How to stay warm outside on the patio? Heater or fire pit?

How to stay warm outside on the patio? Gas / electric heater or fire pit?

The age old question, how to stay warm in the evening on the patio. Do you go for an age old tradition; the fire pit, the old around the fire mood setting, or a more modern and probably less of a feature, but more doing it’s job in the background, heater setup. Both have benefits and drawbacks so which way will you choose to stay warm on the patio outside at night (or in the day if it’s a bit nippy). Perhaps after looking at all the options you’ll decide an extra layer of clothing the best option 🙂

One curveball option is to go with a charcoal bbq or bbq smoker. This means you are cooking and not necessarily wasting energy. If you have that slight guilt factor creep in as I do then a food smoker radiates heat beautifully 🙂

Fire pit to stay warm on the patio

My preference, without question is the old fire pit. It doesn’t need to be a fancy fire pit either, I have an old oil drum I’ve cut down and slam in the middle of a few chairs. Granted not the most aesthetically pleasing method but you can obviously go with something a bit more sophisticated in the link I provided.

There’s nothing quite like the old hunter gatherer thing where you all huddle around the fire. Everyone is engaged looking into the flames. A very relaxed and enjoyable setting indeed. Personally I don’t think you can beat this but some don’t like the smell of the smoke on their clothes, the clean up on the patio the next day is quite extensive too.

How to stay warm in the garden outside on the patio

You definitely want something under your fire pit to stop damage to the floor and if you’re doing this on decking then raising the heat away from timber isn’t a choice either. Put some bricks under your makeshift fire pit to stop your decking from starting to char. A purpose made fire pit has this taken care of already.

You also have the ash that invariably wafts it’s way around the patio area. This can be a right sods to clean up. If you haven’t used patio sealer in a while the nasty black soot somehow has a knack of finding it’s way in and subsequently not cleaning out, even if you use a hose rather than brushing it up.

If you’re aware you the pitfalls though (cleaning your clothes, hair smelling of smoke, cleaning the patio carefully) then there’s no question, a fire pit wins for me and the kids love an open fire too. It’s taught them the dangers of a fire!

Wall mounted heater

One great way of heating the patio if it’s quieter enclosed is a wall mounted heater for a patio.

There’s a few great reasons to really love these. Firstly they can be remotely operated which means zero fuss turning on and off. Totally unlike a fire pit where you need to keep an eye on the fire till its goes out and starting it can take some time too. This can be pumping out heat in a matter of minutes and you’ll really feel it if you’re reasonably close.

Being a couple of thousand watts or so normally, these things really do pump out some heat. The light is quite handy too. The outdoor patio types are waterproof and completely safe to use. They are jus there, looking reasonably stylish in the background doing the job. A couple of these doubled up in an enclosed area really make a big difference to the ambience of your patio.

Table top heater

My second pick is a table top heater which are generally gas powered. Unlike electric wall mounted heaters, you know exactly how much fuel you’re burning. You’ll normally get 4-5 hours on mid setting out of a tank of gas which is fine, you know exactly where you stand. The unwanted electric bill to me is a problem. A big nasty surprise at the end of the month as all the bills roll in doesn’t do me any favours with regards to my mood.

So not that they workout much cheaper, they just heat much better and again become the focal point of the patio. I much prefer this as the warmth is what enables to stay longer and enjoy the evenings in our garden.

Personally I love the type that let off flames. I love seeing a fire, if you don’t, you can get the type where the fire is housed away and the heat radiates out through the metal casing. This is a very safe way of keeping warm on the patio and definitely my second pick for top ways to stay warm outside.

Patio heater

Your typical patio heater is very similar to a table top heater but is less intrusive and just part of the ambience. However, with that said, you still want it as close by as possible to enjoy the warmth. These really come into their own if you have a few of them on low setting dotted around you. This is pretty juicy as far as the gas is concerned but proves a superb ambience.

Using grass bottles gives you that control on your budget too and most patio heaters these days are pretty sensibly priced. So many people are buying them that economies of scale are really coming into play. Only a few years ago the same quality was nearly double what you pay now!

Have a burn up with all your green waste and a garden incinerator?

If you’re like me and you hate wasting energy but really want to be in the garden then the obvious solution is a garden incinerator and all your green waste. This method has the most drawbacks but being free and helping to clear up the garden for me certainly balances those.

Firstly green waste invariably smokes the most so you probably want to use a good bit of kindling to get the fire roaring in the first place. This way, if the branches and leaves aren’t completely dried out they won’t smoke too much, they’ll basically evaporate quickly.

You could always put on a jumper and gloves but that would defeat the whole point of how to stay warm outside on the patio 🙂

Hopefully you’ll be able to enjoy some long summer evenings with some of these tips!

About Terry Smith

I’m Terry Smith from, a professional landscape designer, hobbyist gardener, and barbecue fanatic with 20 years experience building and restoring. So as you go through my site you'll watch me document some of the professional garden installs I make as well as the major projects I take on at home. While sharing those experiences and guiding you, I'll be recommending some great tools I use to enable this along the way so you can really buy in confidence. Always feel free to pop me a message:

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