There are several types of outdoor heating systems that will provide you year-round comfort outside. Choosing the right outdoor heating will largely come down to how you like to use your space and its setup.

Here, we’ll discuss some of the most common forms of outdoor heating so you can make an informed decision when it comes time to turn up the heat in your entertaining area.

Choosing the right outdoor heater

There are a wide variety of outdoor heating options that differ in fuel, installation and ambience. Before you settle on one, there are a few questions you should ask yourself:

  • Where do you require heating – an alfresco area, a deck, an enclosed outdoor room, an open space or a balcony?
  • Do you prefer fire or simply heat?
  • Is it going to double as a cooking amenity?
  • Do you want to use the outdoor space all year round?
  • How many people use the space?

Types of fuel

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Random Ashlar clad wood fireplace by Rolling Stone Landscapes

When deciding on outdoor heating, one of the key considerations is the type of fuel you prefer. There are three main options: gas, electric and solid fuel including heat beads, wood or briquettes. The main advantage of choosing gas or electric is that you can heat your outdoor space by simply flicking the switch. Solid fuel, on the other hand, requires some preparation, but many argue, the atmosphere fire creates is unrivalled.

Gas pros and cons

  • Provides warmth quickly
  • Convenient and easy to replace fuel
  • Most designs are portable or able to be connected to the mains
  • Isn’t effective at heating an entire outdoor space
  • Running costs more expensive than gas or solid fuel

Electric pros and cons

  • Provides warmth quickly
  • Easy to use
  • More cost-effective than gas
  • Requires installation

Solid fuel pros and cons

  • Adds to the ambience of an outdoor space
  • Can double as a cooking amenity
  • Greater options of styles
  • Can be custom designed to use the aesthetics of an outdoor space
  • Requires more planning for fuel
  • Must be used in a well-ventilated area
  • Require safety consideration around children.

Types of outdoor heating

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Gas outdoor fireplace clad in Alpine by Site Design

Gas patio heater

Patio heaters are a popular way to heat outdoor entertaining areas as they are available in a range of sizes and can be easily repositioned as required. You can find gas patio heaters in tabletop designs to freestanding columns that can be stored away out of sight in the warmer months. Use in outdoor spaces only, positioned away from ceilings.

Unless connected to the mains, patio heaters will run on gas bottles allowing for up to 11 hours of heat when operated on a high setting. Depending on the model, patio heaters have the ability to warm up an area of approximately five metres, but as they are radiant systems they’ll only warm up people and objects, not the air.

Electric heat strips

Electric heat strips are an option for those looking for a discrete and easy way to warm up the entertaining area.  Their slimline design omits radiant heat from above, providing a comfortable and even temperature. Once installed, they’re maintenance-free and are relatively cost-effective to run. They will, however, cost more initially than a portable gas patio heater.

Electric heat strips are available in varying wattages dependant on the design of your outdoor space. This includes whether it is open or enclosed, how low the ceiling height is and if it is subjected to a breeze.


Stone Wall Panels
Outdoor fireplace in enclosed entertaining area

An outdoor fireplace is a great way to not only add warmth to your space but also atmosphere. Typically made of stainless steel, the fireplace can be surrounded by a variety of materials to suit your aesthetic such as natural stone, brick or tile. Outdoor fireplaces are well regarded for their ability to radiate heat.

Outdoor fireplaces don’t always require a chimney and can be incorporated into other areas of your entertaining space such as your outdoor kitchen or stone bench seating. Using solid fuel such as wood, the fireplace can also double as a place to toast marshmallows! There are always options to also use gas as a fuel source if you prefer.


Outdoor Fire Pit
Outdoor fire pit in residential garden

Firepits have become very popular over the last few years for their ability to enhance the social aspect of spending time outdoors. They are also budget-friendly and can be moved around the garden or taken with the owners in the event they move home. Alternatively, build into the garden to create a seamless look which fits the desired location.

For those looking at firepits, you’ll need to consider the surface you place the firepit on and also consider the safety of young children when lit.

Things to know when choosing an outdoor firepit.


Originating from Mexico, a chiminea is simply a large clay or cast iron with one side open and small funnel above acting as a chimney. Just as a fire, it uses a solid fuel source, and when the chimney is removed, it can act as a BBQ.

While heavy they are another portable option to firepits. Unlike a firepit, chimineas are better at withstanding wind due to their form. If choosing a clay design, ensure it has cured properly and isn’t left outside in the cold to avoid cracking and shrinkage.


Feature image: Outdoor fireplace design by Paul Bangay