Almost everything you need to know about outdoor patio heaters

Originally published at:


This is like putting out a toilet paper review last spring. The best patio heater right now is the one you can get your hands on before someone else does.

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Great, let’s waste more energy and burn some more fossil fuel, just like there’s no impending climate catastrophe.

How about a sweater, and a fucken coat instead?


Off topic. The point is which one is the best at wasting more energy and fossil fuels like there’s no impending climate catastrophe.

Seriously, get a fucking coat if you want to be outside.


We lived in a big, cavernous warehouse for six years. Our winter workflow was this;

Enter. Put on additional coat. This should be sufficient if you are moving around.
If you are, say, going to sit at a desk, supplement with hot-water bottle + blanket.

If you are working into the night, use a small column heater to make a kind of janky-arse kotatsu…

If you were going to sit on the couch with other people, then, and only then, could you activate the big gas-fuelled mushroom space heater.

It was totally legit re exhaust fumes because the space was so awfully big - but the downside was that the water vapour from the combustion would condense on the inside of the sizalation in the roof and then it would rain back down overnight.

Or, as everyone always pointed out, if you wanted to warm up you’d just head outside.


To do list:

-Get patio.


Almost everything you need to know about outdoor patio heaters

To make this complete, so it would be EVERYTHING you need to know, etc., @thomdunn just needs to add the fact that patio heaters are a disgusting, disgraceful, immoral waste of fossil fuels. If you want to be warm, go indoors. If you want to be outside, wear appropriate clothing (hint: layers) for the prevailing temperature. Do not try to heat the great outdoors. Now, more than ever.

I think I may be the closest I’ve ever been to actually being disappointed in BoingBoing. :wink:


Have you ever read the posts from the BoingBoing Shop?


Have you ever read comments on the posts from the BoingBoingShop?

(You will see my trenchant views about that shit in many of them. I was referring to the disappointed list to which Rob may add people who genuinely profess to disappointment with BB, and which holds unknown terrors for those who are added. :wink: Most of us now strenuously avoid actually being disappointed - or saying so, at least.)


This is awful. What has happened to BoingBoing?


…and right on que. Take a look at the comment directly below yours…


The best patio heater is, as others have said, a fucking coat.


A similar situation taught me the value of indoor hat wearing.


Crap, I misread as “…about outdoor patio haters”!


I mean, in the context of the ongoing pandemic, people WILL be likely spending more time outside to socialize, because it’s safer. So people are going to be buying these things, which is why they’re so hard to find right now anyway. I also included a section in the article about the environmental considerations — because it’s a legitimate concern! As is social distancing.

You don’t have to harsh on me, man.


On this topic, I think I do. You didn’t need to post this and, frankly, I think you shouldn’t have. More exterior socialising due to a pandemic is no excuse.

Almost everything anyone needs to know about patio heaters is that they are just plain wrong!


ETA In the context of more outdoor socialising a post about coats, layers, thermal undies and so on would have been much more appropriate, and welcome.


I mean, sure. I don’t have to post anything. But I have a job and a premature newborn and an unemployed wife, and my editor assigned me to write about outdoor space heaters, because they are in high demand right now, whether you like it or not. So I tried to approach the topic with consideration for the environmental effects, and I did a lot of research and work in a very short period of time, and I was proud of what I pulled off given the limitations. And that’s why I posted here about it to share, in case any of the information I learned was helpful or relevant to BoingBoing folks, in any context — including the environmental one.

(Also, if we’re gonna be technical, a 1500 watt outdoor infrared electric space heater for occasional personal use isn’t that much more disastrous than a 1500 watt indoor infrared electric space heater for occasional personal use, depending on where you get your electricity from. [Restaurant usage is another issue entirely.])


I’m really sorry to hear about your personal situation, I hope things improve for you and your family soon, it sounds really tough. I didn’t read the above comments as hating on you personally though, and I and certainly didn’t intend my comment to shoot the messenger. I saw it more as people hating on patio heaters, and hating seeing them on BoingBoing. I was so surprised to see a post paint outdoor heaters in a positive light on here, that I registered just to post how awful I thought it was. It should be seen as a positive thing that so many people still care strongly enough about this place to want to protect it. We don’t know how the story came to be on BoingBoing, or who your editor is who gave you the story. We just know that this the kind of post we expect to see, or want to see here. I know strapline was altered, and now seemingly removed, but this doesn’t belong in a directory of wonderful things.

As for trying to defend them, by saying that they aren’t really that bad compared to a comparably sized indoor heater… that really is just tone deaf and wrong. An equivalent indoor heater is heating an insulated space, not just the planet. It could also get those 1500w from wind, or solar or other renewable sources. These heaters just directly burn fossil fuels into the atmosphere.

edit : I realise you can get electric outdoor heaters, which could potentially be powered from renewable sources. That certainly isn’t the norm in the cold northern bit of Europe where I am though. I guess I’m just an outdoor heater hater :slight_smile:


Thom, I do wish you all the best with your newborn. Must be very stressful.

And the editor in question is from Wirecutter. You take their dollar and write what they want. You’re a jobbing writer with rent to pay, I get that. No issues.

But didn’t you think beforehand about how at least some of the audience here at BoingBoing would react if you posted about it here? Didn’t you expect the sort of comments you got? Surely they were entirely predictable. You could have headed them off by acknowledging some environmental issues in your post here.

You say (my italics) that

…yet your post here makes absolutely zero mention of any environmental considerations at all. or even that it was covered at the Wirecutter link.

Like many, I suspect, I did not click through to read any of the Wirecutter article - I am not interested in knowing about which of these monstrosities is better than another. So forgive me for not getting to see the very end of a long article (approx 3,600 words - it took 10 pages on Word where I pasted it to get a rough word count) where you did indeed write some balanced comments and information about related environmental issues, not even touched on even in passing in your BB post.

Aside from any desire to let BBers who may be in the market for a heater know about your research, I also get that this post was at least in part attempt to drive more clicks to Wirecutter, which might indirectly benefit your standing there. Which is absolutely fair enough. But, either way, you can hardly complain when people here call you out on it, nor blame an editor on another publication.

Perhaps the lesson here is that you would have been better to flag at least some part of the environmental considerations section of your article when posting about your Wirecutter work here. We’d all have hit on patio heaters just the same, but perhaps with fewer overtones of “why the fuck is a BB contributor, of all people, extolling the virtues of things that pointlessly push heat and CO2 out into an already overloaded atmosphere merely to enhance the temporary comfort of outdoor socialisers who don’t have enough consideration for the planet to wear coats?

That was eminently avoidable.


This is a fair and thoughtful criticism. Thank you. In hindsight, I think I made a big mistake in my not wanting to rehash everything I’d already written. I simply thought “Hey I should point BBers to this other thing I wrote somewhere else,” but I didn’t want to get too navel-gazy on the self-promotion in case people didn’t care about it. And I didn’t think about how that poorly-contextualized posting would actually come across.