Outdoor heating buying guide

Outdoor heating buying guide

Discover the best ways to stay warm outside when the nights turn chilly.

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Outdoor dining
Chimeneas originated from Mexico

What outdoor heating system is right for you?

Electric heaters

The easiest way to heat your garden is with an electric heater – simply plug it in, flick a switch and enjoy almost instant warmth. You can choose from different types of electric heaters, ranging from floor, tabletop and wall mounted units to tall freestanding models – some can even be used indoors in your garage or workshop. There’s an electric heater to suit all your needs, whatever your budget. Here’s a few things to consider if you’re looking at electric heaters:

  • Look for heaters that use short wave lamps. These produce heat in the infrared band that warms the body not the air, meaning the heat won’t be disrupted by a breeze. Medium and long wave lamps warm the air itself, which makes it less easy to direct the flow of the heat.
  • Short wave lamps typically use clear halogen, ruby red halogen or gold bulbs, while medium and long wave heaters use quartz.
  • The higher the kw of a heater, the more warmth it will generate.
  • Don’t forget you’ll need to have an electrical outlet nearby to plug your heater into.

Firepits & fire baskets

Firepits and fire baskets are freestanding open fireplaces, usually made from steel or cast iron, in which you burn wood - make sure any wood you burn is untreated. What’s great about this type of outdoor heating is that they serve several purposes;

  • They generate heat just as a traditional open fire would.
  • They can be used as an incinerator.
  • Some models can be used like a traditional charcoal BBQ if you put a cooking grill over the flame.
  • You can gather around them to toast marshmallows over the open fire.


Chimeneas are a traditional form of outdoor heater that originated in Mexico and are usually made from clay, cast iron or steel. Most chimeneas follow the traditional design of a round lower body topped by a vertical smoke stack, and although more modern styles are available they all work in the same way: load wood into the open front, then light to create a fire. Some models are even available with cooking grills that allow them to be used as BBQs.

Chimeneas are available in 2 distinct styles:

  • Clay chimeneas come in a variety of traditional designs and bright colours.
  • Metal chimeneas can be more expensive than clay models but they tend to last longer as they’re more robust.
Protect your outdoor heater with a suitable cover

How should you look after your outdoor heater?

Whichever form of outdoor heater you decide on, you’ll want to maintain it to ensure it continues to serve you well throughout the years. Here’s some top tips for keeping them in the best condition:


Replace bulbs when necessary. Store safely away or use a protective cover when not in use for extended periods.

Open flame

Once cooled after use, wipe down with an oily rag to safeguard against rust. Firepits, bowls, baskets and chimeneas will stand up against the occasional summer shower, but will need protection from harsher conditions. As it’s not so easy to store them away like smaller electric heaters, it’s a good idea to buy a suitable cover to keep them protected.

Fire pit
Keep water close by in case you need to extinguish your fire

Any important safety consideration to think about?

Whether you choose an electric or open flame form of outdoor heating, you’ll want to follow a few simple rules to stay safe.


Keep the electrical cable that connects the heater to the power outlet tucked safely away to avoid accidentally tripping over it. If you choose a floor or tabletop heater, make sure children are prevented from touching the heating element. Any maintenance should be carried out by a professional electrician.

Open flame

Whichever type you buy, make sure they’re used only on a level surface. Don’t use too much wood, or create a fire that’s too large. All open flame forms of outdoor heating should only be used outside, and children and animals kept a safe distance from the fire; also, keep water handy in case you need to extinguish the fire.

Top tips:

  • If you buy a clay chimenea, you’ll need to cure it before using it properly.
  • Curing entails lighting a few small fires in the chimenea, which coat its interior with soot and seal the pores in the clay.
  • This is an essential process that protects the chimenea against moisture damage and cracking.

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