How to Choose The Best Parasol Heater
When the sun sets on a summer’s day spent in the garden, the temperature seems to instantly drop. It’s all too tempting to call it a night and head inside.
A parasol heater can extend your evening, taking the edge off chilly summer evenings. In fact, the most powerful parasol heaters can even be used in the spring or autumn months, allowing you to use your garden year-round!
The benefits of a parasol heater are easy to see. Many of us don’t make the most of our gardens, simply because the weather doesn’t ever seem to be on our side. But there’s nothing more wholesome and heartwarming than huddling under your parasol with loved ones well into the evening – glass of wine or cup of tea in hand!
Finding the best parasol heater for your specific garden can take a bit of thought, but the following tips should help you to make an informed decision.
What is a Parasol Heater?
A parasol heater is a heater designed to be installed underneath a parasol canopy. They usually attach to the mast and clamp shut as the parasol is collapsed down.
Parasol heaters are almost always electric, usually using infrared heat to warm people and objects, as opposed to the space around you. This means the surrounding air will stay cool, but you will be toasty warm! This also gives them the benefit of being unaffected by wind or very cold temperatures. There’s also the option of a halogen heater, which warms the area underneath the parasol.
Parasol heaters are usually made up of 3 or 4 bulbs positioned at different angles to warm those underneath it.
Parasol vs Patio Heaters
Parasol heaters differ from patio heaters which tend to have more variety in terms of design and heating method. Parasol heaters attach to the mast of your parasol, while patio heaters are commonly freestanding, wall mounted or table mounted.
While parasol heaters are electric, patio heaters can be gas powered. This gives them the advantage of being able to be used anywhere, no matter how far from a power source.
The primary benefit of a parasol heater over a patio heater is that they are stored out of the way. While patio heaters will take up some space on your patio or table, parasol heaters are tucked neatly out of the way. This also makes them safer to use around children and pets, as they won’t be able to reach the heating element nor tamper with the controls.
Benefits of an Electric Heater
Electric heaters use ‘radiant heat’ and are often in the form of infrared or halogen lamps. The primary benefit of electric heaters is that they are lightweight and versatile. They are cheaper to run than gas heaters and operate very quietly.
Gas heaters on the other hand are much more expensive. They are unsuitable for use underneath a parasol, so instead take up space on your patio. There’s a lot of upkeep with gas heaters, with purchasing, storing and disposing of gas canisters just one of things you’ll need to think about.
The only downside of an electric heater is that it needs to be located near to a power source. If your garden furniture and parasol is situated far away from your power socket, you’ll need to purchase a heater with a long lead. Unfortunately, using an extension cable is rarely recommended.
Calculate how much it will cost you to run an electric heater:
A common concern with electric appliances is not being able to ‘see’ how much money you are spending whilst using them. Fortunately, it’s very straightforward to work out how much it will cost you to run an electric heater.
- First you need to know how much your energy provider charges you for 1kWh. For this example we’ll assume that they charge 18.54p / hWh which was the 2019 average
- Find out the wattage of the heater. Most electric heaters have more than one heat setting and use a different wattage for each setting. For this example, we will use a setting of 800W
- Divide the wattage by 1000 to work out how many kilowatts it uses per hour. In this example, at 800W the heater would use 0.8kW/h
- Multiply the price you pay per kW/h (18.54p) by the number of kilowatts the heater uses in one hour. This will give the cost of running the heater for one hour.
Using this method, we can see that running an 800W heater for an hour would cost 15p per hour. Running a 2500W heater for an hour would cost 46p per hour.
Infrared vs Halogen
One decision you’ll need to make is whether to opt for an infrared or halogen lamp.
Infrared lamps operate using electromagnetic waves. Energy is released from the heater, which is absorbed by surrounding objects like people and furniture. Energy dissipates, meaning you and your guests will enjoy the same level of warmth.
This is highly efficient, as no energy is wasted trying to warm up the air. This also means they won’t be affected by wind, and the warmth generated is instant.
Halogen heaters on the other hand produce a fierce and aggressive warmth, but to a smaller area. You may need to sit very near to a halogen heater to feel the benefit which, if your parasol is very tall, isn’t possible. Unlike infrared heaters, halogen heaters warm the space as opposed to people and objects.
Halogen heaters are very efficient, heating a small area very effectively. They are also eco-friendly, safe and easy to install.
What to Look For in a Parasol Heater
Adjustable Power Settings
While patio heaters allow you to control the amount of heat emitted from the heating element, parasol heaters usually have a simpler adjustability mechanism. Those with multiple bulbs often give you the option to turn on 1, a couple or all of the bulbs. Those with 4 bulbs usually allow you to turn on either 2 or 4.
However, this isn’t always the case and with some, it’s all or nothing. If it’s just you underneath the parasol, you may end up using more electricity than you need.
Keeping Safe with Parasol Heaters
Parasol heaters are naturally safer than other heaters on the market, as they are generally installed out of reach. Infrared heaters don’t get as hot as conventional heaters, but they will still have a metal shield or cage covering the heating element.
One safety feature to look out for is tip over protection. This means if the heater is knocked or falls, it will instantly turn off.
You should also look for a durable, robust design that clamps tightly to the parasol mast. Parasol heaters can weigh up to 5kgs so can be very dangerous if they fall. Ensure you follow all the manufacturer’s instructions when it comes to installation, and read reviews before you make a purchase.
Parasol heaters are specifically designed for outdoor use, and often come with an IP rating. However, these can vary between models so it’s worth knowing what to look for. An IP34 rating, for instance, means the heater is protected from water spray from any direction. An IPX3 rating on the other hand, means the heater is protected from water sprayed at up to 60° from the vertical.
Most parasol heaters can simply be collapsed down with your parasol and left underneath. However, this is not always the case, and some may need to be stored inside when not in use. While most are splashproof, not many are fully waterproof.
As already mentioned, the cable length can vary hugely between models.
Cable lengths tend to range from 1.5m to over 5m. If your furniture is far away from a power socket, you’ll need a cable length to accommodate. Using an extension lead is rarely recommended.
Purchasing a cable which is too long will result in a messy wire across your patio or lawn.
Parasol Heater FAQs
Are parasol heaters safe?
Heat and fabric don’t tend to mix very well, so it’s essential that you purchase a quality model to guarantee safety. I have only recommended models from good manufacturers.
Parasol heaters are designed specifically for installation underneath parasols, and for this reason they should come with reliable safety features.
I highly recommend checking the manufactures’ guidelines when it comes to installation and use of your heater.
Will a parasol heater attract mosquitos?
The worry with any outdoor heater, especially in the summer months, is that they will attract mosquitos.
However, this is actually a common misconception. Mosquitos are not attracted to warmth or heat generally, but to CO2. So, when animals breathe out, they sense it.
An electric heater shouldn’t draw any more mosquitos to your garden. However, a gas heater which burns propane or butane gas will produce CO2 which can attract mosquitoes. Parasol heaters generally are electric powered, meaning you shouldn’t have any more of an issue with mosquitos than you normally would!