We’ve been spending so much time relaxing outdoors in the last few days, including having some amazing evening meals and drinks as the sun goes down. Our household isn’t fully vaccinated yet so we’re still being careful about where we go and who we see, and we’ve decided to stick to socialising outdoors and avoiding international travel until we’ve had a good chance to develop proper antibodies and find out how the new wave of the coronavirus Delta variant is going to play out.
To this end, we’ve been refurbishing our garden and patio, expecting to spend more time relaxing at home and eventually having more garden get-togethers with friends and neighbours as people catch up with their jabs. While we’ve been enjoying the current mini heatwave, we’re also aware of how unpredictable the weather and general temperatures can be in the UK, so to get the most out of the Summer I started looking for ways to keep comfortable in the garden without asking people to resort to piling on the coats, cardigans and blankets as soon as the cold started to creep in.
I scrolled through Instagram and a few interiors and garden blogs for some inspiration, finding all kinds of fire pits, chimineas and gas and electric patio heaters. While the fire pits and chimineas looked good in some of those photos, I was concerned about the smoke and general environmental impact, plus it was easy to see how they wouldn’t mix well with pets, kids and guests who’d maybe had one shandy too many.
Electric outdoor heaters vs gas
That left me with a choice between gas-powered or electric patio heaters, with a number of different factors to consider. For example, I wanted to think more about:
- carbon-neutral processes
- energy efficiency
- ongoing maintenance
Gas is a less sustainable source of fuel and is less carbon friendly, whereas you can choose to get your power company that provides electricity from 100% renewable sources such as sun, wind and water.
Fuel efficiency is something else I wanted to think about. Electric patio heaters only use radiant infrared heat to supply warmth, heating objects and surfaces directly without disturbing the air so it doesn’t escape or get lost easily. Gas is less efficient because it partly uses convection, warming the surrounding air quickly but easily lost to draughts and breezes, especially in larger gardens, which is why it tends to be less ideal for outdoor heating.
Flexibility is less important to us in a relatively small urban back yard, but it’s something you may still want to consider. Wall mounted, ceiling mounted & freestanding electric heaters are available, depending on your requirements. Installing a gas heater is usually easier, and most can be moved around your outdoor spaces if you wish.
Turning our attention to maintenance, gas heaters need fuel cylinders which can be a faff to get hold of but they’re usually fairly easy to connect. They also require annual servicing checks from a gas engineer which can be costly and time-consuming. Some electric patio heaters are compatible with DIY fitting when plugged into a socket with a suitable IP rating, otherwise they have to be hardwired by a professional, but maintenance requirements are less formal so you don’t have to pay for annual callouts.
What will work best for us
In the end we decided that the best outdoor heating option for us would be a small wall-mounted electric patio heater. It’s more environmentally friendly than a gas-powered appliance, and from a financial point of view it would be more energy efficient and have lower running costs after installation.
Meanwhile, it’s been fantastic to be able to relax and eat outdoors at home in the recent evening sunshine, and with the help of a little extra warmth we’re hoping we could carry that on through the ups and downs of the great British summer and into the Autumn months.
Disclosure: Advertorial post on behalf of Electric Radiators Direct.