In the UK, we don’t have the luxury of glorious sunshine all year round. Even in the middle of summer it can sometimes get a bit chilly out in the garden – which, if you'd like to spend the evening outside, can be frustrating.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Outdoor heaters makes your patio comfortable even when the weather’s not on your side. Available in several varieties, the best heater for your garden will depend on your existing setup, and your lifestyle.

Types of Patio Heater

Most patio, or outdoor heaters, can be categorised under one of the following.

Halogen Patio Heaters

A halogen heater uses an electric filament inside a halogen tube to generate heat. The halogen gas causes the tube to shine brightly, and protects the filament against the heat-stress that comes with repeated hot-cold cycles.

Halogen heaters have the considerable advantage of being lightweight. This means they can be moved around with ease. They're also very safe, as the lamp itself doesn't heat up.

Halogen heaters have quite a short throw, which means they’re only able to heat up the area immediately around them. As such, they're best used in small spaces – such as a patio that's enclosed on both sides.

Finally, we should note one of the most important reasons for the halogen heater’s popularity - its affordability. If you're shopping on a budget, the chances are that a halogen heater will fit the bill.

Infrared Patio Heaters

Infrared heaters are another type of electric heater, but these work by pumping out infrared light. This is low-wavelength light that’s just longer than the visible light we see as red (much like ultraviolet light, which is just shorter than what we see as violet).

When the things on your patio (including the furniture, paving and the people using it) are hit by an infrared beam, its molecules begin to move around. This movement is what generates heat energy. This works in exactly the same way as a beam of sunlight.

Since the infrared light can pass straight through the cold air on your patio, it’s very efficient. What’s more, it’ll generate heat almost immediately – there's no waiting for an element to warm up.


A fire-pit is completely different from the first two types of heater we've mentioned. It doesn’t run on electricity, but on flammable fuel. This is usually wood, but it can also be coal, charcoal, or just about anything else that burns.

Given that a fire-pit generates fire, it can serve another purpose besides heating up the patio: cooking food. There’s something quite satisfying about throwing meat, fish or vegetables onto an open flame, and you’ll get a very different flavour to what you get when cooking indoors. In this sense, the fire-pit fulfils the same function as a barbecue.

Fire-pits can be either be built-in, or stand alone, meaning it can be moved around (just make sure it's completely cooled first!)

Fire-pits range considerably in price. It’s also worth bearing in mind that while you won't have to worry about gas or electricity connections, you will have to keep a supply of wood or coal to hand.


The chimenea was invented in Mexico, and consists of a container for a fire, and a chimney. Chimeneas come in a range of shapes and styles, from curvy clay chimeneas, to big iron boxes.

The chimenea is designed to absorb the heat of the fire and channel the smoke up and away. They tend to be made of either clay, steel or cast iron. A clay oven is capable of burning wood, while an iron one can burn coal and charcoal, too.

Chimeneas are a little bit safer than fire-pits, as the flame and smoke are enclosed. As such, they're a popular option for households with small children.

What’s the Best Type of Patio Heater?

The short (and perhaps predictable) answer is that there is no best option - instead, a few factors will play into figuring out the best outdoor heater for you.

If you'd like something unobtrusive, you might go for an infrared heater; if you’d like something more eye catching then you might prefer a chimenea or fire-pit.

You should also think about convenience.

Do you want heat available at the flick of a switch, and do you want to spend time chopping up firewood and clearing out ash? And how do you feel about the smell of wood-smoke? Stay up late in front of the fire and you’re sure to smell it in your clothes and hair. For some, this might be a plus; for others, not so much.

You should also consider that certain areas enforce bans on wood-burning fires - we'd advise finding out if this affects you before investing in a fire pit or chimenea.

In our garden section you’ll find our full range of outdoor heaters as well as garden bistro sets, lighting, sheds, water features, pots, planters and so much more. Shop online at Oldrids & Downtown or visit us in store at our Grantham garden centre.