Tips for installing an outdoor heater

Winter is coming. That needn’t stop you dining and socialising outdoors, though. An outdoor electric heater will keep you warm.

Some facts

  • the longer the heater, the wider the spread of heat
  • the minimum mounting height is 2 metres; optimum height is 2.2 metres and higher
  • with electric outdoor heaters, the wattage determines the correct mounting height and area covered.

What are your conditions?

First of all, make sure your heater is certified for outdoor use. If you are exposed to coastal conditions, use a heatermade of marine-grade 316 stainless steel — the same as boats use. Otherwise, materials (screws, nuts and other fittings) will corrode and make your heater look pretty shoddy.

Outdoor gas heaters or electric radiant heaters

Outdoor heaters generally run on gas or electricity. Outdoor gas heating heats the air, which is then circulated in the area you want to heat. It’s not very precise, and areas beyond where you want to heat can get heated, too. Heat can also be shifted by the wind.

Electric radiant heaters are more directional. They don’t heat the air. Instead, the heat is absorbed by people and objects and then radiated to those close by.

Where to put your heater

The most efficient place to position a heater is on a wall below the soffit of your house. Measure the area for heating length x width x height to the underside of the soffit. Then direct the heater down towards the area you wish to heat, like a table, etc.

More powerful heaters should be mounted higher; they will provide a bigger spread. If you are considering mounting a heater above a table, think about your guests. When a person who is 1.8 metres (6 foot) tall is sitting, their head is 1.4 metres above the floor. So, if the heater is mounted at 2.4 metres high, it is just 1 metre above their head — ouch.

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