Written by Terry Smith
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UK’s Best electric patio heater: free standing, hanging, wall mounted, and table top compared
This article was last updated on April 23rd, 2022 at 5:50 am
So. You’ve decided to get more use out of your patio, decking, pop up gazebo, fixed gazebo etc, and invest in an outdoor heater. A wise choice for people living in the UK, where we can, and often do, experience 10 different types of weather in a single day, and most of them are not the good kind. At least we don’t get ‘rain that comes up’ to steal a line off Forest Gump, but we do get everything else 😀 I’ve whittled down from 5 different heating articles and a total of 32 heaters, the very best 5 electric patio heaters and links to other models in the same category!
Having one, or more, of the best electric patio heaters set up in your garden is fantastic way to take the chill off your evenings and keep you warm and snug when the temperatures drop. Not only that, but these days there are some stunning ornamental electric patio heaters available that can add a touch of flair to your outdoor spaces, while also making sure your guests don’t turn into ice sculptures while you prepare the snacks – and most of them I have to say are infra-red heaters – that’s where the value and actual heating ability is. Well, actually there are some insane patio heaters to be fair, but most of them are propane heaters, like the huge workshop heaters that kick out 100,000 BTU but totally impractical at home and bad for the environment. If you want to know more I’ve written a guide – what you need to know about electric patio heaters.
The best electric patio heaters – editor picks:
Best wall mounted heater: Futura Deluxe patio heater
Best parasol heater: Firefly 2kw quartz patio heater
Best free-standing heaters: Heat Lab 2 set patio heaters
Best tabletop heater: Firefly 2.1kw halogen patio heater
Best hanging heater: La Hacienda patio heater
What you need to know about electric patio heaters:
Buying the best electric patio heater isn’t just a case of clicking on the first product you see online, and it might surprise you to learn that there are quite a few variations to choose from.
Some products have completely different ways of producing heat to others that makes them great for some purposes, but not so much for others. Then there’s a ton of other things to consider like size, power output, price, and more. It’s enough to make your head spin.
To keep that metaphorical head where it should be, we have put together an informative buyer’s guide that’ll teach you everything you need to know about electric patio heaters. Then, once you’ve brushed up your knowledge, we’ll examine the best electric patio heaters in our product reviews section.
I’ve cooked up the ultimate electric patio heaters I can possibly write – leveraging on 20 years of experiencing using garage heaters, space heaters, and working out what are the most economical electric heaters – in that time it’s brought some serious issues to the table safety wise, and in terms of moving them around – the portability on some isn’t good at all. So in this buyers guide I’ve put together just about everything you would consider before buying an electric patio heater:
Even though they are not 100% safe, modern electric patio heaters are built with plenty of failsafe such as overheating and anti-tilt cut-off features. The absence of open flames is also a bonus when you are considering safety because there is a lot less chance of a fire breaking out and spreading.
Whenever there is a very flammable fuel source, like gas, and open flames, there is a chance that things can go wrong. These days though, the safety features of gas patio heaters are much better than in the past, but they still fall second behind electric models for overall safety.
One of electric patio heaters’ biggest weaknesses, and gas heaters’ biggest strengths, is portability. As they are completely reliant on your mains electricity supply, electric patio heaters are limited in range by their power cables, although you can use a cable reel or extension lead, to give you more range and you can get big power from a small hand held heater if you want:
Gas patio heaters, on the other hand, are usually fuelled by a propane or butane tank that more often than not sits somewhere within the housing of the heater. This makes them very mobile, and a good option if you need to heat a space that is far away from the house and its electricity supply.
Generally speaking, gas patio heaters produce more heat than their electric counterparts, but there are a lot of variables that come into play when measuring the effectiveness of each type of heater.
Gas patio heaters will heat up the air around them much faster than electric models, and will increase the surrounding temperature by a higher degree, but some types of electric heater, like infra-red models, can be a better choice for heating up your patio on windy nights, but we’ll explain this in more detail later in this article.
The following video is about gas vs electric garage heaters, but the information is still relative, and I think is presented in any easy to understand way, so I thought I’d share it:
Are electric patio heaters better than propane gas heaters?
When it comes to comparing electric patio heaters with propane gas patio heaters, simply saying one is better than the other just isn’t accurate as both types have their strengths and weaknesses. To help clear things up, we’ve put this little section together for you, so you can see the attributes and flaws for yourself and make up your own mind.
Fumes and emissions
It should come as no surprise that electric patio heaters are the clear winners here as they don’t produce any smoke or fumes. In fact, the vast majority of the time there is no smell from them at all.
Gas powered patio heaters do, of course, produce odours and also potentially dangerous gasses like carbon monoxide, although the dangers of this by-product are minimized when the heaters are used outdoors and in open areas.
Should I buy an electric fan heater or infra-red heater for my patio?
If you have decided to go with an electric patio heater over a gas powered one, you now have some more choices to make. One of the biggest, will be whether you invest in a fan heater or an infra-red one.
If we were talking about heating a conservatory, garage, or a room in the house, I would almost definitely advise buying a fan heater of some kind, be that a large space heater, a ceramic heater, or a convection model. These heaters warm up rooms much faster, and have a wider spread of heat than infra-red heaters.
The problem with using fan heaters outdoors is that most of the heat dissipates into the air and is blown away by the wind, so you don’t really feel the benefit if the space being heated is quite open.
Infrared heaters, and by that, I mean quartz, halogen, and all the other types; don’t create heat in the same way. Instead of warming the air like a fan heater, infra-red heaters use radiation to warm up the objects directly in front of them, such as the patio furniture and yourself.
Because of this, no energy is wasted, making them very energy efficient and they can provide a good level of protection from the cold for people sat directly in front of them. The spread of heat and range of this type of heater isn’t as good as some other electric heater types, so if you need to warm a larger space, you’ll probably need to buy more than one. However, I still think they are the most efficient, and cost saving, way of heating your patio.
What kind of electric patio heater should I buy?
The beauty of electric patio heaters is that there are so many different models to choose from. The flip-side of that is that you might not be sure which kind would be best for you. With this in mind, we offer you a breakdown of the main types of electric patio heater; from small tabletop models to large wall-mounted ones, arming you with the info you need to make the right decision.
For small gatherings, or to enjoy a nice dinner for two on your outdoor bistro table, a tabletop heater can be perfect. These heaters are compact but can produce enough heat to keep you and your partner feeling comfortable while you sit around a small table.
For larger patios, they aren’t ideal as the heat doesn’t spread that far, and if you have kids or pets running around, you’ll have to make sure they don’t knock it off the table and break it.
Still, they are relatively cheap to run and there are some really nice designs to choose from, no matter what your tastes.
Hanging patio heaters
Resembling a classic lamp, hanging patio heaters can solve the problem of making sure everyone gets a fair share of the warmth, and in addition to that, they free up some space that would normally be taken up by a free-standing heater.
Obviously, you need to have a covered patio in order to install this kind of patio heater. Either that or a very tall relative with strong arms to hold it over the table for you (joking. Don’t try this at home folks). As most hanging heaters tend to be halogen or another type of infra-red, they are excellent for heating up the people sitting directly under them, but people on the outside of their limited range will still feel the chill.
One of the most popular ways for people to warm up their patios is for them to use a free-standing heater. Offering you a nice combination of low cost, good heating performance, and being easy to move around for the most part, these heaters are good all-rounders.
Of course, there’s always the risk of the heater being knocked over, but most modern models have auto cut-off functions to prevent major damage if the heater is tipped, and if you want to pay a little more, you can get one with a weighted base that will keep it standing solidly, despite Fidos best efforts to topple it.
Wall mounted heaters
A very solid choice for heating a patio, wall mounted heaters, especially the larger, more powerful models, can easily keep everyone sitting within a few metres of them feeling toasty on colder nights. The fact that they are up on the wall saves you space, and they aren’t as expensive or difficult to install as you would imagine.
The main gripe people have with wall mounted heaters is that they nearly always have power cables that are too short to reach a socket from their elevated position. This inevitably means you have to shell out a bit more on a waterproof extension lead, and have cable running along walls and the ground, unless you want to start drilling holes in your walls that is.
How powerful a heater do I need?
Most electric patio heaters are in the 1000W to 3000W range for a reason. For smaller spaces, or if you will be having the heater really close, such as in the case of a table top heater, 1000W should be fine. Wall mounted heaters and fan heaters that are raised high above you will need a little more grunt to them though, so head north of 2000W for those.
Just as important as overall power output is the ability to control the heat, as not every night is going to be sub-zero temperatures and you might just want around 700W to take the edge off the evening chill. Look for an electric patio heater with multiple power modes or a decent thermostat and you’ll get a lot more use out of it over the space of a year.
There is always the option of buying more than one heater of lower power and positioning them so that everyone on the patio feels the benefit, but you have to work out whether or not the overall cost is worth it.
If you’re more familiar with BTUs when it comes to heat output, this video teaches you how to convert kilowatts using any simple calculator-
Best electric patio heater reviews
If you’re like me, you loathe having to run around shops looking for what you want. Even trawling through the various websites and the thousands of pages within comes to be really time consuming and often frustrating.
To relieve you of this, we took the time to test out a load of electric patio heaters, and we present you with our thoughts on the best of them in this section.
1. FUTURA Deluxe Wall Mounted Electric Infrared Outdoor Garden Patio, Bathroom Heater 2000W, Waterproof, Remote Control Included
Futura’s Deluxe wall mounted electric heater was always going to feature on our best electric patio heaters list, as we previously spent a good deal of time with it when it topped our best wall-mounted heaters chart. If you’re interested in reading our very in-depth review on this product, simply click on the link provided.
If you’d rather not do that right now, I can summarise things for you a little right now by saying that this wall mounted heater ticks all the boxes you’d want such a product to- it’s relatively cheap to run, puts out a good deal of heat over a nice sized area, and has the build quality to match.
With features like three selectable power modes- 750w, 1000w, and 20000w, you can reach the right level of comfort at all times of the year, and save yourself a bit of money when the nights aren’t too chilly by turning the dial down a little.
You can select whichever power mode you like from the comfort of your chair too, as the Futura Deluxe comes with a pair of remote controls for you to use. Just make sure you hide one if someone in the family likes a different heat setting to you!
With full rust resistant aluminium mounting kit, and very high resistance to water and dust particles, this heater is built to handle being outdoors, although you’ll need a waterproof extension lead unless your socket is less than 2 metres from your patio due to the length of the power cable.
- Good for heating larger areas than other types of heaters
- Cheap to run for its size and power
- Rust resistant aluminium mounting kit
- Three power modes to choose from
- Shorter power cable than what is really needed
2. Firefly 2kW IP34 Electric Quartz Bulb Parasol Patio Heater
Parasol heaters are relative newcomers to the electric patio heating world, and so there isn’t anywhere near the wide selection of products that you find with free-standing heaters or hanging heaters. That’s not to say there aren’t good options out there though, and this Firefly 2kW IP34 Electric Patio Heater placed number one in our best parasol heaters article. Here’s a look at one hanging:
We chose this Firefly parasol heater over all the others as quality-wise it held its own against more expensive products, and offered some practical features for the buyer.
Let’s take, for instance, the versatility of this heater. Thanks to a well-designed clamp, it is possible to fit the Firefly to pretty much any parasol pole out there, and feel very solid on all of them. This is in spite of the 5kg weight, which is one of the drawbacks of having a robust design.
You can choose to have the power output at 650w, 1300w, or the maximum of 2000w; all practical for different times of the year or weather conditions, but in the chilly old UK, I think the 2000w setting will be getting the most use.
And use it you can, to your heart’s content. With a lifespan of around 5000 hours, the infra-red bulbs inside this parasol heater should be warming you up for a long time to come, and there’s also a 12-month warranty in case there are any other problems.
This parasol heater is a metre wide, and so you’ll need to have enough space under the canopy to house it comfortably while in use. When you’re done using it for the day, you can simply fold down the arms and close the parasol within; it’s quick and easy, and so much better than having to take the heater down every time.
- Well designed clamp makes it easy to use on any parasol pole
- Multiple power modes for different times of the year
- Long lasting heating elements
- Folding arms mean that you don’t have to remove the heater to close the parasol
- A metre wide and 5kg in weight might not make it suitable for very small parasols
3. Heatlab 2KW IPX4 FreeStanding Water Resistant Infrared Electric Garden Outdoor Indoor Patio Heater
This twin set of quartz bulb infra-red heaters is our choice for best freestanding patio heaters. Coming to us courtesy of the very consistent Heatlab brand, these heaters have been around a little while, but still keep appearing in our ‘best…’ lists due to their value and performance and they look great too:
This product does everything you’d want a freestanding patio heater to do, and does it well, all for a really reasonable price. It won’t cost you the Earth to run it either, with an hour of running time adding about 10p-20p to your electricity bill.
The design is simple, but practical, and sports features that you’re going to be using all the time, such as a height adjustable stand, that you can change from 1.74m to 2.1 metre, and a head that can be tilted through 45 degrees, so you can get as much of that infra-red heat as you need.
Speaking of heat, you can select from three different power modes- 650W, 1350W, and 2000W. With the overheat protection function, you don’t have to be shy about leaving it on full power for an evening’s worth of socialising on the patio either.
Although there’s overheat protection, sadly an anti-tilt, or topple, shut-off isn’t featured. To be fair though, the base of the heater is both stable and heavy, so unless you have some very clumsy guests, you shouldn’t have any problems. As for little kids and pets- well you might want to keep them away from your new heaters.
If you’re unfortunate to be caught on the patio when it starts raining, don’t worry too much about the heaters and just get yourself inside first. These heaters are IPX4 rated, which in layman’s terms means that a spot of rain won’t do them any harm.
The only thing I grumble about when it comes to these Heatlab freestanding heaters, is the same thing that I gripe about for nearly all electric products these days- the power cable is too short. Why in the last 10 years or so have manufacturers decided we don’t need any more than 1.8 metres or so of cable is beyond me, but it’s what we see again and again.
Thankfully, it’s something that is easily rectified, and it’s more of a pet peeve than anything that would stop me buying this otherwise excellent product.
- Very inexpensive to run
- Very high level of resistance to water and dust particles
- Overheat protection feature
- Adjustable height and angle of the heater head
- No anti-tilt cut off protection, but has a solid base
4. Firefly 2.1kW Table Top Electric Infrared Halogen Garden Outdoor Patio Heater with Brown Rattan Base and 3 Heat Settings
Choosing the best tabletop heater wasn’t an easy task, but in the end, we narrowed it down to this model from Firefly Table Top Heater and an equally impressive product from the excellent La Hacienda brand. Finally, we decided to go with the Firefly for the best tabletop patio heater as it offers everything its closest competitor does, but for a lower cost.
When I’m looking for a heater to sit atop my patio table, I’m as interested in the styling as I am the heating performance, and I’d guess that most of you would think the same. I mean, if the heater is going to be the focal point, it has to look good, right?
Well, the Firefly is certainly an attractive product, with a cone shaped rattan weave making up the base which contrasts stunningly with the shiny stainless-steel shaft and aluminium alloy heater head. The overall effect is a modern one, but would still fit in with pretty much any kind of garden furniture.
The aluminium alloy heater head we just mentioned isn’t just for show either, and has some very handy properties for an outdoor heater. What I’m talking about is this material’s ability to fight off rust, so obviously this is a welcome attribute for a product that will be spending as much, if not more, time as you outside.
Being a halogen heater, this Firefly model also emits a good deal of light, enough in fact for it to double as heater and table lamp. There’s no option to have the light without the heat though because of the way the heater works, but that’s normal for halogen heaters.
There are three heat settings to choose from, and the most powerful one gives off enough heat to take the chill away for people sitting around a small table. Please don’t buy an infra-red tabletop heater, like this one, and expect it to warm up your entire patio, as they are not designed for that and you’ll just be disappointed.
As I’ve said numerous times on the pages of this site, I get very wound up by overly short power cables. So, I was caught with a smile on my face as I held the 3 metre one that is attached to this tabletop heater. Finally, some practicality in this department!
- Very stylish looks and practical features
- Aluminium alloy head is anti-rust and perfect for outdoor use
- Gives off a lot of light as well as the heat
- Good sized power cable is a nice change
- Not ideal for heating large areas, only for people sat around a patio table or similar
5. La Hacienda Silver Series Hanging Heater
With its superior quality and longevity, the La Hacienda silver series got our vote for best hanging patio heater in our article on the same subject. So, it should come as no surprise that it features in this list too.
The Silver Series impressed us with the amount of heat it emitted and how far it seemed to spread, which was more than we had experienced with similarly sized hanging heaters from other brands.
There was also a lot of light coming from the item, which is perfect for a hanging heater as they, more often than not, serve that purpose too, and not having to have a separate light source saves money on bills and space on your patio.
Over the years, both myself, and people I know, have owned La Hacienda heaters of some kind, and from our experiences I have no problems believing the company’s claim that the heating elements in their hanging patio heater are good for around 5,000 hours of use before they need replacing.
Although not able to be left completely exposed to the UK’s worst weather, the LA Hacienda Silver Series has been tested and rated to be IP24, which means that it can handle being splashed from the side by a bit of rain and still keep on ticking.
All being said, this is a stylish, well-built hanging patio heater from a trusted brand, a brand well-known for their products’ durability. It features three different power modes, a good level of protection from water, and long-lasting heating elements to make sure you get your money’s worth.
I would have liked to have seen a remote control of some kind in the box, so I could change settings from my seat, but I think the pull-string controls that it has are good enough.
- Very good build quality throughout with no loose parts or unwanted rattles
- Made by a company who are well known for the longevity of their products
- IP24 protected against water splashes
- A good spread of heat and light that you will experience for around 5000 hours
- No remote control