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Outdoor Heaters: Get ready for the cooler evenings!

We all like to make the most of the lighter evenings during the warm weather, but what about when the nights start drawing-in and it gets a bit chilly? Here are some of the main space heating contenders for warming up your patio, decking, garden or other outdoor leisure space.

Patio Heaters – one of the most popular ways of extending your in-the-garden days into the evening, patio heaters usually use the same kind of Patio Gas as gas-powered barbecues – useful if you already have a gas barbie as you can perhaps share one gas bottle. They’re generally quick to light, most having twist, push-button or electronic ignition, and give off a fair amount of localised heat (from 4 to 13 kW, dependent on which size you buy). Because they’re available in a number of different designs and heights, you have the choice of the table-top variety, which connect through a table’s sun-umbrella hole so that the gas bottle can go neatly underneath. Or, get a taller version if it’s stand-around party situations you have in mind. These give off far more heat – and spread it over a wider area – and will often incorporate a gas-bottle cover into their design, providing a neater finish.

Either way, on the safety front, look out for models with anti-tilt switches, flame-failure devices that cut-off the gas if the flame is blown out by a gust of wind, quick snap-connectors for easy disconnection and weighted bases to help prevent them getting knocked over.

Tip: As with gas barbies, when you switch them off, turn off at the gas bottle first, so that there’s no unburned gas left in the hose. This prevents the hose inner from gradually clogging up, thereby restricting gas flow and heating performance.

If replacing gas bottles isn’t in your plan, neat Electric / Halogen versions are available, in an even broader range of styles, but their heat output is usually much lower than with gas versions, only achieving 1.5 to 2kW, and there’s

obviously a need to run a power cable / extension lead to them.

And...for the real party animal, built-in lights and speakers are a feature of some models too! 

Chimeneas – let you simply burn wood within them as an enclosed alternative to an open fire, radiating heat out to create a convivial atmosphere to socialise into the night. You can also get versions with cooking grids to grill steaks, sausages etc at the same time – yet another reason for a gathering! Traditional fired-clay versions were first used 400 years ago by Spanish settlers in Mexico, hence the hand-made, ethnic style of many current models, though minimalistic, modern styles are also available. If you want the real thing though, be careful to follow the manufacturers’ instructions about warming them up and being sure not to cool them down too quickly as sudden extremes of temperature may cause them to crack. Those with a little less patience might prefer the much more durable cast-iron versions, often with a bronze-coloured finish, which perform in exactly the same way, though will obviously start to discolour and rust with usage.

Wood-Burning Firepits & Firebowls – give you an experience that’s even closer to the traditional open fire, containing your burning logs to prevent unwanted scattering of hot embers so you maintain a good fire for longer. Firepits come in all shapes and sizes, some very basic, others quite ornate, made from stainless steel, black-painted steel, cast iron with ‘industrial-look’ rust finish – even choosing recycled steel to achieve individual objects of real interest. A complete variation in scale lets you find something suitable for a small courtyard or for big spaces with larger gatherings of people. All in all, they’ve done a lot to bring the humble bonfire back into fashion and are perfect for people with the type of gardens that provide free wood to burn.

For those who want the warmth and look of an open fire, but without the smoke, sparks and ash that inevitably comes with them, a gas firepit is worth considering. Although quite pricey, they give you real convenience and control, with masses of heat and none of the mess or smokey smell on your clothes at the end of the evening. With a solid build, from composite stone or similar, they typically use a stainless steel burner hidden by ceramic wooden logs and lava rocks that serve to absorb and radiate up to 20kW of heat – an impressive output from such compact units.

Grill & Firepit Tables – for the best of both worlds, these give you the added luxury of combining the outdoor grilling of food with a comfortable place to dine and keep you warm at the same time – a bit like gathering around your barbie to eat but with designed-in safety and

memorable style. As well as the full dining sets, there are also smaller versions to go with your casual dining set if you don’t want the formality of sit-at-the-table outdoor dining – either will add a different dimension to entertaining or just making the most of your outdoor leisure space. With a highly luxurious look and feel, these are definitely worth considering if you’re into small, intimate gatherings with good friends.

Outdoor heaters are perhaps as much about perceived style and lifestyle choice as they are about heat generation in the garden. If you’re that traditional ‘camp-fire’ type of person, maybe with fond memories of camping out with the Scouts and Guides etc, the crackle of logs on an open fire has an appeal all of its own. But, if you’re more after a stylish piece of equipment to keep your gatherings going into the evenings, providing a welcoming warm glow and some heat gain, but without the smoke and puther that makes you feel like you’ve been fire-fighting all day, there are lots of gas and electrically-powered options to choose from. Either way, enjoy your extended time in the great outdoors!  


Norwich Camping & Leisure Village, in Blofield, east of Norwich, Norfolk, has one of the UK’s largest outdoor displays of tents and awnings, plus indoor showroom displays of camping & caravanning equipment, outdoor clothing, garden furniture & buildings, barbecues and a fully-stocked garden centre. Barbecue brands in stock: Weber; Napoleon; Outback; Campingaz; Broil King and Cadac.

The Leisure Village also has a farm shop, coffee shop and a professional-standard car, camper & caravan hand-wash station. With nearly 50 years of experience and practical, friendly advice – plus FREE NEXT-WORKING-DAY DELIVERY on orders over £100 (Terms & Conditions apply) and our Best Price / Price Match Policy and low-rate finance terms why not find us online or come along and see us!    Tel: 01603 717600    [email protected]    Follow us on Twitter!