With summer just around the corner, many of us will be thinking about what outdoor heating we will want in our gardens. Essentially there are four main choices of heating to choose from:

  • Fire pits
  • Chiminea
  • Electric heating
  • Gas heating

Each of the three different types of outdoor heating have their own benefits and drawbacks. Some will require fuel that is readily available from most stores and others you will need to go to specialist stores to purchase, gas for example. There are also other factors to consider such as how much they cost to run. The cost of running a gas heater will generally stay the same. However, wood may be cheaper for some people as they will be able to use the wood that they use in the house. Whilst probably not something that will influence a purchase, something to consider.

If you have children, safety may also be a major factor in what type of heating to choose. Electric heating and gas heating would definitely serve their purpose in this regard.

However, if you are going for an aesthetic feel, then good old fire is certainly going to do the trick and you won’t be disappointed. Here we look at all the different types of heating and aim to provide you with all of the information you need to make an informed choice about how you are going to heat your garden this summer.

Here are some pointers that you should think about as you go through the options:

  • How big is the space that I am looking to heat?
  • Do I have easy access to electric where I am planning to put the heater?
  • How often will I intend to use it?
  • Will I have easy access to fuels? Wood & gas?
  • Where will I store the heater when not in use?
  • Will I need a cover for the unit?
  • How heavy do I want it to be?
  • Is the area suitable for burning wood?
  • Is there enough ventilation for burn wood?

Whilst not an exhaustive list, they are some of the elements that you should be thinking about.

Fire Pits

What are fire pits?

Fire pits are quite simply an open fire in the garden that you chuck logs onto and enjoy the heat and light that it produces. Fire pits come in a range of sizes and will suit most gardens or patios providing that there is nothing too flammable around where you are planning on putting it.

How much heat do fire pits produce?

Fire pits really are the traditional form of heating for any garden. Fire pits will vary on how much heat they produce. At the start, they will produce little heat because all you will have is flame. However, once the fire is established, you will encounter radiant heat from the embers that will certainly warm those that are sitting around it. The trick here is to light it before the heat is needed so that it has a chance to heat up.

It will also depend on what fuel you use. Hardwood is best to use because it will produce the hot embers that you need to create the radiant heat. Although, you will want to consider buying some kiln dried hardwood so that you are able to get the fire started quickly and produce those embers early on. We would certainly recommend lighting the fire an hour before you need it. One rule is almost certain, don’t use wet wood. This will only smoke and make it unpleasant for those sitting around it. Kiln dried will have the complete opposite effect and will burn very clean. Whilst this is more expensive, you won’t regret it from an experience point of view. Also great for occasional use if you are worried about cost.

Pile of firewood

What fuel can I use in a fire fit?

Following on from how much heat they produce, you are going to get the best result from wood such as kiln dried hardwood. This is available from most garden centres but will come at a premium. If you are going to be burning a lot of wood over the summer period, you can often have it delivered on a pallet – this also makes a nice display.

Where possible, you will want to burn hard wood. After all, your experience of the fire is going to be paramount and you are not going to want a lot of smoke. Soft wood, depending on the type that you are burning can have a tendency to spit. As many of the fire pits are not contained, you will not want this spitting near you and will render it useless if it is doing so.

You may also want to consider choosing different woods if you want to provide a certain aroma outside. Apple is a great wood and whilst hard to find, it smells delicious when burned in an open fire pit.

FirePit Garden

Metal Outdoor Fire Pit – 100cm 

Available from: Maisons Du Monde

This is a lovely fire pit and is large in size to make lovely big fires. This will be suited in many surroundings and will give off an incredible heat when lit. When not in use, this will be a lovely feature in any garden with its lovely black hammered metal.

Steel Fire Bowl – 59cm

Available from: Garden by Waitrose & Partners

This is a lovely fire pit available from Waitrose and Partners and is of excellent value. The fire itself is 59cm by 55 cm off of the ground. It is of simple design and will hold a good size fire. Perfect for those evening where you just want to sit outside, relax and enjoy.

Weber Outdoor Fire Pit 63.5cm

Available from: John Lewis

With the iconic design of the Weber BBQ, this fire pit will look great in any modern garden. This one sits only 45cm off of the ground and is 63.5cm in diameter. Underneath the unit is an ash catcher to help your fire burn at an optimum as well as making it easy to clean. The fire pit also comes with a lid that you can place in the holder on the side when in use (similar to the BBQs). Also perfect for when the unit is not in use.

Harbour Housewares Cast Iron Fire pit 75cm

Available from: Amazon

A cast iron fire pit with a classic bowl shape on tripod legs. This item is easy to assemble and creates a lovely focal point in the garden. Available in three sizes to suit your garden size and easy to move with handles on the side. This fire pit is also of extremely good value.

Chiminea

Outdoor heating

The other alternative to a fire pit is the chiminea. These, in the right place are just beautiful. There are so many designs available from 360 degree to only front opening models. Chimineas are also good from the point of view that they force the smoke up into the air so to avoid it blowing across you whilst sitting outside. Also, as the structure of the chiminea heats up, it also creates a lot of radiant heat so that you won’t need to sit near it to get the benefits.

How much heat does a chiminea produce? 

Believe it or not, a chiminea actually produces a lot of heat. Because there is a finite space to burn the wood, you can generally only get it so hot. However, this will also depend on what type of wood that you are looking to burn. Burning kiln dried wood, is certainly going to get you the best results. However any type of seasoned hardwood will do.

You will also need to consider the type of chiminea that you are looking to buy. Some of them only have openings in the front and others have a 360 degree heat offering. If placing in a corner, then an open front chiminea will be perfect. Although, if you are placing it in a more open space, you might want to consider one of the more open products.

Needless to say, a chiminea is going to keep you fairly warm on a cooler summers evening. You will need to invest in some gloves if you need to open a door to fuel it but this inconvenience is certainly worth it.

What fuel can I use in a chiminea? 

In the main, wood is the preferred choice of fuel for a chiminea. Some models may allow you to use coal and I have seen some of these. However, from experience, you will only want to use the coal to get the fire going and to generate heat. From the point that you have heat, you will want to ensure that you are using dry hardwood. Kiln dried wood is best because it burns clean and produces a lot more heat. If using it in large quantities or you have a log burner, consider getting a pallet of them as they are great at getting the fire started.

Garden Chiminea - John Lewis

La Hacienda Oakland Premium Outdoor Fireplace

Available from: John Lewis

This chiminea really sets the bar in terms of quality and appearance for the garden. It is extremely well made and this is reflected in the price tag. If you enjoy entertaining in the summer, then this will certainly be a great addition to any outside ambience. Underneath the chiminea is a helpful area to store fuel which also makes is ascetically pleasing when not in use. This really will keep you warm on those cooler summer evenings.

Contemporary Steel Chiminea Circo

Available from: Garden by Waitrose & Partners

A modern looking Chiminea with a tall chimney and an open front to fuel. It is made from steel and designed to withstand extreme heat. When in place this will stand 1.25m high and will look great on a patio. Supplied in two pieces but extremely easy to put together.

Rio – Black Metal Chiminea

Available from: Maisons Du Monde

If you are a fan of the fire in the garden, this really is the chiminea for you. Unlike others, this offers a large area, at 360 degrees to show off your fire. Not only will it give out a large amount of heat, but you will also get a good amount of light out of it on a summer evening. As the chimney is quite high up, it should help prevent smoke blowing towards you when you are sitting outside.

Outdoor Chiminea

Cristobal – Black pyramid chiminea

Available from: Maisons Du monde

A lovely contemporary chiminea that will suit almost any patio area. It is front loading and stands an impressive 1.8m high. If you have a large patio area that is to be heated, this will certainly keep you warm and will look very impressive when lit.

Classic Chiminea

SAMBA – Black Metal Chiminea

Available from: Miasons Du Monde

This chiminea is of a classic design and fabricated from metal. It stands 1.3m high with a depth of 52cm. Being made of metal will help with heat radiation. This classic design would suit a cottage garden. What is interesting about this model is the chimney. Where most narrow at the top, this one widens which makes for an interesting design.

Kingfisher Chiminea

Kingfisher Black Steel chiminea with log store

Available from: Amazon

A contemporary looking chiminea standing 1.3m high and 44.5cm deep. It has a log store underneath which will hold a couple of hours worth of fuel.

Classic Chiminea

La Hacienda – Medium steel chiminea

Available from: Amazon

Chiminea designs don’t really come that much more traditional than this. This chiminea would suit a small garden as it only stands 88cm high. It also comes with a cooking grill so that you can have a couple of late night hot dogs if you felt like it. Made by a very reputable brand.

Electric Heating

Electric heating certainly serves it purpose in the garden. It is suited to both the occasional user and someone who really likes to eat alfresco. Lighting a real fire every day, will certainly take its toll unless you have a lot of time on your hands. Electric is also much safer is you have small children as it is less likely that they will burn themselves on it.

The only downside of having outside electric heating is that once you have installed it, you will find it difficult to move it. You may also need to consider how you are going to power it. It can be quite expensive as it is recommended that you fit a separate circuit. This can be quite helpful as you can often opt to install some outdoor power at the same time. Most outdoor heaters are around the 2KW mark in terms of consumption. Based on current energy prices, this will cost approximately £0.30 an hour to run. Something to think about if you are going to be using it a lot.

Compared to wood, electric heaters will also offer instant heat. You really won’t need to wait long at all to feel the benefits. Although, you will miss out on the sound of crackling wood and flickering flames.

La Hacienda Table Top Electric Heater

Available from: John Lewis

If you are a fan of alfresco eating, this table top heater will be perfect. This will heat the body as opposed to the surrounding air. Whats more is that the heat will be constant. Powered by a 2.1kw lamp, this unit is certainly efficient and can be used regularly to help you enjoy your outside space.

La Hacienda Free Standing Electric Patio Heater

Available from: John Lewis

Made for smaller spaces as opposed to large patios, this heater will ensure that anyone in close proximity will stay warm. The element used in this heater is designed to last around 5000 hours so will last for many seasons to come. This lamp is also has height adjustment allowing it to stand from 1.6m to 2.1m high – which helps its flexibility of use.

Oypla Electrical 2KW Quartz Free Standing Outdoor Electric Garden Patio Heater

Available from: Amazon

A basic floor standing heater that will meet most gardens requirements if you want to take the edge off of the cold. It has three adjustable heat settings and comes with 2m of power cord. A good personal heater for sitting outside on a colder evening.

La Hacienda Heatmaster U3R20 2.0KW Popular Umbrella Mount Infrared Heater

Available from: Amazon

When out in the garden, if we you sitting down having supper or social drinks, you can almost guarantee that there is going to be a parasol somewhere nearby. This heater clamps around the pole of the parasol and has 4 x 500w infrared lights to keep you warm. Because this sits higher up from where you are sitting, equal amounts of heat will be radiated 360 degrees around the table.

Gas Heating

Gas heating outside certainly had its uses. It is pretty much instant in terms of delivery and safe to use when safety precautions are taken. Because you are going to need to purchase the gas, it can be a little more expensive than other means of heating but certainly has its benefits in terms of mobility. If you are going to struggle to get electricity to an area of the garden or it is simply not practical to burn wood, then gas is going to be your best bet.

Believe it or not, when we think of gas heaters, we tend to think of the iconic heater like the one pictured above. But there are many other designs out there, including table top ones for a more intimate experience. You can also get gas fire pits if you want the ability to be able to turn it on and off in an instant.

In terms of cost, you are looking at approximately £1.20 an hour to operate. However, this very much depends on the type of heater you are using and the cost of propane gas in the local area.

COSTWAY Outdoor Gas Fire Pit, Portable 58,000 BTU Propane Patio Heater

Available from: Amazon

If you are a fan of fire pits but don’t want any of the hassle of burning wood or smoke being blown across the area in which you are sitting, this is the heater for you. The fire runs off of propane gas and the bowl is filled with lava rock so that the heat is retained. The flames are adjustable from the dial on the front to adjust the amount of heat being expelled. Being gas, the heat is instant and you will only need a couple of minutes for the rocks to heat up.

Havana Bronze Commercial Patio Heater 46,000 BTU

Available from: Amazon

When we think of gas heaters, this is normally the design that springs to mind. These heaters can really put out some heat and for anyone standing close to it, you will certainly feel warm. A gas canister is housed in the base and the controls are operated from the top underneath the burners. Being gas, you feel the heat quickly from the moment you turn it on.

This type of outdoor heater is extremely popular and will work in almost any garden setting.

Sahara 4kw Gas Table Top outdoor patio heater

Available from: Amazon

Similar to the electric table top heater, this is wonderful if you are an alfresco eater. If you struggle with electricity outside or it is just a lot of effort to get electricity outside, this is the perfect compromise. With an incredible 4Kw output, this heater will almost certainly keep you warm.

Stainless Steel Living Flame Gas Patio Heater 9.5Kw

Available from: Amazon

This heater is extremely powerful. Not only will you experience up to 9.5Kw of heat from this unit but it will also produce a nice ambience in the garden when lit. The flames are adjustable from the control switch underneath (which is also where the gas is housed) It boast an electric ignition so there is no need to manually light it. Can be used both as a heater or decoration in the garden when entertaining.

There is no doubt about it that having heating outside is a wonderful experience but can also be quite expensive. It will certainly add some ambiance to any garden area and not to mention keep you warm outside so that you can enjoy your outdoor space at times when it would be otherwise too cold to do so.

We hope you have found our outdoor heating guide useful.

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