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Which heater for my patio?

Whatever the forecast may be, there’s a warm summer ahead, even in the evenings! But what is the ideal heating for your patio?
There are 6 types: 3 with visible flame and 3 without flame.

Models with visible flame

1. The fire basket: very romantic, but not very practical

You build a fire in a simple metal dish or basket, or in an actual garden fireplace made from cast iron or ceramic.
A fire basket causes smoke and ash, cannot be regulated and is not really suitable in windy weather. You should only really use a fire basket on a large patio that gives out onto the garden.

2. A mood fire with bio-ethanol: pretty but not very efficient

It is a design solution that is often rather expensive. A mood fire offers attractive flames, but hardly gives off any heat. Incidentally, when it burns it produces an enormous amount of steam.

3. Gas-fired patio heater: ideal if you sit next to it

You enjoy the flames playing in a glass column: attractive to look at and effective if you sit near to it. This solution is ideal if you do not sit too far away, but is unsuitable for long tables. In addition, this patio heater is more expensive than other gas-fired models..

Models without flame

These generally offer more heat, but do not create as much atmosphere. If you want flames, place some tea lights on the table or large garden candles in the ground.

1. The gas-fired 'mushroom': affordable but can get in the way

The gas-fired patio heater in the shape of a toadstool emits heat from the top over a fairly large circular area. Choose a model on wheels, with piezoelectric ignition and regulating knob.
Disadvantages: lugging gas bottles around, and noise. Some models emit a faint whistling sound.

2. The gas catalytic heater: pleasant if you sit

This appliance emits heat for about one metre in just one horizontal direction. Very comfortable if you sit in front of it.
It can also be used outside. Handy.

3. The radiant heater: the least romantic, but the most efficient

It is silent, adjustable and emits a less intense heat. You can hang it on the ceiling or wall, or put it on wheels. It is available in various lengths, is cheap and you can use several for a long table or in several corners. There are upright halogen models or umbrella versions.
Disadvantage: extension cords, providing a fixed position, etc.

What does it cost to run?

The purchase price is one aspect, but the energy-efficiency and thus the consumption varies between the models.
A specific example:

  • Only 40% of the energy consumed by a toadstool heater is actually transformed into heat. The rest dissipates as hot smoke.
  • A radiant heater, on the other hand, is much more efficient: you enjoy 95% of the energy consumed.

A radiant heater of 3 kW can give as much warmth as a toadstool heater on propane of 11 kW. It is also cheaper in use: 0.6 euro per hour compared to 1 to 3 euros per hour for a toadstool heater using propane.

If you only occasionally turn on the patio heating, the capacity does not need to be your most important criterion.

Some safety precautions

Don’t forget that these appliances are intended for outdoor use. The combustion gases must be released into the open air.
If you use such appliances in a closed veranda or other indoor room, you run the risk of serious CO poisoning. And we haven’t even mentioned the potential damage from the steam that is released during combustion. Opening a window is not enough.

Whichever model you choose, always make sure that the patio heater is at a safe distance from parasols, wooden tables or buildings, plastic chairs, etc.

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