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An outdoor seating area with a fire bit and a gas outdoor heater with a dog sitting in the foreground
To get the best use of our outside areas, even through the cold months, an outdoor heater (or two) is a must, but which type should you choose? Read on for our guide to the best outdoor heating options.

Outdoor gas heaters

If you occasionally need to supplement your usual heating source in a cold snap, or if your climate is mild enough to make an outdoor heater rarely needed, a portable gas heater is your best bet. It usually has wheels, so you can easily roll it out when the weather’s chilly and store it safely out of the way when not in use. Output will depend on size, but most gas patio heaters will heat an area of at least 15sqm, and around 6sqm for tabletop models.

Portable gas heaters run on an LPG bottle, but a fuss-free alternative is a wall-mounted outdoor gas heater that connects to the home’s gas supply, so you’ll never run dry. It’s a safer option for families or for use in crowded spaces, as the heater is mounted out of reach of small fingers and can’t be bumped into or knocked over.

The most important consideration with gas heaters is ventilation; make sure your space is an ‘outdoor area’ as defined in the instruction manual to ensure safe operation.

Electric strip heaters

Slimline and unobtrusive, electric strip heaters are mounted on the ceiling or wall and make for a visually uncluttered outdoor zone, ideal in an area that opens off and is visible from the house. They give off radiant heat, gently warming anything below them. The primary consideration is the height of your outdoor area; mounting height and heating area will vary between models, but as an example the Heatstrip ‘Classic’ and ‘Elegance’ models should be mounted between 2.1m and 2.5m off the ground (2.7m at the most), and will heat an area of 4-8sqm.

Plug-in strip heaters can be installed yourself but take care not to overload the power point – if you’re looking to operate multiple units, you might be better to opt for hardwired heaters. Any hardwired electrical fixtures must always be installed by a licensed electrician.

Fire pits

The crackle of an open fire is primal, hypnotic and often the main attraction at a party. When you’re dealing with flames, though, you can’t be too careful, and a fire pit won’t be suited to every outdoor area. It must be located in an open space, not under cover, and needs to be well clear of any structures, foliage or other flammable materials. Fire pits must be placed on a non-combustible surface, like bricks, concrete or gravel, and cannot be used if conditions are windy, or in the event of a fire ban.

If you’re aiming to use your outdoor areas a lot through the cold months, a fire pit or chiminea is likely to be a supplementary or occasional form of heating, rather than your everyday go-to.

*Available to order online or at the Special Orders Desk

Fire pits

Safety first

To ensure a memorable winter of entertaining, take note of our tips on how to safely set up your outdoor heater.

 

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More D.I.Y. Advice

Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.