Last updated: June 2023
With the notorious unpredictability of the British weather, heating your outdoor commercial space may sound like a daunting task at best and a pointless one at worst. During the colder months, it could seem inevitable that your terraces, patios and pergolas are destined to go unused, left out in the cold, waiting for those first threadbare signs of spring. Thankfully, infrared heating is the ideal solution to make sure those outdoor areas in your restaurants, bars, offices, and stadiums don’t go to waste. We’ve narrowed down the top 3 best outdoor heaters that are powerful and advanced enough to be used in larger commercial spaces. But first…
Which is better - gas or electric?
When it comes to heating outdoor spaces, there are two main options: gas and electric. If your area isn’t fully covered and contained, which is usually the case for outdoor seating areas, electric is your best bet. This is all down to the way outdoor electric heaters, and in particular infrared heaters, work. Infrared heats through radiation, meaning it heats objects (people, tables, walls) directly, rather than heating the air, as a lot of gas heaters do. As bracing gusts of wind are common all year round in the UK, heating the air is not particularly effective. Infrared heating travels in a wave, making sure heat is focused on stable objects, so it cannot be lost to airflow - no matter how wild and windy it may be outside.
In this video, we answer one of your most frequently asked questions: electric radiators or gas central heating – which is right for you? We’ll be comparing the two for efficiency, control, maintenance and running costs to find out once and for all which heating system deserves the top spot.
Ecostrad Sunglo: for instant, intense heat
About the Sunglo
The Ecostrad Sunglo is aptly named, with its low-glare tungsten bulb creating instantaneous, soothing warmth that mimics the natural warmth of the sun on a glorious summer’s day. Featuring a sleek honeycomb grill, and available in either silver or black, the Sunglo is as attractive as it is functional, bringing a touch of modern style to any exposed bar or restaurant area. Housing a powerful gold-plated bulb, this outdoor heater casts a golden glow with minimal glare, meaning it doubles up as a neat outdoor lighting solution on an evening, keeping users comfortable even after it gets dark.
The Sunglo has two heat settings, one restricting output to 50%, and one delivering its full heat capacity. This is a handy feature once warmer temperatures start to kick in, saving on bills and making sure unnecessary energy isn’t produced. This is easily controllable by a button on the side of the unit. The Sunglo also comes with a remote control for heat management from afar - great if you plan on installing the heater in higher up, hard-to-reach areas, such as above tables in an outdoor dining area.
Near Infrared Heat
The type of heat the Sunglo emits is near, or shortwave, infrared. Near infrared is the most powerful form of radiant warmth, instantaneous and enduring, making it a logical fit for outdoor applications. This doesn’t mean the Sunglo’s pleasant warmth isn’t far-reaching - it has an impressive 16m² heat projection, which is more than enough for small patio areas. If needed, multiple heaters can be installed for efficient heat output in larger spaces. The Sunglo’s radiation is completely safe, so unlike sitting under the sun on a warm day, there’s no harmful UV rays to worry about!
Most suitable for:
Both fully and semi-exposed outdoor heating areas that require quick yet long-lasting heat, such as patios, terraces, pub gardens and outdoor restaurants.
Ecostrad Thermaglo: a timeless all-rounder
About the Thermaglo
With the Ecostrad Thermaglo, you get the best of everything you could need in an outdoor electric heater. A strong 2kw power output, a unique teardrop design with a black aesthetic, and a carbon bulb that effortlessly balances performance and comfort. Carbon bulbs generally boast longer lifespans than their tungsten counterparts, useful for commercial properties that intend to make frequent use of their outdoor heating.
The Thermaglo can deliver four power outputs, each at intervals of 800 watts up to its maximum 2000. This provides an optimal level of controllability - suiting both the needs of its users and the temperamental British weather. Another particularly useful feature is its 1–9-hour timer function, so you can program the heater to remain on throughout the working day and automatically switch off come closing time. Remote control operated, the Thermaglo is manageable from a distance in a simple point and press manner.
Mediumwave Infrared Heat
Mediumwave infrared is less intense in its nature than near infrared, but still powerful enough to be used in outdoor places exposed to the elements. It’s the best of both - long-lasting heat that’s comfortable enough to sit under for hours on end, yet still strong enough to warm users quickly. As carbon bulbs operate at a lower temperature to tungsten bulbs, the light they emit is not as bright - perfect if you’d prefer something slightly more discreet.
Most suitable for:
Mid-wave heaters are suitable for workshops, warehouses, restaurant courtyards and sheltered outdoor spaces, helping to offset the cold without becoming overbearing.
Herschel Aspect XL: for natural, far-reaching heat
Type of bulb:
None – the Aspect heats by ceramic infrared
Heats up to:
About the Aspect
The Herschel Aspect is exactly what you need if you’re looking for an outdoor heater with undeniable style and sophistication. The Aspect works through heating ceramic plates, rather than heating a bulb, and so does not emit any glare or light. This works great if your outdoor space already has sufficient lighting, or for areas such as outdoor theatres needing to achieve total blackout. Ceramic infrared heat is robust and far reaching, a natural choice for churches, warehouses and lofty interiors, but they do a brilliant job of providing ambient warmth to sheltered outdoor spaces too.
The Aspect XL is controllable through a simple hardwired switch or, for greater convenience, it can be paired with a Herschel iQ Thermostatic Control System. With integrated WiFi connectivity and a weekly control function, managing the Aspect’s heating is at the touch of a button.
Far Infrared Heat
The Aspect’s ceramic technology produces far infrared radiation, a highly efficient form of infrared with high levels of absorption, ensuring surrounding objects are heated gently and thoroughly. Far infrared does not produce that instant, engulfing type of heat you would get from a near infrared heater, but this means it feels more natural - in fact, far infrared is the same wavelength of heat our bodies give off. Whereas near infrared is more likely to be used for a quick burst of heat, far infrared is comfortable for a longer amount of time, meaning it’s ideal for larger, open plan commercial areas in frequent use.
Most suitable for:
Sheltered outdoor spaces which need to be kept at a more ambient, steady temperature, such as stables, gazebos, and alfresco seating areas.
Still weighing up your options? This video tells you everything you need to know before making a purchase, including the different types of electric patio heaters, how they’re installed and their different levels of control.
An outdoor heating solution for any space
Finding the right electric heating solution for your commercial property ultimately depends on how you’ll use it and where it’ll be situated. The Sunglo, Thermaglo and Aspect offer superior heating for a broad range of applications, whatever your property’s needs. Whether you’re looking to get your space prepped and primed for the summer or would like to fill up outdoor seats even when it's colder, our broad range of electric heaters are bound to fit the bill.
- Electric patio heaters are perfect for the outdoors because infrared radiation works by heating objects directly rather than the air.
- Infrared heating travels in a wave, making sure heat is focused on stable objects, so it cannot be lost to airflow - no matter how wild and windy it may be outside.
- Near infrared heaters like the Ecostrad Sunglo emit instantaneous and enduring warmth, ideal for exposed areas that require quick, short-term heating.
- Mediumwave infrared heaters like the Ecostrad Thermaglo produce a less intense form of warmth but is still powerful enough to be used in exposed spaces. Emitting a soothing low glare, they help to offset the cold without becoming overbearing.
- Far infrared heaters like the Herschel Aspect produce a natural, soothing warmth that is perfect for sheltered outdoor spaces that need steady heating all day.