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The Best Electric Patio Heaters Have Certain Things In Common

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  • This Is An IP Rating Chart. IP Ratings Are Relevant To All Electrical Appliances, But Aren't Always Mandatory. My Advice Is To Ensure That The Electric Patio Heater You Consider Buying Has An IP Rating Applied To It
  • This Is An Image Of The Heatmaster Elite Wall Mounted Electric Patio Heater After An IP Rating Test. You Can See The Water Dripping Of The Casing, But Have No Fear!! The Heatmaster Elite Is Rated At IP65, So None Of The Water You See Externally Made It In To The Appliance Casing. It Is Totally Safe For All Weather Conditions
  • The Heatmaster U3 Parasol Heater Has Solid Cast Aluminium Heating Heads, Making It Durable And Corrosion Resistant. Even Stainless Steel Doesn't Outperform The Heat And Corrosion Resistance Of Aluminium
  • The Heatmaster Ultra Free Standing Patio Heater Has A Highly Durable 304 Stainless Steel Stand To Match The Corrosion Resistance Of The Head Unit
  • The Burda Term 2000 L&H Is The Most Contemporary, Attractive Looking Patio Heater On the Market, In My Opinion
  • Here We See A 3 Year Warranty Clearly Marked On The Box Of A Heatmaster U3 Popular Parasol Heater. Heatmaster Provide A Comprehensive Warranty On Their Products. Committed Manufacturers Provide A Clear Warranty Proposition
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Quality Electric Patio Heaters Have A Price Range From Approximately £100 - £700
Electric Patio Heaters Are Widely Available, With An Abundance Of Choice Coming From Online Retailers
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By John Turner, 10th May 2013

Electric Patio Heaters Have Eclipsed Their Gas Counterparts In Recent Years, But They Aren't Made Equal

The Best Electric Patio Heaters Have Certain Things In CommonElectric patio heaters have taken over their gas counterparts in the last 5 years as the consumer began to realise the stark efficiency benefits that they hold. Electric patio heaters cost less to run than their gas equivalents. "Prove it", I hear you say. Okay then, the average 1.5kw electric patio heater consumes 1.5kw of electricity per hour. Looking at the British Gas Electricity Tariff, the standard rate for 1kw/h of electricity is 14p per hour. With the application of some school-boy maths, that's 14p X 1.5 = 21 pence per hour. Now that's really cheap compared to the average 13kw gas patio heater, which consumes approximately 1000 grams of propane gas per hour. Looking at the Calor Gas Website, the price for a 13kg refill of propane gas is £ 25.49. So then, lets get my maths brain on again; this is actually a simple matter of 25.49 / 13, and we have the running cost for the gas heater of £1.96 per hour. So the electric patio heater is £1.75 cheaper to run per hour!! "THAT'S NOT FAIR", I hear the gas heater purists cry, "YOU CAN'T COMPARE 2 APPLIANCES OF DIFFERENT KW RATINGS IN THIS WAY!!". Well, I can, and I have, because a bit of experience counts for something too. I have both a 13kw gas patio heater in my garden, and a Heatmaster U3 Parasol Heater rated at 2kw (running costs at 28p per hour using the above tariff) and it feels just as warm as the gas heater. The stark fact is that Electric Patio Heaters are cheaper to run, for the reason that they run at 92% conversion efficiency. This means that the majority of the heat energy comes in to contact with the object it is intended to heat i.e. the people below, transmitted via infrared (short wave) radiation. Where gas patio heaters fall down is that they transmit the majority of their heat through conduction and convection, which is easily removed and degraded by the air in between source and target

Okay, So Electric Patio Heaters Do Eclipse Their Gas Counterparts, But The Best Models Have Certain Things In Common

Choosing an Electric patio heater is a smart move, and in my opinion you've chosen the best patio heating medium, but of course it's important to understand that they're not made equal. There are a myriad of different brands and manufacturers in the market, so I'm going to give you some pointers on the products you should be warmer to than others ;-). The first factor is IP rating

The Best Electric Patio Heater Companies Have Their Products IP Rated

The Best Electric Patio Heater Companies Have Their Products IP RatedThe "IP" in IP rating stands for ingress protection, and this is the measure by which an electrical product is resistant to objects and water entering in to its vital components. For example, an IP65 rated electric patio heater has the rating 6 for protection against objects, and a rating of 5 for water. The objects part is rated from 0 (no protection from any type or size of object) to 6 (dust tight), with the water rating ranging from 0 (no protection at all) to 8 (complete immersion in water without water getting in to the sealed part of the product). In the case of our IP65 rating, this electric heater is fully protected from objects of all size, and can withstand powerful water jets being sprayed on to it from all angles, without water getting in to the casing of the appliance. The Heatmaster Elite Wall Mounted Electric Patio Heater, for example, was the first electric patio heater of its type to achieve such a high rating, and can be safely installed in a setting where it is completely exposed to the weather

Be Careful, IP Rating Electric Patio Heaters Is Not Mandatory

You could be forgiven for thinking that every electric patio heater has to be IP-rated. It would make sense, considering that they are external appliances, right? This is not actually the case. So long as a product satisfies basic European safety standards (known as CE approval), they can be legally sold within the United Kingdom. I am not trying to cause alarm here, because such products are still electrically safe, but you have no way in determining the weather conditions they can be safely exposed to. For this reason you would need to assume an IP00 rating and avoid exposing such products to rainfall. On the other hand, the companies that choose to have their products IP rated are showing confidence in their products, and giving their end users a true indication of how and where their respective electric heaters can be installed. It's all about providing confidence, and in my opinion the companies that commit to having their products independently rated for ingress protection are your first port-of-call

Any Product With A Rating Of IP54 And Above Is Suitable For Full Exposure To Outdoor Conditions

Any Electric Patio Heater With A Rating Of IP54 And Above Is Suitable For Full Exposure To Outdoor ConditionsIf you require a heater that can be exposed fully to the British whether, then you are looking for the second numeral of the IP rating to be 4 or above, although the higher the better. A 4 rating means that the appliance can tolerate water "splashing" on it from all angles, and can thus tolerate rainfall. The object rating (first numeral) really needs to be 5 and above to prevent dust particles from being blown in to the casing and eventually affecting function. Remember that I am giving you a basic guideline here, but it's down to you to decide what rating is appropriate for your circumstances. In some cases it would make sense to have a higher rating (public areas where safety is paramount), and in others it may not matter as much. The Heatmaster U3 Parasol Heater is a case-in-point, rated at IP24 because a higher rating would be superfluous. A parasol isn't going to be erected on a rainy day, so there's no reason for the heater to be operating outside in wet weather conditions. Hopefully this gives you the confidence to choose the right heater for you in terms of ingress. My next point concerns construction

Look For Aluminium Construction Of The Heater Head Unit

The Heatmaster U3 Parasol Heater Has Solid Aluminium Heater HeadsWhether the Electric Patio Heater you're looking for is wall mounted or freestanding, the heater head unit (where the heating element is located) should ideally be made from aluminium. This is because aluminium has excellent tolerance to extreme heat without losing structural integrity, and is an unreactive metal i.e. it doesn't oxidise or rust. This, in turn, means your heater will last longer and retain its aesthetic appearance. Some heater heads are made from stainless steel, which for many people would indicate quality, but actually this isn't the best material for the job. Aluminium is a less expensive metal (at the moment anyway) and its lighter weight properties make it by far the most appropriate material. Heatmaster manufactures all of its Electric Patio Heaters with aluminium heads, and this is in part why they have a 3 year warranty for the majority of products in their range. Moreover, in cases where the product is coloured, Heatmaster use die-cast aluminium, which means that the colour is impregnated within the metal. This is an important detail, because alternative methods of colouring an electric patio heater tend to affect aesthetics within a relatively short period of time. I have seen heaters that have been coated with "thermal paint" or "powder coating", and it really doesn't take long for these applications to fail. Any coating applied to a hot surface with, to a greater or lesser degree, expands and contracts at a different rate to the underlying metal, inevitably resulting in unattractive flaking. So, to my mind, choose an aluminium heater head, and go for die-cast aluminium in those instances where the product is coloured

Freestanding Electric Patio Heaters Need Stands That Are Equally Weather Resistant

Freestanding Electric Patio Heaters Need Stands That Are Equally Weather ResistantWhen looking for a freestanding electric patio heater, the constitution of the stand also needs to stand the test of time. Again, as with the heads, aluminium is both corrosion resistant and lightweight for mobility, although in some cases a manufacturer would opt to use a heavier metal to give the heater more sturdy characteristics. The Heatmaster Ultra heater uses heavy gauge stainless steel, SGS approved for outdoor use. My guess is that the stand uses grade 304 stainless steel, which is excellent quality in terms of corrosion resistance (grade 316 marine is the best, but not usually necessary unless you live near to the coast). I think it is best to avoid grades of stainless steel less than 3 series if you're looking for long term durability. In cases where the stand is portable, the manufacturer may decided upon a powder coated construction. An example would be the Heatmaster Black Tripod Stand. This is a well made product, but I think it is fair to assume that if you leave it outside permanently you can expect the coating to degrade over time. If, however, you use the portable functionality of the stand to store it in a sheltered location between uses, it would be well worth considering as an accessory to the U3 Parasol Heater. Now that I've covered construction, I want to talk a little about power

It's Probably Best Not To Buy An Appliance Below 1.5kw

My experience of Electric Patio Heaters rated below 1.5kw has not been the best, if I'm quite honest. There are 1 and 1.3kw heaters on the market, but for the sake of a few more quid, and marginally higher running costs, you can be sure to buy a heater that is going to make a meaningful difference to the ambient temperature of your patio. To my mind anything from 1.5kw upwards is the way to go. If you're concerned about power consumption, or being too hot, there are more heaters coming on to the market with variable power functionality. These heaters come at a premium, but as with all things making an investment can pay over the long term

Looks Aren't Everything, But Some Heaters Are Hotter Than Others ;-)

The Burda Term LH Heater Is a Stunning Looking Electric Patio HeaterWhen investing your hard earned money in to a piece of hardwear, it makes sense to buy a product that looks the part. Some of the heaters out there look, quite frankly, awful (although it wouldn't be polite to mention names). An indication that a manufacturer is serious about their trade is when they design products that provide appearance that matches performance. For me the top prize for attractiveness it the Burda Term LH Heater, with the Heatmaster Elite Heater coming a close second. Both heaters incorporate heat fins within their design to optimise performance, yet the science doesn't compromise aesthetics, as both heaters are stunning in their contemporary appearance. But of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and some of you will prefer the the more classically designed heaters. Whatever your choice in appearance, so long as you follow my other points you won't be far off the mark in acquiring a product that gives you what you need

The Best Way To Judge Quality Is To See A Convincing Warranty

The Best Electric Patio Heaters Have A Convincing, Well Advertised WarrantyOne of the best ways to judge a manufacturer and their products is by the quality of their warranty. For me Motif Heatmaster give the most impressive warranty without all the caveats. It's a straight 3 year replacement warranty on their heaters, with 1 year on the heating bulbs. Other manufacturers aren't so keen to advertise a warranty with the same confidence, so make the necessary enquiries before committing your money

Happy Heating

Hopefully the above will point you in the right direction, and help you make the right product choice. Invest that extra bit of time in to researching what's hot (and not), and you'll not be disappointed

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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