The majority of garden heaters sold at this point in time are powered from a gas (propane) bottle or LPG cylinder. These cylinders are easily and cheaply obtained.
Patio heaters generally take the form of tall elegant stainless steel bodied towers made up from three sections, namely –
A base that holds the gas bottle and provides stability. These bottle or cylinder enclosing covers usually hinge, or slide up and down allowing them to be lifted when the cylinder is fitted, and pulled down once it is in place.
A narrow tubular trunk that raises the level of the burner. This acts to raise the heat umbrella to an effective heat radiating level whilst protecting the supply pipe.
A conical stainless steel emitter that radiates the heat around the unit. Often described as a heat umbrella, this vital component sits immediately above the burner and creates a heat-sink around the garden heater.
How Patio Heaters Work
These propane garden heaters look like complex pieces of equipment, but they work very simply and they are easy to control and regulate.
An LPG cylinder usually fits inside the cylindrical base section of the patio heater where it is connected to the heater by placing a clip-on regulator on top of the cylinder valve. The process is simple and takes only seconds. A regulator and hose should be supplied with all garden heaters.
Turning gas powered patio heaters on is equally simple. The unit should have automatic ignition and this typically takes about 30 seconds to get the heater going.
Once running, most garden heaters have an adjustable heat output control. This allows the heating power (and energy consumption) of the unit to be turned up or down depending on the number of people in the heating zone and the ambient air temperature.
Garden Heater Styles
Gas fuelled garden heaters come in a range of styles that span from powerful commercial heaters through to tabletop patio furniture heaters. It is also possible to buy wall mounted heaters and small ground level heaters.
Patio heaters are normally finished in a metallic or stainless steel finish, but greens, blacks and other colors are available.
Equally, most heaters are styled in a slick and minimalist way, but you can also buy patio heaters styled in a period manner that is reminiscent of old Victorian street lighting.
The size and profile of the heat umbrella, along with the shape and diameter of the base, also result in a number of differing looks being available. Some of the more expensive models use curvy stylish designs to great effect by creating an elongated egg timer shape. This shape disguises the different components of the heater and results in an attractive unbroken sweeping profile.
More Patio Heater Features
There are a number of patio heater features that you should look for, or at least be aware of. Some of them may add extra utility to the ways in which you can use your heater.
A regulator and automatic ignition system are obvious safety features, but a gas powered patio heater should also have some kind of tilt cut-off safety device to stop the flow of gas in the event of the heater falling over. These safety cut-offs are normally tripped once the heater deviates more than 30 degrees from the vertical.
Having a heat emitter umbrella that can tilt is of great advantage. This extra feature allows heat to be directed in a specific direction or area. It is essential if you stand a garden heater adjacent to some chairs or patio furniture.
Many garden heaters also have wheels which make moving the heater around much easier and some even have a table or circular dinks bar running around them.
All Patio heaters should be made of or coated with, an anti corrosive material. Not only may the patio heater be subjected to rain, but the lower and cooler parts of the heater’s structure will attract condensation from the warm air being generated above.
A protective rain cover is another feature, or extra, to look for. Covers prove invaluable if you intend to leave your patio set and heater outside in the garden.
Power Output and Practical Heating Range
Home use gas fuelled patio heaters generally have a heat output of between 10kw and 15kw. This is capable of heating an area of 25 to 30 square meters or, to put it another way, a circle with a diameter of about 6.5 meters.
If the garden heater is close to a building, or in a protected or overhanging area, its warming effects may be extended somewhat.