Are you making the most of your outdoor spaces? You may be wondering, how do I keep my garden or patio warm on cold days and evenings? Enter: the outdoor patio heater.
"Gardens come alive in the summer, with alfresco lunches, sun-soaked play dates and languid evenings lit up by fairy lights and citronella candles," says HELLO! Online Homes Editor Rachel Avery. "To ensure you can utilise your outdoor space for as long as possible this year, a patio heater is a wise addition. Whether you go for gas or electric, these are an ideal way to combat the evening chill and create a cosy atmosphere for hosting."
And there are even more perks to adding a garden heater to your outdoor space. “Investing in a patio heater allows us to spend an extended amount of time in our gardens, helping to prolong our evenings and encourage us to be a part of nature, which can be great for our mental health,” explains outdoor heating expert Georgette Beacham of BigDug.co.uk.
“With the British weather being constantly unpredictable, incorporating a patio heater into your garden can avoid the evenings being cut short, even if the weather changes. BiGDUG saw an initial spike in sales during the pandemic in 2020, and there has been a steady rise ever since, with freestanding options being a particularly popular choice due to factors such as versatility.
With the cost-of-living crisis and more people spending time at home, it appears that many of us are carefully investing what money we do have into our gardens, enabling us to really make the most of our outside environment.”
Choosing a patio heater: My experience
I bought an outdoor heater during lockdown and it has proven to be one of my pandemic purchases that I still love today. I learned that every inch of my home can be levelled up to be useful all year round, and my outdoor heater is perfect when I want to sit on my terrace on cold or chilly nights.
After carefully measuring my terrace, I began researching my best options, and, after ruling out wall or ceiling heaters due to the layout of my space, opted for the Blumfeldt Venice electric heater. I chose to go with electric because I didn't want to have to worry about gas canisters for a tower style heater. The Venice not only had specs - size and heat radius - that ticked the boxes for what I was looking for, but also because it was within by budget - costing around £220.
Last but certainly not least, I chose it because I wanted a patio heater that wasn't just functional, but also stylish.
While my Blumfeldt patio heater has mixed reviews online, the most frequent complaint seemed to be that the heat didn't radiate enough for larger spaces. (As a shopping expert I can tell you that the best reviews to check out are the three-star ones - that way you generally get the pros and the cons!)
I was looking at heating a smaller area, so opted to take the chance and am glad I did.
In fact, my patio heater made me think even more about creating warmth in my outdoor space. Adding to the ambience I had created with an affordable set of fairy lights, I also bought an inexpensive tabletop bioethanol fireplace to add another level of cosiness.
Which patio or garden heater should you buy?
If you're wondering what the best patio or garden heaters to buy are, the top options are electric heaters, gas heaters and Love Island-style fire pits (even the Prince and Princess of Wales have one!)
With a host of outdoor heaters available these days, there are plenty of options that will add instant warmth to your patio or garden.
For my edit of the best patio heaters, I took some main points into consideration:
Top ratings and reviews: Since I haven't been able to try each patio heater personally, I scoured scores of patio heater reviews and ratings from verified shoppers on trustworthy retail sites including John Lewis, Homebase, Wayfair and Amazon to help me evaluate the best options to buy.
Style: While of course function comes first, I didn't leave style considerations out since patio heaters are usually a very visible element in your outdoor space. Aesthetics are important if you are trying to create the most relaxing and comfortable garden, patio or terrace that you'll want to spend more time in.
Price: While patio heaters can run up into the thousands, not everyone is ready or able to majorly splash out on outdoor heating. So you'll also find patio heaters that are affordable for smaller budgets.
Brand reputation: While it's great to find a bargain, brands that we love and trust that have established reputations are our main go-to - so you'll find such reliable outdoor heating specialists like Blumfeldt, Kettler and La Hacienda on the list.
There are certainly plenty of functional-looking models on the market, but if you’re looking for something that’s not just effective, but will also add a chic touch to the decor of your patio or garden, we've taken a look at the best outdoor heaters with great reviews that look and work great, too.
Which are the best patio heaters?
The short answer is: It depends! With so many aspects to consider when deciding which to buy, you first need to decide what your priorities and needs are, from energy efficiency to how much space you need to heat and of course what your decor inspiration is, from rustic to modern, relaxed or formal. There are even patio heaters with built-in Bluetooth speakers and lights for the ultimate garden party vibe.
Star Electric Heater with LED Light & Bluetooth Speaker, £129.99, Amazon
This electric heater also provides light and your favourite music played from your bluetooth device.
What is the most efficient patio heater?
If you're looking for energy efficiency and a greener way of heating your patio or garden, an electric outdoor heater is your best bet. Infrared electric outdoor heaters are generally about 90% energy efficient, while gas outdoor heaters run at about 75% efficient – and with electric patio heaters, you don't have to worry about the CO2 emissions that come along with gas heater usage.
Also keep in mind that wood-burning fire pits emit smoke into the environment – and might irritate your neighbours.
This eBay gas patio heater will certainly warm up your outdoor space with 3.5 - 8kW adjustable heat.
Enders Elegance Gas Patio Heater, £79.99, eBay
Can you use a patio heater on decking?
Electric and gas heaters are safe on decks but do not use a fire pit on decking unless it has been specifically designated to be used on wood, vinyl or other types of surfaces. (For example, Wayfair has a section dedicated to fire pits that are safe for use on wooden decking.) And be sure you take extra safety measures, for example using a heat-resistant base pad and spark screen.
Also, remember that outdoor heaters should not be used in enclosed spaces like garages or basements, and should be kept away from flammable materials at all times.
What is the best outdoor electric heater?
Electric outdoor heaters are low-fuss and eco-friendly, consuming less energy. You also don't have to worry about fuel so there's no additional cost there, and they are super simple – just plug the heater in and your outdoor space is ready to go! They come in hanging designs as well as tabletop electric heaters and floor-lamp styles.
You can even find models like this one, which I love because it has the appearance of a gas heater but in an energy-efficient electric halogen style.
Best standing electric patio heaters
2-in-1 Electric 2KW Patio Heater - Standing & Wall Mounted, was £120 now £34.99, Wowcher
This Wowcher bargain certainly is a hot one! Grab a 2-in-1 heater for less than £40.
Swan Stand Patio Heater, £99.99, Swan
From the stylish Swan outdoor heater collection is this device with three power heat settings from 650W to 2000W, and adjustable height from 1.57m up to 1.9m tall.
Nedis Patio Heater, £35, eBay
One of eBay's bestselling electric patio heaters is this 1500W lamp-style which stands at 200cm with three settings and safety features including a tip-over switch and overheat protection.
Heatlab Freestanding Garden Patio Heaters, set of 2, £97.98, Amazon
If you have more room to work with, this set of two multifunctional heaters is a worthy investment. Providing optimal heat and light, they're perfect for garden gatherings that go on well into the night.
Best hanging patio heaters
Heatlab vintage style hanging heater, £79.99, Primrose
With less than 18p an hour running cost and a retail price under £80, the Heatlab heater is a stylish AND budget-friendly choice.
Outsunny hanging heater, £89.99 (WAS £119.99), Amazon
This 2500W hanging heater is one of Amazon's highest-rated, earning a 4.7-star average.
KETTLER Kalos Terrace Hanging Pendant Electric Patio Heater, £199, John Lewis
The Kalos has a traditional copper lantern look but is actually an electric heater with a power output of 1500W. One caveat - a John Lewis reviewer pointed out the flex is "way too short to practically plug it in", so that's something to take into consideration.
Best tabletop patio heaters
Blumfeldt Loras table heater, £149.99, Amazon
When it comes to style, the Blumfeldt Loras table heater is super chic with an elegant fabric lampshade.
Best wall-mounted heaters
Wall-mounted infrared heater, £59.99, Primrose
Primrose has a huge selection of patio heaters ranging in price from £79.99 to the ultimate patio heater – the £2,300 Term Tower Palm, which heats large spaces of up to 44 sqm. The indoor-outdoor heater above provides both heat and light, has three heat settings (700W, 1400W and 2000W) and a remote control.
Outsunny Electric Mounted Heater, £119.99, Wayfair
This 1500W halogen heater which has earned a 4.8 out of 5-star rating on Wayfair, can be either mounted on the wall or can be installed hanging from the ceiling.
Electric Wall Mounted Patio Heater, £50, Dunelm
The infrared technology provides rapid instant heat and features 2000W with 3 heat settings
Swan Wall Mounted Patio Heater, £109.99, Swan
An 1800W heater with remote control that can be mounted to the wall or ceiling.
Best parasol patio heaters
Parasol Outdoor Heater, Amazon
If you'd like to install a heater underneath a parasol in your patio or garden, this infrared outdoor space heater has three heating panels that fold toward the umbrella pole for easy storage. It has three power settings – from 650W to 2000W – and is designed to heat a space of up to about 4.5 metres.
La Hacienda Heatmaster Parasol Electric Heater, £149.99, Argos
You can attach this 1800w patio heater, which has two heat settings, to either a parasol or a tripod.
Dakota Fields Comburg Electric Patio Heater, £119.99Wayfair
Designed for either commercial or domestic use, this parasol heater has three cosy heat settings.
What is the best outdoor gas heater?
Gas heaters, particularly the tower style, are popular at outdoor pubs and restaurants for example because they heat up large spaces evenly. They come in some very cool designs and have a clean-burning cosy flame effect, not unlike a fire pit. For gas heaters one thing to keep in mind is the expense and effort to buy fuel to power it.
For a change from the tower design, a column-style gas patio heater which will heat a large area of up to 30 m2.
Best small or under table patio heaters
Mensa Heating Imus Under Table Infrared Heater, £165 each, Amazon
For something a little more discreet, Mensa offers an infrared heater that will easily fit underneath your outdoor table. It's lightweight, portable and completely safe to touch when turned on for ultimate convenience.
Herschel Havana Portable Electric Patio Heater, £29.99 (WAS £169.99), Nisbets.co.uk
A compact 800" option that's 65cm tall and heats up in just 5-10 seconds.
What is the best outdoor bioethanol fireplace?
Maybe you are less concerned about heat and are looking for something simple that gives a warm vibe to your small patio or terrace. A bioethanol fireplace just might be the perfect solution for you! These smaller fireplaces, which can be used indoors or outdoors, run off bioethanol fuel – simply ignite with a lighter or match for a clean-burning, natural and cosy flame.
Tabletop Fireplace,Bio- Ethanol Fire Pit, £63.99, Amazon
A chic option that has an up to three-hour burn time.
PURLINE AMALTEA Bioethanol Fireplace, £49.99, Amazon
An enamelled black steel bio chimney in a modern design that resembles the branches of a tree to fit right in with your garden's natural surroundings.
What is the best outdoor fire pit or chiminea?
Fire pits are a good choice if you want to create a rustic ambience and aren't worried about bothering the neighbours. They also make for a fabulous focal point for your gathering place. If you're worried about smoke, a fire pit doesn't have to use wood – you can look for fire pit-style designs built for gas or propane as well.
Fire pit table, , Amazon
This fire pit table does triple duty as a fire pit, BBQ and even an ice cooler!
Hand Forged Crown Fire Pit by Bexsimon Ltd, £1,300, NotOnTheHighStreet
Give your outdoor space a Game of Thrones vibe with this spectacular made-to-order crown fire pit.
La Hacienda Steel Chimenea - Bronze, £37.50 (WAS £75), Argos
The La Hacienda chimineas and fire pits are some of the most popular at Argos.
Round Fire Pit by All Things Brighton Beautiful, £199.95, NotOnTheHighStreet
Made from 100% carbon steel, this round fire pit will add a rustic-chic touch to your outdoor space.