Whatever the time of year, it's always worth considering patio heater ideas for your garden. Naturally, they'll extend the use of your outdoor living space in winter, but they can also be a fabulous addition for summer evenings, to keep away the chill.
The best patio heaters are stylish as well as functional, and whether you need to cozy up your balcony, patio, or deck, there are plenty of products to choose from.
'With a wide range of gas and electric heater designs on the market right now, there is something to match every taste and budget,' says Paul Bevington, Managing Director at Kettler (opens in new tab). 'Whether it's a stylish fire pit table with added "wow factor", sleek freestanding and tabletop heaters or atmospheric lanterns, outdoor heaters can offer fantastic value for money as a source of lighting, as well as warmth.' And don't forget about wood-fired designs too – always a timeless choice.
11 stylish patio heater ideas for giving your paved space a boost
Our edit of patio heater designs has plenty to get you inspired, whether you're after fire pit ideas or a high-tech, plug-in style.
1. Warm up your dining zone
Eating alfresco with friends and family is one of life's simplest yet greatest pleasures. So why not make it a reality more often, with the help of an overhead heater?
This weatherproof, electric-powered design makes the perfect accompaniment to contemporary outdoor dining ideas – we love how it complements the sleek furniture in the look above. Securing a style like this right above your table means that everyone can enjoy the warmth, plus it's a fantastic space-saving solution.
This design doesn't just offer heat, it provides a dimmable light too. So, you can set the ambience exactly how you wish, all with a handy remote control. Talk about convenience!
2. Keep it contemporary with oversized designs
If you're looking for outdoor heating ideas that make a bit more of a statement, then something like this could be the way forward.
With their eye-catching, oversized-dome design, these floor lamps add a touch of luxe to any patio or deck, and can be left outside all year round. The powder-coated finish makes them tough against the elements and gives them a modern look – pair with monochrome furniture for a cohesive scene.
They will provide a cozy glow as well as warmth up to five meters, so are are sure to give your garden parties a boost when evening falls. Looking for designs that have wheels attached – as these do – is also a smart move for ultra versatility.
3. Go for small but chic lanterns
Want to brighten up your patio ideas? This copper heated lantern is a lovely, lightweight choice that emits a gentle glow.
A handle at the top means they can be moved quickly and easily around your garden to wherever they're needed most. And, the protective mesh cage will keep anything (or anyone) from touching the inner tube. It even has a built-in shut-off function which activates when the design is not upright – a handy safety feature that will help put anxious minds at ease.
With smaller styles like these, consider opting for more than one. They'll reliably boost the welcoming vibe when dotted around your patio.
4. Create a striking focal point with a fire pit table
Twinkling lights and comfy seats are a must for a stylish outdoor entertaining hub. A heating solution is the perfect finishing touch.
A gas-fuelled fire pit like this will enchant guests with its flickering flames and radiate a warm glow that will keep conversations going long into the night. And as it's integrated into a table, there's plenty of space for everyone to put down their drinks or bowls of snacks, too.
Pair with matching furniture for a pulled-together look – we love the on-trend rattan finish of the set-up above. There are lots more stylish outdoor seating ideas in our guide.
5. Opt for a slimline design
If you're working with a small or narrow space, then you'll want outdoor patio heater ideas that don't take up much room. A slimline design like this is ideal and will allow you to maximize your seating area. Plus, it can also be used as a chic divider, to define separate zones.
The cool white finish, balanced by a textural top of pebbles, is well-suited to modern plots. Add sleek paving underfoot to up the air of elegance.
Looking for more small garden ideas? There is lots to inspire in our feature.
6. Save on floor space with a freestanding style
If you're really short on space, then freestanding patio heater ideas are a fantastic option.
This understated yet elegant design can be tucked into a corner to bring comfortable warmth and a welcoming, deep orange glow to its surroundings. The gently curved pole and circular design will fit right in with all types of modern gardens.
Add a comfy chair beneath, a screen of bamboo or other architectural foliage nearby and a glass of something chilled and it'll be your new favorite spot in no time.
7. Dot tabletop lamps around your set-up
Sure, the central fire pit will boost the cozy factor of this scene, but look closely and you'll spot the tabletop heat lamp, too.
A smart, stainless-steel design like this will instantly bring a homely, living-room vibe to a space. We like the easy-to-use pull switch too, to turn it on and off.
You could position one on an occasional table as an extra heating source, as seen here, or dot more than one around your space. However, for smaller patios, the 1500W output will provide more than enough heat to keep things comfortable. String up festoons overhead for some extra sparkle, then all that's left to do is invite round the guests for a memorable evening.
If you're on the lookout for garden table ideas to give your outdoor zone extra oomph, our guide is well worth a peruse.
8. Embrace an industrial tone
Copper accessories and accents are all the rage right now. Extend the trend to your patio heater ideas and you'll instantly up the wow factor. We're a fan of this freestanding style, which offers a powerful heat output of up to 2500W.
The warm metal tones of copper look particularly gorgeous against dark inky backdrops – think navy blue or black for an eye-catching garden color scheme. So, if you bring a design like this into your space, why not give your fence a fresh look with a lick of paint, and bring some copper lanterns or planters into the mix too? Doing so will only add to the cool, industrial vibe.
9. Keep it classic with a wood-fired design
Electric or gas patio heaters are ideal if you're after minimal maintenance and quick and easy warmth. But wood-fired options have a rustic charm that for some, simply can't be beat.
A design like this will bring that cozy campfire feeling straight to your patio, but with a very stylish twist. Plus, there are plenty of designs that you can cook on top of, whether that's a round of s'mores or a more elaborate feast using grill attachments.
If you like the idea of warming your garden with real flames, you might like to check out our best chimineas buying guide, too.
10. Enhance your garden party with a heater and speaker in one
No party is complete without music, so if you love to host family and friends, a patio heater with integrated speakers is a brilliant option.
These streamlined designs offer tons of warmth, a color-changing LED light (strobe setting included), and wireless speakers. And they don't take up much room, leaving you plenty of space to socialize. What could be better for your garden party ideas?
11. Keep it simple with a timeless fire bowl
Sometimes, getting back to basics with a metal fire bowl is simply the best option for a plot. Once lit, it will create a magical ambience that all the family will love, and the heat it produces will keep everyone comfortable when the nights draw in.
High-quality steel designs are built to last, whilst copper is even more premium. Alternatively, if you're on a budget (or just fancy a weekend project), there are plenty of DIY fire pit ideas you can try. Our guide on how to build a fire pit has plenty of practical advice.
What type of patio heater is best?
Choosing the best patio heater for your garden depends on multiple factors, such as your budget and your individual style. It also depends on how exactly you want to use it – do you want to make it a feature in its own right and place it in the center, or tuck it behind your seating set-up?
If you're looking for low maintenance garden ideas, then you can't go far wrong with an electric patio heater – all you need to do is plug it in and flick a switch for instant heat. This does mean you'll need an outdoor plug socket, however. There are loads of styles available (just look at the mix above). Look for a design that uses short wave lamps, as advises Homebase (opens in new tab). 'These produce heat in the infrared band that warms the body and not the air, meaning the heat won't be disrupted by a breeze.'
Propane gas-fuelled heaters are another easy option, plus you don't need an outdoor plug. As with electric versions, there's no smoke and no mess, but with gas, you can still enjoy a view of flickering flames. For this reason, they can make a beautiful focal point and there are plenty of contemporary designs. You will, however, need to replace the gas tank regularly which ups the running costs. Alternatively, you can get patio heaters that are hooked straight up to a natural gas line. Installation is a higher upfront cost and once they're in they're tricky to move, but it can save you money in the long term.
There are lots of affordable wood-fired patio heaters available and the crackling glow they create will up the ambience of any scene. Of course, there are some drawbacks – soot, smoke, the risk of flying embers, and the fact that you'll need to top it up with logs as it burns. However, when it comes to gas heaters vs traditional fire pits, Emma Ross, founder of FirepitsUK (opens in new tab) says, 'While gas patio heaters are neat and tidy, they are expensive to run and you don't have the romance, atmosphere and flexibility of an open fire.' Crucially, you can cook over a fire pit as well, she adds. 'And, because they are made to generate heat for those around, it means a winter cook-out is a thing of huge pleasure for all involved.'
How hot should an electric patio heater be?
When choosing an electric patio heater, you'll need to ensure that it will warm your outdoor space adequately. However, you won't want to overdo it – not only can too much heat lead to an uncomfortable outdoor experience, but it will also result in unnecessary running costs.
As Homebase explains, the higher the kW of an electric heater, the more warmth it will create. If you want to heat a large patio and often have multiple guests to visit, look for higher wattage – around 2000W and above should do it. If you're only heating a smaller courtyard or just need to provide enough heat for one or two, then you won't need such a high output – 1500W should be enough.
The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion.
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