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Beat the bad weather with heating that keeps your outdoor space cosy!

With autumn now upon us it’s time to consider what heating options are available to keep you enjoying your outdoor space – whether it be a patio, deck, conservatory or canopy awning. Whether an ambient fire pit or traditional gas patio heater, it’s important to pick the right option to keep you wining and dining long into mid-winter!

What Do I Need To Consider When Choosing Outdoor Heating?

  1. How well ventilated is my outdoor space? The levels of ventilation required depends on the type of fuel used. If using natural fuels such as wood, there needs to be adequate ventilation to not only “feed” the fire but to also keep the space from being too smoky. If the space is semi-enclosed – such as a pergola – then a Fire Pit is an option (remembering to keep this safely away from the timber-structure). If a conservatory, then an electric heater is the better option. It is not recommended to use a gas patio heater in a fully enclosed space.
  2. How large is my outdoor space? The ease of moving a heater cannot be underestimated, especially if your outdoor space is sizable and your budget not so! Propane / butane gas patio heaters are often mounted on wheels, meaning they can be shifted around a larger space relatively easily, especially along smooth surface areas such as stone paving. Once lit, fire pits are set for the night meaning you, rather than the pit, needs to rotate to make sure everyone is warm enough! As electric heaters are often powered from a homes main supply they also have limitations with rotating around a larger space. Mounting or hanging numerous electric / gas strip heaters is often a technique adopted by pubs or restaurants and can be equally as effective in a residential covered or semi-enclosed outdoor space.
  3. What shelter does my outdoor space provide? No one wants to be rained-off from a party – or even worse snowed-in! If your outdoor space is fully or semi-enclosed then your have the option to use open-flame heating without the fear of it being dampened – bearing in mind you have the correct ventilation and a safe space to keep it under control. Wind will also not be an issue. Alternatively gas patio heaters can be left outside indefinitely and are durable, meaning they can be exposed to the elements and remain standing!
  4. How frequently will I use the outdoor space? Ease of use and fuel supply are key considerations. If you choose a fire pit or chiminea it is worth noting that you will need a steady supply of seasoned wood stocked-up to keep this burning through the winter months. On the other hand, gas-powered or electric heaters are simple to ignite and maintain, burning “clean” and providing numerous safety features noted below.
  5. Will I be using the space to cook? If the answer is yes then a clean burning fuel (i.e. gas or electric) is recommended to provide a pleasant atmosphere free from smoke and other pollutants! However, there is the option to convert a fire pit into a BBQ.

Outdoor Heating Options

Gas Patio Heater

There are commonly two sources of gas for patio heaters – bottled LPG (propane / butane) or natural gas (plumbed to the house mains supply). They are often either free-standing or hanging/ wall mounted.

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Advantages of a Gas Patio Heater:

  • Portability: Gas patio heaters are considerably more portable than electric heaters – which are normally wired into the wall or fixed to a socket. 
  • Style: The flame from burning gas has a natural aesthetic that is mesmerizing on a dark evening (vs. either the artificial glare of an infrared patio heater or electric heater). Instant heat also means you aren’t rubbing your hands together for too long!  
  • Safety: Gas patio heaters are relatively safe due to providing heat with no naked flames, meaning unwanted fires are a low risk. Additionally, electronic ignition means you very rarely – if  ever – have to use a match, preventing burns and an anti-tilt mechanism extinguishes the flame if the heater ever falls or is blown over. But what about gas leaks? Most modern heaters are now fitted with a device called a thermocouple. This automatically shuts off the gas supply if the heater flame is ever extinguished.