First of all, what are the options?
Outdoor heating systems come in various styles and designs. Most people opt for a traditional outdoor plug-in heater or one powered by coal or wood, but there are several others worth considering. Electric heaters, gas-fired heaters, mini tabletop lanterns and hanging heaters are proving popular right now, as are firepits – a great choice for creating a cosy, campfire feel in your garden. Traditional clay chimineas or contemporary metal designs can also really elevate an outdoor space.
What should you consider when buying one?
The most important thing to take into account is the size of your outdoor space. A garden or large outdoor area will need a sufficient heater to do the job – free-standing heaters and open firepits are a good choice. If you’ve got a small patio or balcony, it’s best to stay away from fire-powered heaters as these may overpower the space. Instead, go for a small electrical heater, a raised chiminea or a tabletop lantern.
You also need to consider what you’re going to use your heater for. Would you like it to be portable for camping or beach trips? Are you looking to create an authentic firepit experience? Or, realistically, will it get more use if you can easily plug it in? Also, think about where you will store it – are you looking for a garden centrepiece that can stay in place year-round, or a portable model you can hide away in the summer?
Why is now the time to invest?
It goes without saying there’s been a huge demand for outdoor heating in recent months (online searches for patio heaters alone have gone up 300% since September), so now is the perfect chance to finally invest in something you may have put off for years. The thought of sitting outside in the dead of winter seems a little bleak. A good heater will bring a whole new dimension to your space and allow you to make the most of your garden or patio year-round. Firepits can also double up as an outdoor grill or barbecue – great for alfresco dining.
How can you look after them year-round?
Like any outdoor equipment, look after your heater or firepit and you’ll be able to use it for several years. Electric heaters should always be brought inside after use, so make sure you have enough indoor space to store yours safely. To prolong the life of a firepit or chiminea, clean it out after each use and buy a weatherproof cover so it can live outdoors. When the weather is particularly bad, store them in a dry shed or garage to avoid the weathering of clay and metal.
How much should you be prepared to spend?
There are types of heating to suit all budgets, but it’s worth really investing in a quality heater if you want it to last for years. For an outdoor heater or firepit, look to spend up to £500, while a good lantern or small gas heater should cost no more than £200. Chimineas range in price, but clay designs tend to be slightly more expensive and generally last longer.