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.
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.
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.