifespan.
|Heater Type||Infrared Type||Glare Type||Type of “Heat”||Operating Temperature|
|Halogen||Near Infrared||Glare or Low Glare||Hot / Intense||Up to 2,700C|
|Quartz||Near & Medium Infrared||Glare or Low Glare||Medium||500 to 800C|
|Ceramic||Far Infrared||No Glare||Comfortable||Less than 500C|
|Carbon Fibre||Far Infrared||Glare or Low Glare||Comfortable||Less than 500C|
Carbon and ceramic heaters offer a much “cooler” far-infrared heat, making them more practical in commercial spaces. They may cost more but they’re worth every penny.
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The Difference Between Gas & Electric Patio Heaters
Most patio heaters use either gas or electricity to generate heat. Electric patio heaters are by far the cheaper and more eco-friendly of the two, as they produces up to 90% less Co2 emissions than a gas heater. They are also less noisy and consume less energy. With the added benefit of being somewhat cheaper to run and purchase than gas patio heaters.
Infrared electric heaters and halogen heaters heat up surfaces (radiant heat), which makes them more efficient than gas heaters which heat up the air around them (convective heat).
Gas heaters may 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 2000 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.
A 15000W gas patio heater will provide heating coverage for approximately 15-25sqm, whereas each Veito 2000 can provide heat for up to 25sqm. We don’t need the same level of BTU output to achieve the same level of heat coverage.
|Patio Heater||Heat Coverage||BTUs||Upfront Cost||Cost Per Hour|
|Samos 15kW (Gas)||15-25sqm||52,000||£300||£3.08|
|Veito 2000 (Electric)||25sqm||9,000||£250||£0.29|
Assuming you have access to electricity, the Veito 2000 is £50 cheaper to purchase and costs £2.79 less per hour to run! As always there are cheaper alternatives to these two heaters that offer similar specifications, but the running costs will still stay the same.
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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).
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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.
Fire Mountain 3000W Table-Top Patio Heater vs Oypla Electric 2000W Quartz Weatherproof Heater
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.
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How Long Does a Gas Bottle Last in a Heater?
We’ve done the math for heaters ranging from 3000W to 15000W based on different tank sizes for you below so you don’t have to. We’ve erred on the side of caution with this list, your mileage may vary depending on ambient temperature but this table is correct to within +/- 10%.
The result you see below is the number of hours you can expect to get from a tank. To calculate the running cost, simply divide the cost of your gas tank (or refill) by the number of hours. E.G a 13kg tank refill for £33 providing power for a 13000W patio heater will last for 12 hours. £33 / 12 hours = £2.75 per hour.
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How Much Gas Does a Patio Heater Use?
The average modern day “efficient” patio heater will use approximately 1kg of gas (propane/lpg) per 12kW of power.
So to calculate how much gas you’ll use you need to use the following formula.
X = Gas Tank Size
Y = Wattage
Z = 12000
(X / (Y/Z)) or (12kg / (3000W/12000W)) = 48
Based on a 3000W table top patio heater & a 12kg tank of gas costing £33
12000W = 1kg (1kg of usage per 12000W per hour)
3000W / 12000W= 0.25kg (3000W usage per hour)
12kg divided by 0.25kg = 48 hours per 12kg tank of gas
Based on a 15000W patio heater & a 12kg tank of gas costing £33
12000W = 1kg (1kg of usage per 12000W per hour)
12000W (1kg) + 3000W (0.25kg) = 1.25kg (15000W usage per hour)
12kg divided by 1.25kg = 9.6 hours per 12kg tank of gas
We’ve listed the latest price at the time of review and will endeavour to update this list as frequently as possible to keep prices in check.
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