Choosing the right outdoor heater can be a difficult task, especially with so many patio heaters available. We’ve put this handy guide to outdoor heating together to help you choose the right infrared patio heater for you and answer the most commonly asked questions.
Types of outdoor heaters
An outdoor or patio heater uses infrared (also known as radiant) heat to directly warm people within proximity of the heater. These come as electric infrared / patio heaters, gas heaters or firepits/chimineas.
Gas heaters are highly inefficient as they consume a high amount of gas for the relative heat output and are very bad for the environment due to the high CO2 levels. They are also very inconvenient with heavy gas cannisters or complex installation.
Fire pits / chimineas are a bit better for the environment and can create a nice atmosphere. However, they are usually very smelly and of course need constant attention, supplies of wood etc and are not practical for most urban areas or anything more than occasional use.
Herschel’s patio heaters are the most efficient form of electric outdoor heating. The infrared heat output can be directed exactly where it is required, they are totally silent, maintenance free, have long lifetimes and are the most environmentally friendly form of outdoor heating, especially when powered by a renewable energy source. As the energy grid continues to decarbonise the environmental credentials will improve further.
There are 3 basic types of outdoor patio heater: Wall-mounted; Freestanding and Hanging.
How do electric patio heaters work?
Electric infrared patio heaters convert electricity into infrared heat via a heating element or lamp. This heat is transmitted by electromagnetic waves through the air until it reaches an object (they do not heat the air itself).
The objects (and that includes us humans) absorb the electromagnetic waves which has the effect of warming us. It is similar to the heat transfer from the sun, but due to the lower intensity there are no harmful effects such as UV. Infrared is completely safe.
Infrared is a form of light and just like light, it travels in straight lines and reduces over distance. So like a light bulb, the closer you are to it, the more of the infrared heat is absorbed by you and the warmer you feel. The further away, the less of it reaches you and the colder you feel. In terms of your comfort outdoors, you can compensate for feeling cold by having several heaters, hotter heaters or being closer to the heater. These are the main things you can adjust.
How do I work out how many patio heaters or what size I need?
We give a heated area guide for each patio heater, but this is a guideline only and the area covered will depend on the ambient temperature, level of wind and mounting height.
As a general rule, any cover (whether temporary or permanent), such as an awning will help to keep the area warmer and cosier, and the more shelter in terms of walls or wind blocks that exist, the better. Even though you are still absorbing the infrared heat from the heater, a cold wind will prevent you from properly feeling the benefit – just like the effect that a chilly wind has on a sunny day.
Installing more patio heaters in an area is preferable to installing too few because you only turn them on when you need them and you won’t risk under-heating an area on colder days.
People will usually need to be within 2-3m of the infared heater to feel the warmth from it, so it is important to consider the location of the outdoor heaters to ensure good coverage.
We have a range of mounting options from wall to ceiling, hanging, freestanding and under table patio heaters– so a combination may well be the best solution for larger areas.
Herschel also has experts on hand to respond to your calls, emails or online chat, so if you are in any doubt, please ask for help.
Contact HerschelHow much do electric patio heaters cost to run?
The amount of electricity consumed by a patio heater is measured by its wattage (power). So a 1000W (or 1kW) patio heater will consume 1kW of electricity per hour that it is running. The average price of 1 kWh of electricity in the UK is currently about 15 pence. So, a 2000W (2kW) infrared heater will cost 2 x 15p = 30p per hour to run. For outdoor heaters with different heat settings the usage could be lower than the stated wattage (for example our 2000W California has a half power setting, so on half power would only consume 1kWh of electricity on this setting).
However, whilst the energy consumption of all patio heaters will be the same as their power (wattage) rating, there are big differences in the efficiency and the effectiveness of different makes of patio heaters. Each kW of electricity consumed needs to be properly and efficiently turned into effective infrared heat or some of it will be wasted heating the air, and heating air outdoors is extremely wasteful as it simply rises and disappears into the atmosphere.
Are patio heaters bad for the environment?
When powered by clean, renewable electricity we believe that our outdoor heaters provide a sustainable way to allow people to enjoy time outdoors with zero harmful fumes, air pollution or CO2 emissions.
The majority of the components in our patio heaters are metal and a very high percentage (c.95%) can be recycled at end of life. They are designed to last and there are no harmful chemicals used in the production process, or in the heaters.
What is the difference between zero light, warm-glow, quartz halogen, shortwave, middlewave and longwave patio heaters?
The level of emitted light, heat and their electromagnetic “wavelength” tends to dictate the different classifications of patio heater types you will come across. They do all make sense, but they can be confusing so this simple guide to outdoor heating looks to explain in more detail.
Most people’s experience of electric outdoor heaters will be from those outside pubs, restaurants and cafes, The vast majority of these are older style “quartz halogen” type of patio heaters which are “shortwave”. These heaters can give off a high level of light which “glares” making them uncomfortable to be near for any length of time. Thankfully outdoor heating technology has moved a long way and we only supply much more comfortable low glare or zero light types of patio heater.
Herschel’s infrared patio heaters fall into two ranges:
Choose the range of heater that best matches your requirements, the location and how you expect to be using them.
How easy are Herschel patio heaters to install?
All of our patio heaters can be run from a standard domestic mains supply. Any competent electrician can install them and run the necessary wiring for outdoor installation, using appropriate IP rated electrical fixings. The Florida, Malibu and Havana come with a plug and require no electrical installation.
How do I control patio heaters?
Many of our infrared heaters come with remote control options and have on/off switches on the heater. Alternative control options are available.
Do I need a cover for my patio heater?
The straight answer is, no. All our outdoor heater have an IP rating which describes exactly how resistant they are to the weather and water ingress. Our outdoor heaters have IP ratings as good as IP65 and none with a lower rating than IP44. This means that all out outdoor heaters can be left outdoors, year-round without the need for a cover or any additional weather protection.
What IP rating of a patio heater makes it suitable for outdoor use?
An IP rating consists of two digits which show the ‘ingress protection’ rating for an electronic item, and the exposure it is protected against for solid objects and water. For outdoor heaters, it is the second digit that is important as this relates to the protection provided against harmful ingress of water.
We have a range of outdoor heaters and their IP ratings range between IP44/IPX4 and IP65. Protection level 4 (second digit) provides protection against splashing water from all directions. Protection level 5 (second digit) provides protection against water jets from any direction. IP44 is generally recognised as being sufficient for most applications outdoors with all year round outdoor use. IP65 is suitable for exposed outdoor use, in all weathers.
Why are Herschel heaters more expensive than some others?
A good outdoor heater should:
Provide a comfortable level of heat without glare
Be efficient and effective when running with a high proportion of Infrared output
Be safe to use
Enhance the look of your property
Last for many years.
Patio heaters at the cheaper end of the market are made from low grade materials and components, cheaply made heating lamps and are often far less efficient at projecting out usable infrared, with heat wasted by convection from the unit. A patio heater has to withstand all sorts of weather conditions and if components rust the heater will not last long.
Built to last
All Herschel patio heaters are built with longevity in mind. None of the components including fixings can rust and they have high IP (water and dust ingress) ratings. Where appropriate we use mirror reflectors or special infrared emitting coatings to ensure that the heater is efficient. They are tested at least to UK and international safety standards by independent testing labs and are all commercial grade heaters. Our lamps are very long life and made from premium materials. All paintwork and coatings are fully tested against fading, discolouring or flaking.
We believe that Herschel infrared patio heaters represent the best value and best performing outdoor heaters on the market.
“Absolutely delighted with the Manhattan heater”.
Tested with a group of 6 and was a great success.
‘Superb outdoor heater’
Bought a ‘Miami’ compact infra red heater. Delivered next day. Great design and a very quality product. Perfect for attaching under a parasol (and frankly essential if you want to sit outside in a so-called summer in Yorkshire)
“A great addition to our outdoor seating area”
We’ve been thrilled with the support from a whole host of local companies in helping us complete our project – the newly installed Herschel heaters are a great addition to our outdoor seating area helping visitors to enjoy the space in comfort.
“Best Contemporary Design Outdoor Heaters”
After extensive research into outdoor heaters, we decided to purchase the Herschel heaters. We are an existing customer of their indoor heaters for the last few years. We couldn’t be more delighted. The heaters in design are cool & contemporary, there was simply nothing to compare to the design in the market place. More importantly, wow the heat they give! Our outside area is transformed and we can use even on a cold evening! We are property developers and these heaters have resulted in creating the most cost effective outdoor extension! The customer service from Herschel as always is first class. We opted for the Matt black option, but the Rose gold heaters looked very impressive too. Highly recommend this product.
“Makes it possible to enjoy the outdoor area”
My curiosity in radiant heating technology (as well as the need for heat) has led me to install a Herschel California infrared radiant heater in my barbecue area. The heat can be targeted on the seating area and even in breezy conditions we are actually very comfortable. The unit makes it possible to enjoy the outdoor area at short notice without needing to light up the chiminea or breaking the bank.
David Hilton, Expert in sustainable building and energy efficiency
“They work brilliantly and the space has become the most popular area in the pub”
The pub invested heavily in our Burleigh’s Gin Terrace which we wanted to make all year round space. Key to enabling that was the installation of the Manhattan heaters which we chose as a perfect combination of heat distribution and stylish looks. They work brilliantly and the space has become the most popular area in the pub.
All the team at Herschel-Infrared were friendly, super helpful and very efficient. We at The Lancaster Arms are happy to recommend both the heaters and the team at Herschel.
“Go for infrared!”
“I started to plan my home refurbishment in the Summer of 2016. My priorities were comfort and sustainability. The project involved insulating an old, solid stone house, upgrading the glazing, electrics and heating, plus an extension. I visited Andy and was able to see infrared heating panels and solar working together, so decided to go for both.
Although it’s early days, the heating seems very economical to run. The solar contributes to running cost savings and we also use the spare solar electricity to heat water so my home is future-proofed. The whole house is zoned and controlled with Herschel iQ thermostats so I have the heat I like when and where needed. The house is extremely comfortable, and because of the insulation and infrared panels, we operate the system at only 16-18degC air temperature, but still feel warm.
We experienced a range of challenges during the project, but the infrared was the simplest system to integrate with the programme, and the support from the Herschel team was exemplary at all times. The Select XL mirror units, and ceiling mounted panels look great and free up lots of wall space, which really helps in some of the rooms. I also like the zero maintenance of infrared, it’s both hi-tech yet very simple to live with. I’d urge anyone undertaking a new-build or refurbishment project to get in touch with Herschel and go for infrared”!
We believe in stylish outdoor heating to enhance your outdoor entertaining environment
Designed for maximum efficiency and effectiveness, using the best technologies
Quality & Safety
Made to withstand the harshest environments and strictest safety tests
Heating Around the Globe
Colorado warm glow heaters used to heat outdoor seating area at “Brownies and Downies” in Holland.
Summit zero light heaters provide heat for diners at “Farina” bar and restaurant in Mexico City.
Manhattan heaters providing comfortable warmth at "The Secret Garden" in Bristol.