Best patio heater 2021: for winter warming in your garden

Pick up the best patio heaters with our top 10 picks of gas and electric infrared patio heaters to keep you toasty during your evening soirées
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  • Find the best patio heater for your home to keep you warm and toasty in the winter evenings. If you’re feeling the winter blues and miss the great outdoors, investing in the best patio heater will win you your garden back, even when the sun has gone down. For many of us, there’s no better feeling than sitting outdoors in the evenings with some friends and a bottle of wine, but as the evenings get colder, that becomes a lot trickier. People depend on their patio heater to warm their hands and keep their feet toasty while sat out enjoying the stars.

    In our best patio heater guide we’ve included a range that will suit any home. Most patio heaters are electric, and to be honest, those are our favourites. They often use infrared technology to warm your hands and face directly, instead of just heating the air around you, and they also come in freestanding or tabletop designs. There are also the best gas patio heaters, which have the advantage of being completely plug-free. If your cosy space is right at the bottom of your garden, buying a gas patio heater will liberate you from your nearest plug socket to move your patio heater anywhere you need. Gas patio heaters also often look more commercial and chic, meaning they’re perfect for entertaining this winter.

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    We’ve included a mix of the best patio heaters from online retailers in our guide, with ten top picks for freestanding, tabletop, and even wall-hanging patio heaters to suit any space. If you order a patio heater online right now we’re hoping that you’ll have it in time for the New Year, so you can enjoy some festive fireworks without freezing!

    How to choose the best patio heater

    Best patio heater

    Any patio heater you buy will need to be stored when not in use, meaning a mighty model will only suit those with a chunk of space on the shed, or a dedicated patio heater space in the garden. If you’re short on space and able to install, we suggest buying a wall-hanging patio heater to sit discreetly on your patio wall and keep you warm with the touch of a button.

    Speaking of buttons, you can find some of the best patio heaters with remote controls that will give you controls over your heater even from a distance. That’s ideal for those who want something to occupy a large space in the garden.

    Gas patio heaters are the classic heater you’ll recognise from trips to pub gardens, and they’re ideal for large crowds because they have pyramid shapes that contain the gas fuel neatly away. You can adjust the heat level completely with gas patio heaters because they come with fully adjustable dials. These patio heaters also offer a warm glow that acts as a patio light, as well as a warming feature. That’s perfect for making the most of every part of the garden.

    Electric patio heaters need to be plugged in, but they’re more energy-efficient than gas heaters. Gas heaters warm the air around them, whereas infrared electric models heat you up directly, which means there’s less energy lost in the whole process.

    The best patio heaters 2021

    1. Swan Al Fresco SH16310N Column Patio Heater

    Best column patio heater

    Best patio heater

    Energy type: Electric
    Dimensions: 79.4 x 47.2 x 32.2 cm
    Reasons to buy: 

    • It’s tall enough to warm chilly hands and faces
    • The base is sturdy and perfect for freestanding use
    • It will heat all around the table

    Reasons to avoid: 

    • The actual heating element isn’t the largest

    The Swan Al Fresco SH16310N Column Patio Heater is our top choice of the best patio heaters. It’s got two temperature settings to choose from, either 1000W or 2000W, and the power cord is 1.8 metres for extending out into the garden. 

    This patio heater has a safety switch with a 360-degree tip-over, meaning it will automatically switch off when tilted to prevent any scorching or burning if it falls over.  We also think it’s tall enough to warm the hands and face, while still being a freestanding option that won’t need to sit on a tabletop. The best of both worlds! 

    2. Heatlab 2kW Outdoor Freestanding Electric Quartz Bulb Garden Patio Heaters

    Best overhead patio heater

    Energy type: Electric
    Dimensions: L20 x W7 x H71
    Reasons to buy: 

    • Its overhead is discreet and effective
    • A wide base
    • A range of settings available

    Reasons to avoid: 

    • Not the cheapest

    Affordable and designed for a crowd, the Heatlab 2kW Outdoor Freestanding Electric Quartz Bulb Garden Patio Heaters is 71cm tall and offers adjustable three heat settings of up to 2000W. Lower settings include a 650 watt and 1350 watt setting. 

    The wide base means this patio heater is stable and perfect for placing on a patio. It’s also great for discreet use as the head can overlook your garden table while you drink or entertain. The set of two is great for entertaining. 

    3. Dellonda Propane Gas Pyramid Patio Heater

    Best gas patio heater

    Dellonda Propane Gas Pyramid Patio Heater

    Energy type: Gas
    Dimensions: H227 x W52cm
    Reasons to buy: 

    • It’s wireless, meaning you can take it to the end of the garden
    • Has that classic ‘pub garden’ look
    • Shield at the top keeps it from losing heat

    Reasons to avoid:

    • Gas is never as efficient as electric

    Gas patio heaters don’t require an electrical cord, so they’re perfect for taking far out into the garden. The Dellonda Propane Gas Pyramid Patio Heater is our top pick of the best gas patio heater as it’s got in-built storage space for your gas tank. 

    The controls are available directly underneath the heater, and it has a wide and secure base perfect for entertaining. 

    4. Martello Infrared Table Top Patio Heater

    Best tabletop patio heater

    Martello Infrared Table Top Patio Heater

    Energy type: Electric
    Dimensions: L23 x W23 x H41cm
    Reasons to buy: 

    • Lightweight tabletop design
    • We love the look
    • Oscillating design

    Reasons to avoid: 

    • Tops out at 70oW

    If you want a patio heater to sit on your tabletop while you enjoy an evening meal, look no further than the reasonably priced and lightweight Martello Infrared Table Top Patio Heater. It has two heat lamps, each with 350 watts of power. You can operate the heater on one lamp or two, depending on which level of heat you need.

    At 41cm tall, it’s perfect for placing on the top of a table and even taking out and about on trips. The oscillation is perfect for those who like to entertain, but you don’t have to have it on oscillation mode if you’re sat out on your own. It’s not capable of heating a crowd, but it will be the little injection of warmth you need to sit out in the evening.

    5. IPX4 Streamline Rotating Patio Heater

    Best rotating patio heater

    best patio heater

    Energy type: Electric
    Dimensions: D27 x H82 cm
    Reasons to buy: 

    • There’s enough heat for everyone
    • Will oscillate or focus on you
    • Perfect for corners

    Reasons to avoid:

    • Rotation is limited to 60 degrees

    The IPX4 Streamline Rotating Patio Heater makes sure everyone stays warm thanks to its rotation. The base spins 60 degrees, which means it’s perfect to place in a corner when hosting. There are two heat settings to choose from, and you can select this with the simple and accessible dial on top of the heater.

    This heater is 82cm tall, so it’s best suited to warming your legs and feet. While it oscillates, you can also set this function off and enjoy the heat all to yourself.

    6. Swan Al Fresco SH16330N Portable Patio Heater

    Best tabletop patio heater

    Best patio heater

    Energy type: Electric
    Dimensions: 68.2 x 35.7 x 29.6 cm
    Reasons to buy: 

    • It’s lightweight and easy to store
    • Energy-efficient

    Reasons to avoid: 

    • Not the most powerful patio heater out there

    Weighing just 8.79 kg, the Swan Al Fresco SH16330N Portable Patio Heater is a top choice for portability. You can place it under tables or on top of them, and the in-built handle makes transportation convenient. 

    The Swan Al Fresco SH16330N Portable Patio Heater has 1200W of power and comes with an aluminium reflector to make the most of the efficient carbon fibre heating element. 

    7. Opranic 2KW Electric Patio Heater

    Best infrared patio heater

    Energy type: Electric
    Dimensions: W19 x D12.7 x H100.5 cm
    Reasons to buy: 

    • Five heat settings
    • Remote control

    Reasons to avoid:

    • Not the largest option out there

    The Opranic 2KW Electric Patio Heater has an aluminium body and knitted carbon flament. The infrared function means it’s super efficient, only heating objects nearby and not the air itself. 

    This heater has 2000W of power and comes with a textile cover to keep it safe when not in use. There’s also a safety function that automatically shuts the heater off when tipped. Opranic also claim that the IP34 certified heater has at least 10,000 hours of battery life.

    8. ALUK 2000W Patio Heater

    Best hanging patio heater

    best patio heater ALUK 2000W Patio Heater

    Energy type: Electric
    Dimensions: W58.5cm x D58.5 x H35H
    Reasons to buy:

    • So discreet you’ll not even see it
    • Very easy to store

    Reasons to avoid:

    • You’ll need something to hook it up to

    For gazebos, pergolas or covered balconies, choose the ALUK 2000W Patio Heater. It’s infrared, meaning you’ll feel the heat directly when sitting underneath it. There’s also a remote control for easy operation and an aluminium frame to keep pergolas and balconies safe. 

    Given its small frame, the 2200W power is pretty impressive.

    9. Swan Al Fresco SH16340N Wall Mounted Patio Heater

    Best wall mounted patio heater

    Best patio heater

    Energy type: Electric
    Dimensions: 79 x 21 x 16.5 cm
    Reasons to buy: 

    • It can be a permanent feature in your garden
    • Will sit on the wall all year round

    Reasons to avoid: 

    • You will need to mount it

    The Swan Al Fresco SH16340N Wall Mounted Patio Heater can be mounted either vertically or horizontally on your patio wall for year-round use. It’s waterproof and designed for any weather conditions, and the 1.8 metre power lead means it can be placed a good distance from your living space. 

    There’s a remote control included, as well as an on/off button on the side of the heater itself, and there’s a total of 1800W of power. 

    10. Herschel Havana Portable Electric Patio Heater

    Best portable patio heater

    Best patio heater

    Energy type: Electric
    Dimensions: H65 x W20cm
    Reasons to buy: 

    • Cheap to run and long bulb life
    • Two metre cable

    Reasons to avoid: 

    • 800W isn’t the most powerful

    Costing just 12p to run per hour, the Herschel Havana Portable Electric Patio Heater cuts down on costs thanks to its 800W of power. It may not warm you up as much as a more powerful patio heater, but it’s a smaller option that offers 10,000 hours of bulb life.

    The cable length is 2 metres, making it perfectly portable for taking out into the garden or placing on the patio. It also gives off a nice warm glow. 

    What is the best type of patio heater?

    Best patio heater

    Patio heaters are available in both gas and electric models. Gas patio heaters are great because they don’t require a lead to be plugged in, so you can take them to the bottom of the garden and enjoy all evening long. 

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    Electric patio heaters typically come cheaper and with more direct heat, especially when they use infrared heat. This heats surrounding objects directly, instead of the air around the heater itself.

    In our guide to the best patio heaters we’ve included small and large options. Some can be placed on top of or underneath tabletops, making them easy to carry around and great for smaller gatherings. There are also wall-mounted and hanging patio heaters available, which can be hooked up to gazebos and pergolas for prolonging evening drinks.

    How long do patio heaters last?

    The best patio heaters can last in excess of 10,000 hours. Most patio heaters indicate the lifespan of the heater bulb when buying, as well as the running cost per hour.

    If you opt for a gas patio heater the lifespan could be endless, because you’re always able to replace the gas tank and when the old one runs out. This is best suited for those who like to entertain, which is why you’ll often see gas patio heaters in pub gardens.

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