Investing in one of the best patio heaters on the market can be a great way to maximise time spent al fresco and extend your enjoyment of your outdoor space.
Adding the warmth of an outdoor heater to your outdoor dining set or installing a freestanding or wall-hung patio heater will allow you and friends or family to linger outside for longer – despite any chill in the air or the unpredictability of British weather.
If your outdoor living space is near a convenient power point then you can opt for an electric patio heater, or you can plump for a gas patio heater or wood-burning fire pit if you’d prefer to be liberated from reliance on your nearest plug socket.
Either way, an outdoor heat source will warm up those outdoor gatherings and keep you cosy when you fire up the BBQ or pizza oven. (Make sure to check out our guides to the best BBQs and best pizza ovens of the year if you haven't yet sorted your outdoor cooking set-up!).
To help you make the right choice for you, we’ve tried and tested bestselling patio heaters from multiple leading brand names in this guide, putting each outdoor heater through its paces to assess ease of assembly and setup, ease of use, portability, design features, and, of course, performance, to see which patio heater is the best at keeping the cold air at bay on a cool and breezy evening.
The quick list
Short on time? This quick list is an overview of the very best patio heaters. You'll find more information on each outdoor heater and why our testers recommend it if you keep on scrolling.
Best tabletop patio heater
Affordable and versatile, this compact and lightweight infrared patio heater offers good functionality for a reasonable price and benefits from low running costs. There are two size options, both with two easy-to-use heat settings, 360° oscillation, and an easily portable design that can be used indoors or out.
Best freestanding patio heater
Perfect for garden parties, this freestanding column electric patio heater emits heat both front and back to keep guests warm whilst they're mingling. It also offers two heat settings and impressive build quality.
Gas patio heater
Best gas patio heater
A large, stylish and powerful gas patio heater that offers the freedom to place it wherever you want – without needing access to an outdoor power socket. If only it didn't cost so much to run...
Most stylish design
Kettler's patio heater collection offers plenty of stylish designs if you want an outdoor heater that looks good as well as offering warmth. The Kalos Lantern patio heater is available in three sizes and creates the perfect alfresco ambiance.
Most affordable patio heater
A budget buy, this freestanding electric patio heater is height-adjustable with a tilting head and three heat settings. We found its functionality somewhat lacking, but, for the price, you might be willing to overlook its basic design.
Best wall mounted patio heater
If you're short on floorspace, or want to keep an outdoor heater well out of reach of children and pets, then this wall mounted electric patio heater is a good option. It can also be ceiling mounted, and just requires a suitable fixing point.
Best patio heaters 2023
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Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The Blumfeldt Heat Guru 360 Patio Heater does lots of things well and for a very reasonable price. Available in two sizes, either the 44cm tall Mini Heat Guru, or the taller 56cm model we tested, the Heat Guru is lightweight, compact, and, as such, very portable. Its compact build also makes for easy storage and means that the heater can be used indoors over winter, adding extra versatility to your investment.
It offers two heat settings – either 600W or 1200W in the larger model – thanks to its two independently controlled heating elements, and also comes equipped with oscillating modes that enable the heater to rotate through 360° or 120° to warm multiple users in turn. Plus, there's a handy built-in automatic switch-off function should the patio heater tip over.
Its infrared electric functionality is designed to heat objects rather than air, and it did a great job of warming up our reviewer, who was also impressed by its economical running costs. Even better, the Blumfeldt Heat Guru 360 Patio Heater comes ready assembled, so there's no DIY to do before you can use it, and it's very easy to operate. The icing on the cake is that it's also a very affordable purchase in relation to comparable products.
The only real downsides worth noting are that unless you prefer your heat source low to the ground, you will also need an outdoor table or mid-height surface to place this heater on if you want it to keep torsos and faces warm, and, as an electric heater rather than gas, you are somewhat restricted to where you can use it outdoors as you'll need access to a power socket.
Beyond that, this versatile, compact, and affordable patio heater is very hard to fault, which is why it tops our list of the best patio heaters you can currently buy.
Read our full Blumfeldt Heat Guru 360 Infrared patio heater review for more detail.
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
If you don't want a tabletop patio heater cluttering your dining surface then the Swan Column Patio Heater is a great freestanding option that can heat faces and torsos when users are seated but is also tall enough to warm a group who are standing up.
Even better, heat is distributed through both the front and back of the heater, so it's perfect for placing in the centre of the patio during an outdoor gathering when guests are mingling.
The column design also lifts the heating elements up higher, meaning they're more out of reach of small children or pets, and as added peace of mind, it comes with a 360-degree tip-over safety switch built in which means it will automatically switch off should it topple.
However, based on our testing, this sturdy patio heater seems unlikely to get easily knocked over. Our reviewer noted its robust build, heavy base, and good quality design – as well as its 12.8kg weight – which means once it's in place it's staying put.
The flip side to that is that this isn't the most portable outdoor heater, and you will need a decent amount of storage space to store the 140cm high column design when it's not in use. You can dismantle it, but self-assembly took our reviewer around 20 minutes, and although relatively easy to assemble, that may not be a task you want to do often.
On the plus side, like the Blumfeldt Heat Guru 360 Patio Heater at the top of our list, the Swan Column Patio Heater is ideal if you’re keen to keep a check on running costs. Its two heat settings allow you to toggle between 1000W and 2000W of power, and provide a degree of flexibility – and economy – that few outdoor heaters have.
Read our full Swan Column patio heater review for more detail.
Best gas patio heater
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The biggest plus point of a gas patio heater is that you have the freedom to position it anywhere you want in the garden. Unlike an electric patio heater, you're not limited in placement by access to an outdoor power socket, so this fuel type can be a useful option for large gardens or any outdoor spaces where a socialising area is a long way from the house.
Compared to other gas patio heaters we've tested, the Outsunny 11.2kw Pyramid Gas Patio Heater is noticeably more stylish, offers good build quality, and is relatively affordable. You also get the option of two heat settings, and it comes with an anti-tilt switch built in, so it’ll shut off automatically if knocked over.
It offered good heat distribution in our tests, and its generous size and tall design made it a great option for keeping standing guests warm at an outdoor gathering. Plus, it looks good, with its high borosilicate glass tube and visible gas flame creating a real focal point as dusk draws in, and needing less active maintenance than a wood-burning fire pit.
The downsides are that you'll need to assemble this patio heater yourself, and it's a bit of a faff to do. Plus, once assembled it's large, heavy, and – despite its built in castor wheels – it's bulky to move and to store (although an outdoor cover is included). Burning through gas also raises environmental concerns and means higher running costs compared to electric, so this fuel type won't be for everyone.
Time-consuming self-assembly seems to be part and parcel of investing in a gas patio heater at this more affordable price point, and, although it only needs to be done once, it's an important factor in a purchase decision. It took our tester 2.5 hours to build this heater all-in-all, so if you're less able-bodied or time poor, then the ready-assembled Blumfeldt Heat Guru 360 Infrared Electric Patio Heater at the top of our list could prove a much more hassle-free option.
Read our full Outsunny 11.2kw Pyramid Gas Patio Heater review for more detail.
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
If you want a patio heater that will create a stylish focal point on your patio, then the Kettler Kalos Copper Lantern Patio Heater certainly fits the bill. Designed to look like a traditional lantern, its shiny copper finish reflects the sunshine to deliver statement style even when it’s not turned on, and at night time our reviewer loved the warm light from the rose-gold halogen tube at its centre, saying 'unlike the harsh glare of some heaters, it provides a gentle glow that's perfect for setting a relaxed ambiance as the sun goes down'.
Lightweight and equipped with a large carry handle, this patio heater is also easy to move around the patio – although as it's electric, you will still be restricted to placement within access of a power socket.
However, it does come up short in some regards. Whichever of the three available sizes you opt for (73cm, 84cm, or 98cm tall) they're a significant investment. And for their price, it's a shame you only get one heat setting – a rather uneconomical 2000W – with no option to tone the heat down to save energy and expense.
It's a particular shame considering the fact that the two more affordable patio heaters in our best patio heaters round-up – the Swan Column Patio Heater and Blumfeldt Heat Guru 360 Infrared Patio Heater – each offer two heat settings for less cash. There's also no oscillation mode with the Kettler Kalos, which the Blumfeldt Heat Guru offers for a far cheaper price.
That said, we like the fact that the Kettler Kalos Copper Lantern Patio Heater is lightweight, easy to move around, heats up fast, requires no assembly, and provides a stylish ambiance to alfresco dining – whether it's turned on or not.
Read our full Kettler Kalos Copper Lantern patio heater review for more detail.
If you're looking for a cheap patio heater, then the Devola Core 2kW Freestanding Patio Heater is a budget option that does the job.
As well as its affordable price tag, you get three heat settings – that's two more than many patio heaters over 3 times its price – a height-adjustable stand, the ability to tilt its head to direct the heat where you want it, and a remote control.
But, there are some downsides. It's not the most stylish patio heater to look at and its budget design impacts its performance, with the heater only offering a very short cable that means you'll likely need to invest in an additional outdoor extension lead if you don't already have one.
Our reviewer also found the heater only offered a narrow projection of heat, and although the tilting head is a good feature, in practice this was difficult to do when the heater was turned on as the head got very hot to the touch. We also missed the peace of mind of an automatic tip-over safety switch, which most other patio heaters on our list have, and the Devola does not. Lastly, the remote control’s usefulness soon fades a little due to its limited range.
All that said, if you’re on a tight budget and want an outdoor heater that doesn't require you to splash too much cash upfront, the Devola Core 2kW Freestanding Patio Heater still offers some evening warmth and won't break the bank in doing so.
Read our full Devola Core 2kW Freestanding Patio Heater review for more detail.