Written by Terry Smith
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UK’s best gas patio heaters are the most powerful, warmest, and heavy duty
This article was last updated on April 23rd, 2022 at 6:28 am
Whether it’s Winter and you start looking forward to a change in weather for the better, and that means it’s time for BBQs, paddling pools, and all the other fun stuff that comes with spring and summer. The thing with the UK is that even in the midst of summer the temperatures can plunge once the sun goes down, leaving you and your guests feeling a bit nippy as you try to continue the party into the night – gas patio heaters are hands down the most powerful and warmest patio heaters – ideal for someone that really wants to keep warm whilst in the garden. The blow electric patio heaters away – you only need to check my overall patio heater article to know how far ahead they are in BTU output.
The best gas patio heaters are hands-down the way to tackle this problem, and to keep your guests smiling rather than shaking with chattering teeth, is to provide some kind of outdoor heater, and for producing warmth there aren’t many better options than a gas patio heater. But there’s more benefit – gas patio heaters in the UK will not only keep you, your family, and your guests feeling snug out on the patio or decking, but will also look fantastic and add a touch of style and flair to your garden whilst adhering to strict safety standards.
This article is dedicated to educating you about gas patio heaters, their pros and cons, the alternatives that are available to you and how they compare, and reviews of the top gas patio heaters out there but if you would like to know more please read our gas patio heater guide – otherwise, let’s take a look at which in our opinion are the best:
Best gas patio heaters – editor picks:
Best gas patio heater overall: Amazon basics gas patio heater – due to the value for money and decent performance factor. So good I bought one myself [tested and proven]
Best portable gas patio heater: Mr. heater portable buddy heater– easily the best portable gas patio heater with solid construction and safety features
Best pyramid patio heater: Bu-Ko outdoor pyramid patio heater – stylish looks and good heat output
Best gas tabletop patio heater: Sahara tabletop heater – combining style and practicality
Worth considering: Real Glow Spiral flame heater
Good alternative to the Sahara: Kingfisher PH300 table top heater
Most powerful and heavy duty: The Amazon basics gas patio heater, Sahara, and Real Glow all put out 46,000 BTU which will heat a 3m area comfortably even in cold conditions – can be used commercially.
Budget pick: Amazon basics gas patio heater – very rarely is the budget pick also the overall best and commercial heavy duty grade – superb product.
That’s the top picks in the UK without question.
Pro tip: always follow the Fire Brigades gas and heater safety advice when using gas patio heaters:
What you need to read before buying a gas patio heater
If you’re relatively new to the whole gas patio heater thing then a quick read of about 5 minutes is going to enlighten you considerably. There’s so many variables like what gas to use? YEs there’s more than one! Prices vary wildly and are difficult to compare like for like due to the various different safety features on each product which separate them from each other.
Then there’s the question of do you even need gas? Electric may be easier and more convenient but let’s break this right down.
Gas vs electric patio heaters
Electric patio heaters are the main rivals to gas models, and they do have their benefits. On the other hand, there are areas where propane or butane heaters are superior. Often, the choice comes down to personal preference, but there are other factors like the type of space that will be heated, aesthetics, and budget.
Below we have compared electric and gas heaters so you can decide for yourself which you’d rather spend your money on, and if you find that you prefer the idea of an electric model, please read our best electric patio heater buyer’s guide article.
Price and cost
There are two things to consider here. The first is the initial purchase price of the heater, and the second is the running costs.
Now, obviously, things like the size of the heater, power output, and even the brand name attached to a product will affect both the price and cost, but if we look at standing heaters, which are the most common type used, gas versions are generally more expensive to buy. I would also add that although gas heaters tend to be pricier than their electric counterparts, the build quality is usually higher, just take the Sahara tabletop heater for instance- it’s much better quality than a lot of electric heaters of the same size.
Running costs are also higher for a gas patio heater, but not by a long way, and unless you are running your heater 24/7, I don’t think the difference would bother you too much. Having said that, a lot depends on what kind of electric patio heater we are talking about- an infra-red heater is more energy-efficient – especially hanging patio heaters and freestanding electric patio heaters that beam down at you, but a fan-based heater? Not so much.
One final thing to think about when calculating cost is how much heat is actually felt by the people around the heater, and how far the heat spreads. Infra-red patio heaters might be the most energy-efficient, but often the warmth is only felt by people very close to them, and so it might take more than one heater to cover a medium to large patio, and this will drive up the overall cost.
We already mentioned that gas patio heaters are portable thanks to their design and fuel source, and when compared to electric heaters, there’s no real competition but there is a difference in weight. So moving electric heaters is far easier to be fair. This means you’ve got two options to bridge that shortfall – one go for a smaller heater, and two if the hwole point was a large powerful one then pick a patio heater on wheels:
Probably the biggest flaw of electric patio heaters is that they need to be plugged into the home’s power supply to run, and this means power cables, which means limited range. Add to this the annoying habit of garden heater manufacturers to fit tiny power cables on their products, and you find yourself having to buy a waterproof extension lead or two. This photo shows the kind that I’m talking about:
Patio heaters are meant to be used outside, and because of that, they are at the mercy of the elements, just like you.
Trying to compare gas and electric patio heaters for resistance to the weather isn’t easy though, as they are affected by different types of weather. For gas models, strong winds are the biggest challenge as they can blow out the flame. For electric heaters, rain can be a danger if the product doesn’t have a high IP rating, and even if it does, you probably don’t want to leave your new heater sitting outside in a downpour. As I mentioned before storage indoors for my Amazon basics that I tested is important too if you don’t want rust to form over time.
Strong winds can also affect electric free-standing heaters as they tend to be quite lightweight, and there’s a chance of them being blown over. Usually, the gas tank inside propane or butane heaters is enough to keep them stable, but not always.
Nearly all electric patio heaters, whether that is a free-standing model, a wall-mounted one, or a tabletop heater, use infrared technology to provide heat. This is because the radiation heats the person or object directly rather than trying to heat the surrounding air, which is not easy when you’re outdoors. Gas patio heaters also radiate heat but from an open flame, however, they still warm the air through convection too. However, you just cant fight the BTU output of a gas patio heater – 46,000 is 7 times more than a 2kw electric convector heater!
I’d say that in real-world conditions, an electric infrared heater is good for warming up a smaller space, but gas models, especially powerful ones such as the Amazon basics gas patio heater and the Real Glow model, tend to be better at spreading that heat out. Even large wall-mounted electric heaters are limited in their range, so I would give this point to gas heaters.
Although we already established that propane and butane heaters are portable, they do have one flaw that limits their use somewhat, and that flaw is the emissions they produce. Due to these fumes, it’s not advisable, and even dangerous, to use a gas heater in an enclosed space that doesn’t have proper ventilation.
As electric patio heaters don’t produce any toxic gasses, you can feel free to use them indoors and outside as you wish, and this makes them the winner of the flexibility category for me.
It is possible to use a small gas heater to warm a garage or similar but ventilation is key, and I would buy a heater that has a built-in safety function that detects low oxygen levels and switches off, just to be on the safe side. The Mr. heater product we review later in this article is a good example of this safety function, and can learn more about this product in the following clip:
How gas patio heaters work – what gas
Propane and Butane fuelled gas patio heaters come in various sizes and guises from your standard stand up patio heaters to table top heaters, but they all work in pretty much the same way – though propane heating is far more sensible as the gas flow normally proves better in colder weather.
First, depending on the size of your heater, you need a bottle or tank of gas. Then you need a regulator, which is what is used to connect the gas tank to the heater. It’s the regulator’s job to control the pressure of the gas that is released, hence the name ‘regulator’.
Once the regulator is attached properly, you can open the valve on top of the tank to get the gas flowing to the heater, then all you usually have to do is push the igniter button and enjoy the warmth. Simple stuff, right?
One thing to remember is that you’ll need different regulators for either propane or butane, as the pressure is not the same, but they both operate in much the same way. I’m sure you’ve seen a regulator and hose before, but if you’re not sure, they tend to look like this-
I always attach my hoses to the regulators with a Jubilee clip to ensure tightness and no gas leaks – it just makes me feel safer – talking of safety:
Are gas patio heaters safe?
If you follow the instructions that come with your heater properly, there is no reason that it shouldn’t be safe to use. In fact, some modern gas patio heaters have built-in safety features, like the anti-tilt function you get with products like the Amazon Basic gas heater, designed to prevent any unfortunate accidents that come from misuse.
Having said that, these products are only safe as long as they are working the way they are meant to. So, you have to check the state of components every now and then, to make sure there’s no damage to the important working or safety parts that might be caused by things like rust, or accidentally banging it into something.
As all propane and butane heaters use a regulator to connect them to the fuel source, that is also something to check regularly, especially the rubber hose part. Check for any leaks, small holes or tears, and if detected, replace the hose or regulator immediately. Regulators aren’t expensive, so you’ve no excuse for using one that’s way past its best.
If you’re not sure about whether or not a regulator needs swapping, maybe watching this video will help you:
Gas patio heaters-pros and cons
We said earlier that gas patio heaters are among the best options for heating up you up outdoors, but that doesn’t mean they are perfect. Just as with everything, there are upsides and downsides to these products.
Let’s start with the benefits of gas patio heaters. One of the biggest advantages of this type of heater is that they are portable. That means you can use them to warm your decking or other garden areas even if they are quite far from the house, and you won’t need to have a mile of cable trailing behind. A lot of gas heaters have wheels on the bottom too, as can be seen on the Bu-Ko and Real Glow heaters
‘Easy to operate’ is a term thrown around a lot these days, but in my experience gas garden heaters usually are just that, and rarely require more than you turning the valve on the gas tank and pushing the ignitor. There is some minor maintenance you should do from time to time to keep the item working at its best, but it is nothing to worry about. One of the easiest gas heaters to assemble and operate is the Kingfisher table top model, so if simplicity is your thing, check out the video below this section.
As gas heaters provide warmth by both radiation and convection, you will get the best of both worlds if your patio area has been designed to trap heat. We actually have an article on how to do this, so if you’d like to know more, check it out. However, if your patio is open, the convection part of the heat will probably be wasted as it will just dissipate. Still, the radiant energy will keep the people close to the heater feeling very snug.
I suppose the main drawback to using a gas patio heater is that the fuel source, i.e. the gas tank, will only last a certain amount of time and then you’ll have to swap it for another one. Unless you have spare tanks lying around (which could get expensive), you’ll need to take the empty one and get it refilled or swap it for a full one.
Here’s where we present our thoughts on the top gas patio heaters on sale at the moment. We’ve spent a good amount of time playing around with a ton of different outdoor gas heaters and finally decided upon the products featured below.
1. Amazon Basics Stainless Steel Commercial Patio Outdoor Heater
I’ll be completely honest with you- I’ve tried and tested more than a few Amazon basics products and although most have been good value for money, there have been a few that haven’t been quite up to scratch. Fortunately for you, this gas patio heater is one of the better ones and is priced very competitively. It isn’t perfect though, but I’ll come to that soon after I’ve highlighted the good things about this product. I have to say, when I mention it’s not perfect, I am still over the moon with this after testing it (tough job I have sitting in the heat with friends and family bbq’ing away 😀 – not always this fun but this test was a good one 😉 ) and consider it heavy duty and commercial quality – the only flaw the rust! I’ve had it for 12 months and a bit of this is cleaning but also a little rust which is unexpected from 12 months outdoors so please learn from my mistakes 🙂
First of all, it looks great. The stainless-steel finish, combined with the classic ‘mushroom’ shape, give it an appearance that could be described as both classic and a bit modern. I know that sounds a little contradictory, but it’s true, and it would fit in with just about any style of garden furniture.
I liked the fact that it is tall too, and as the heater towers over 2 metres tall, it helps to spread the heat out over a wider area. Another thing is that as it kicks out 46,000 BTU, just one of these heaters placed in the right place will easily keep everyone seated around a patio sofa set nice and warm on a chilly night.
Other notable features are a reliable piezo ignition system, an anti-tilt cut off safety feature, and a set of plastic wheels that you can use to move the heater to and from the garage or house. These wheels work as they should and are smoother than the ones found on the Real Glow heater we have also tested. You can see the wheels above aren’t big but it’s enough for sure.
I mention the garage because that brings me to one of this product’s flaws. It is made from metal, and if you leave it outside it will start to rust. If you buy a decent cover for it, it will delay the corrosion, but I would suggest covering it and storing it away when not in use.
The other thing I should mention is that the recommended gas tank size of 13kg just doesn’t fit, so if you decide to buy this patio heater, you should go with an 11kg tank or smaller and that should fit just fine, even with the regulator attached.
These are minor problems, and to be fair there was a lot less wrong with this product than I expected for the price. I guess I would have to say that for the money, you would have to look very hard to find something as good, let alone better, and I think it would be ideal for the average person. After a year it’s still more than acceptable on any patio even when left outside. Here’s a look a that condition:
- Very good value for money
- Very attractive looking patio heater
- Produces impressive heat
- Piezo ignition system means reliable start-up
- You’ll need to cover it or store it indoors to prevent rusting
Would you like a look at the assembly required for this heater? Well, take a look at this:
2. Mr. Heater Portable Buddy Heater, 9K Btu
Not everyone is looking for a huge gas patio heater like the Amazon basics model we just talked about. Some are just in the market for a small gas heater to pop onto the bistro table or to take on camping trips with you.
If that sounds like the kind of thing that you’re after, then without a doubt the best option is the Mr. Heater 9K BTU model, an economic portable heater that will provide you with around 3 hours of constant heat, on full power, from a 1lb bottle of propane. If you want to run it for longer than that, you’ll either need some spare bottles or buy a hose kit to attach it to a bigger gas tank.
You have to understand, that although the 9K BTU may seem like nothing when compared to the Amazon Basics heater, they are different horses for different courses, and this Mr. Heater product will be sitting on the table right in front of you, therefore it doesn’t need to be as powerful.
This heater comes ready to use (well, minus the gas bottle), and there’s no assembly needed whatsoever. What’s more, the casing and overall build quality is very high and I felt very confident throwing it in the boot of my car and knowing it won’t be breaking from the slightest bump.
If you’re only going to be using the small 1lb bottles to fuel the heater, you won’t need to buy a regulator as there is one already built-in. Even better than that, the regulator swings open and away from the main unit to make installing the bottle so much easier.
The Mr. Heater 9K BTU is one of those propane heaters that I would trust to use in an enclosed space as it has the oxygen depletion cut-off feature- something not found on any of the other products in this list. However, I did find that this sensor, plus the anti-tilt sensor are a little too good at their job, and the switch off might be triggered before there’s any real danger. Better to be safe than sorry though, right?
The only slightly tricky part about using this product is getting the pilot light started. It actually isn’t very difficult at all and will work every time, it’s just that there is a procedure to follow to do so, so make sure you read the instructions.
- Solidly built and is a step above a lot of other portable gas heaters in this respect
- Compact size makes it a great choice for campers
- Great safety features such as anti-tilt and oxygen depletion
- Swing out regulator makes bottle changes a piece of cake
- Sensors for the safety cut-offs are a little too sensitive sometimes
3. BU-KO Outdoor Patio Gas Heater
The ‘mushroom’ shape that a lot of gas patio heaters have isn’t universally loved. Personally, I think they look great, but I know there are people out there that really don’t like them. If the latter sounds like you, then perhaps you’ll find this pyramid heater from BU-KO more to your tastes.
Make no mistake, this heater is stunning and is certain to catch the eye of any passersby or visitors. Although called a pyramid, it actually more closely resembles a modernly designed skyscraper-like what you’d find in a place like Dubai than an ancient ruin. A large portion of the heater, basically the entire upper part, can be seen through the metal bars and contains a quartz tube.
It’s in this tube that the magic happens, and once the heater is ignited a naked flame will appear and create an almost hypnotic effect. The size of the flame can be easily adjusted via the controls on the back of the heater, so if you want a huge dancing flame that goes all the way to the top of the heater, you can. Just bear in mind that this will increase the heat output too and drain the gas supply faster.
Unlike the Amazon Basics heater that couldn’t house a 13kg gas tank, you’ll have no problems with the BU-KO in that department as there’s plenty of space inside. In fact, I’d say that the larger tank is needed if only to add some weight to the base and keep this towering heater stable when the winds pick up.
Pyramid heaters are designed more for their looks than anything else, but that doesn’t mean they are lacking when it comes to heat output. Will this produce the same amount of heat as the Amazon basic heater? I’d say not, but it isn’t noticeably less and will keep anyone within a 10ft radius warm in those colder evenings.
The stainless-steel and aluminium construction should help keep rust at bay for a while, but you might find it appearing around the areas that get the hottest, especially if you leave the heater at the mercy of the weather. Thankfully, BU-KO has included a large cover that will slow down any weather damage. The cover isn’t the best I’ve ever seen, but the quality is ok. I wish the zip wouldn’t stop a few inches from the bottom, but I can’t gripe at freebies too much, can I? Especially when the Amazon Basics heater doesn’t include a cover at all..
As well as the cover, you also get a free regulator, hose, and clips, which should save you a little bit of money. For some reason, they also give you a Bluetooth speaker, but it doesn’t fit onto the heater in any way so you’ll just end up with it on top of the table. Again though, it’s free so I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
I can’t even grumble about instructions like I usually do either as BU-KO have put this instructional on YouTube for us-
- Pyramidal shape will look fantastic on your patio
- Dancing open flame adds extra flair
- The stainless steel and aluminium construction is better equipped to fight rust and corrosion
- Free cover, hose, and regulator
- Its towering height makes it vulnerable to strong winds
4. Sahara 4kW Tabletop Outdoor patio heater
Tabletop heaters can be fantastic additions to your garden furniture and are particularly suited to situations where you’re crowded around a table like dining out on the patio, or maybe having a game of cards or playing a board game with the family.
Our pick for the best gas tabletop patio heater is this excellent Sahara 4kw model that combines style, performance, and features, into a very nice little package, and on top of that, it has a very good build quality and solidity to it. I have seen some complaints from customers about the protective metal bars around the heating elements rusting after a while, but this is something that happens with a lot of heaters and is just par for the course I’m afraid.
The stainless-steel head contrasts nicely with the black shaft and base to give this heater a modern feel, and when the flame is ignited, the glow coming through only adds to the overall effect. It’s not as eye-catching as the dancing flame found on the BU-Ko and Raal Glow heaters, but it still looks nice. The simple controls bled well into the neck of the heater too, helping to keep things looking sleek.
The maximum heat output is 4kw which is about what you need for a tabletop patio heater. It will provide enough warmth for 4-6 people sitting around a table, but won’t be too overpowering or lead to people’s eye-brows getting burned off, which is what would happen if you sat too close to a 46K BTU heater such as the Real Glow or Amazon basics models. The adjustable reflector is a handy design feature too, allowing you to direct the heat where you need it.
Sahara is on top of the safety side of things too, and this product comes with both anti-tilt and flame failure cut off features.It doesn;t have an oxygen depletion cut off like the Mr. Heater portable buddy, but that’s because it’s designed for patios and outdoor use only. The Sahara shouldn’t be easy to tip over anyway, as it has a weighted base, but accidents do happen, especially after a few drinks, so it’s good to have these things in place.
Assembly is possible alone but I’d get someone to help to make things easier if I were you. If you hate even the littlest bit of assembly, you might prefer the Kingfisher tabletop heater as it is much easier to put together.
One unusual thing about this heater is that one part of the hose is constantly attached to the main unit, and then joined via a quick switch connector to the rest of the hose and the gas tank. It sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is, and it makes disconnecting the heater for storage or moving around much faster than with any of the other heaters featured on this page, and much easier.
I would have liked the heater to have been a little bit bigger, maybe a foot or so taller than what it is, the packaging is a bit underwhelming as you see from the image below, and the plating could have been a bit better, but in all honesty, I can’t complain about much else.
- Attractive modern styling
- 4kw power output will warm 4-6 people around a table
- Quick switch connector makes packing away for storage a faster experience
- Adjustable reflector allows you to aim the heat where you need it
- Small bars at the top could start rusting after a while if the heater is left outside
5. REALGLOW Spiral Flame Gas Patio Heater 13.5KW
Another stunning item for you to consider now with the Real Glow Spiral Flame model, a product that would have taken the spot as the best overall gas patio heater if it wasn’t for the price tag perhaps being a little more than some might want to pay.
Having said that, if you intend to get plenty of use out of your heater, you’re going to need something that will last and this is definitely that kind of product. This item screams quality and robustness, with its powder-coated metal base and stainless-steel top section, and the overall feel is one of a higher quality than both the BU-Ko and Amazon Basics heaters.
With a 13kg tank inserted in the base, the Real Glow spiral flame heater is as sturdy as they come, and you won’t have to worry about it getting blown over by the wind or toppled by an overly enthusiastic pet. At 1.75 metres it is tall enough to give good coverage and heat spread, but not too tall to affect the stability like with some patio heaters. i.e the BU-KO pyramid heater.
Just like with the BU-KO pyramid heater, this one also has a nice display of a naked flame inside a tube. When turned up high it looks fantastic, so inviting and relaxing at the same time. On top of that, the heat emitted is 13.5kw, which is comparable to the 46k BTU of the Amazon basics model we reviewed earlier. In short- it’s more than enough to keep you and your family snug in the garden.
Included in the price are a hose and a 27mm clip-on regulator. Neither of them is the absolute highest quality you can find, but they are decent considering they come free with the heater. There’s also a weather cover, but I wouldn’t rely on only this and keep your heater outside all the time, so either buy a better one or roll the heater indoors for storage.
It’ll take you about 45 minutes to assemble on your own, and even then, you’ll probably have to enlist help to get the glass tube inserted properly as it can be a bit fiddly. There were a few awkwardly placed screws too, but persevere and you’ll get the job done.
The only thing I can really count as a flaw with this gas heater is the wheels. For the price, I think they should be better and roll a lot smoother than they do. I thought it could have just been a fault on our particular item, but I’ve since heard of other people being less than pleased with the same issue. The Amazon product is much cheaper, but it’s wheels work better.
This is only a small flaw in what is otherwise a fantastic gas patio heater. It produces good heat, looks incredible, and is of a very high level of quality. Is it light years ahead of lower budget choices like the Amazon and BU-KO heaters? I couldn’t honestly say so, but it is superior in some ways as you’d expect for the price.
Fancy a closer look at this cracking product? Let us oblige:
- Beautiful and eye-catching design
- 13.5kw heat output is enough to warm a small to medium-sized patio
- Comes with a good selection of extras
- Very good build quality and finish
- Wheels could have been designed better
6. Kingfisher PH300 Garden Outdoor Table Top Patio Heater
On the hunt for a gas tabletop patio heater but think the Sahara product we already featured isn’t really your style? Then perhaps you’d prefer something with a slightly more traditional feel to it, like the Kingfisher PH300.
This heater is basically a scaled-down version of the larger standing mushroom-shaped heaters, like the Amazon Basics heater. There are no flashy extras or bright colours, just the green base and shaft and a metallic head, yet it still manages to look attractive in a vintage kind of way.
With a maximum heat output of 4kw, it is on par with the Sahara model and as such, is only really good for keeping 4-6 people who are sitting around a table warm, so don’t think that it will be able to heat up a large patio like you can with the Real Glow heater.
The Kingfisher PH300 has a simple design, but that makes it both very easy to assemble and gives it robustness and solidity that is hard to beat. It can be affected by strong winds though, so I’d find a way to weigh it down if you’re planning on sitting out there in the worst of the UK’s weather.
Getting the PH300 running is a piece of cake and the piezo ignition works really well each and every time. The variable heat controls are simple but also do what their supposed to without issue and the knob for controlling it feels substantial and not flimsy like with some cheaper products.
If I was to pick a fault, it would be that for the money you pay, I would have expected a regulator and hose to be included, but you’ll have to go and buy them separately should you decide this heater is for you.
- Provides a good bit of heat for its size
- Solidly built and should last for a long time
- Simple assembly and heat controls
- Piezo igniter helps to make this heater a very reliable starter
- No extras included for the price