Cosiness and warmth, yes, but how about decorative elegance too? A modern-day gas patio heater brings both sets of qualities into the equation. Factor in convenience, safety features, and cheap operation and we’re looking at an outdoor appliance-cum-furnishing that’s a ‘must-have.’
A modern gas patio heater is one of those rare products that delivers as much functional purpose as it often brings ornamental value. A good gas patio heater lets you get toasty . . . in style!
Because they are not tethered to an electrical point, gas patio heaters are more convenient and adaptable than electric heaters – and that’s far from all: gas heaters are much, much cheaper to operate than electric heaters.
These long and slender, lamp-like appliances are available in a fair variety of models, colours, and finishes. The heat output may be all of 15 kilowatts or only 8.5 kilowatts, the colour may be a sober charcoal or a splashy turquoise, and the finish may be glazed or glossy – indulge your taste.
On the other hand, late-model gas patio heaters also have a few design elements in common. These include one-touch piezo ignition and anti-tilt cutoff systems. No more fiddling with the gas cylinder, pilot buttons, and matches or lighters; now it’s press and play. And if a blustery wind or a frisky pet tips over your heater, don’t panic – it will automatically shut off.
Apart from the heat output, the variables you may wish to look into are the effectiveness of the reflector, the types of compatible gas, and whether regulators are included. The design and quality of the reflector plays a significant role in the focus or envelope of heat to the extent that a less powerful heater with a very good reflector may keep you warmer than a more powerful heater with a poorly-designed reflector. As for the types of gas and regulators, even though you will not be able to switch the same regulator between propane and butane you should not even try because it would create a fire and explosion hazard.
The word ‘patio’ is the key word in the product name ‘gas patio heaters’ – these are meant for outdoor use only. Check out the safety precautions in FAQ section How To Light Your Heater Safely, underneath.
Yes, there may be a nip or even a chill in the air on spring nights, but, so what? Get a couple of gas patio heaters and throw a pot-luck patio party at 8 for your friends, or have the grandparents over for supper under the stars on the verandah. Your guests will be as cosy as they will be impressed.
Last update on 2021-04-16 / All Pricing & Imagery from Amazon Product Advertising API
Each of our choices underneath is utilitarian in spades yet each is also a decorative piece in its own right.
Palpably powerful, sturdily constructed, and stylish to boot, there’s everything to like about Sahara’s de luxe patio heater, especially the tiltable reflector.
Cost: Price not available
Sahara’s 13-kilowatt gas outdoor heater comes in two styles, Sahara and Memphis, and four colours, charcoal, red, white and stainless steel. Our top pick is the classy ‘Sahara’ Stainless Steel edition although the more expensive ‘Memphis’ is coloured a spanking red which takes some of the ‘blah’ off its canister-like or fire-hydrant-shaped base. The ‘Sahara’ has a distinctly sharper base, what with the vertical vents and horizontal rimming.
These heaters are 2250 millimetres high.
Sahara’s heater is palpably powerful and features an adjustable heat-focussing reflector so you can direct and focus the snugness just where it is most needed and appreciated. No gimmick this, it works wonderfully well. A convenient handle adjusts the reflector up to about 45 degrees. It easily radiates heat to at least one-and-a-half metres.
It has a core that heats up; as such, it is a true heater and not merely a fancy flame in an enclosure.
Made of high-grade stainless steel, it manifests excellent build quality; it is sturdy and refined but not well-finished – it has unfortunate sharp metal edges here and there, including the reflector’s panels. You can trundle it around on its two wheels; simply tilt and push.
Setting it up is more of a prolonged chore than it should be and takes about half-an-hour but the worst part is the hassle of peeling off the blue plastic film.
The intensity of the heat is controlled by a knob at the base.
It has a one-touch ignition button and an anti-tilt cut-off feature.
Up to 13-kilogramme propane or butane canisters can be fitted into the Sahara.
Although expensive, Sahara’s heaters are of such superb quality every which way that you could even call it a good value. It puts out major league heat that that Miami basketball team would be envious of.
Sahara offers a 10-year warranty and lifetime technical support.
- ‘The Big Heat’ comes with big style.
- The matchless adjustable reflector directs a pocket of heat just where you want it.
- The best warranty and support in the business.
- Watch out for sharp metal edges, including on the reflector plates.
- Setting it up and peeling off the blue film will make you go ‘aargh!’
Surprisingly tasteful and sufficiently powerful and even of solid build quality, for a budget-priced kit Palm Springs’s patio heater wins all the marbles.
Cost: Price not available
Palm Springs’s heater is the shorty in the pack at 2200 millimetres. It weighs 19 kilogrammes. It is elegant and tasteful and surprisingly so for a budget-priced item. The glazed brushed grey base and pole go very well with the shiny silvery upper enclosure.
The wheels make it very easy to shift this heater.
It has one-touch piezo ignition but be aware that the first time you turn it on, it will probably not work. Trying to get it lit may irritate the impatient but instead of fuming simply read and follow the lighting instructions and, though the process may be a little drawn-out, you won’t have a problem. (Also refer to FAQ section How To Light Your Heater Safely, below.)
What you won’t be complaining about is the heat output – Palm Springs makes a very effective heater. The power output is variable from 5 to 13 kilowatts so you can home in on the precise degree of warmth you want.
However, a design anomaly degrades this heater’s effectiveness. The reflector does not radiate a satisfactory halo of heat and projects heat only in a downward inverse cone.
It accepts 13-kilogramme gas canisters and runs off propane or butane gas.
All said, Palm Springs gas patio heater is of decent build quality, puts out serious heat, and is overall so good as to give the lie to its low price. As such, there is no gainsaying the fact that it is a top value for money and chooses itself as our Value Pick.
- Puts out a toasty pocket of heat, which is even adjustable.
- This one murmurs restrained elegance and tastefulness.
- The pocket-change price.
- The reflector is not as effective as it might have been.
- You may experience difficulty lighting it but just be patient.
Although assembly is a headache, heat output is very impressive; however, Littleborough’s kit is such a ‘looker’ that it will have guests oohing and aahing.
Cost: Price not available
Measuring 495 millimetres square at the base and elegantly tapering upwards, Littleborough’s Quartz Glass Tube rises to 2270 millimetres which means it is very tall, more than you may expect. This heavyweight checks in at 35 kilogrammes.
This very unusual gas patio heater is like an elongated pyramid in brushed silvery grey stainless steel with a horizontal grille enclosing a fountain-like narrow virtual flame that is mainly of ornamental value, with the whole being so attractive that a neighbour or two will probably enviously enquire where you got that from!
It also more than serves its purpose as it radiates a lot of warmth, especially within about one metre all round. The power rating is 13 kilowatts and the heat output can be adjusted to three settings; what is more, the dial is very conveniently located. It has an anti-tilt safety switch and comes with an auto-shutoff device.
On the flip side, this Quartz Glass Tube is sent in numerous pieces . . . the assembly will be a time-consuming chore if you’re an experienced hobbyist . . . and an even longer headache if you’re a newbie DIYer. However, what will really do you in is peeling off all the protective blue film off. Budget about three-quarters of an hour for this Herculean labour!
Littleborough’s gas patio heater runs on propane, butane or LPG gas and accepts all sizes of canisters up to 18 kilogrammes. This relatively larger size reduces the frequency with which you’ll have to change canisters.
- Radiates a lot of warmth, especially within one metre, and the heat is adjustable.
- Takes three kinds of gas, and accepts canisters up to 18 kilogrammes.
- An absolute stunner, this one’s such a ‘looker’ that we’d recommend it even if it didn’t put out heat!
- Be warned that assembly will pose a challenge even to the experienced hobbyist, what to say of the uninitiated.
- Peeling off all the blue film in tiny bits and pieces may have you pulling out your hair.
Not much to look at, Kingfisher’s kit is sturdy and robust but its power output is on the low end of the scale; on the other hand, assembly is super-easy.
Cost: Price not available
Kingfisher Pheater1 freestanding gas patio heater is 2260 millimetres high and weighs 15 kilogrammes. Be aware that Kingfisher also produces a tabletop patio heater which they market as merely another style or model but it is an entirely different kettle of fish from the freestanding model reviewed here.
Available in only one colour, the lustrous hunter green base and pole are made of steel, as is the silvery flame enclosure and reflector. The base has two wheels; tilt and trundle.
Kingfisher’s heater is more of a functional kit; the shapeless cylindrical base with its slits has a clunky, industrial look about it. In keeping with its look, it is sturdy and robust.
It has a maximum power output of 8.5 kilowatts which puts it at the lower end of the power scale; however, it must be said that somehow it puts out heat enough to lead one to conclude that it is more like a 10-kilowatt unit. It also has a heat adjustment dial but its location is inconvenient.
Features include a one-touch piezo ignition and an anti-tilt system to cut off gas if the heater tips over.
Those who are all thumbs take note that this kit is one of the easiest to assemble.
The Pheater1 can take butane or propane in up to 15-kilogramme canisters. Note that no regulator is supplied so you’ll need to get them separately.
- The features – piezo ignition, anti-tilt cut-off, control dial, wheels.
- Those who gravitate to restrained, ‘industrial’ designs will like this patio heater
- Assembly and setup is just about the easiest and quickest.
- The power output of 8.5 kilowatts is on the low side
- Inconveniently located heat control dial.
- No variety in colour or finish – as Henry Ford said, “So long as it’s black;” in this case, hunter green!
Available in various colours, AmazonBasics’s patio heater is inexpensive yet packs in potent heat output and features like piezo ignition and anti-tilt cut-off.
Cost: Price not available
AmazonBasics’s Patio Heaters are available in a variety of colours and finishes with associated price differences; Havana Bronze and Slate Grey are viable inexpensive alternatives to our pick, Stainless Steel. This heater is 2260 millimetres tall and weighs 18.1 kilogrammes, and it is constructed of commercial-grade stainless steel.
The heat output of 13.5 kilowatts can be adjusted to high or low by virtue of a somewhat inconveniently located knob. It creates a lovely pocket of heat albeit only in an inverse vertical cone.
This top-heavy and unstable heater features one-touch piezo ignition and an anti-tilt auto-shutoff to prevent the heater from staying alight if it falls, which you can guard against by putting gravel in the base reservoir to lower its centre of gravity.
The instructions are helpful and assembly, though time-consuming, is straightforward. Note that the reflector is not one-piece. By far the most tedious setup chore is peeling off the blue protective film which comes off in tiny bits and pieces.
The two wheels at the rear roll smoothly enough but the clearance is a little more than it needs to be, necessitating a somewhat pronounced tilt.
Be warned that this kit is prone to rusting so try to protect it from damp and humidity. Do not, however, make the mistake of applying a corrosion inhibitor or rust-resistant coating because nearly all of them are flammable.
Standard 13-kilogramme cylinders do not fit into the base housing. A few oddly-shaped 13-kilogramme cylinders can be squashed in by trying to jam them in but 10-kilogramme canisters fit comfortably. AmazonBasics’s heater can use both propane and butane but only a propane regulator is included.
This kit is an undeniably good value for money.
AmazonBasics provides a one-year limited warranty.
- Available in a variety of colours and finishes, AmazonBasics makes a patio heater to suit every taste.
- Radiates a warm, toasty pocket of heat and has all the essential features.
- Excellent value for money.
- Peeling off the protective blue film is such an aggravation that it may drive you up the wall.
- Standard 13-kilogramme cylinders do not fit in the base housing.
- Humidity or moisture may cause the heater to rust.
How Much Gas Does A Patio Heater Use?
A standard 13-kilogramme propane cylinder will provide from approximately 6 to approximately 10 hours of heat depending on the heat setting, from minimum to maximum.
Butane will provide about the same duration of heat per kilogramme.
What Type Of Gas Should I Use?
If your gas patio heater burns on only one type of gas, then you don’t have a choice. However, most of them can take both propane and butane.
If the mercury dips to -1° centigrade and below, butane will not burn as it cannot be converted to or remain in gaseous form at such temperatures; on the other hand, propane will burn, and right down to about -43° centigrade. However, it is unlikely that you will be ‘chilling out’ on your patio when the temperature is even close to freezing so perhaps this difference between the two gases is not a criterion on which to make a choice.
Although propane and butane burn with approximately the same efficiency in producing heat, butane is definitely a bit less expensive but not so much as to make it a clear-cut choice.
Therefore, all other things being equal you should use butane but if you have to drive two or three miles further out to get butane or if butane supplies tend to run short in your area, you should plop for propane.
How To Light Your Heater Safely
Almost all recent models of gas patio heaters have a piezo ignition system for turning on heat – just press the button! However, you can ensure that you do so safely by following a few simple rules.
- Do not keep combustible or flammable materials of any sort near the heater; such materials should be at least about 1.25 metres away from the heater.
- If you are re-lighting a gas patio heater that has gone out, turn the heat knob to Off and wait for at least five minutes for ambient gas to dissipate.
- If you are lighting a brand new gas patio heater or have taken it out from storage and are lighting it for the first time in the season, push the pilot button and keep it depressed for about a minute, and then turn on the heater.
- Do not light or use a gas patio heater indoors or in an enclosed space.
Kersie learnt the basics of gardening as a toddler, courtesy of his grandfather. In his youth he was an active gardener with a preference for flowering plants. He is a professional and vocational writer and his freelance projects have spanned various kinds of writing.