In Britain, where the weather is usually intemperate and always unpredictable, this is a familiar story even in the height of summer. Investing in some form of outdoor heating can transform your garden from a place where you can only be comfortable a handful of nights a year, to a reliable social gathering place you can enjoy throughout summer, spring and autumn.
The warming glow from a gas patio heater has a similar effect to a campfire: invigorating radiant heat from the heater’s flame counteracts the cool of the night air, providing a warm hub to gather around. The added comfort of a gas patio heater is a great way to maximise the usable space in your home or business. They are particularly popular in pubs, bars and restaurants, where customers are much more likely to choose an outdoor table if it has a heater nearby, and smokers are much less likely to move on to other establishments if you’re offering somewhere warm for them to light up.
Once installed, gas heaters do require a little more effort to use than electric heaters. You will need to purchase and store a supply of gas canisters to power your heater. A 13kg gas cylinder will typically last for 10 hours of use, after which point you’ll need to replace the cylinder. This is a fairly quick job but needs to be done when the heater is cold, to avoid burnt fingers.
Not all gas heaters are suitable for DIY assembly. Some retailers sell cheaper gas heaters that need the gas hose and regulator connecting by a professional before they can be used DIY. Always check the retailer’s installation guidance before purchasing.
The ease of portability depends to an extent on the size of the heater. Table-top gas patio heaters are usually connected to their gas cylinder via a gas hose fed through the centre of the table. Moving a table-top gas heater is as simple as disconnecting the cylinder and carrying both components to the new location. Large free standing heaters, although heavier, can be even easier to move because the cylinder fits in a compartment inside the heater base, which is often fitted with wheels. It goes without saying that you should never attempt to move a gas patio heater while it is in use.
Gas patio heaters are normally a more practical option for long term use than portable outdoor electric heaters. These heaters have to be plugged into an extension cable, so they can only be used when there is no chance of rain and must be packed away as soon as you move inside. Gas patio heaters, by comparison, can be left outdoors indefinitely, although you may prefer to pack away or use a cover during the colder months.
Although gas heaters are more portable than electric heaters, the locations in which they can be used are slightly more limited. For safety reasons, gas patio heaters must not be used in enclosed locations or places with poor ventilation.