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What kind of heating solutions for covered outdoor areas?

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outdoor heating

This case concerns the heating of covered outdoor areas as balconies, verandas, terraces, patios, conservatories, porches, pergolas, summer living rooms, covered bars, outdoor dinning rooms, …

Why are there specific constraints when heating outdoor area?

By nature, the residential extensions are often complexe to heat because they are in direct contact with the outside. Therefore that makes them more dependent on external weather conditions than conventional rooms. As they are very often glazed (so less insulated than solid walls), they are much more affected by the climate that can sometimes be severe.

In the case of CHR terraces (bars, hotels, restaurants) or semi-open living spaces (or semi-covered), the wind exposure has a great influence on the choice of solution (and its price).

11 features to look for when talking about the outdoor heating:

The selection criteria are more numerous than it seems. We made the inventory! Look for a heating system that will:

  • heat quickly. If the area to be heated is particularly exposed to severe conditions, the power must be proportionate and available quickly. Even more quickly as the room or area is only used for few hours a day.
  • produce a soft non-agressive heat to comply with a space of well-being (commercial or residential).
  • be simple and inexpensive to install:
    • in the case of a renovation it is unlikely that few m2 to be heated will justify a big development to include a new heating system.
    • as a part of a new extension, the options are more open: extension of the central heating of the dwelling, floor heating, solar panels, infrared heating, etc.
    • to heat the terraces of restaurants and cafés, the installation cost is not to be overlooked and is to be taken into account in the overall rentability (fixed or mobile-removable solution?).
  • be energy efficient. This is even more important as the daily heating duration will be significant. If you need to heat more than 3 hours per day, you have to find a low energy solution. To get lot of power in a short period of time is often incompatible with low consumption.
  • be particularly ergonomic to effectively target the people to heat (radiation angle for heat targeting).
infrared radiation angle
  • ensure the safe use and durabilityThe degrees of protection (IP) are important if the heater is exposed to outside weather conditions (humidity, wind and potential rain). Opt for European material to easily find spare parts. Your heater should be intended for outside use even if it is partially covered or glazed. Think of a stainless steel structure for the seaside (salt air).
  • be aesthetic. Conservatories, patios and other pergolas are often well-being and relaxation areas for customers. Also their secret garden must be harmonious and design… choose a solution that has various fixing systems in order to adapt to their needs.
  • be adaptable and space-saving. In the case of restaurant terraces, it is often interesting to be able to adapt the terrace layout (and the heater) depending on the affluence. Mobile solutions are often the most appropriate. This is also the case of caterers who do not always have electrical outlets.

See our file about how to effectively heat a veranda

The main solutions to heat covered outdoor areas

Prolong the summer, be ahead of the spring, or challenge winter with the right solution! Where should you orientate yourself?

1. The infrared radiant heaters: the heat only where it is necessary and only where it is needed

These are heaters that emit (based on carbon, quartz or halogen) an infrared radiation which wavelength is specific to the needs of short-range heating. We talk about near infrared NIRC or NIRB. Not to be confused with far infrared (FIR) which serves to heat indoor areas.

The characteristic is if you are inside of the heat cone that it generates, you feel the heat. If you are outside of the heat cone, you will just feel “residues”. This heating method is not intended to heat the entire volume of the room, but only a dedicated area, unless you want to increase the consumption unnecessarily. For example, in the case of a veranda with 4 standard glass walls, it does not make much sense to heat the entire volume. The losses are very important. If you use only one third of the living space (table, sofa/reading area), it is likely that a localised solution will do well.

These heaters are designed according to numerous formats: on feet (mobile or not, patio heater), ceiling mounted (fixing or chandelier) or wall mounted, suspended by ropes, etc.

Beware of safe distances that must be respected because these devices usually have a very high surface temperature in order to be efficient.

outdoor heater

Infrared heating for outside area

In terms of comfort, the radiant infrared (safe to humans) penetrates 1 to 2 mm under the skin and increases considerably the room temperature. The powers are very variable depending on the areas to heat. For an efficient heating, count 900W to heat 5-6 m2, 2000W to heat 10 m2 and 3000W to heat 20 m2 of covered outdoor area. The infrared radiation range for such equipment is up to 3 meters. Outside of the range you only feel the residual effects.

Be aware, the performance can be greatly reduced if the area is exposed to wind. It is therefore essential to choose high performance models (so low energy) when intended for outdoor professional use, that should work almost permanently. It is important to be able to control them individually. Unlike gas, this kind of heating has the advantage of being maintenance free. Depending on the model, there is at most the resistor to be changed depending on usage (generally every 5000h). Various comparative show that the NIRC electric radiant is cheaper to use than the gas radiant if we take into account all the costs (two times cheaper). For quality models, the heat is obtained immediately upon ignition.

2. Gas radiant heaters: the patio heater or pyramid patio heater

There are mostly pyramidal columns from 2 to 2.5 m high. They contain a gas cylinder (propane, butane or bioethanol) at their base. A glass tube allows to protect the flame and to transmit a part of the heat by radiation. These devices need gas hose and a regulator (purchase separately). The ignition can be electric (pressing one button) on most models. There are also outdoor fireplaces.

In terms of efficiency, it can heat an area up to 20-25 m2 with 15kW for the most powerful models. For gas cylinder systems, the autonomy is usually about thirty hours. These are usually a little bit more powerful than electric models (depending on manufacturers).

Make sure you have a protective cover for wintering.

outdoor heater

Gas heating for the outdoor

The main constraints of this kind of heating are:

  • Clearance distances to respect (usually at least 80 cm from the ceiling and 60 cm from the wall).
  • Opt for a device with an anti-tipping safety and an automatic disconnection of gas supply in case of a fall. A protective grille (fire-guard).
  • Weight: incorporating a gas cylinder, these devices are heavy to handle (it also gives them the stability), even when equipped with wheels.
  • Environmentally unfriendly aspect to burn propane or butane gas. To use in a well ventilated area.
  • The danger associated to gas manipulation.
  • Maintenance (fouling of the burner to be cleaned, insects, dust).
  • Frequent changing of gas cylinders (in the case of a professional use).
  • Beware of the standards. More and more town councils prohibit gas heating (in the case of a professional use).

3. Braziers or outdoor wood fireplaces

Hotels often have the need to distinguish themselves from the competition by providing an aesthetic touch and a sensation of well-being. The firewood is perfectly suited for this need in the form of a high-end brazier or an outdoor fireplace for the garden.

Braziers have a lower radiation rate than gas heaters which are generally leader in this domain.

outdoor heater

Range of Design Brazier for outdoor

Some well-known manufacturers of these solutions

DEGXEL the infrared radiant heating Made in Germany

This Germanic manufacturer offers high performance infrared heaters (electric) for the inside but also a complete range for covered outdoor. . Solutions on feet, to be fixed on the frame of the veranda, to suspend on the ceiling of the patio, etc. Heat in less than a minute: a performance. Some of their models have won the Design Award.


Bromic is an Australian manufacturer (also present in Europe) of outdoor heaters (Smart Heat range) including some series with limited emission of red light.


Range of radiant heaters in infrared lamp on feet or simple IRC HELIOSA 66 / 993 – 2000 WATTS IPX5. Possibility of adapting several heaters on one column to increase the heating zone. Parasol heaters.

HOEFATS (höfats)

This German company is specialised in manufacturing of high-end braziers. They have already received 25 international awards for the design of their products.

outdoor heater

Terrace Heating – Gaggio range

outdoor heater

DEGXEL Infrared Heating – made in Germany


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