7 Best patio heaters UK 2023, tried and tested: we reviewed the best electric patio heaters | The Sun
THE heatwave is but a distant memory, the kids are back at school and our gardens are all looking a bit straggly after Summer.
But this doesn’t mean in any way it’s time to put it to bed. Far from it.
Instead, think of Autumn as the cocktail hour of your outside space; you’ve had the leisurely lunch of summer, but it’s not quite Winter closing time.
Instead you want something to help you go out with a bang; a flourish to elongate those evenings just a little bit longer.
A decent electric patio heater might be just the ticket.
It’s a little bit boujie, but means you can have everyone back to yours for a patio party without any fear of the colder climate.
Here at Sun Shopping we’ve taken one for the team and partied under patio heaters of all shapes and sizes for the last month or so, to see which light our fires.
So sit back, take the chill off and bask in the warmth of our recommendations.
Best patio heaters at a glance:
- Best freestanding patio heater: Swan Column Patio Heater
- Most stylish patio heater: La Hacienda Vintage Searchlight Electric Heater
- Best budget patio heater: Argos Home Electric Wall Heater
- Best table-top patio heater: Zanussi Table Top Heater
- Best table-top patio heater for glass tables: La Hacienda Picasso Rotating Tabletop Heater
Swan Column Patio Heater
- Swan Column Patio Heater, £214 from Dunelm – buy here
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Pros: Sleek, long extension cord, perfect level and direction of heat, thoughtfully designed
The best thing about the Swan Column is that it knows exactly what it’s supposed to do, and does it without fuss.
A sleek, black, classy column? Check. A long extension cord so it can be moved around if needs be? Check. The ability to be close to people without burning their faces off, but be strong enough to feel proper warmth across a table? Check again.
It just looks great and feels slick, like a lot of thought has been put into its design inside and out.
It has two power settings on a nice dial, which belt out 1000W or 2000W, and most importantly, its clever design means the heat goes to where it’s supposed to instead of getting lost along the way.
This is a really decent, well-designed heater which feels like it will last the distance. We think it more than justifies its more expensive price tag.
Max. power: 2000W Weight: 13.6kg Power cord length: 1.8m Guarantee: 2 years
La Hacienda Vintage Searchlight Electric Heater
- La Hacienda Vintage Searchlight Electric Heater, £301.99 from Robert Dyas – buy here
Pros: Super stylish, adjustable head, three settings, powerful
Cons: Takes up a lot of space, short lead
This is very cool. It looks amazing, feels classy and is a really refreshing alternative take on the usual patio heater.
But beware; it’s really big, so make sure you’ve done all the measurements outdoors before you buy, and that you’ve got somewhere suitable to store it or a proper rain protection cover for the depths of winter.
It's got three settings, one ring, one bigger ring, or both rings, and the large searchlight-style head is adjustable so you can direct it down onto the sofas as you wish.
Heat wise, it’s not going to make you feel uncomfortably hot. In fact, the 7ft height is almost a disadvantage as you might lose a bit of heat without careful planning, so make sure you’re able to get it close enough to the sofas without it totally overwhelming them. It does give out a high end 2100W though, which is really good.
It has a short lead, like so many others that we reviewed, so you’ll have to think about where your power source is. But, lets be honest, the fact that it looks so damn cool more than makes up for pretty much everything.
Overall, this is a very stylish steel addition to your outside space.
Max. power: 2100W Weight: Not specified Power cord length: Not specified Guarantee: 1 year
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Argos Home Electric Wall Heater
- Home Electric Wall Heater, £35.50 from Argos – buy here
Pros: Affordable, really hot, overheat pretection, three settings, easy set up
Cons: Not the prettiest, lacks features like tilt cut-outs, short lead
This budget-busting wall heater is just £35.50, and it was hot hot hot!
We soon started to sweat sitting directly under it’s tiltable head, which cannot be said for many of its pricier rivals. There’s three bars — you can turn one, two or all of them on — and its turned on and up with a pull cord.
It was super easy to set up, although if you’re not going to mount it to a wall you’ll need a proper stand. It’s not the prettiest (it reminded us a bit of our grandma’s house heater from the eighties) but it really does the job.
It’s also worth remembering that for that price you’re not going to have the higher-end safety add-ons like tilt cut-outs, but it does have overheat protection. It also has a short extension lead, so thinking about your power source is important.
This is an excellent budget buy — as long as it’s set up correctly you can’t go wrong.
Max. power: 2000W Weight: Not specified Power cord length: 1.5m Guarantee: Not specified
Zanussi Table Top Heater
- Zanussi Table Top Patio Heater,
£209.99£89.99 from Robert Dyas – buy here
Pros: Easy to assemble, sturdy, bright, three settings, heats up quickly
Cons: Not suitable for big tables or glass tables
This is incredibly easy to assemble with a reassuringly heavy base, and it almost doubles up as a lamp, the halogen rings are so bright!
As with so many sensible patio heaters, the wire goes down through inside of the heater to the base, so it’s kept right out the way.
It has three settings — low (900W), medium, (1,200W) or high (2100W) — and because it's Halogen, it heats up really quickly. It gives a lovely amount of heat, although because the heat is coming down from a mushroom-shaped head, the table can’t be too big otherwise you’d lose the benefit.
We would avoid using it on a glass-topped table, but otherwise, it's a great all-rounder; it has good heat levels, looks great, and does the job properly.
Max. power: 2100W Weight: 6kg Power cord length: 1.8m Guarantee: 2 years
La Hacienda Picasso Rotating Tabletop Heater
- La Hacienda Picasso Rotating Tabletop Heater, £90 from Homebase – buy here
Pros: Ideal for glass table tops, distributes heat well, lightweight, portable, affordable
Cons: Short lead, fewer heat settings than some other models we tested
This is a much more lightweight table top heater that we’d definitely feel comfortable resting on a glass top.
Its got two heat settings, 600W and 1200W, meaning it's good for high and low seasons; it stands up well in a breeze, too.
It's designed with a clever oscillating inner reflector which radiates the heat properly round. It was a little like sitting round a cosy campfire and gives off a homely glow. It's also very light, and has a clever handle for carrying.
Again, its got a short lead, which is rather frustrating, so you’ll need a close power source or waterproof extension lead to make the most of it.
However, for under £100, it's a really clever addition to the garden.
Max. power: 1200W Weight: 2.8kg Power cord length: Not specified Guarantee: Not specified
Swan Portable Patio Heater
- Swan Portable Patio Heater, £99 from Dunelm – buy here
Pros: Versatile, gives out a good amount of heat, looks expensive
Cons: Still has a power lead despite being "portable"
You might wonder what the point is of a portable patio heater, and before we tried this one out, we were of the same opinion. Because it’s just over knee-high (60cm tall), I couldn’t imagine a scenario in which this would be useful.
But, it turns out, the answer is pretty much any. You can draw it in closer so you get a nice rising heat around your knees under a table, drag it between two recliners so if you close your eyes you can almost pretend its sunset; you can just take it anywhere the power cable will allow.
It does have a power cable, which surprised us given the word ‘portable’ and the fact it's almost invisible in the publicity shots, so that’s worth taking into consideration.
But it gives out a really reasonable 1200W and it’s sleek look gives it a reassuringly expensive air, even though its under £100.
It also has a 360 degrees tip over safety switch, for real peace of mind. A really good buy.
Max. power: 1200W Weight: 7.3kg Power cord length: 1.8m Guarantee: 2 years
Ryman Alfresco Aluminium Hanging Electric Patio Heater
- Alfresco Aluminium Hanging Electric Patio Heater, £79.99 from Ryman – buy here
Pros: Remote controlled, emits a cosy light
Cons: Requires a pergola or similar, short cable
Who knew that Ryman, king of the office supplies and back to school sales, was into Outdoor living nowadays?
The only one we’ve reviewed with a remote control (with a 5m working distance) this is technology taking us forward to a very pleasing place. When a lamp’s hanging down in the middle of a pergola, the last thing you want to be doing is precariously reaching over a table of glasses to turn up the heat.
So this is is where the Pendant shines. But its worth bearing in mind that you’ll need a permanent pergola-style structure to make the most of it. And it will need to hang high — but not too high — to make sure the heat spreads out enough below it to reach everyone sitting under it.
Annoyingly, once again, the cable is short, so you’ll need to be clever with your power source and an extension to reach it. But once its in place, its certainly powerful enough to heat an outside space.
It employs a halogen light to emit a cosy glow, too, and with a decent 1,500KW heat, its definitely worth considering.
Max. power: 1500W Weight: Not specified Power cord length: 1.9m Guarantee: Not specified
Can you use a patio heater indoors?
Oftentimes buyers want to buy a patio heater for a summerhouse or playhouse, but many are exclusively designed to be enjoyed outdoors, so only buy a patio heater for inside use if the manufacturer has stated that the model is indoor-safe.
It's worth stating that all gas patio heaters are outdoor-only; only electric models will be eligible to use inside.
If a product page does not explicitly say that a patio heater is safe for indoor use, we'd err on the side of caution and assume that it isn't.
Are patio heaters expensive to run?
Electric patio heaters are a lot cheaper to run than their gas counterparts.
However, the price of a running a specific heater will depend on the setting you have it on.
For example, if you're using a 2100W setting, based on an electricity price of 27p per kWh, it will cost you around 57p per hour.
However, if you're using a lower 600W setting, it will cost closer to 16p per hour.
That means that a four-hour session in the garden could cost anywhere between £0.65 and £2.27.
Where to buy patio heaters
The best place to find a patio heater is probably a home and garden retailer; this is where you're likely to find the widest variety.
However, you could also go to the website of a specific brand or to a sells-everything retailer like Amazon or Argos.
- Appliances Direct
- The Range
How much are patio heaters?
As you can tell from our roundup, patio heaters can vary significantly in price.
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Luxury models, such as the chic La Hacienda Searchlight Heater, cost over £300, though it's possible to get a quality one for less than £100 — the cheapest in our list is the Home Electric Wall Heater from Argos, which is just £35.50.
However, there are a few features you should make sure your patio heater has, such as overheat protection. If you don't think a patio heater has been safety tested, don't buy it.
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