How much does an outdoor heater cost? (Prices, running costs, pros, cons & more…)

If you’re looking for outdoor heating, there are a variety of solutions out there for any backyard space. Depending on your situation, some options will work better than others.

In this article we talk about gas and electric heating, what to consider and how much each option might cost you. After reading this you should hopefully have enough information to weigh up the best option for your home.

Disclaimer: All figures are estimates and it will depend on the retailer and the power prices in your area. Contact your local electricity or gas provider for an accurate estimate.

What's the best type of outdoor heater?

Depending on your space, deck, patio or veranda, and the specific needs of your family there’s a variety of options for your heating needs.

You should consider the following in your research:

  • What do you need it for: Ambience, warmth, aesthetic?
  • How much do you want to spend on heating? Some options are cheaper than others.
  • Heat output: Large or small space?
  • Do you want low maintenance? Some options require regular attention, others produce heat at the touch of a button.
  • Portability: Do you want your heater to be set in a fixed position or have the flexibility of moving it around?
  • Energy or fuel source: There are several types of energy sources to choose from including wood, gas, electricity and eco-friendly biofuel, each with their own pros and cons

Once you know your space requirement, budget, heat source and style then you can move onto looking for a specific backyard heat source.

Outdoor fireplace prices, pros & cons

Wood fireplaces are great for warmth and atmosphere. Fires are a very popular option for backyard heating and provide hours of entertainment as well as excellent heat. When deciding on an outdoor fireplace consider the following pros and cons.

Pros of a wood fire:

  • Great natural heat source
  • Looks appealing
  • Environmentally friendly heatsource
  • You can collect your own wood from home or buy it cheaply
  • Can be portable if you choose a firepit or brazier

Cons of a wood fire:

  • You need to continually add more wood
  • You will need to source dry wood each year and store it
  • Can be dangerous with a young family or animals
  • You will need to tidy up and clear ashes regularly
  • You will need to monitor it and extinguish it after each use

Price range - outside fires vary in price depending on whether you buy a fire pit, build your own, hire a professional or buy a premade installed option. Look to spend between $200-$10,000 or more as well as extra for any wood and materials you will need for fuelling the fire.

Gas fireplace prices, pros & cons

Gas fires are a great low maintenance option as there’s no stoking the fire, adding wood or cleaning up ashes. If you want a low maintenance heat source then a gas fire is a great start.

There are three different types of gas heaters: Radiant gas heaters, convection heaters that use a fan to circulate the warm air and radiant convectors that combine the two.

Pros of a gas fireplace: Gas fires look great A variety of different types (radiant, convection and convectors) Low maintenance turn on and off easily Safer for young families Easily portable and can be moved around

Cons of a gas fireplace: Not as warm as a wood fire You will need to buy gas for the specific fire you choose Can be affected by wind and harsh conditions The gas can smell and put some people off

Price range - gas fires range in price from $200 for a smaller option to $4,000 plus for a built in gas heater. Depending on what gas you need you may need to spend an additional $50 to 500 on the gas a few times a year.

Gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel available. This makes gas fireplaces environmentally friendly (and possibly a better choice than wood burners, if there are local city council restrictions on pollution). The flames are safe and they don't spit sparks or produce hot embers.

Freestanding or portable heater prices, pros & cons

Freestanding gas and electric heaters (Including portable, umbrella style, and tabletop patio heaters) are a great option for outdoor heating.

Pros of a freestanding heater:

  • Can be a centre piece for other backyard furniture
  • There are a variety of styles and sizes for any space
  • No installation required
  • Can be moved around
  • Comes in electric and gas options

Cons of a freestanding heater:

  • Less directional heat, easily affected by wind
  • Takes up space so may not suit smaller spaces
  • Not as safe for young families

Price range - depending on size, style and brand you can purchase a freestanding outdoor heater for between $150-2,500.

Which is cheaper to run a gas or electric infrared heater?

Heating with highly energy efficient gas, like propane or bioethanol has less impact on your heating bill and the environment . Gas products produce fewer emissions than electrical appliances, have lower operating and maintenance costs and are the cleanest burning, lowest emissions fossil fuel.

However, if an electric heater is what you are after there are a range of energy efficient options that are environmentally friendly. Infrared heaters use 30 to 40 % less energy than fan based heaters. Compared to other forms of electric heating such as portable radiant space heaters, infrared heaters are much more efficient. Therefore, they save on electricity use and costs.

How much do outdoor gas heaters cost to run?

There are many factors that will impact how much your gas heater costs to run. If you want to reduce your heating costs consider the size of your gas heater, backyard location and energy efficency.

The average modern day “efficient” gas heater will use approximately 1kg of gas propane/lpg or bioethanol per 12kW of power. A typical 12kW backyard gas heater will burn gas at a rate of 1230g/h when used on its maximum setting. This means a 13kg gas cylinder will last for about 10 hours of use – or significantly more if you use the heater on a lower setting.

Average gas cost per hour (estimates based on numbers collected March 2022):

  • Natural gas $0.28
  • Propane $0.70

You can purchase both natural gas (bioethanol or ethanol) and Propane at mostar hardware stores across Australia. These numbers are based on a moderate heat setting, a medium sized heater and use in normal weather conditions.

Note: Propane may be more expensive but burns at a slower rate than natural gas.

Nova Fire Bowl

How can I reduce my gas heating costs?

There are many ways to lower your gas use when heating your outdoor living area and it can be as simple as where you place it, what gas you use and how much you turn up the heat.

Here’s some tips for reducing your gas heating costs:

  • Use a high efficiency gas like bioethanol or propane
  • Protect your gas heater from the wind by placing furniture around it
  • Pick a medium heat setting and try not to turn it up and down once burning

Depending on your budget you may find spending a little more for your heater will help reduce your cost as well. There’s plenty of companies that sell environmentally and budget friendly heaters for your outdoor living space.

In summary

Now you know the different types of heaters available in Australia, you can decide on the right heaters for your outdoor living area and family. If you want a gas or electric heater there are plenty of options available no matter your budget.

If you are interested in learning more about outdoor heating you can check out our articles below.

As always, if you need any more help or advice, feel free to drop into your local Spa World Showroom or give us a call.

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