Best patio heater 2021: stay warm in your garden all year round

The best patio heaters mean chilly evenings this summer won't stop your outdoor entertaining

Included in this guide:

Best patio heater 2021
(Image credit: Lume)

Let’s get the environmental argument out of the way first: the most environmentally friendly patio heater is a woolly jumper. But the best patio heater is one you buy online that usually runs on fossil fuels but keeps you warm during spring and cooler summer al fresco evenings.

If you need to beat the chill of the great outdoors, you have three kinds of heat to consider: propane gas, solid fuel and electricity.

There are pros and cons to each. Electricity feels free, although of course it isn’t, but it offers instant heat and fairly quick cooling. There are two main kinds of electric heating: long-wave infrared and halogen. The latter is much cheaper but suffers from very limited range, so you need to sit fairly close and you’ll probably end up complaining about a too-hot head. Long-wave infrared is much more expensive but doesn’t emit visible light and covers a much larger area.

Gas heaters can be very effective, but of course you need to buy gas for them - and that means thinking ahead so you’re not driving around the local garages and DIY stores looking for a new canister fifteen minutes before your guests arrive. They cost more to run than electric heaters do, but they warm a larger area without the hot-or-not issue that affects electric patio heaters.

Finally, there’s the good old log. Despite being fossil free, logs do create a lot of smoke so they're not especially environment friendly. That smoke will also waft over the patio table from time to time causing everyone to choke and splutter. Your guests' clothes will also smell, but they'll still enjoy the experience because nothing smells more earthy than wood smoke, cow pats notwithstanding.

Solid fuel patio heaters such as fire pits and chimineas are pretty effective, but you’ll need to keep a stock of logs – and logs are notoriously expensive given how quickly they burn down. Fire pits and chimineas can also be a danger with young kids running around.

There are hundreds of patio heaters to choose from, but these are our favourites based on opinion, customer reviews and keeping an eye on cost and running expenses. You might also consider perusing the best garden firepits for further heating inspiration. 

Remember, too, that the best Black Friday deals may include outdoor heaters this year: unlike last year when lockdown-inspired purchasing made patio heaters go for silly money, the market is much more sensible this year and stock shortages are no longer an issue. Don't expect massive discounts, but keep your eyes peeled and you could still make some savings.

These are the best patio heaters available today

Swan Al Fresco best patio heaters 2021T3 Best Buy Award badge

(Image credit: Swan)

1. Swan Al Fresco SH16310N Column Patio Heater

The best patio heater for most people

Specifications
Type: Free standing
Dimensions: 79.4 x 47.2 x 32.2 cm
Weight: 16.34 kg
Power: 2kW
Waterproof: Yes
Fuel: Electric
Heat type: Direct
Cord length: 1.8 metres
Reasons to buy
+Two heating levels+Stylish design+Waterproof+Tip-over cut-off feature
Reasons to avoid
-Heating element isn't massive-Cord length only 1.8 metres

We think the best patio heater that most people can buy today is the Swan Al Fresco SH16310N Column Patio Heater. This heater stands at 79.4 cm high and offers up two power settings, 1000W and 2000W, which means you can tailor its heat output depending on the situation.

It's super easy to use, too, with a mid-height, centrally-mounted knob allowing easy switching on and off as well as between heating levels. The heating element isn't the largest but delivers very effective heating in the region around it and it boasts a 360-degree tip-over safety feature that cuts the power.

The Swan Al Fresco SH16310N Column Patio Heater is also waterproof, too, meaning that it can be left outside all year round and in all weather conditions.

A 1.8-metre cord isn't the longest, though, so we advise people to think where they're going to place the Swan Al Fresco before ringing it up, as you may need an extension cable.

You can compare this top-rated patio to heater to a strong rival in T3's Swan Al Fresco Column vs Heatlab 2KW comparison feature.

Heatlab 2kW Outdoor best patio heater 2021T3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Heatlab)

2. Heatlab 2kW Outdoor Freestanding Electric Quartz Bulb Garden Patio Heaters

Top twin pedestal option for larger gatherings

Specifications
Type: Free standing
Power: 2kW each
Adjustable: Yes
Fuel: Electric
Heat type: Direct
Reasons to buy
+Two heaters are better than one+Adjustable height and angle+Low running costs
Reasons to avoid
-Do you need two heaters?-Not great lookers

You know the scenario… You have half a dozen guests lounging about on your Manutti Zendo garden suite and half of them are freezing to death because you unwisely bought only one outdoor heater. What you need is this pair of 2kW-a-piece freestanding electric reflective bar heaters to keep everyone’s teeth from chattering.

Each two-bar Heatlab pedestal provides three levels of heat output – 650W, 1,350W and 2000W – plus height adjustment. The reflectors can also be angled downwards by up to 45˚ and their IPX4 rating means they can be sited indoors or out. Running costs are said to be about 10p an hour which seems cheap.

If you’re looking for a reasonably priced electric option that covers a greater area while throwing extra light on the proceedings, then put this pair on the consideration list.

You can see how this patio heater stacks up against a strong rival in T3's Heatlab 2KW vs Opranic 2KW comparison feature.

OPRANIC 2KW Electric Patio Heater best patio heater 2021T3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Opranic)

3. Opranic 2KW Electric Patio Heater

A tower patio heater that offers five levels of power

Specifications
Type: Free standing
Power: 2kW
Adjustable: No
Fuel: Electric
Heat type: Direct
Reasons to buy
+5 power levels+Remote control
Reasons to avoid
-Aesthetic won't suit all gardens

Providing you're happy with a more modern aesthetic, and want a free-standing electrically powered patio heater then the Opranic 2KW Electric Patio Heater is worth scoping out.

This tower heater boasts a power-to-heat conversion rate of 96 per cent, which is very, very efficient, and also offers 5 power levels to choose from in terms of how toasty things get. You also get a remote control to power it while you enjoy a drink in your nearby chair.

While it is a free-standing unit, it isn't super heavy and therefore can be moved from place to place, which adds a dimension to its value that a fixed or mounted heater does not offer.

The cable length of the heater is 2 meters, so that is something consider when purchasing it, as you may need an extension cable.

Overall, though, a strong free-standing patio heater that retails firmly in the mid-range in terms of price point.

Dellonda Freestanding Gas Outdoor Garden Pyramid Patio HeaterT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Dellonda)

4. Dellonda Freestanding Gas Outdoor Garden Pyramid Patio Heater

The best gas-powered patio heater

Specifications
Heat output: 13000 Watts
Dimensions: (W x H) 520 x 2270mm
Weight: 29.1 kg
Maximum gas bottle size: (W x H): Ø320 x 700mm
Reasons to buy
+Strong heating ability+Very portable
Reasons to avoid
-Needs gas supply to work-Not as efficient as electric

Electric patio heaters are great but they are never the most portable as they need a wired connection to mains electricity. Enter gas, which allows you to remove that power cable entirely. The Dellonda Freestanding Gas Outdoor Garden Pyramid Patio Heater is a great example of this type, offering an ability to deliver a massive 13,000 Watts of heating power.

It's powered by a gas canister, so you can take this patio heater anywhere in your garden and it will work without any trailing wires ruining the aesthetic. So, for example, if you're got an pergola that sits away from your home at the end of your garden then you can simply move the Dellonda patio heater there and be just as warm as if you were sat by your home.

You can obviously vary the level of heat delivered, and the whole system works like a gas stove would, with a gas level knob and igniter button working in tandem to fire it up. Gas isn't the most cost effective fuel source for a patio heater, but if you need serious heating and serious freedom of placement, then this is a great choice.

Lume 1500w Table Heater best patio heaters 2021T3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Lume)

5. Lume 1500w Table Heater

The best table patio heater

Specifications
Dimensions: H210 x W45 x D45 cm
Heating power: 1500 watts
Corded: Yes
Features: IP44 rated
Reasons to buy
+Strong on-table heating ability+Compact and easy to store
Reasons to avoid
-Upper body will be heated only-Cable will have to be managed

If you specifically want a patio heater so you and your friends and family can stay warm while eating outside then the Lume 1500W Table Heater is well worth considering.

This patio heater is designed to sit directly on a table, in the middle ideally, and then heat diners sat around it with its strong 15000 watts heating element. Heat is directed downwards on a diagonal in 360 degrees, with the heat turned on and off with a lamp-like pull chord.

Obviously, the downside with a table-based patio heater is that it will not warm anyone's legs (unless they have them jauntily put up on the table), and as soon as you move away from being sat at the tablet its potency is completely voided.

This could be ideal as a complementary dining-focussed heater that can be used alongside a full-size column patio heater, though, and there is nothing on the market better for heating diners as far as we are concerned.

Prem-I-Air 2 kW Outdoor Garden Heating Wall Mounted Patio Heater best patio heaters 2021T3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Prem-I-Air)

6. Prem-I-Air 2 kW Outdoor Garden Heating Wall Mounted Patio Heater

A cheap but popular wall-mounted electric patio heater

Specifications
Type: Wall-mounted
Power: 2kW
Adjustable: Yes
Fuel: Electricity
Heat type: Direct
Reasons to buy
+Compact+Cheap
Reasons to avoid
-Has to be mounted-Not a great looker

If you're looking for a cheap, electrically-powered wall-mounted patio heater then the Prem-I-Air 2 kW is well worth looking at. This is a patio heater that retails for significantly less that the other patio heaters in this guide and, proving where you want to heat is near a wall, and you can feed it electricity, then you're golden.

You get the 2KW of heating might, which isn't huge but definitely does the job within a close proximity (max two meters), and it also offers 4-position adjustable head rollers for easy mobility. The heater is turned on an off with a 62-inch cord pull, meaning you don't have to be super tall to turn it on, either.

Obviously, there are more powerful patio heaters out there, but if you want modest heating in a relatively small area then this is one of the most affordable ways to do it. It's a best seller on Amazon for a reason.

La Hacienda Skyline best patio heaters 2021T3 Approved badge

(Image credit: La Hacienda)

7. La Hacienda Skyline with Log Store Steel Chimenea

The best wood-burning patio heater

Specifications
Type: Free standing
Power: n/a
Adjustable: No
Fuel: Wood
Heat type: Fire!
Reasons to buy
+Pretty+Won’t break in winter
Reasons to avoid
-Needs wood as fuel-Small heat radius

While most La Hacienda chimineas take on a traditional Mexican design, the company has also dabbled in more contemporary versions, such as this modern-looking option with integral log store. It’s steel rather than clay so you needn’t worry about it cracking in the British winter. However, as an owner of multiple steel chimineas (including several from this manufacturer), over the years I’ve become well aware that the thin steel rusts over time if left uncovered. That said, to some people that may be a good thing, since it will eventually take on a rustic hue.

The Skyline measures 1.5 metres in height and 36cm square so it doesn’t take up much patio space. The good thing about this model is that the smoke it creates is mostly ported out of the tall chimney rather than into your face like so many open fire pit models. The small but sufficient log store beneath is another useful touch. Just be sure you don’t touch this thing when it’s alive or it could result in a visit to A&E. Keep kids and pets well clear, in other words.

Blumfeldt Gold Bar Electric Patio Heater best patio heater 2021T3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Blumfeldt)

8. Blumfeldt Gold Bar Electric Patio Heater

The best wall-mounted bar heater

Specifications
Type: Wall mounted
Power: 3kW
Adjustable: Yes
Fuel: Electric
Heat type: Direct
Reasons to buy
+Attractive design+Three heat levels+Does the job
Reasons to avoid
-Requires professional installation

This keenly-priced 240 volt wall-mounted electric bar is just over a metre in width and provides up to a substantial 3,000 watts of outdoor warmth. It’s an ideal model for verandahs and patios but, despite being weather resistant, it should be installed under full cover with zero chance of horizontal rain affecting it. Naturally, you’ll also want a professional to install it, if only to ensure that there are no unsightly wires dangling about.

The Blumfeldt is equipped with an aluminium casing for rust-free durability, a damp-proof rocker switch on the side and a handy remote control that, aside from switching the unit on and off, allows the user to select three levels of heat: 1000W, 2000W and the full 3,000W monty.

If you’re in the market for an outdoor heater that is always to hand when you need it, then this attractive and unobtrusive TV sound bar-style model is a great option. Available in silver or black.

Swan Al Fresco SH16330N best patio heater 2021T3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Swan)

9. Swan Al Fresco SH16330N Portable Patio Heater

Best portable electric patio heater for keeping legs warm

Specifications
Type: Portable
Power: 1.2kW
Adjustable: No
Fuel: Electric
Heat type: Direct
Reasons to buy
+Ideal for use under tables+Easy to carry+Great for warming legs
Reasons to avoid
-Naturally requires an electricity source

This electric 1,200W portable is a brilliant solution for keeping legs warm when having a natter around the outdoor patio table. Simply plug in the 1.8-metre cable (you’ll need a 13amp extension if you don’t have have an outdoor electricity supply), grab it by the handle and place it under the table (or anywhere else nearby) and bask in the warmth of its 360˚carbon fibre heating element.

At this price this is a great-value option for outdoor warming and a boon for chilly outdoor rooms like work sheds, cabins and home offices.

Mr. Heater Portable Buddy Heater best patio heater 2021T3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Mr. Heater)

10. Mr. Heater Portable Buddy Heater

Best portable gas heater for patios and camping

Specifications
Type: Free standing
Power: 4,000-9,000 BTU
Adjustable: Yes
Fuel: Propane gas
Heat type: Radiant
Reasons to buy
+Small and portable+High heat output+Uses cartridge gas
Reasons to avoid
-Not advisable to use indoors-High-ish gas consumption

This portable gas model was designed for camping but it’s an excellent patio heater too. According to the stats, it kicks out between 4,000 and 9,000-BTU or radiant heat which is quite phenomenal for a heater of this size (19.56 x 34.04 x 38.1 cm). While we haven’t actually laid our hands on one, the general consensus among Amazon users is that it excels at warming the air around your feet – or torso if you’re sitting low. It features four heat levels, an integrated Piezo sparking mechanism and a low-oxygen and tip-over shut-off mechanism for added safety.

Although the Amazon listing says it’s also suitable for indoor use, we would advise against it, simply because it uses cartridge-based propane gas as a fuel and this may lead to a build up of dangerous carbon monoxide, as some users have reported. Gas burners also produce condensation as a byproduct. If planning to use it inside a tent, we would advise keeping the main flap wide open. When it comes to CO, you can never be too careful.

The practically-named Mr. Heater weighs a tad over 4kgs so it’s easy enough to carry short distances. Granted, it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing model on this page but, judging by the swathe of positive reviews, it’s highly efficient even though it does tend to swallow gas at quite a high rate.

ALUK 2000W Patio Heater best patio heater 2021T3 Approved badge

(Image credit: ALUK)

11. ALUK 2000W Patio Heater

Best hanging heater for al fresco evenings

Specifications
Type: Hanging
Power: 2.0kW
Adjustable: Yes
Fuel: Electric
Heat type: Direct
Reasons to buy
+Great option for verandahs and pergolas+Effective torso and head heating
Reasons to avoid
-Don't hang it too low!

Here’s an easy-to-install, remote-controlled electric halogen patio heater that’s designed to be hung from the ceilings of verandahs, open conservatories, covered pergolas or any enclosed room that requires a 2,000-watt blast of intense warmth.

If used outdoors, just be sure to have an electricity supply close to hand or you’ll need to unfurl a durable extension lead – which you will doubtless forget to roll up and bring indoors at the end of the evening.

The ALUK 2000W Patio Heater also delivers three different heating levels, features and aluminium cover and has an integrated chain that makes hanging from gazebos and ceilings simple.

This patio heater also comes with an included remote control.

Quartz Electric Garden Patio Heater best patio heater 2021T3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Olsen & Smith)

12. Quartz Electric Garden Patio Heater

An affordable floor-standing patio heater

Specifications
Colour: Black
Brand: Olsen & Smith
Power source: AC
Weight: 7.5kg
Maximum output: 2kW
Waterproof: IP34 rated
Reasons to buy
+Three heat settings to choose from+Auto turn off feature if knocked over+Affordable price point
Reasons to avoid
-Not a looker-Maximum 2000w heat level

Another mains-powered, floor-standing patio heater from the brand Olsen & Smith offers an affordable way to inject your garden with some outdoor heating.

This heater doesn't do anything special, but what it does do is offer rock solid heating up to 2kW, with three different heating setting selectable (650w / 1300w / 2000w).

Its stand height and head are also adjustable, meaning you can move the heating head up and down between 1.75m and 2.1m, while the head itself can be tilted between 45 and 90 degrees.

Those buyers with children will also be pleased to hear that this model comes with an auto shut-off feature if it is knocked over. Although, one thing to remember is that the power cord is only two meters in length, so most people will likely need an extension cable if they're using it at a distance from their home.

Overall, then, it's not the best looking or premium garden heater, but it's super affordable and offers strong, AC-powered heating.

  • Now your outdoors heating is sorted, why not upgrade to one of the best barbecues