Best outdoor heating New Zealand (Pros, cons, comparisons and more)

Thinking of buying or installing outdoor heating? Wondering what to buy? Deciding between a patio heater, gas fire pit, fireplace or something else? Keep reading to learn which is the best option for you.

In this article, we explain the key differences between popular outdoor heating products, along with their pros and cons. After reading, you should have a better idea of which outdoor heating option will work best for your outdoor space.

What are the best outdoor heating products?

Before we dive into the pros and cons of different outdoor heating options, let’s take a look at what products are available in New Zealand and what they do.

The most popular outdoor heating products in New Zealand (in no particular order) are:

  • Fire table
  • Fire pit
  • Fire bowl
  • Patio heater
  • Outdoor gas heater
  • Outdoor electric heater
  • Outdoor strip heater
  • Portable outdoor heater

Learn more about the pros and cons of different outdoor heating options below.

What is a fire table? Pros and cons

A fire table is a table with a flame centerpiece. A fire table can be used to entertain, place drinks on, keep those around it warm and is also portable.

Fire tables can be fuelled by gas, coal, firewood and some brands such as EcoSmart™ use renewable liquid bio ethanol fuel. Fire tables range in size and the EcoSmart™ range (shown below and also available at Spa World™) have heights ranging from low to bar height - making them suitable for casual chat, dining or standing around. A fire table is a statement piece available in many designs and styles.

Pros

  • Can dine on a fire table
  • Available in a range of materials, shapes, designs and sizes
  • Used outside and inside depending on fuel
  • Eco-friendly options. Some brands such as EcoSmart™ fuel fire table with liquid bio ethanol

Cons

  • Heating a large area is not its primary function
  • Can take up more space, some fire tables are larger than other outdoor heaters including strip heaters and portable outdoor heaters

What is a fire pit? Pros and cons

A fire pit has a similar function to a fire table except you can’t place drinks on it. Fire pits can also come in a greater variety of shapes and designs - portable, on legs, freestanding and some can be set as a permanent in-ground fixture.

Fire pits can be fuelled by wood, gas and eco friendly liquid bio ethanol.

Pros

  • Available in a range of materials, shapes, designs and sizes including bowl and hearth, inground and above ground
  • Eco-friendly options. Some brands such as EcoSmart™ firepits (shown above and available at SpaWorld™) use renewable energy source liquid bio ethanol

Cons

  • Not possible to dine on a fire pit
  • Not designed to heat a large area

What is a fire bowl? Pros and cons

A fire bowl usually has a classic bowl shape and doesn’t have a surface to place drinks on. It can also be described as a modern take on a fire pit and like the EcoSmart™ fire bowls, they are available in a variety of sizes.

Pros

Cons

  • Not designed to heat a large area

What is a patio heater? Pros and cons

A patio heater is an outdoor heater that uses gas or electricity to warm up an area. Like its name, a patio heater is designed to be used in your outdoor living area whether it’s on a deck, porch, courtyard, entertaining area and more. Patio heaters come in many designs, shapes and sizes. Many patio heaters are made with stainless steel and have wheels underneath for easy portability.

Pros

  • Portable. Many patio heaters are on wheels
  • Designed to emit heat

Cons

  • Many patio heaters run on gas. Not as energy efficient as fuels such as bio ethanol
  • May not have the same design appeal as other heaters including fire tables and fire pits

What is an outdoor gas heater? Pros and cons

A gas heater uses gas to warm an outdoor space. Outdoor gas heaters are available in many shapes and sizes ranging from small table top gas heaters around 30cm high to around 2 metre high free-standing models . Some come in the form of a patio heater, others are freestanding or wall mounted.

Pros

  • Generally has a greater heat output than electric heaters
  • Generally heat faster than other options including electric heaters

Cons

  • Less environmentally friendly than renewable fuels such as bio ethanol
  • Design appeal may not be as high as other heaters such as fire tables and fire bowls

What is an outdoor electric heater? Pros and cons

An electric heater uses electricity to create heat and warm an outdoor area. Outdoor electric heaters come in many shapes and sizes, from wall mounted options that are flat and rectangular to freestanding up to around 2 metres high. Electric heaters can also be referred to as a patio heater. Some outdoor electric heaters can also emit infrared and radiant heat.

Pros

  • Some electric heaters can emit infrared heat
  • Variety. Available in many shapes and sizes
  • Can attach to other outdoor pieces including an umbrella and pergola

Cons

  • Can be more expensive to run than other heaters
  • May not have the same design appeal as heaters including fire tables and fire bowls

What is an outdoor strip heater? Pros and cons

An outdoor strip heater is a narrow heater that commonly uses gas or electricity to heat a space. They can also use infrared heating technology. Outdoor strip heaters are versatile and can be a discreet heating option. They can be attached to a ceiling, wall and other outdoor furnishing such as a pergola and umbrella. Strip heaters are particularly good for families as you can install them out of the way of small children.

Pros

  • Thin design makes strip heaters adaptable to many outdoor settings. Can be attached to ceiling, umbrellas, pergolas and more.
  • Strip heaters can be fueled by gas or electricity
  • Safe to use. Many are remote controlled.

Cons

  • Gas versions need gas bottles or to be plumbed into gas

What is a portable outdoor heater? Pros and cons

A portable outdoor heater is fuelled by a range of materials including gas, electricity and renewable liquid fuels such as bio ethanol. They come in a range of sizes and styles and can also be referred to as a patio heater, fire pit, fire table and fire bowl. This makes it easier to heat a particular area or provide warmth for an individual or smaller group of people.

Pros

  • Portable. It’s in the name! Ability to warm different areas.
  • Many heating options including gas, electricity or eco-friendly fuels such as liquid bio ethanol
  • Available in a variety of styles, shapes and sizes.

Cons

  • Looking for an outdoor heater that’s also a statement piece? Will likely need to be a higher priced portable product such as a fire table or fire pit.

In Summary

Outdoor heating comes in different styles, shapes, sizes and provides different levels of heat output. It all comes down to your needs.

Are you looking for something that will be an eye catching piece in your indoor or outdoor space? Are you looking for something that will provide warmth to a small and sheltered area, then a fire table, fire pit or fire bowl could be well suited to you.

However, if you're searching for a product that will provide high heat for a greater area, and design is not a priority for you, then you may be best to look at more functional options such as a freestanding patio heater.

If you have any questions contact one of our friendly customer care team members or visit your local SpaWorld™ showroom for some expert advice and to view our range of designer EcoSmart™ fire pits.

Disclaimer: In this article, we’ve used brand names not affiliated with Spa World™ or Vortex Leisure Pty Ltd, the parent company of Spa World™. All information, including pricing and product details, was accurate at the time of writing (May 18, 2021) and may change without notice. The following registered trademarks are owned by companies not affiliated in any way with Spa World™ or Vortex Leisure Pty Ltd: EcoSmart™ trademark is owned by MAD Design Group.

Affiliations: Vortex® Spas, Fisher™ Spas and Spa World® are trademarks owned by Vortex Leisure Pty Ltd. Spa World™ is a trademark owned by Vortex Leisure Pty Ltd. The Shadowspec brand is owned by Unicrest Group Limited and licensed for use to Spa World™ in Australia and New Zealand.

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