Outdoor Heating; discover the options available

With the cooler weather expected in the not-too-distant future, many of us dread the thought of being cooped up indoors instead of being able to enjoy our outdoor entertaining areas. Nowadays, most Australian homes have some sort of covered outdoor entertaining area, whether it be a deck, patio alfresco area or an enclosed outdoor kitchen.

There are many ways to keep your outdoor entertaining areas warm.

Discover the options available for Outdoor Heating

Fire pits

The oldest and most basic way to keep warm since the beginning of time. It’s unlikely that most Australians that live in a suburban area would want to light a roaring fire directly on the grass in their backyards, so fire pits or chimeneas are a practical alternative. They are cheap to run, and provide a great focal point that brings everyone together and the kids will love toasting marshmallows. The obvious downside is that it is the most time-consuming method of heating, you need to ensure you have enough wood laying around and smoke in the eyes is never fun. Examples of Australian-made fire pits include The Wedge and EZY Fire Pit which can both be used as a cooker.

Pot bellies

Similar to fire pits, however, they are enclosed rather than having a large opening such as on the top of a fire pit or front of a chimenea. They typically take a good hour or so to get hot, but boy they pump out a lot of heat once they’re going. You’ll use less wood in a pot belly compared to a fire pit as the fire is more contained. You’ll also have the ability to extend the flue up through your ceiling to channel the smoke away from your eyes. I love appliances that are multi-functional so a product like the Ozpig is a great example of a pot belly which can be used as a heater and a cooker.

Gas Column Heaters


For decades gas heaters have provided a convenient alternative to traditional wood-burning fire pits and pot bellies. They are relatively cheap to run, convenient to start with the press of a button and start pumping out heat in a matter of minutes. On the flip side, they take up prime real estate in small entertaining areas (or table space if you have a table-mounted one), quite often the heat is blown away by any wind unless your entertaining area is fully enclosed and don’t even mention the death stares you’ll get if you run out of gas part way through dinner!

Electric Radiant Heaters

Over the last 3 years, we’ve started to see electric radiant heaters become more common in both homes and outdoor eateries. Fortunately, prices of radiant heaters have started to come down which is probably the reason behind its growing popularity.

Electric radiant heaters work similarly to the rays of the sun. They heat people and objects rather than “air-space”. While this can be difficult for people to get their heads around, think about how hot you feel when the rays from the sun are directly on you rather than when you’re in the shade. Electric radiant heaters operate on the same concept, only at a less intense level. They work best if at least 2 walls of your outdoor entertaining area are enclosed.

People typically use radiant heaters to spot heat over a certain area such as a table or a lounge rather than trying to heat the entire space. They can be ceiling or wall mounted and can either be plugged into a power point or hard-wired directly back to a dedicated wall-mounted control box.

Out of all the heater options, electric radiant heaters are the most expensive to run, ranging from 25 cents per hour to 59 cents per hour, but that’s the price you pay for a smoke-free evening, an unobtrusive unit and peace of mind your gas bottle won’t run dry!

The right heating option for you will vary depending on your initial purchasing budget, your ongoing “running cost” budget and the aesthetic look and feel which-best suits your home.

Check out our previous blog post about why I chose to install radiant heaters as my preferred heating option in my home.

You can also discover How Does Infrared Radiant Heating Works by checking this previous blog post.