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A Review of Garden Patio Heaters


There are some unsightly garden patio heaters on the market which would not look good sitting on the terrace. Some are fitted with clumsy doors for access to the gas; the best models have a sleeker look with hidden access for gas.  Patio heaters may have single piece or sectional canopies (sometimes called reflector, lid or dome).

Canopy size is important; generally anything less than 80cm reduces the heat deflection. Single piece canopies are not repairable, so if the canopy gets damaged a replacement will be needed. Sectional canopies come in 4, 5 or 7 sections and offer a better solution. If knocked a single leaf can be replaced at little cost. It is worth noting that a canopy will act like a sail in storms, so when severe weather is forecast, it is best to move the heater to a sheltered location or remove the canopy - most have 3 wing nuts to secure.

Not all garden patio heaters will run on both butane and propane, some are single fuel only. Always look for units that will run on either. Butane is fine in the summer but not so good in the cold - just when you might need a patio heater. The best fuel is propane, this will work in low temperatures and gives a more intense heat.  

A typical heater with around 40,000BTU's will burn 1KG of fuel per hour at full heat, at lower settings this will drop to under � KG per hour. Most cylinders contain 13KG of fuel giving 4 to 6 weeks of fuel on average.

A few green campaigners have turned their attention to the growing market for garden patio heaters, launching bias attacks without looking at the real green issues. A typical criticism is to calculate how much fuel a patio heater uses, a simple calculation for a simple way of looking at life. In reality, if a family is enjoying the garden during late spring or indeed summer and wish to spend longer in their garden into the evening, a patio heater enables them to stay outside. If the family could not use the patio heater they would retire indoors, the lights would go on in several rooms, the TV/video, games consoles and the central heating, a typical central heating boiler is 10,000 to 30,000BTU higher than a garden patio heater, resulting in greater energy expenditure than using a patio heater.

Another favourite argument is to put a jumper on. This can also be done indoors when it's freezing but the reality is we all turn the heating on to avoid feeling cold and miserable. A patio heater will consume less gas per head than the alternative. It's also worth remembering that we are encouraged to convert our cars to green fuel, and guess what that fuel is? Yes you're correct, LPG. Patio heaters run on LPG!

When positioning a patio heater, the key points to consider are:
1. They are for outdoor use, if used within a marquee there must be plenty of ventilation and 90cm clearance above and to the sides. Some marquees are
manufactured using flame retardant material.
2. Ensure the surface is level, if wheels are fitted only move when switched off and the burner has cooled.
3. Always check the gas cylinder and hose to ensure they are in good order each and every time it's used.
4. If the heater is used to warm the area around a table then one heater will extend to a table of 10. For a party the best calculation is to work on a group
of 15 heads per heater.

The technology in today's garden patio heater is tried and tested; they offer all the style, convenience and ease of modern living, making the garden a room to enjoy all year round.