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Electric Patio Heaters Are Simply Better Than Gas Patio Heaters

  • It's Time For The Public To Break Old Habits And Start Considering Electric Patio Heaters As A Viable Option
  • Electric Patio Heaters Have Hidden Costs That Are Tantamount To Throwing Money Down The Drain
  • Electric Patio Heaters Use Shortwave Infrared Radiation To Operate At 92% Conversion Efficiency. Gas Patio Heaters Rely More On Thermal Convection, Which Is Possibly The Most Inappropriate Form Of Heat Transfer In An Outdoor Environment
  • The U3 Quad Head Parasol Heater Light Is One Example Of How Electric Patio Heaters Offer The Same Performance, Yet Take Up Significantly Less Space
  • Electric Patio Heaters Last At Least Twice As Long As Their Gas Counterparts, Meaning You Get More "Bang For Your Buck" In The Long Run
  • The Facts Speak For Themselves. Electric Patio Heaters Are Obviously Better Than Gas Patio Heaters
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13kw Gas Patio Heaters Start At Approximately £120.00. An Equivalent IP55 Rated Electric Patio Heater With 1.5kw Output Can Be Purchase From £115.00
Electric Patio Heaters Are Widely Available. Online Retailers Are Leading The Way In Offering New Designs And Technologies
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By John Turner, 10th October 2013

When Choosing Between Electric And Gas Patio Heaters, An Electric Patio Heater Is Quite Simply Your Best Option

electric patio heaters are simply better than gas patio heatersFrom time-to-time I'm asked for advice on the best choice between gas and electric patio heaters, and I continue to be surprised by the incredulous expressions in response to my emphatic endorsement of electric patio heaters. It seems to me that the familiar look of an overbearing mushroom-shaped object in the middle of the patio is deeply ingrained within the minds of Britain's outdoor revelers, so it's time for me to set the record straight. Be prepared, because my argument is really quite robust, and puts so much heat on gas patio heaters, they're likely to go up in flames! Let me begin by saying that electric patio heaters are significantly cheaper to run than gas patio heaters

Electric Patio Heaters Have Nearly 10% Of The Running Cost Of Their Gas Counterparts

That's right, gas patio heaters have nearly 10 times the running costs of electric patio heaters!! This isn't just a wild claim; allow me to explain. A standard 1.5kw electric patio heater consumes 1.5kw of electricity per hour (sorry for stating the obvious, but I'm working this through methodically). As per the British Gas electricity tariff, it seems that the standard cost for 1 unit of electricity (or 1kw/h) is around 14 pence. So 14 x 1.5 = 21 pence per hour to run an electric patio heater. On the other side, the average gas patio heater consumes 1kg of propane gas per hour. As per the Calor Gas web site, the cost for a 13kg propane refill is £25.49, so running a gas patio heater costs £1.96 per hour. That's 9.33 times that of the electric patio heater, to be precise. So the running cost comparison speaks for itself, but that's not it. A gas patio heater has significant other costs that we need to factor in

Gas Patio Heaters Incur A Gas Bottle Cost, As Well As Servicing And Repairs

gas patio heaters have lots of hidden costs that make them morse costly to run and maintain compared to electric heatersWhen that big hunk of metal is delivered to your door, don't forget you'll need to grab the keys to your car and purchase a propane gas bottle for your gas patio heater. The cost for the required 13kg propane gas bottle (before you've filled it with gas), is £34.25, as per the Calor Gas web site. So if you paid the average price of £180.00 for your heater, that adds 20% to your purchase. Oh, and don't forget those manufacturers who fail to include a gas regulator with their product (that's most of them); add another £15.00 if paying over the counter for one. If you're an average user of your gas heater, you'll need to replace your gas bottle 4 times a year. Add the petrol costs and the time it takes to make a trip to your local gas supplier, and it all starts to add up, doesn't it?

"Stop the rout!!" I hear you say. Unfortunately I can't do this, because times are leaner for the average Brit, and I'm compelled to inform you of the other hidden costs behind gas patio heaters. Where there are mechanical parts, there is a point of failure. Gas heaters have igniters, solenoid valves, thermocouples, burners, and all sorts of other components that go wrong. In my naive days, it cost me £90.00 including call out charge for a gas engineer to replace the thermocouple in my own gas patio heater. Electric patio heaters have no mechanical parts and just 1 point of failure - their bulbs, which can be ordered online and replaced in a couple of clicks. Let's not also forget that where there's gas, there's a safety issue. Gas patio heaters should really be serviced by a gas engineer once a year, which includes a leak test and an inspection of all key mechanical parts. I have no doubt that the majority of people don't undertake a service (unadvisable), but for those who want to play things by the book, a heater service is anything in the region of £40 - £80. So the cost advantages held by electric patio heaters are compelling, but of course this means nothing if they are not comparable in performance. Well let me start by saying that electric patio heaters eclipse their gas rivals in the efficiency department

Electric Patio Heaters Eclipse Their Gas Rivals On Performance, Operating At 92% Efficiency Through Short Wave Radiation

electric patio heaters use infra red radiation to operate at 92% efficiencyThere are three basic principles of heating which are (1) CONDUCTION - where heat is transferred through direct contact between source and object, such as a kettle or a pan on a hot plate (2) CONVECTION - where the source transfers heat via the air, with examples including radiators and fan heaters (3) RADIATION - where heat is transferred via short-wave infra red radiation, with examples including the suns rays and the intense glow of embers from a fire.

The great thing about radiation is that because it transfers heat in waves, it is unaffected by the air/space in between the source and the object being heated, so it is not depleted or destroyed during transferal. This is what creates the 92% conversion efficiency, and the electric patio heater takes this principle and replicates it using two primary components, which are a tungsten filament bulb and a reflector. The tungsten bulb is a precision-made component capable of processing a high amount of electrical energy and outputting infrared energy. The reflector behind it ensures that all the energy is targeted towards the intended area. Combining the principles of infrared energy with precision-made equipment allows the electric patio heater to deliver similar performance to its gas counterparts, at a fraction of the cost. The operating efficiency of inrared heaters doesn't just mean lower running costs. There are environmental advantages, too

Electric Patio Heaters Reduce Waste, Don't Produce Combustion Gases, And Are Significantly Better For The Environment

Let's be honest here, a patio heater is more of a luxury than an essential domestic appliance, and you'll be hard-pressed to convince any environmentalist that they're a good idea. However, the electric patio heater gives you the higher ground when choosing between alternatives. They don't emit any greenhouse gases, and if you're in a country where your energy supply is green (Scotland, for instance, will be fully renewable by 2020), then an electric heater allows you to indulge in patio heating on a completely carbon-free basis

Electric Heaters Don't Just Reduce Energy Wastage, But Space Too

the heatmaster u3 parasol heater saves so much space compared to a freestanding gas heaterGas patio heaters really are a waste of space, and in this climate of high land and property prices, it makes sense to have an appliance that takes up less of your garden real estate. It amazes me how some people still choose a freestanding gas patio heater over an electric parasol heater. Both appliances have a similar performance, yet some people are determined to have their garden space usurped by an unsightly hunk of metal. By comparison, the Heatmaster U3 Parasol Heater, which came to market in 2002, fits neatly on to a parasol pole and delivers heat and light right at the heart of where the warmth is required. It's discrete, highly portable, and easily stored between seasons. By comparison, a freestanding gas patio heater takes up a significant surface area, has to operate to one side of the people it's meant to heat, and is too large to be stored away when not in use. When it comes to maximising your garden space, electric patio heaters give you the smarter options, and being able to store your appliance also means it will last longer. This brings me to my next point on how much more durable electric patio heaters are

Electric Patio Heaters Last Longer, And Give Greater Operational Returns On Your Investment

invest in an electric patio heater and you will save a lot of money in the long runElectric patio heaters simply have one component that requires replacing from time-to-time, which is the heating element (or bulb). The tungsten filament within these bulbs deals with high voltage current and the resulting heat, and so it stands to reason why eventually the element breaks down. A heating element is easily replaced by the end user, and doesn't require any specialist skills. This is quite the contrary to a gas patio heater. Gas heaters have many mechanical points of failure from the ignition system to the pilot assembly, and in most cases requires the costly attention of a certified gas engineer. With so many points of failure within the workings of a gas heater, it should come as no surprise that the average life of these appliances is 4 years. You can expect an IP55 rated electric patio heater to achieve double this figure, and it no doubt helps that electric heaters can be fully weather proof to prevent water from damaging vital internal components. Not so with a gas heater (especially if left uncovered), which suffers water ingress through the burner grill and in to its most important internal workings. As most of us know, when water gets in to places it shouldn't it is sure to cause damage. To conclude, a quality electric patio heater will give you more years of service for every pound you invest due to the non-mechanical nature of operation. This leads me on to my next point. Electric patio heaters operate more reliably

Electric Patio Heaters Operate More Reliably, With Instant Heat Delivery When Turned On

I will never forget an evening barbecue I held for friends some 4 years ago. Everything was going great until the sun descended and I wanted to impress my guests with the warmth and atmosphere of my gas patio heater, which was just 2 seasons old. On going to light it I simply couldn't get it to work. I followed the instructions to the letter, turning and pressing in the valve knob while applying the ignition button. Still nothing. After a 45 minute obsession with getting the damn thing lit, and a few awkward glances from my guests as I came closer to tantrum phase, one of my friends took mercy. Muttering under his breath he said "there's a knack to this" and got it going first time. My point isn't about how impractical I am as a person, more about the fact that there shouldn't have to be a "knack" to anything. With an electric patio heater you simply flick a switch and it works. Very simple, but not really something I feel one should have to take for granted!

Another important factor is what happens when you turn your heating appliance on. With a gas heater you have to wait for it to heat up and become effective, much like trying to boot up an old computer running a windows 98 operating system. During this time the heater is running for several minutes in a state of incomplete combustion, which is highly polluting, not to mention being quite unpleasant for bystanders. By comparison, electric patio heaters are working at 100% effectiveness the moment they turn on. Furthermore, when you turn on an electric heater you can be sure that it will stay on, which is more than can be said for gas heaters

Electric Heaters Can Be Fully Weatherproof, Gas Heaters Give You Proof Of Wind Direction

You might think that once a gas heater has warmed up, all is fine and toasty. This is until the wind gets involved and you visibly see one side of the burner battling to stay lit, and you and your guests resort to gathering around the side of the heater where the burner is emitting a remaining semblance of heat. If you think I'm overstating this problem, then take a moment to consider why every gas patio heater must have, by law, a flame failure device - it's a fail-safe for an inherently bad design. Electric patio heaters don't suffer this annoying problem because the heat is emitted from a fully sealed environment (the bulb element), and those models rated at IP55 and above won't even allow driving rain to prevent them from operating. On operational reliability, the electric patio heater wins yet again. On this final point, I note that the abomination that was my gas patio heater has been sold for scrap, so it can be reborn as something more useful, like a boot scraper or a wind chime. If this sounds a little contemptuous, I do apologise, but I need to make it 100% clear that when it comes to choosing between electric and gas patio heaters, the choice is clear

The Facts Are Compelling And The Choice Is Clear. Electric Patio Heaters Eclipse Their Gas Counterparts

the facts speak for themselves - electric patio heaters are the best choice over gas patio heatersFor all of you who have sought my opinion, my advice couldn't be more binary. In all circumstances (except perhaps where there genuinely isn't an accessible power supply) choose a quality electric patio heater every time and you'll save money, your sanity, and generally have a better user experience

Rant Over

Hopefully this helps clarify why you should be choosing an electric patio heater, and allays any doubts. For those choosing the dreaded gas route despite the plain facts, I hope your knack matches your stubbornness!

John Turner is a freelance writer for the Home and Garden retail sector. All opinions and rights remain with him. Any duplication of prose or images is strictly prohibited without prior consent

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  1. Good Article

    Posted by Carl Wise on 23rd Oct 2013

    I had been mulling over this exact subject last month and couldn't make a decision because my electrician wanted £80.00 to install a wall mounted electric patio heater. As soon as I saw the running cost comparisons my mind was made up. Come the spring I will definitely be in the market for an electric patio heater. Good article - pleased I stumbled across it

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