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How Do I Choose the Best Garden Heater?

By Eugene P.
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are many styles and designs of garden heater available, but they are different enough that it can be fairly easy to choose the best one for a patio or outdoor space. Considerations when choosing a garden heater should include the type of fuel used, the way the heat is distributed, safety and the overall appearance of the unit. Knowing that an open flame is undesirable, for example, could exclude braziers and fire pits from consideration. Likewise, having no outlets on the outside of the home could eliminate any electric heaters. The best garden heater will fit well in the outdoor space, provide the type of heat needed and be safe to operate.

The power source for the garden heater should be the first decision made. There are electrical units, gas units that run on tanks of propane or butane, and gas units that must be directly connected to a home’s gas supply lines. Electricity has the advantage of being able to run as long as necessary, while propane tanks might be less expensive over time. Eliminating the types of fuel that are either unavailable or undesirable can narrow down the choice of garden heater.

Next, the type of outdoor heater needs to be chosen. The most basic heaters are simply holders for a fire. This could be anything from a stove-like fireplace to a wood-burning heater or even an actual stone fireplace. These heaters use an open fire to generate an area of heat around them, usually low to the ground. They could use a gas flame but more often use wooden logs or pellets as fuel.

Portable outdoor heaters provide the ability to be moved to wherever people are sitting outside. They can use electricity or gas tanks and can be easily taken inside when not in use. Larger models resemble an indoor kerosene heater while smaller, tabletop models can be disguised as lamps or other shapes. The heaters are very good for small gatherings or, when more than one is used, can each serve an individual table or area of guests.

Patio heaters are tall, lamp-like units that direct radiant heat downward, around their base. These can use gas or electricity and provide a circle of heat that can encompass several people at once. They are vulnerable to strong winds that could blow the heat away. Using more than one patio heater could create a warm area in the center for guests to enjoy.

Safety also should be a primary consideration. Open fires in areas where there are children or pets could be deadly. The garden heater will become very hot, so having a raised unit or one that is safely in the center of a table can work well, too.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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