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Outdoor Heaters

As the summer comes to an end we all want to continue to make the most of the longer evenings by using our gardens. This is made easier by the use of garden or outdoor heating systems. This makes a garden into a usable space at times when we would have usually retired indoors.

Popular outside pubs, due to the smoking ban, outdoor heaters are becoming much more popular in all types of settings and with the right advice you can choose the best heater for your circumstances too.

Patio heaters

Generally a patio heater will use radiant heat and a reflector located at the top of the unit. Usually powered by gas, they should be used in open, well ventilated areas. The heat is reflected down towards the seating area and not out into the air. Because they are gas powered they can be moved around the garden easily. They can be free-standing or table top and are very effective. In most cases, people will need to stand close to feel the effects, but they do give out a good amount of heat.

Wall heaters

These are electric and are fitted to an exterior wall at above head height. They are connected to the mains and reflect their heat down towards a seating area.

Environmental concerns

In 2008 the government considered banning patio heaters due to the emissions of CO2. On average they will emit around 35kg of CO2 per year, when used regularly. The Energy Saving Trust have described this as minimal. However, they are considered to be less than efficient, as much of the heat does move into the atmosphere relatively quickly. Fuel efficiency runs at around 65%. Bearing all this in mind, it is wise to only use a patio heater in parts of the garden where the heat will remain, such as walled off areas. Also only use it when absolutely necessary. Buy the best you can and ensure it has a large reflector.

Safety Issues

  • Always place a patio heater on a level surface and ensure it cannot be knocked over or touched by children.
  • Do not have the heater close to anything which could catch fire such as leaves, overhanging trees or washing on lines.
  • Check the unit regularly to ensure no parts have come loose and in particular make sure the pipes connecting to the gas bottle are secure and not blocked.
  • Make sure electrical heaters are connected to the mains with a transformer.
  • Never use a patio heater indoors, inside tents or under awnings.