Top Ten Tips On How To Buy A Gas Patio Heater

Ever wondered what all the different bells and whistles are for on a gas patio heater. They all look the same but surely there must be a difference? Well if you’re not in the loop you can be forgiven for not knowing what’s what! Here are the top ten things look for on patio heaters and what most suppliers don’t want you to know and hope you never ask.

No.1. Is The Patio Heater Burner Stainless Steel?

We’ve all seen those rusty heaters looking very sad and neglected. Hard to believe but some are only a year old and already pitted with rust. The reason is that the most burners are not stainless steel but either chrome or tin plated that is polished to look like stainless steel. Even if it’s sold as a ‘stainless steel patio heater’ the burner is most likely tin. There are 2 basic ways to find out, either ask the question, “is the whole burner stainless steel?” or if it’s local pop a magnet on the burner.
If it sticks it’s tin – simple as that.

Stainless Steel Burner

Stainless Steel Burner

Budget Chrome Burner

Budget Chrome Burner

No. 2. New Patio Heater Technology.

Just like cars new improved models are always being developed. In this case EU changed patio heater regulations in 2009 to improve energy efficiencies. A lot of patio heaters ship from China, many suppliers will use up old valves and stock before switching. The biggest problem is with older 16kw heaters; these are way behind the newer technology and consume vast amounts of gas without any additional benefit. They also struggle with repair and spares as the biggest spare parts company no longer hold spares for 16kw patio heaters.
NO. 3. Patio Heater Spares, Support & Back Up.
This leads on nicely to spares and back up. All patio heaters, regardless of who makes them or what type will need some ongoing maintenance. That’s OK if you buy from a manufacturer but if’s it’s from an auction site or one of the ‘70% off this week only’ fake sale traders you will be disappointed. The fake sale merchants move every time the law catches up with them with a new site under a different name, many also operate on auction sites under many different aliases. Nothing dodgy in that then, buyer beware!

No.4. Reflector Size.

This is a fine balancing act in more ways than one. Make then too big and the wind catches them like a sail and they topple over, make them too small and the heat goes up into the sky.  Look for a full size reflector around 80 to 85cm with a burner between 13kw to 15kw for the greatest efficiency.

No. 5. Patio Heater Warranty.

We’re back to dodgy traders who put in steep restocking fees which are totally illegal and some void warranty if close to the coast – yes you’ve guessed it, these are made of tin and will perish pretty quickly anywhere near salt.

No. 6. Does Everything Match?

A trend is developing from China to fit plastic bases, or painted tin bases to stainless steel heaters. May look OK when new, but after a year in the garden the plastic or painted bits age quicker and than the rest and just look odd. Better heaters have everything matching.

Stainless Steel Patio Heater

No. 7. What About Patio Heater Safety.

Even the cheapest heater must by law have basic safety features but better patio heaters will always go that extra mile. Look for a tilt switch, a flame failure device and the top models also have triple safety feature with an added thermal fuse.
No. 8. Is The Patio Heater Well Made?
Better patio heaters have design elements to improve safety and strength. Just an example is that budget heaters don’t fit grommets to protect small fingers from sharp metal. Have a look at the base to see if rubber protective grommets are fitted, cheaper patio heaters don’t bother as they are not a legal requirement.
No. 9. Reputable Patio Heater Dealer?
In the last 10 years over 150 ‘here today gone tomorrow’ traders done just that been and gone! Why, well they all believe patio heaters are the same, see them in a cash & carry for peanuts and think they can make a killing. Once they start and find out that actually the heaters they have don’t lights, are made of tin and really not even worth the peanuts they paid for them, they soon dump the stock on auction sites and move on. Problem is there is always another trader around the corner and the process is repeated time and time again. The fake sale traders also muddy the water by operating below the radar of trading standards and when caught just change trading name start off again! It’s not a market for amateurs. Look for a Specialist Patio Heater Company.
No. 10. Patio Heater Purchase Price.
Surprisingly pricing is the final hurdle, as with all gas appliances never ever buy any gas appliance solely on price. Remember those ‘too good to miss offers that end at midnight’ are gas appliances, so please make sure they are safe for your family first. Get all above right first then quibble over price last.


25 thoughts on “Top Ten Tips On How To Buy A Gas Patio Heater

    • All gas appliances are tested and list by the American Gas Association or another certified agency, check the label on the appliance. Any change to this appliance would have to be certified by the company who made it. In your specifications booklet you should find what kind of gas it is set-up to run. If you change the feed nozzle or limiting valves without the manufacturing companies written approval then you have voided the warranty and possibly caused a fire hazard. Call the company who made the appliance and find out if it can be legally converted. You do not want to be responsible for a fire or CO poisoning.
      Good Luck

  1. Wow! This could be one particular of the most useful blogs We have ever arrive across on this subject. Basically Magnificent. I’m also a specialist in this topic therefore I can understand your hard work.

    • I am assuming that you have a patio heater that has a millivolt thermostat. If that is the case make sure you have the button turned to the on position on your gas valve. Trace the wires from your thermostat to where they make on to your gas valve. Right at the place that they connect to your gas valve put a jumper across these two terminals. By a jumper I mean a short piece of wire to reach across the terminals. You do not have to worry about eletrical shock or damage to the unit because it is a system that generates less than one volt. If your patio heater comes on after this then I would look for a bad connection on the tilt switch and replace with new. Gas valve or a weak pilot generator (thermocouple) that is not putting out the required voltage to operate the millivolt circuit in your patio heater. Do the test I described only if it is a miilivolt system in your patio heater.

  2. Hello! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this page to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!

  3. I do not know if it’s just me or if everyone else encountering problems with your patio heater website. It appears as though some of the text within your content are running off the screen. Can somebody else please provide feedback and let me know if this is happening to them too? This might be a problem with my internet browser because I’ve had this happen previously. Cheers

    • Hello Antwan
      Would love to hear if anyone else has sees the same on patio heaters web site. All looks good at our end, it’s been built to fit a normal screen, if you’re on a tablet or smart phone the page might not auto fit and you’ll need to scroll. Things move so fast with new tablets, phones and operating systems that it keeps our web guys busy.
      Thanks for the feedback!

  4. The one I’d like to order is the stainless steel patio heater, the one that can hold my glass of wine when I have all my girl friends round for a drink. I’ll have to wait til I get a garden though :-(. Still, it’s nice to read up on these things before buying, thanks for sharing.

  5. Glad to find your top tips, only started reading blogs a few months ago and getting so much info from them.
    Thanks for sharing,

  6. I read it all and have to agree there is more to this than you think ;-). My brother loves stuff like this and will share it with him.

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    • Hi Sharon
      You’ll find the tower flame heaters in cash and carries, although they can be called patio heaters they don’t yield much heat at all. They are more for effect than heating an area, many pubs and bars will have one for show but have a standard gas patio heater to keep the place warm. If you want one for effect they are great but if it’s for warmth in your garden it’s best to see one working before buying.

  11. I read lots of weblogs and looking at buying a patio heater for my new decking. My neighbour got one last year and I just want to avoid the one they got. There’s doesn’t work most of the time, sometimes it’s OK but then other nights it won’t work. It’s also leaning to the right and the top part is already rusty. How do I avoid getting one the same, there is no name on her patio heater but it is stainless steel.
    She bought it online. Thks.

    • Hello Alison
      Always worth reading up before parting with your hard earned cash! Although many sellers have stainless steel patio heaters you’ll find the top bit (burner) is not stainless steel but tin plated or chrome finish. The problem with this is that once they rust (under 1 year near the coast) they are non repairable and of course they look awful. A couple of patio heater sellers had firing problems, read online reviews and you’ll find which ones they are.
      The only patio heater company that have proper all stainless steel heaters including the burner and one’s that work and don’t lean are: stainless steel patio heater BFX750
      Take a look, these are 2 year warranty.

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