23 Aug 2011
As it starts to cool down, it's time to think about heating options so your outdoor room is still a comfortable space to use
As it starts to cool down, it’s time to think about heating options so your outdoor room is still a comfortable space to use
By Sunny de Bruyn
We’re not in the chilling throes of winter yet but, all the same, the nights are getting a little crisp and it’s starting to get colder. The change of season often means people stop using their outdoor rooms but, with some smart heating options to keep warm, you can continue to use it in comfort for months to come.
Choosing a model
There are lots of portable options to choose from with heat sources including ethanol, gas, wood and electricity. Chimineas, braziers and fire pits (also called hot boxes or fire bowls) are all popular, particularly as they have a rustic charm and create a romantic atmosphere. They can also double as a barbecue! Gas-fired patio heaters are ideal because they’re cheap to run and a clean fuel-source. Column heaters and table-top heaters are easily portable and the heat level can be adjusted to suit your comfort level. If you have somewhere to attach it, wall heaters are an option, particularly if the floor space is small and you don’t want a heater cluttering the area.
When deciding which is best for you, it’s a good idea to take environmental factors into account and look at the running cost and efficiency. Ambience is also important as you want your heating solution to provide a cosy, enticing atmosphere as much as you want it to warm your toes. The look, smell and colour are all things to think about.
Before you buy, think about the area you want to heat. Do you want the heat to fill the whole outdoor space or just one spot (such as over the seating area or table)? If you’ll be using it only occasionally or if the area you need to heat is small, it’s not too critical if it’s a little pricier to run. However, if the area is large and you want to keep it warm for long periods, you’ll need an efficient heater that has low running costs. The model and installation may cost more but it will pay off in the long run.
If space is an issue, a fire pit or brazier that transforms into a grill is a great option.
Make guests feel welcome and ensure they’ll be comfortable late into the night by arranging a box or basket of snuggly throw rugs. These are from Bambury.
If you go for a solid-fuel-burning heat source such as wood, you’ll need somewhere to store it, so if you don’t have enough space consider a gas, electric or ethanol option. Another thing to consider with wood is smoke. The wrong kind of wood can cause a lot of smoke, which is uncomfortable and irritating — and your neighbours may not appreciate it, either!
Safety is always important and if you have small children you’ll need to consider this when choosing an outdoor heating solution. Supervision is essential, particularly if it can be easily bumped or knocked over, or if little fingers can get close enough to get burnt.
Hot air rises, so if your outdoor room has some sort of roof structure, consider putting in a ceiling fan. On a low speed the fan will help to push the warm air back down and circulate it throughout the area. In summer, you then have the added benefit of a fan to simulate a gentle breeze.