Choosing the best outdoor heating for your home - Building AU
Choosing the best outdoor heating for your home

Choosing the best outdoor heating for your home

Outdoor heating can breathe new life into all types of outdoor areas and with the right fuel and system, it can be an extremely cost-effective solution as well.

Words by Yohei Guy

When you have a great outdoor heat source, you don't have to limit your enjoyment of your outdoor living spaces to just the warmer months. An effective heating solution in the right spot can keep everyone in your outdoor entertainment area, comfortable and warm.

However, much like indoor heating technologies, not every method for keeping your outdoor areas warm is energy efficient or costs the same to run. The trick is finding the most appropriate option that fits both the heating needs of your space and your budget.

Below we look at the best outdoor heating solutions with cost-effectiveness in mind.

What costs should you consider for outdoor heating?

There are two main things to consider when choosing an outdoor portable heater, fire or burner. The purchase price and the running cost.

The purchase price is obviously paid upfront and the running costs are paid over the product’s lifetime, depending on how much it’s used. There is sometimes a tradeoff made between the purchase price and running costs. The more efficient models that produce more heat output from every dollar's worth of fuel, often cost more upfront, using more advanced technology to achieve greater efficiency.

This relationship between running costs and purchase price doesn't always exist in this way, but it's important to notice when it does, as it can change what heater will be the most cost-efficient for your specific needs.

If you're someone who will only use your outdoor heater or fire occasionally, an option with a lower purchase price but a more expensive per hour running cost might be best. On the other hand, if your outdoor heater will be used frequently, the additional investment in a higher-priced but cheaper-to-run heater or fire may be the more worthwhile purchase.

Heat & Grill - Biguga with wheels

What outdoor heater fuel is best?

Outdoor patio heaters and fires primarily work by outputting radiant heat. Instead of heating the air and moving it around a room like a convection heater, radiant heaters use infrared radiation to heat people and objects directly, while fires generate a mix of radiant and convection.

This is the main difference between indoor and outdoor heating systems. Radiant heaters are a much more efficient means to heat the outdoor environment. Convection heating is highly ineffective in open areas because there is no way to trap the heated air. It simply rises away.

Outdoor heaters and burners that generate radiant heat run on three main kinds of fuels: wood, gas, and electricity.

Wood

If you have access to a steady supply and have enough room to store it, wood is one of the most affordable fuels available. A wood fireplace can output a lot of heat while adding visual flair to your outdoor space. There is a wide range of outdoor fireplaces available from budget to premium-priced products. In terms of type, they range from the small and portable to the large and in-built, complete with flue and surroundings.

If a fireplace doesn't suit, a similar alternative is a fire pit. An outdoor fire pit is essentially a large bowl in which you can burn an open fire. They're generally cheaper than fireplaces, as installation costs are usually lower with fewer moving parts to contend with.

An alternative to burning traditional wood logs is wood pellets. The pellets are made from industrial off-cuts, wood shavings and sawdust and are incredibly energy-dense. This is because much of the air and moisture that's present in a regular piece of wood has been squeezed away.

As a result, pellets are usually a little more expensive than traditional firewood, but they're still at the lower end of the cost scale compared to other fuels. If you don't have the room to store firewood, pellets are a good way to achieve similar heating performance to a wood burner.

Gas

Gas heaters provide instant radiant heat that's easy to control. Gas heaters or fires that are connected to mains lines are the cheapest kinds to run, but they can be more expensive to connect and install and aren't as versatile in terms of how they can be moved about.

Portable gas patio heaters, on the other hand, run on interchangeable LPG gas bottles. They are at the more expensive end of outdoor heaters to run but offer a bit more flexibility, especially for those who aren’t plumbed with natural gas in their properties. When purchasing gas heaters it’s always good to check their safety features to make sure they have things like a tip-over switch that halts the gas supply if it is knocked over accidentally.

Electricity

Electrical infrared heaters use radiant heat and are another popular option but generally cost the most to run. That said, electric infrared radiant heaters can be effective for heating specific areas, strategically placed above tables and chairs where gas or open fires aren’t suited.

They also often have more customisable features within their heat settings and heating elements that can be operated and adjusted by remote control. This allows you to easily achieve the right amount of heat output required for the given situation or environment. For example, you could easily increase the heat on a cool night or reduce it in more temperate conditions.

When choosing an electric patio heater or electric infrared heater, just be sure to choose one that has sufficient output for the area you're trying to heat. Some radiant heaters are relatively low wattage using less electricity but producing less heat at the same time.

The best outdoor heating solutions for you

As you can see there are some great outdoor heating options available, all with their own advantages and benefits. Whether it’s a cosy fireplace or fire pit, a versatile portable gas heater or a strategically placed electric heater - you’ll be able to find the best option for you and your home with all these essential considerations in mind.

For more inspiration, browse through our range of outdoor heating products.

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