Are Outdoor Heaters Bad for the Environment? Find Out Here!

Using an outdoor heater is a fantastic option when you need to heat up areas of your garden, especially when the weather turns a little colder or when trying to stop areas from getting damp.

Outdoor heaters are typically powered either by electricity or gas and finding the right heater for you depends on your needs.

If you do decide to get an outdoor heater, you might want to know if they are bad for the environment? Electric heaters are far more green when it comes to their environmental impact.

In this article, we will discuss why this is and other options you may want to check out before purchasing your outdoor heater.

Smoke being emitted from a chimney to environment

Why are electric heaters better for the environment?

Electric heaters use infrared technology or heating elements, depending on the type of electric heater you use and the Kw rating you will have different effects. 

But apart from producing heat, there is no other by-product, unlike gas heaters that produce Co2.

Obviously, electric heaters do in fact use electricity, this needs to be taken into account when deciding the environmental impact of your heater. But they are often seen as safer by consumers since there is no risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

People often fail to take into account what happens to the electric heater once the element stops working, due to the nature of these heaters, it takes an electrician to be able to open one up and repair the heater.

The elements are not made to be replaced and the heater does in fact need to be thrown away accordingly, this adds to the environmental impact. There are many different models of electric patio heaters, each with their pros and cons.

Short wave electric infrared heaters

People are often surprised to hear that there are many different types of electric heaters, short wave infrared being one of them.

Short wave infrared uses the airwaves to heat the subject, much like how the Sun heats us up. The advantage being that you dont need direct airflow and, providing there is no obstruction between the heater and the person, as soon as the heater is turned on the heat can be felt.

The heat that radiates from a short wave heater is more of a refreshing heat and penetrates the skin to warm the person up.

Because the heat is imminent you can turn the heater off when there is nobody near it, and when someone or something requires warming you can flip the switch and get instant heat.

The Basics of Infrared Heating

Long and medium wave electric infrared heaters

Long and medium wave infrared heaters generally cost considerably less than short wave infrared heaters and can make for a good budget build, but with the cheaper price comes some disadvantages.

Long and medium short wave heaters, heat the air around them and thus do not offer immediate heat and in fact, need time to heat the air in the area you have it situated. 

If you put a heater out into the garden you will find that the heat dissipates quite quickly, add wind to the scenario and you will see that using a long or medium electric infrared heater in a garden is not a good idea.

This type of heater is better suited for indoor use such as drying out clothing, or a greenhouse for heat during frosty periods. Some models can be left on overnight which can be a great option for a backup in emergencies.

Heat lamps

You can also get heat lamps that operate using an element very similar to a household lightbulb, but it radiates extreme white light that can give off the heat of over 2000 degrees celsius.

These elements have a coating that is generally red or gold to stop people from being injured by the intense white lighting that emits from the element.

Like the short wave infrared heater, you can instantly feel the heat when the heat lamp is turned on, but you do have to be in quite close proximity if you are using a heat lamp in very severe temperatures.

This can also be a great option for heating outdoors in the winter or as a mounted wall heater.

Some heat lamps allow you to be able to remove the heating element and replace it when it comes to the end of the bulb’s life, this is an obvious advantage over the other lamps previously mentioned.

If you decide to use an electric heater you need to take into account how you are going to power it, make sure the area you use has a power outlet and any cables are taped down or covered to prevent any tripping hazards.

A waterproof cover should be used to make sure no moisture gets into the point of power.

Gas Outdoor Heaters

Finally, the last type of outdoor heater you can get is the gas-powered heater, this can be fuelled using gas bottles or canisters that can be bought or hired from your local gas station or hardware store.

Even though gas burners aren’t the greener option they do have a use for those that require a more remote setting and do not have access to an electric output.

Shot of a typical terrace gas heater against blue sky

A gas burner produces heat from the naked flame and this can have a more pleasing look to it depending on the scene the user is trying to set, for example, they look nice in an outside bar experience.

Gas-powered burners do need to be used with extreme caution as they do have a naked flame and if tipped over can cause a serious incident.

When using gas-powered outdoor heaters, make sure to them attached and secured to an area that is out of reach to smaller children.

Gas outdoor heaters are the cheaper alternative to outdoor heating, but the cost of refills needs to be taken into account and the actual efficiency is quite poor.

When looking at gas vs electric for patio heaters, there are many variables to take into account other than just the fuel source.

Gas-powered heaters must be used in a well-ventilated area and because of this a lot of the heat they produce is lost.


The use of outdoor heating is a great idea when entertaining guests in an evening, but before going out and buying one you need to take quite a lot of things into account.

Make sure to check for problems with getting power to your heater, also check on the weather conditions, and how you plan on protecting your heater from the elements.