Best patio heater 2021: enjoy your garden with the best electric and gas patio heaters

Take a look at the best patio heaters in stock and available right now, with gas and electric options to keep you warm all year round

best patio heaters
(Image credit: Swan)

The best patio heaters are the perfect way to make the most of your garden while the evenings are cold but entertaining is allowed once more. Step out into the garden for after-work drinks or some alfresco dining, and stay toasty with the help of the best patio heaters you can buy right now. 

While they keep selling out, we've done our very best to find the best patio heaters that are in stock and not too expensive, so you can find some great budget patio heaters in this guide, as well as options available for delivery in a matter of days. 

Patio heaters vary by type. Some prefer an infrared patio heater because it heats directly and instantly, meaning people are heated and not the air around them. However, these electric patio heaters do need to be plugged in at all times. A gas patio heater is easier to set up because it doesn't require the same constant power source, instead running off on-board gas tanks. 

Keep reading for our top picks of the best patio heaters you can buy right now, or check out the best fire pits for a wood-fired option. 

 What is the best patio heater type?  

Most patio heaters you can buy are electric. They need to be plugged in, but they heat you with infrared light which is more efficient because it heats objects directly instead of the air in the immediate surrounding area. Gas patio heaters are more portable because they have fuel on-board, but because they’re convective they are less energy efficient. 

They won’t heat you directly but instead heat the air around you. For the best patio heater for you, keep on reading, and when you’re done, take a look at the best chimineas

The best patio heaters 2021

Swan Al Fresco SH16330N

(Image credit: Swan)

1. Swan Al Fresco SH16330N

Best standalone patio heater: a portable patio heater

Specifications
Best for: Standalone
Type: Portable
Power: 1200w
Fuel: Electric
Heat type: Cage burner
Reasons to buy
+Heats from angles+In-built handle+Can be placed under tables
Reasons to avoid
-Needs to be plugged in

The Swan Al Fresco SH16330N does need to be plugged in, but it has a generous 1.8m power lead for extending out into the garden. 

This patio heater heats 360-degrees around its mesh-boated central column. Its carbon heating element is designed to cut down on energy use and there's an aluminium reflector to heat in all directions. 

Safety features include a 360-degree tip-over safety switch and it's strong enough to work through all weather types.

Luxeva Carbon Infrared Patio Heater

(Image credit: Amazon)

2. Luxeva Carbon Infrared Patio Heater

Best large patio heater: this patio heater can be used indoors and outdoors, and is easy to move.

Specifications
Best for: Portability
Type: Freestanding
Power: 2000W
Fuel: Electric
Heat type: Radiant
Reasons to buy
+Powerful+Minimal design+Energy efficient
Reasons to avoid
-Design isn’t 360

Packing 2,000W of power, the Luxeva Carbon Infrared Patio Heater is energy efficient and safe. It automatically cuts out when it tilts, and because it’s shorter than most, you shouldn’t be as worried when it’s windy outside. This electric heater uses infrared to heat you directly, instead of heating the area around you. 

Unlike spotlight-style patio heaters this heater warms you from top to bottom. You’ll find that it’s great for evenings where you’re sat outside because it’s perfectly sized to warm up your entire body when you’re seated, including legs. 

This heater is a metre tall, but it doesn’t heat 360-degrees around it. For smaller groups where you can all position yourselves in front of the Luxeva though, we think this is a smart choice.  

patio heater

(Image credit: Amazon)

3. Maguire & Weir 2KW Electric Garden Patio Heater

Best overhead patio heater: affordable, versatile, and comes with 3000 hours of lamp life.

Specifications
Best for: Overhead
Type: Freestanding
Power: 2000W
Fuel: Electricity
Heat type: Infared
Reasons to buy
+Discreet design+Adjustable head and height+Three heat settings
Reasons to avoid
-Corded

The Maguire & Weir 2KW Electric Garden Patio Heater is a great choice for most gardens. It can be adjusted to run at 650W, 1350W, or 2000W, meaning you can leave it running in the background for some added warmth without overheating if you wish. 

This patio heater is freestanding, and it comes with a sturdy base that’s designed to protect you from accidents such as tipping. The head can also be adjusted by 45 degrees and the height can be adjusted from 5ft 8 to 6 ft 10. 

It’s not the most versatile in terms of all-around coverage, and if you’re entertaining a large group then some may feel the warmth of this patio heater more than others because it doesn’t offer a 360-heat or any rotating features. 

Lume 1500w Table Heater

(Image credit: Homebase)

4. Lume 1500w Table Heater

Best tabletop patio heater: for gathering around patio tables

Specifications
Best for: Tabletop use
Type: Freestanding
Power: 1500W
Fuel: Electricity
Heat type: Infrared
Reasons to buy
+Heats where you need it+Not too expensive+Small footprint
Reasons to avoid
-Height isn't adjustable

Heated by infrared halogen to warm people and not the surrounding air, the Lume 1500w Table Heater claims to be an eco-friendly pick. Compared to a gas patio heater this is certainly true. 

It can be placed on top of tables to heat cold hands while you enjoy evening drinks and meals in the garden, and it's got a small enough footprint to not take up the whole table. 

The base diameter is 40cm and the Lume 1500w Table Heater is 210cm tall in total. It can be turned on using the cord that hangs underneath. Heat isn't adjustable but 1500 watts is about right for those in close proximity. 

Swan Al Fresco SH16340N Wall Mounted Patio Heater

(Image credit: Amazon)

5. Swan Al Fresco SH16340N Wall Mounted Patio Heater

Best wall mounted patio heater: free up more floor or surface space with this ceiling-hanging heater

Specifications
Best for: Covered patios
Type: Wall mounted
Power: 1800W
Fuel: Electricity
Heat type: Direct
Reasons to buy
+Remote control+HIgh quality and durable+Waterproof
Reasons to avoid
-Not the most powerful

Unique among our picks is this wall mounted patio heater, a clever space-saving solution for small patios, decks or balconies. That it’s electric also means you don’t run the risk of ending the party early by running out of power, as can happen with gas patio heaters – unless there’s a power cut, of course! The remote control function is very useful here – no need to try and reach the switch if you've mounted it higher up. We do wish there was an instruction manual included, although installation is fairly straightforward even without one. 

La Hacienda Hanging Copper Halogen Heater

(Image credit: La Hacienda )

6. La Hacienda Hanging Copper Halogen Heater

Best hanging patio heater: can be hooked up to your canopy for year-round use

Specifications
Best for: Patio umbrellas
Type: Hanging
Fuel: Electric
Heat type: Infared
Reasons to buy
+Discreet look+Use indoors and out+Heats in all directions
Reasons to avoid
- Needs to be plugged in 

For patio umbrella options look no further than the La Hacienda Hanging Copper Halogen Heater. This hanging patio heater comes with a hook and one metre chain, so you can adjust the length as needed. 

The clear advantage of this heater is its ability to be hooked up under your canopy or patio umbrella, keeping you warm as you shelter from the elements. 

This heater is also luminous, so it will bring some light to chilly evenings too. Do note that you need to plug this patio heater in, so make sure it’s near enough to a plug point if you plan on using it outdoors. 

Best patio heaters in the US

In the US and looking for the best patio heater? Check out our handy price comparison tool below that will give you quite a few patio heater to consider, always at the best prices. 

How to buy the best patio heater

Our recommended retailers for the best patio heaters

When it comes to choosing the best patio heater to suit your outdoor space – as well as your requirements – there are a few factors worth bearing in mind. These include:

Size

If you only have a small area to heat, such as a petite patio or small balcony, then you don’t have to go for a large freestanding model. Try, instead, a tabletop patio heater, which looks a little like a bedside lamp and doesn’t give out as much heat so you won’t cook in close quarters. 

Owners of small gardens will also be cheered, no doubt, to hear that wall-mounted patio heaters are another viable and surprisingly adaptable option, letting you direct the heat upwards or downwards by adjusting the vent.

The flipside of this, of course, is the aforementioned freestanding patio heater. It will take up more space, but if you have a large patio or deck that offers enough space for it, chances are there’s a lot more area to heat, so you’ll need the extra power they can dish out. 

Fuel type

The main difference between gas and electric patio heaters is how clean they run. Electric heaters pack less of a punch than their gas alternatives, but they do so with a far more modest carbon footprint thanks to their infrared technology. Electric patio heaters aren’t an option for everyone though, because many of them need to be plugged in.

The final consideration you need to make is the type of fuel your patio heater will use. While the easiest way to fuel a patio heater is with electricity, you may not have an external outlet at your disposal, or be nervous about the plug being exposed to the elements. The other options are natural gas and propane, the latter being the most common. 

Millie Fender
Millie Fender

Millie joined the Real Homes team in 2021 after working at TopTenReviews as a Staff Writer. She is constantly on the hunt for the latest (and best) kitchen appliances, and reviewing these products hands-on. As a baking enthusiast, Millie’s job at Real Homes is the perfect excuse to cook up an endless supply of snacks. When she’s not in the kitchen though, she loves knitting and exploring the country with her black labrador.