Outdoor Electric Heaters
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Outdoor Electric Heaters are fast becoming the standard products used both in the home and commercial environments such as pubs, clubs, bars, cafes and restaurants, wishing to benefit from instant heat outdoors as and when it is needed. The range of Outdoor Electric Heaters has increased significantly over the last few years and one can now find fully waterproof electric heaters that can be either wall mounted, parasol mounted or completely free standing.
To go with this new range of products there is also a selection of quality controllers and switches to efficiently operate them.
Outdoor Electric Heaters make sense, not just commercial sense but also environmental sense. Commercially, the cost of Outdoor Electric Heaters is about 9 pence per kilowatt per hour and with the average outdoor heater using about 2 kilowatts of power, a typical pub or club, with say two of these heaters, will only be consuming electricity at a rate of 36 pence an hour. To make a direct comparison, two equivalent gas outdoor heaters will be costing something in the order of £2.50 per hour in gas alone to run, so environmental Outdoor Electric Heaters are certainly the way to go.
Why are they so much cheaper to run?
The answer to that question is relatively simple. The infrared heat derived from the quartz heaters is beamed rather like that of a light in a torch or flood lamp and therefore can be directed onto the people that need the heat, as apposed to gas patio heaters which send out heat in 360°, much of which goes straight up into the air. The other significant difference is that 90% of the heat from an electric heater is infrared and therefore heats the person rather than the air in between the person and the heater, with their gas counterparts only 20% of the heat is truly infrared, in which case, 80% of it is simply heating the air in between the user and the heater. This is highly inefficient, extremely wasteful and not at all environmentally sound.
Outdoor Electric Heaters also have a much better safety record than their gas counterparts. This is largely due to the fact that the majority are mounted high, well out of the reach of probing fingers where they can provide their heat silently and efficiently without interference. We have had reports of accidents with gas heaters, where they have simply been knocked over by accident and fallen onto unsuspecting victims who have suffered severe burns as a result. In this day and age when all businesses are having to take much more seriously the health and safety issues, Outdoor Electric Heating is a far safer option.
As I mentioned earlier there is a large selection of products available, however, these can be simply grouped into a few categories. Firstly, is the heater waterproof or weatherproof? The IP rating of each heater gives an answer to this question. Any IP rating consists of two numbers, the second number in the sequence relates to the water ingress of the product. Any product where the second number is four or above is effectively waterproof and entirely safe for full outdoor use. On our website we clearly mark each of these products with a water droplet symbol and all products marked with a symbol can be mounted with no protection whatsoever and operated in any weather conditions. We have seen demonstrations of products from Burda working quite happily inside a fish tank full of water and Tansun similarly on their recent exhibition stand had their system set up to squirt water all over the heater element when switched on. Star Progetti have issued us a video showing their Helios Top products working without a glass cover outdoors with a child spraying a hosepipe full of water all over it. Clearly all these products are truly water and weather resistant. Customers should take care when considering if they need a weatherproof product as even if a heater is placed under a parasol or a substantial awning, it will inevitably still pick up a substantial amount of moisture from the morning dew, in the same way as most of the things we leave outdoors over night end up wet in the morning.
Wall Mounted Patio Heaters
The next key thing to consider when buying Outdoor Electric Heater is the amount of power needed to provide the level of outdoor heat required in any given circumstance. As a rule of thumb, we would say a minimum of 1 kilowatt of heat for every 5 square meters, however, there is a big caveat with that calculation! It is important to consider the extremes of when the heater is going to be used, if the Outdoor Electric Heater is being used only in the spring, summer and autumn the amount of heat needed will be considerably less than if it is also required to work in the extremes of winter. Clearly, if one wishes to heat, say a pub smoking patio when it is -4° outside in the middle of February, a considerable amount more heat is needed to achieve the given comfort level. More powerful heaters will project the heat at greater distance, therefore if you are looking to heat a long narrow area and the heater can only be placed on the narrow wall you will need a lot more power from that one specific heater to push the heat in that direction. The Tansun Bermuda is an excellent example of a heater that will project its heat a great distance away from the source and is excellent for such environments.
Inevitably, the aesthetics of a product have a major part to play in, if it's suited to a given environment. Burda's Term 2000 range is a class act and are considered by many to be the 'Rolls Royce' of the industry. They are made from solid aluminum cases and look particularly modern and state of the art. Burda are designed and manufactured in Germany, which perhaps explains why they have gone for this stylish and classy approach. They are more expensive kilowatt for kilowatt than their counterparts; however, this hasn't stopped them from becoming one of the most popular heaters that we sell.
In pub environments, a parasol mounted heater is often an easier option, however, thought must be given to what happens to these heaters overnight as often they are in situations where they can be prone to being stolen - clearly being attached to a parasol is no match for being bolted to a brick wall! That being said, there are various options available that attach either to the strutts of an umbrella / parasol or clamp onto the main pole itself. The Outdoor Electric Heaters that clamp onto the pole itself, such as the Heatmaster and the Helios Jolly Tris can be very effective indeed. If the parasol is taken down at night then the heaters would need to be removed to enable this on each occasion. In these instances another option is the Helios Top, a small neat waterproof heater that clamps onto the struts of a parasol and in many instances can stay in situ even when the parasol is closed.
Third option is completely free standing Outdoor Electric Heaters. These are almost all weatherproof and in the right environment look terrific; however, one needs to find a suitable means of supplying them with electricity, especially as in most commercial environments health and safety dictates you cannot simple leave a heavy cable running over ground to be plugged in. They also tend to be quite expensive compared with their wall or parasol mounted counterparts.
We are often asked what height wall mounted Electric Outdoor Heaters should be placed at. There is no hard and fast rule for this as most of our outdoor heaters are supplied with brackets that allow the heaters to be angled downwards for the customers that require the heat. As the heat is largely directed towards them with little escaping behind, one does not normally have to worry too much about the heater effecting the ceiling or the canopy under which it is mounted. The other consideration is how far from the ground should an Outdoor Electric Heater should be mounted, well again safety is the only concern and clearly it is better if it can't be touched or interfered with by customers or their children, however, that being said it is quite acceptable in many pubs to have a roaring log fire throughout the winter and clearly this is at ground level!
Where financially practical we would always recommend customers buy heaters that can generate enough heat for their worst given scenario and then buy a controller that allows them to adjust the amount of heat given out. In the same way as you would rarely turn the volume on your stereo up to maximum, similarly an Outdoor Electric Heater or indeed heaters connected to a variable controller will allow you or your customers to vary the heat emitted on an instantaneous basis. Time lag switches have become a very popular accessory. These allow customers to turn the Outdoor Electric Heaters on at will. The switches are programmed to allow the heaters to remain on for a fixed period of time usually set between 10-30 minutes, after which the heater will automatically be turn itself off, thus saving any wasted heat and of course wasted electricity. Another option is a PIR (Passive Infrared) controller which will automatically switch the heater on when it detects the presence of a person within its given vicinity, this again can be programmed for 10-30 minutes duration and of course if the person is still within its presence it won't switch off at all.
All the signs are that Outdoor Electric Heaters are here to stay and they can transform any drab and dreary courtyard into a warm and welcoming environment in which people can enjoy so much more of the outdoors than was ever previously possible. In England we are perhaps too used to only using our gardens, patios and courtyards for a very limited period in the year after which they are battened down and the doors closed again until next summer, however, now this is no longer the case. More and more owners of pubs and clubs are finding that by utilising their outdoor space for a much greater period of the year they can dramatically increase the revenues gained from their businesses. This has become all the more pertinent since the recent smoking ban where those with foresight are making sure they provide comfortable space for their smoking customers to frequent. Even in home environment many smokers are choosing to smoke outdoors in their own back gardens or patios. With an Electric Outdoor Heater they can have instant heat as soon as the switch is flicked, which can be turned off again in an instant. This was never possible with gas patio heaters which I strongly suspect have had their day.