Written by Terry Smith

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Best propane heater [UK]: Top indoor and outdoor propane heaters compared with house, garage, and patio options

This article was last updated on April 23rd, 2022 at 2:53 am

Although there are a ton of excellent garden heater products to choose from, Propane heaters are not just for keeping your family and guests warm on the patio. No sir, these tools can come in just as handy indoors, such as heating a shed, garage, or workshop.

Want to keep yourself warm when you’re away from the home? Maybe you’re sick of the workshop feeling like a freezer, or you want to make your camping or caravanning trips more comfortable? Well, there are some fantastic, compact, propane heaters available too.

So, let’s dive in to this in-depth article on everything you need to know about the best propane heaters, and see our pick for the best of them below-

We think the best propane heaters in the UK are:

Best propane heater: Glow warm patio heater – perfect for patios

Best alternative pick for a propane heater: Bu-Ko patio heater

Best portable propane heater: Mr. heater portable buddy – must have for any camping setup.

Best small propane heater: Mr. heater portable buddy

Best small propane heater alternative: Kingfisher table top heater

Best large propane heater pick: Sealey LP401 space heater

What you need to know buying a propane heater

Before you dive in and make your purchase, you might want to give the following things a bit consideration-

Indoor and outdoor propane heaters

You might hear some people saying that you should never use a propane heater inside and instead use an electric heater, but that’s not really true.

There are some propane heaters that are designed to only be used outdoors, and for various reasons such as the fumes and other safety factors, they shouldn’t be considered for indoor use.

On the other hand, you can get propane heaters, especially smaller models, that have been tested and even designed to be used indoors. Now, I don’t recommend that you have a large propane heater in a very small shed and stay in it for 18 hours per day, but in a well-ventilated indoor area, they can be used effectively.

The best indoor propane heaters will have built in safety features like oxygen depletion sensors that will cause the heater to automatically shut down if the levels of oxygen in the air gets low. Outdoor patio heaters don’t have this feature, so please don’t ever use one indoors.

Having a compact propane heater that is designed for indoor use can come in really handy when there are power cuts. Yes, a good torch will provide you with light, but will it also keep you warm in winter? A mobile propane heater will do both, so keeping one ready for emergencies is a pretty good idea.

So, despite what some might say, you just have to make sure the one you buy is suitable, and also use a bit of common sense like not placing it on a flammable surface, and you’ll be fine.

Outdoor propane heater ideal for patios and garden setups

Propane vs butane

While both propane and butane are hydrocarbon gases, and both are very good fuel sources for heaters, cooking, appliances, etc. there are a couple of differences you might want to know about.

The main one is at what temperatures they can still remain as a gas, and I is quite a big difference. You see, butane has a boiling point of -2 degrees Celsius, which is far higher than that of propane at -42C.

In real life, this means that propane heaters are more reliable in winter when temperatures drop, especially for heaters that are going to be housed and used outside, or in colder buildings like garages and sheds.

Propane is a little more expensive than butane, but the difference isn’t going to leave you in tears, and the fact that propane stores better over long periods of time, is enough for me to favour it, overall.

What size propane heater should I get?

First, work out where you’re going to be using the heater, and then factor in things like furniture, nearby surfaces that might not react too well to having something hot near them, how much heat you need for that area, and general things like that, and it should help you choose the right kind of propane heater.

For example, you might like the look of a beautiful pyramid shaped patio heater like the Bu-Ko we review a little later in this article. However, unless you have the space to house it, along with your patio furniture, it just isn’t practical. You can’t have something that size, and producing that much heat, squeezed right up against places were people sit.

It’s not just outdoor areas either. People looking for a good shed heater also need to think about how much space they have and how much heat will be required. Propane space heaters come in a wide range of sizes, from very small models that you would have on a surface fairly close to you like the Kingfisher table top heater, too much larger heaters that will easily warm up a large shed or garage and workshop such as the Sealey LP401 space heater.

Then there are tabletop propane heaters. These are a good compromise for people who want patio heaters but don’t quite have the room for the larger products. Tabletop propane heaters are available in all kinds of styles, and some of them are stunning. Not only that, but having the heat source on the table and therefore in the centre of everyone sitting around it, can give you an equal distribution of heat, and a very cosy feeling for all.

If you want something to provide a bit of warmth while camping, then a mobile propane heater like the fantastic Mr. heater portable buddy is perfect for you. These heaters are compact, lightweight, can be fuelled with small propane tanks, and give off a generous amount of heat for their size.

Think about safety when buying a propane heater

No matter where you are using your propane heater, you need to have safety in mind. Of course, there is the issue with fumes if you are indoors but that’s not the only thing that can go wrong.

For instance, do you have pets? Dogs and cats are inquisitive animals and will no doubt be drawn to the warmth of your propane heater. This could result in the heater being knocked over if the heater isn’t stable, or your pet burning itself on hot parts if they are low down and at easy reach. There are standing heaters that have auto cut off features that will turn the product off if it is tilted past a certain angle, so that’s maybe something to look out for.

If your patio is covered, then you really need to take into account how tall a heater you can have under there without it being a fire hazard, and what level of fumes are released by that heater as some will get trapped under the canopy. As long as the sides are open and ventilated though, you’ll be fine.

For decoration and style purposes some ornamental type propane heaters have flames, and while these can look amazing, you do have to be extra careful with those heaters due to the extra fire risk.

On the plus side, you don’t have to worry about ash and cinders being blown around from a propane heater like you do with a fire pit. They are quick and easy to switch off too if you think things are getting a little too hot for something, or someone, nearby.

Don’t neglect maintenance of your heaters. Check for rusted parts and any other kind of damage, and definitely check that your regulator is working properly and not leaking. This can be done with a bit of soapy water. Most modern propane heaters don’t require much maintenance at all, but still keep an eye out for potential problems caused by wear and tear.

Material

Most propane heaters are going to be made out of some kind of metal, but there might be plastic parts on there too. The most common metals are steel, stainless steel, and aluminium.

When it comes to fighting off rust, aluminium is king, but sometimes the quality of the aluminium used on cheaper propane heaters isn’t great, and this can make it easy for the casing to be dented or warped out of shape.

Stainless steel has better rust-resistant properties than normal steel, and is stronger than aluminium, but again, the quality of the steel, its thickness, etc. can vary from product to product. If you are going for a standard steel heater, it should have a coat of good quality, heatproof paint.

The following video is short but goes into aluminium’s rust resistant properties-

Best propane heater reviews in the UK

Time to take a closer look at some of the best propane heaters currently available to buy online and have shipped straight to your door. Don’t worry, we won’t hide any of the negative aspects of these products either. We’ll serve up the pros and cons of each one for you.

One of the best free-standing patio heaters in its price range, this Real Glow propane heater gives you the right combination of style, build quality, and practicality. Fancy taking a closer look at this wonderful propane patio heater before we get into the review seriously? Well then check out this video:

Available in plain black or a beautiful stainless steel, this 2.24-metre tall heater as a 13 kilowatt heat output that will keep you feeling snug while outdoors this autumn and winter.

You won’t have any problems getting the heater to work either, as the battery powered igniter works incredibly well, each and every time. There wasn’t a battery included in the box though, nor was the need for it mentioned in the instructions, so that was a little annoying.

What was included were a couple of extra parts that aren’t spoken about in the instructions and that was confusing. After searching online, I found out that these are optional pieces if you want to secure the heater as a permanent feature, and not really needed. Would have been nice to know and saved me scratching my head, but I guess that’s what reviews like this are all about, right?

Apart from those extra bits, assembly was straightforward and easy enough. There are only a few parts to connect together, and they do so without any problems. There’s also the hose and 27mm propane regulator thrown in with the price, which is a nice little bonus.

Only slightly let down by silly instructions, this is a robust and top-quality propane heater for the price. It comes with a hose and regulator, kicks out a lot of heat, and the electric starter is really helpful. Top marks from me.

Pros

  • Looks fantastic in both black and stainless steel and has a classic look
  • Excellent battery powered igniter makes starting up easy every time
  • 13-kilowatt energy output will keep you snug on the patio
  • Solidly and durable, yet affordable for a large patio heater
  • Easy to assemble and operate

Cons

  • Instructions were missing a few important details

Another amazing option for your garden if you have the space, is the Bu-Ko outdoor propane patio heater. It will not only catch the eye of any visitors, but provides a usable amount of heat in a 10ft radius too.

The towering pyramidal design, along with the naked flame that dances inside a quartz tube, make this propane heater one of the more attractive options out there. The size of the flame can be adjusted using the controls on the back of the heater, and you can have it as small or as large as you like.

This thing is tall, but not that heavy, and is easy to move around on the small wheels at the bottom once you tilt the heater onto them. Talking of tilting, if you do this while the heater is switched on, there’s a safety feature that will immediately turn it off.

The height of the Bu-Ko can make it a little wobbly when it is empty, but once you have the propane tank installed in the rear compartment, it is solid enough. If there are very strong winds, you might want to find a way to tie it to something though.

If you’ve spent any time reading articles on this site you’ll have noticed that poor instructions are a pet peeve of mine. So, I was happy to see that Bu-Ko has created an assembly video on YouTube to guide you through the process, step-by-step.

Included in the price are the hose, clips, and regulator needed to run any large propane heater, and also a cover for storage purposes. The cover isn’t the best I’ve ever seen, but that’s not surprising considering it comes free with the heater, and it doesn’t reach all the way to the bottom, but it isn’t too much to complain about.

Built from a combination of stainless steel and aluminium, the Bu-Ko propane patio heater should stand up to weather and last you for a while. It might be a little pricey for some peoples’ tastes, but I think it’s a cracking heater.

Pros

  • Towering pyramidal design is really stunning and eye catching
  • Adjustable open flame dances inside a quartz tube
  • Weather resistant thanks to stainless steel and aluminium materials
  • Can heat a 10ft radius around the heater
  • Anti-tilt safety design switches off the heater if it tips over

Cons

  • Regulator and cover could be better quality

Here’s what to expect when assembling the Bu-Ko propane patio heater-

One of the best, and most versatile, propane heaters I’ve ever had the pleasure to play around with is the Mr. Heater Buddy heater. So, whether you’re looking for something to take camping, to use in the caravan or shed, or to pop on top of the patio table, this could be heater for you.

First of all, I love the dimensions of this heater. It’s not going to be ideal for someone looking for a product they can hook onto their backpack while riding their bike, but for most other purposes it’s a great size at 19.6 x 34 x 38.1.

Mr. Heater Portable Buddy Heater

This compact heater can produce impressive heat and has an output of 4000 or 9000 BTU. On full power, it can quite easily warm up its immediate vicinity for up to 3 hours on a single 1lb propane tank, or you can get double that amount of time on the lower heat setting. You can use this heater with a larger tank, but you have to buy a hose kit separately.

The Buddy heater can be used indoors for limited lengths of time, and has an oxygen depletion sensor for safety reasons, so you could have this in the shed or garage with you but unless it’s well ventilated, you might find the heater switching off.

Another useful safety feature will turn the heater off if it is knocked over or tilted more than 45 degrees. Again, this is quite sensitive like the oxygen depletion sensor, so avoid moving it if its already switched on.

There’s no assembly needed with this very solid and robust heater. It can simply be taken out of the box, connected to a 1lb can of propane and you’re good to go. Connecting the smaller canisters can be a bit of a pain in some small heaters, but the built-in regulator on this product can be angled out, making it much easier.

Getting the pilot light working isn’t hard, but it does take a few minutes and you have to read the instructions. After that, the heat controls work well and the ceramic element heats up quickly and stays hot. All in all, an outstanding little heater.

Pros

  • Very solid with a high-level build quality and should last for years
  • Excellent choice for camping due to compact dimensions
  • Excellent safety features for tipping and also oxygen level
  • Easy to connect small propane canisters to the built-in regulator
  • No assembly needed, comes ready to use

Cons

  • Safety sensors can be a bit sensitive and take some getting used to

Sealey’s LP14 space warmer produces an impressive amount of heat for its compact size, and is a good choice for people looking to warm their workshop up first thing in the morning during the colder months.

The heat is adjustable, you can choose what output you want from 10,250 to 15,354 BTU, and trust me, it is enough to warm up decent sized rooms in very little time. Of course, it’s a propane heater, so there are fumes and you wouldn’t want to have it on all day, but to quickly raise the temperature of your garage or shed from freezing, it’s perfect.

The design is very basic, and the build quality is a bit hit and miss to be honest. The parts themselves are all decent and will last, but the quality of the welding could be a lot better for the price, and I expected more from Sealey.

I would have also liked to have seen an electric igniter, but there isn’t one. Instead, you will need to buy a long lighter, the kind you use to light gas cookers, and use that. On the plus side, this means that the heater starts working instantly, but I would have preferred a built-in igniter.

There’s a free hose and regulator thrown in for the price, and although the regulator isn’t exactly bad, I would recommend replacing it with a better one. The 1.5 metre hose is better quality, and I liked the fact that the design allows you to mount the heater on the rim of the gas tank.

I wouldn’t recommend this for outdoor use as the heat rises up and you don’t really feel too much when standing around it in outdoor conditions. As a means to heat up a room before working in there though, it is definitely fit for purpose.

Pros

  • Good for heating small to medium sized indoor areas for short periods of time
  • Design allows the heater to be mounted on the gas tank
  • Produces a lot of heat for its size
  • Comes with a free hose and regulator
  • Starts up quickly and heats up rapidly too

Cons

  • Some of the welds are not the best quality, but the materials are decent, as you can see in this photo:

Sealey LP14 Space Warmer Propane Heater

Looking for a traditional looking tabletop heater that actually emanated enough heat to be effective? Well, the Kingfisher PH300 might be just the thing for you.

Now, let me be clear. This is a tabletop heater and not a freestanding patio heater, and if you’ve never used one of these, you have to understand that there is a difference in how much heat is produced.

Basically, you will not be heating up your entire patio area with this, and only people sat around the table will feel the benefit, but that’s what it’s designed to do. You can heat a slightly larger area if it is covered, but it’s made for smaller spaces.

For those smaller spaces, it’s excellent. Producing enough heat (4000 watts) to keep you all warm but without it being overbearing, which is important when the heater is in such close proximity.

The build quality is very good and the overall construction is solid. Without the gas bottle in, it can be a little unstable which is a common problem with this type of heater, but it’s nothing to worry about too much unless it’s blowing a gale, and then why would you be outdoors anyway?

Compared to some tabletop heaters I’ve dealt with, this was a piece of cake to assemble, but you will have to go out and buy a hose and regulator as there isn’t one included with the heater.

There’s the odd little flaw here and there, but overall, this is a solid tabletop propane heater that produces good heat for a smaller outdoor area.

Pros

  • 4 kilo-watts is enough heat to keep everyone around the table warm
  • Robust design and made to last from solid materials
  • Very easy to assemble and operate
  • Starts up without issue every time thanks to electric igniter

Cons

  • No regulator or hose included in the price

Like this style of heater but thinking a table top heater version isn’t big enough Don’t worry, there is a larger version available like the one in the photo below, or just get yourself the Real Glow patio heater we reviewed earlier.

For warming up very large, or industrial areas you need an industrial sized propane heater, and the Sealey LP401 space warmer is certainly that.

Producing a massive 210,000 – 400,000 BTU/hour, this is just the thing for taking the edge of the frosty mornings and nights in barns, open sided gazebos, large workshops, and warehouses. In comparison, the Mr. heater Buddy’s maximum output is not even close to a 20th of the power provided by this product on its lowest setting.

For such a large heater, assembly is surprisingly simple. Likewise, starting the Sealey LP401 is incredibly easy thanks to the electric igniter, which is very consistent, and controls for operating the machine are kept to a minimum.

This heater gets warm quickly, but also stays warm afterwards for quite a while, but after doing a bit of searching about the problem online, I saw that someone had figured out that you leave the fan running after turning off the gas for a while to cool it faster.

When I’m talking about heat, I’m referring to the inside, as the outer casing stays quite cool thanks to double layered metal skin. This, along with the wheels and the metal stand/handle, are all well made, and the tool is no doubt durable.

I guess you could use this on the patio, and it certainly has enough power to be felt, but it won’t be a fraction of the heat felt when it’s used to heat an indoor space. It can be used effectively in large gazebos and marquees, as long as there is ample ventilation, though there will still be the smell of propane to deal with.

The high price tag might put some people off, but if you want to warm big places, you need a big heater, and big heaters tend to have big price tags.

Pros

  • Produces a tone of heat for warming up large areas like warehouses and barns
  • Straightforward assembly and easy to operate
  • Can be used to heat well ventilated gazebos and other outdoor sheltered areas
  • Double layered metal skin keeps the outside cool
  • Good sized plastic wheels for mobility

Cons

  • Might be too big and expensive for some people

If you’re wondering about how to safely use a large heater like this indoors, here’s a clip to show you:


About Terry Smith

I’m Terry Smith from gardentoolbox.co.uk, 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: info@gardentoolbox.co.uk

View all posts by Terry Smith

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