Which electric patio heater is right for you?

Last updated: February 2023 

Whether you need a heater for your beer garden or gazebo, choosing a solution that best complements your space is key to keeping your exterior toasty. However, with such a vast array of electric patio heaters to choose from, you may be wondering where to start. That’s where we come in – this article explains the different types of products on the market, so you can put your best foot forward when it comes to purchasing your perfect patio heater. First, let’s understand what these heaters are and what makes them the best choice for outdoor heating.

Why are electric patio heaters ideal for outdoor heating?

An electric patio heater, or infrared heater, produces 100% radiant warmth that travels in waves, heating people, objects and surfaces directly. Unlike convection heaters, radiant warmth doesn’t rely on the surrounding air, meaning the chances of heat being lost to the wind is minimised – ideal for breezy outdoor settings. Not only does this help save energy, but it also maximises comfort, offering lasting warmth that heats on a deeper level. Better yet, radiant heat is completely natural (our bodies are constantly emitting and absorbing it!), so warmth feels soothing and gentle.

What are the benefits of electric patio heaters?

Besides robust radiant warmth, electric patio heaters come with a number of benefits. One of their main advantages is 100% efficiency at point of use – this means that they convert every watt of energy into usable warmth. With this in mind, you can rest assured that every penny spent on your energy bill is solely used to keep your exterior toasty. Plus, if your electricity comes from a renewable energy source, like a green energy provider or solar panels, your outdoor heating will be 100% efficient from start to finish, for eco-friendly heating at its finest.

Practically speaking, patio heaters are easy to install and require no maintenance, so you won’t need to extend your plumbing or have annual safety checks carried out. Why not use the money saved on maintenance on a new garden ornament? Equipped with timers, intuitive LED displays and different heat levels, these solutions also provide superior controllability, so monitoring and adjusting warmth in your exterior has never been easier. Plus, from glossy finishes to contemporary designs, you have the pick of the crop when it comes to style.

Which electric patio heater should you choose?

To help you make your mind up, we’re going to focus on three types of infrared heat produced by these patio heaters – shortwave, medium wave and longwave. Before we get into it, it’s important to remember these three rules of thumb:

  • Infrared heat travels as radiation.
  • All kinds of radiation travels in waves.
  • Each type of radiant wave has its own intensity.

What are the different types of radiant heat?

Shortwave heat

What is it?
Also called near infrared, shortwave infrared has the shortest wavelength of radiation, delivering a highly intense level of warmth that’s generated by a heat lamp. Shortwave infrared heaters are more commonly known as tungsten heaters, halogen heaters and quartz heaters.

Where should these heaters be used?
Offering immense heat with quick warm up times, they’re best suited to smaller commercial and domestic exteriors that need fast-acting intense warmth. They work equally well in sheltered outdoor areas, such as pub gardens, restaurant terraces and gazebos. As they are least affected by the surrounding air, these heaters are a superior choice for exposed locations. For larger outdoor areas, it’s better to have multiple heaters to ensure maximum warmth and comfort.

Product Pick – Ecostrad Heatglo


At a glance

  • Weatherproof IPX4 rating
  • External controller available
  • Wall & ceiling mounted installation


Built with a 2000w bulb, the Heatglo delivers robust outdoor warmth that instantly offsets chilly temperatures – perfect for smaller domestic patio areas and sheltered spaces. This shortwave infrared heater comes with a simple on/off switch and can be purchased with a handy external controller, so you can control your outdoor heating, your way.  Complete with a straight minimalist grill, the Heatglo makes a stunning accompaniment to any contemporary exterior.

Mediumwave heat

What is it?
Mediumwave infrared heat sits neatly between powerful shortwave and ultra-gentle longwave. Intense enough for the outdoors yet comforting enough to be used over longer periods, they are built with durable carbon filaments that are intended for all-day use. Plus, their bulbs tend to last longer and don’t shine as bright as shortwave infrared, ultimately serving as a discreet heating solution that you can count on.  

Where should these heaters be used?
Providing greater coverage, mediumwave heat is excellent for semi-exposed settings. These locations include sheltered commercial and domestic standard sized spaces, such as hard-to-heat garden rooms, airy reception areas and backyard pergolas.

Product Pick – Stratus

At a glance

  • Convenient timer function
  • Colour coded touch sensitive display
  • Choice of 9 heat levels

When it comes to exceptional control, the Stratus is just the ticket. Its user-friendly touchscreen control panel is colour-coded for readability, displaying a red symbol when a setting is on and a blue symbol when a setting is off. Thanks to this unique feature, keeping on top of your outdoor heating has never been easier. The Stratus also includes a remote control which lets you switch between two different levels of heat output (1000w and 2000w), so you can easily match warmth to the weather that day. With mellow warmth and ultra-low glare, the Stratus is ideal for long evenings spent outdoors.

Longwave heat

What is it?
Longwave heat doesn’t penetrate deeply but instead provides a comfortable, soothing warmth that is easily absorbed by our skin. This makes them the ultimate choice for continuous heating. Longwave infrared heaters are also known as ceramic heaters because ceramic heating elements are used within the body of the appliance. So, instead of a bulb, these solutions transfer electricity through heat retentive ceramic plates located on the front of the heater.

Where should these heaters be used?
As longwave is on the other side of the spectrum to shortwave, and doesn’t have the same intensity, these heaters aren’t suited to open outdoor spaces that are exposed to the elements. Instead, open plan areas like shopping centres, large yoga studios and al fresco dining settings would benefit most from their unmatched durability and gentleness. Their soothing warmth is great for loftier interiors as well, such as warehouses and factories.

Product Pick – Herschel Aspect XL

At a glance

  • No glare guarantee
  • 1300w & 1950w version
  • Optional Herschel iQ thermostatic controller

This ceramic heater is a perfect match for lofty industrial areas like workshops as well draught-prone interiors that are often in use. For the latter, you have the option of pairing the heater with the sophisticated Herschel iQ thermostatic controller. This offers WiFi app-based heat management, precise thermostatic control and tech-savvy voice control, so you can transform your heater into a smart solution. Unobtrusive and discreet, the Herschel Aspect XL also is glare-free and sports space-saving design that integrates seamlessly into any large interior or covered exterior. For peace of mind, it features a protective grill over its heating element intended to safeguard against roaming fingers, so you can install in public and domestic spaces with confidence.  

Still can't decide? Check out our infrared patio heater buying guide.

Handpick your perfect patio heater

Whether you opt for a shortwave, mediumwave or longwave heater, we hope you are now better equipped to make a purchase that best matches your space. Our full range of patio heaters features all variations mentioned in this article, so you’re sure to find one that most effectively keeps your setting warm, whatever the weather. Browse our complete collection now or take a look at our infrared patio heater buying guide

Key learnings

  • Electric patio heaters supply robust radiant warmth, bypassing the air to warm people and objects directly. This is not only maximises comfort, but it is also more efficient. 
  • These patio heaters are easy to install, require zero maintenance and come with comvienent controls. 
  • Shortwave patio heaters deliver the most intense warmth - perfect for smaller outdoor spaces that need instant warmth. 
  • Mediumwave patio heaters provide a comforting warmth that's better over long periods of time - ideal for semi-exposed spaces such as sheltered patios or pergolas 
  • Longwave patio heaters emit a soothing warmth easily absorbed by our skin - suitable for open-plan indoor spaces and loftier interiors.