Patio Heating & Design: Embrace the Outdoors with These Ideas
6 mins to read

Patio Heating & Design: Embrace the Outdoors with These Ideas

# Interior Design
# Home

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Whether you’re sipping cocktails on a cool summer evening, or hot chocolate on a cold winter day, a patio heater is the perfect way to bring warmth to your garden.

And the great thing is, there is an extensive range of patio heaters available. This means that no matter your garden size or budget, you can enjoy a lovely warm garden even in the coldest months.

Read on to discover the most efficient type of outdoor heater, as well as some fantastic patio heating ideas.

What are the benefits of a patio heater?

Patio with wooden tables and chairs and fireplace

If you’ve ever had to wrap yourself in a blanket when the temperature drops in your garden, a patio heater means you can ditch the layers! Some of the other fantastic benefits of a patio heater include:

  • You can enjoy your garden at any time of the year. Imagine sitting in your garden watching the fireworks on bonfire night or ringing in the New Year with a glass of bubbly!
  • A patio heater adds elegance and ambience to your garden. The gentle flickering flames and radiant heat will transform your garden into a stunning space for entertaining friends and family
  • There is a wide range of different patio heaters on the market, meaning you can choose the one that best suits your needs and garden layout. We’ll look at the different types of patio heaters later on in this article

What type of patio heater should I use?

Two wicker chairs in patio right across wood burner fireplace

In the past, there were only a handful of patio heaters available. However, today, you’re spoilt for choice! Let’s look at the different heaters you can buy, and the pros and cons.

Infrared patio heaters

These patio heaters are the oldest type around, having been invented in the 1960s. Infrared patio heaters emit radiant heat that warms people directly, rather than heating the air.

While these patio heaters are great for providing instant warmth, they have a limited range meaning they’re not ideal for effectively warming large open spaces.

Electric patio heaters

Electric patio heaters are easy to set up – plug them into a power source, and they’re ready to go!

This type of patio heater works quickly and like an infrared patio heater, doesn’t emit fumes or smoke. However, they generally have a lower heat output, meaning you need to stay close to get the most benefit.

Fire pits and chimineas

Two lawn chairs next to a fire pit outdoors

These fire pits use wood and coal to create light and heat, meaning you don’t need gas or electricity to use them. If you’re a fan of roaring campfires and roasting marshmallows on the flames, a fire pit may be an excellent choice.

However, these heaters produce smoke and soot, which may mean your clothes and hair end up smelling of smoke at the end of the evening. You’ll also need to take precautions to ensure that the fire does not get out of control.

Gas patio heaters

These patio heaters use gas as a source of fuel. Propane-fuelled patio heaters are great if you want a freestanding patio heater that you can move around. 

Natural gas patio heaters are a permanent installation that you (or more to the point, a professional installer) can connect to your gas line.

Gas patio heaters are fantastic at providing a steady and thorough source of heat, making them the warmest patio heater around. However, they’re not recommended for enclosed spaces as they need a lot of ventilation.

Bioethanol patio heaters

Bioethanol fires are a relatively new option for patio heating. They use bioethanol fuel, derived from renewable sources like sugarcane, corn, and grain. Just pour the fuel into the heater, light it, and you’re all set! When you’re done, close the lid, and the flame will be extinguished.

This type of patio heating option uses clean-burning fuel, meaning this option is environmentally friendly, and you won’t experience smelly clothes or smoky eyes. 

As bioethanol fires don’t need ventilation, you can place them anywhere… even inside! Most bioethanol patio heaters are lightweight and portable, meaning you can pick them up and move them around as needed.

Bioethanol fires burn with 98% efficiency, making them the most efficient type of outdoor heater around. 

While biofires don’t have the heat output of gas heaters, they’re simple to use and a sustainable way of providing warmth in your garden.

I’m looking for a cheap patio heater – which one should I go for?

The honest answer is… it depends! It’s important to remember that while a patio heater may be a bargain, you also need to consider the fuel it uses. 

For example, a fire pit or chiminea may be a cost-effective option, but the cost of wood, coal, and fire lighters can quickly add up. Electric patio heaters generally have a lower initial outlay, but extensive use may cause your energy bills to skyrocket.

If you’re looking for patio heating ideas, don’t discount a bioethanol patio heater. Many people assume bioethanol fires are expensive to run; however, they’re much more affordable than you might think, especially if you use high-quality fuel that burns more slowly.

Having your outdoor patio heater on full heat for 3.5 hours can cost £1.31 per hour, making it an affordable way to stay warm in style!

Amazing patio heating ideas

Bird's eye view of a patio with wooden chairs and plants

So, you want to invest in a stunning patio heater to cover your patio or decking from the cold. However, how can you optimise your outdoor space to make the most of the heat?

Here are some outdoor heating ideas to keep you and your family nice and cosy.

Trap the warmth from your patio heater

A great way to maximise the warmth your patio heater emits is to design your garden to trap the heat. Putting up barriers like trellises, pergolas and gazebos can keep the wind away and stop your guests from getting chilly. 

Even strategically placed potted plants and bushes can block the dreaded wind chill!

Turn your patio heater into a design statement

A patio heater doesn’t have to be dull and boring – you can transform your outdoor space by choosing a patio heater that doubles up as a contemporary design piece.

For example, take the Boston Black bioethanol fireplace, which adds a touch of elegance to any patio. You can even add pebbles to enhance the look even further.

Invest in some cosy seating

Colourful patio with sofas and wooden tables


If you’ve got an outdoor patio heater, you want to make the most of the heat it emits. A draughty plastic chair or a seat with lots of gaps in it means you may end up reaching for your coat!

A padded seat or sofa provides lots of comfort and traps the heat, meaning you stay warm even on the chilliest evenings. Failing that, soft and squishy cushions are a wonderful investment for keeping the heat where it needs to be.

Use lighting to make your garden even cosier

You’ve got a patio heater to add warmth to your entertaining space… but light also plays an integral part in setting the perfect atmosphere in your garden.

Strings of solar lights are fantastic for providing a soft, glowing ambience when the sun starts to set, while you can move lanterns around to provide light where you need it most. 

If you’ve got a tree overhead, why not hang lights to provide a touch of magic when the nights draw in?

Outdoor heating ideas to transform your garden

Group of friends in patio with heater in the middle

We hope you’ve enjoyed this short guide to patio heating ideas. 

A patio heater is a brilliant way to make your garden a warmer and more inviting place to be, no matter the size or shape of your outdoor space.

There’s no scarcity of options, hence you should definitely consider all the factors, from efficiency to cost, before committing to a final decision.