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9 best patio heaters to bring a toasty glow to any garden or outdoor space

Stay cosy after sundown, with these lanterns, table-top and wall-mounted models

Zoe Phillimore
Tuesday 11 June 2024 15:10 BST
Compared with gas options, electric heaters are more effficient and heat up faster
Compared with gas options, electric heaters are more effficient and heat up faster (The Independent)
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While you might enjoy dining al fresco in your garden, inviting family and friends over for a barbecue or pizza party, once the sun goes down and the temperature drops, staying outside suddenly seems less appealing. However, investing in one of the best patio heaters on the market will help you make the most of evenings in your garden this summer and beyond.

Patio heaters are the perfect finishing touch to any outdoor area but you’re going to want to think about power sources and efficiency, style and size when picking the best option for your garden setup.

Some patio heaters are fuelled by gas, but there’s a significant shift towards using electric heaters these days, as they’re convenient and more efficient, heating up quicker.

If attractive patio heaters are very much your priority, there’s a range of styles on the market, from floor-standing units and those designed to sit on tables, to wall-mounted and cantilever options.

We’ve reviewed a range of styles for this round-up to bring you our pick of the patio heaters that are hot right now.

How we tested the best patio heaters

We basked in the glow of each heater during testing
We basked in the glow of each heater during testing (Zoë Phillimore)

We had a very toasty time testing patio heaters, in all kinds of unpredictable weather. Our priority was looking at how much heat the units kicked out – we didn’t want to find ourselves shivering, even on chillier nights. We also looked at practical aspects – how sturdy and durable the patio heaters are, how easy they’d be to store over winter and if they were simple to operate (bonus points for remote controls). As most people want their gardens to look fantastic, we looked at the aesthetics of the heaters, too.

The best patio heaters for 2024 are:

  • Best patio heater overall – Kettler kalos lantern: £199, Kettler.co.uk
  • Best budget patio heater – The Range table-top patio heater: £49.99, Therange.co.uk
  • Best patio heater for dining tables – Argos Home electric table-top heater: £150, Argos.co.uk
  • Best wall-mounted patio heater – Gtech heatwave patio heater: £149.99, Gtech.co.uk

Kettler kalos lantern

best patio heater indybest review Kettler kalos lantern
  • Best: Patio heater overall
  • Fuel: Electric
  • Dimensions: 50cm x 28.5cm x 20cm
  • Power settings: Two (600W and 1,200W)
  • Weight: Unspecified
  • Sizes available: One
  • Why we love it
    • Looks great
    • Good quality
    • Rotates
    • Heat reflector
    • Two heat settings
  • Take note
    • No remote

This Kettler lantern looks fantastic – it is obviously well made and has a premium finish. It’s also heavy, meaning it didn’t blow over. Despite it only going up to thigh height on an adult, it kicked out an impressive amount of heat and we could feel it warming our whole body, even when we were sitting away from it.

You can set it to rotate as it heats you, or it can be static. This is easy to control via a switch on the top. If we’re being really picky, we’d have loved a remote control, too. The back of the heating element is backed by a heat reflector, meaning you won’t lose any heat in the wrong direction, either. One point to note is to keep an eye on young kids around it – the dial is very appealing to them, and it’s at their height.

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The Range table-top patio heater

best patio heater indybest review The Range table-top patio heater
  • Best: Budget patio heater
  • Fuel: Electric
  • Dimensions: 61cm x 20cm x 20cm
  • Power settings: One (800W)
  • Weight: 3.5kg
  • Sizes available: One
  • Why we love it
    • Great value
    • Easy to move around
    • Cool-touch finish
    • Doesn’t take up much space
  • Take note
    • No remote
    • Not as powerful as other models

For just shy of £50, this heater offers amazing value. We were impressed with the finish, too, with the heat part of the casing covered in a velvety cool-touch fabric. This meant we weren’t terrified of getting singed as we moved the heater around the garden, which we were able to do with ease, as the heater is small, relatively lightweight and has a handle.

Otherwise, this table-top patio heater is a no frills option. There is no remote and it’s not the most powerful. However, we found when we placed it in front of a small group of people on the garden sofa, it cast a nice warm glow and enabled us to sit and enjoy the evening without shivering. What more do you need?

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Argos Home electric table-top heater

best patio heater indybest review Argos Home electric table-top heater.
  • Best: Patio heater for dining tables
  • Fuel: Electric
  • Dimensions: 45.3cm x 45.3cm x 93.5cm
  • Power settings: Three (600W, 900W and 1,500W)
  • Weight: Unspecified
  • Sizes available: One
  • Why we love it
    • Remote included
    • Great for large gatherings
  • Take note
    • Not suitable for small patio furniture

This table-top model is bigger than we were expecting it to be. It’s designed to sit on your garden table and cast heat downwards. Because it’s so big, the weighty bottom stops it toppling over. We would recommend you use this on quite a large table, too – bistro tables aren’t going to be able to take this heater.

It looks fantastic, though, and we loved that it has a touch sensor, so you can easily adjust the intensity of the heat it’s kicking out. If standing up to operate the switch is too much effort, there’s also a remote control. We found this table-top patio heater is perfect for larger gatherings, keeping us warm after a big family barbecue. However, you do have to have a cable trailing over to the heater.

  1. £150 from Argos.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Blaze free-standing patio heater

best patio heater indybest review Blaze free-standing patio heater
  • Best: Mid-range patio heater
  • Fuel: Electric
  • Dimensions: 110cm x 28cm x 28cm
  • Power settings: Three (up to 1,600W)
  • Weight: 7.8kg
  • Size available: One
  • Why we love it
    • Takes up little floor space
    • Great for large areas
    • Includes remote

A decent height and power output mean this is a pretty good option if you’re looking to warm a decking or patio area. The heater is freestanding and kicks out an impressive 1,600W of warmth, despite the device taking up a relatively small footprint. A weighted base stopped it from toppling over, but you’re going to want to store this away in very high winds.

There are three heat settings on this, and a remote to control them. We liked that we could gradually increase the heat output as the evening grew chillier, without having to get up from our seat. The back of the heating element is covered in a heat reflector, so you get maximum benefit, too.

  1. £159 from Dunelm.com
Prices may vary
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Gtech heatwave patio heater

best patio heater indybest review Gtech heatwave patio heater
  • Best: Wall-mounted patio heater
  • Fuel: Electric
  • Dimensions: 18.5cm x 57cm x 10.5cm
  • Power settings: One (2,000W)
  • Weight: 1.5kg
  • Sizes available: One
  • Why we love it
    • Great heating power
    • Doesn't take up floor space
    • Nice warm glow
    • Can be angled
    • Unobtrusive
    • Great for balconies

Don’t want to give over any real estate in your garden to a patio heater? This wall-mounted one is ideal. It heats up in seconds and blasts out a lovely ambient temperature, which we felt even when sitting a distance from it.

While you may initially be put off by the permanence of wall mounting a heater, we found the process pretty easy. You can angle the heater on the bracket for added flexibility, too. You’re only really limited by the fact it needs plugging in, and it’s better for areas that are relatively close to a flat wall. GTech does recommend you take the unit down over winter, but it’s small enough to slide into a drawer or nook of the shed with ease.

  1. £94 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Kettler plush electric overhang patio heater

best patio heater Kettler plush electric overhand patio heater
  • Best: Focal-point patio heater
  • Fuel: Electric
  • Dimensions: 230cm x 130cm x 50cm
  • Power settings: Three (800W, 1,000W and 1,800W)
  • Weight: Unspecified
  • Sizes available: One
  • Why we love it
    • Great focal-point design
    • Premium finish
    • Remote control included
    • Has separate light

There’s much to love about this patio heater. For a start, it looks fantastic, providing a real focal point above our garden sofa area. The modern, cantilever design is handy, too, as it doesn’t require the pole to be plonked in the middle of the area you want to warm.

The quality of the build is fantastic. It’s rust-proof and weatherproof and has frost halogen lamps that reach a toasty 1,800W. You can also use it as a light, which works separately to the heat lamp.

We rated it highly for ease of use, too. It comes with wheels, so you can move it out of the way if things get very windy, and there’s a remote to control the power of the heat and the light.

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Dunelm Harry outdoor portable heater

best patio heater indybest review Dunelm Harry outdoor portable heater
  • Best: 360-degree patio heater
  • Fuel: Electric
  • Dimensions: 65cm x 19.5cm x 19.5cm
  • Power settings: One (1,200W)
  • Weight: 3.5kg
  • Sizes available: One
  • Why we love it
    • Flexible
    • 360-degree heat
  • Take note
    • No remote
    • Only one heat setting

We really liked this little portable heater. A handle on the top means it’s easy to reposition as much as you want. While the weighted base limits the potential for it falling or being blown over. The flexibility of this portable heater is a real selling point, too – we put it on our coffee table outside, but it’s just as good on a dining table or on the floor.

It kicked out a decent amount of heat, but keep in mind that it’s a 360-degree design – great for the middle of a group, but if it’s next to a wall, you’re going to lose a fair amount of heat out the back. There is only one heat setting, and no remote – which is fine if you’re after something simple, and the price reflects this. Dunelm claims this patio heater is good for up to four square metres, and we found our testing aligned with that.

  1. £99 from Dunelm.com
Prices may vary
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Argos Home electric patio heater

best patio heater indybest review Argos Home electric patio heater
  • Best: Versatile patio heater
  • Fuel: Electric
  • Dimensions: 210cm x 50cm x 50cm
  • Power settings: Three (650W, 1,300W and 2,000W)
  • Weight: Unspecified
  • Sizes available: One
  • Why we love it
    • Adjustable
    • Can be used freestanding or wall-mounted
  • Take note
    • No remote

For ultimate flexibility, this heater can be mounted on the accompanying pole or to the wall, making it a versatile option. It is a powerful heater, with the capability of 2,000W, so you can keep a really good-sized area warm. There’s a touch sensor that enables you to cycle through three heat settings, and the height of the pole is adjustable, so you can bring it closer if you’re in a smaller group. The price tag for this heater is very reasonable, especially considering the finish. It may not be the most attractive design in this round-up, but it packs a punch when it comes to features.

  1. £90 from Argos.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Kettler Ibiza floor standing garden heater

best patio heater indybest review Kettler Ibiza floor standing garden heater.
  • Best: Patio heater for entertaining
  • Fuel: Electric
  • Dimensions: 109cm x 32cm x 20cm
  • Power settings: One (3,000W)
  • Weight: Unspecified
  • Sizes available: Two
  • Why we love it
    • Includes LED lights and Bluetooth speaker
    • Powerful heat
    • Two remotes
    • Doesn’t take up too much space
  • Take note
    • Not super attractive

Love to party? This Kettler garden heater has been designed just for you. It includes LED lights that offer up different colours and modes, and a wireless Bluetooth speaker. While the Kettler Ibiza comes in two sizes, we tested the loftier version – perfect for larger areas and groups of people.

Although the lights and the speaker are fun touches, we focused on its heating abilities above all else. The heater has a powerful output of 3,000W, heating a huge area pretty quickly. It also has a heat reflector panel at the back, which bounces all the heat outwards for maximum efficiency. The kalos heat element emits a lovely soft rose-gold glow, too, which we really liked for adding to the atmosphere.

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Patio heater FAQs

What is the difference between gas and electric patio heaters?

Most patio heaters use either gas or electricity to generate heat – which one you choose will largely depend on budget and the size of the space you’re looking to warm up.

If you want to heat your garden quickly, electric heaters could be for you, as they are easy to turn on and off, and typically reach the desired temperature quickly. The majority of electric heaters are “radiant heaters”, which means they heat objects directly and are generally better when choosing a specific area to be warmed.

Alternatively, gas-powered patio heaters often provide more wide-ranging heat, making them a good option for larger areas, and they can be cheaper to buy. However, they are far from the greenest option out there.

According to Heat Outdoors, gas heaters can be costly to run and “extremely wasteful in terms of both heat generated, the energy consumed and CO2 emissions.” The carbon footprint of an electric patio heater is just 15 per cent of a gas model.

How effective are patio heaters?

While the idea of warming an outdoor space might seem fruitless, patio heaters are far more effective than you might realise and could be just what you need if you want to stay in the garden a bit longer when it gets chilly at night.

Whether you choose electric or gas, each option comes with its own unique appeal but they all work well as a direct form of heating. Gas heaters cover a wider area but they usually take a while to heat up. Meanwhile, electric heaters are popular because of the instant and convenient heat they can provide: once plugged in or wired into the mains, you simply need to flick a switch or press a button.

Can you put a patio heater in a gazebo?

According to Best Gazebos, it is safe to put a patio heater under your gazebo as long as it is not an enclosed structure. However, not all patio heaters are made equal, so, it is best to check at the time of purchasing, to verify whether or not it is suitable.

It is always best to make sure your heater is placed in the middle of the gazebo and to avoid any model that uses open flames or allows direct contact with the heating element.

Where is best place to position a patio heater?

Make sure the ground is flat, so the heater will remain stable. If you’re using an electric heater, it will need to be close to a power source. You may want to keep it undercover, to protect it from the rain and keep in the heat, but check the instructions about proximity to objects in your garden, to ensure it’s safe to use in your chosen spot.

Safety tips for families

The best way to ensure you’re using your heater safely is to read the manufacturer's instructions, but there are a few pointers that will be generally helpful. Make sure freestanding heaters are properly weighted and that they’re set up on even ground, as this will prevent them from toppling over. They should be kept at a safe distance from combustible objects, and power cable shouldn’t be a trip hazard. It may seem obvious, but make sure it is never covered over while switched on, and that children are alway supervised. If you want to move the heater at all, it should be switched off and given time to cool down.

What is the most efficient patio heater?

Broadly speaking, electric heaters have the upper hand, but models with a higher wattage will need more energy to run. Think about whether it’s an efficient way to heat your outdoor space. If you don’t need a lot of heat, go for models with different heat settings, so you can dial things down and avoid using extra energy unnecessarily.

Can you leave patio heaters out in all weather?

Whether you can leave your electric patio heater in the rain will depend on the specific model. Some will be able to withstand the rain but make sure you check their IP rating (aka waterproofing rating), to see whether yours is suitable for wet weather conditions.

The verdict: Patio heaters

We love the Kettler lantern heater. It warms a wide area and is powerful enough for a crowd. It doesn’t take up too much space, and it looks good on our patio. If you’re looking for something with more heating punch, the Gtech wall-mounted heater is a great bet that isn’t too intrusive.

Want more al fresco recommendations? We’ve rounded up the best pizza ovens

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