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We would all love to spend as much time in the garden as possible but unfortunately, in the UK, we only have a small window of opportunity where we can enjoy the warmth of the day until late into the evening. There is a huge array of patio heaters and garden heaters on the market, however, there is a garden tabletop heater that you may want to consider before you spend your hard-earned cash. In this article, we will tell you which is the best outdoor tabletop heater for your garden and why.

What is the Best Tabletop Heater?

Ten years ago I was attending a party and the host ushered me into a large, very warm, reception room. As I got closer to the coffee table, it became apparent that all the heat was coming from a small flickering flame in a small glass box, which was only about 8 inches square. This was my introduction to Bioethanol Heaters. I could not believe the heat that the little flickering real flame was producing.

I won’t bore you with the conversation but suffice to say, this mighty small heater had captured my interest, not only as a homeroom heater but as a garden tabletop heater too.

What is a Bioethanol Fire or Heater?

Bioethanol fires or Bioethanol heaters come in many different designs, from simple but stylish glass boxes to full-on contemporary garden heaters. Hidden by the stylish exteriors is a small fuel receptacle that holds the bioethanol fuel. The fuel is then lit with a lighter where it produces instant heat.

Are Bioethanol Fires any good?

Bioethanol fires make the best tabletop heaters because they can be used anywhere, from outside in the garden to inside the home, in any room, producing impressive amounts of heat.

The fires are easy to light, just like lighting a candle and easy to extinguish too, simply slide the snuffer over the flame.

The fires are smokeless and almost completely odourless and do not produce any soot or ash. They do produce a small amount of water vapour and very small amounts of CO2, this is comparable to the amount of CO2 a person produces during natural breathing. Don’t forget plants love CO2!

  • Can be placed in the centre of the table where all the guests can benefit and can see each other.
  • Can be used indoors in the winter.
  • Pleasant warming flame creates a lovely atmosphere.
  • Creates a warm zone around a table.
  • Relaxing oils and fragrances can be added to the fuel.
  • Can be used under parasols and gazebos safely.
  • Small enough to be unobtrusive.
  • Can be used on glass and wood tables

How much Heat do Bioethanol Fires Produce?

Bioethanol heaters come in various sizes and their heat output is measured in BTUs and often quoted in Kilowatts(KW), in just the same way as patio heaters or radiators in your home are measured.

Bioethanol heaters can produce heat that ranges from 1 kW (3500 Btus) – 3 kW (10200 Btus) for tabletop garden heaters to full-on garden firepits that produce heat at around 5KW or 17000 Btu. The heat output is controlled by using a slider.

How much do Bioethanol Heaters Cost to Run?

Bioethanol heaters or fires use approximately 200 ml of fuel per hour. Bioethanol fuel is available in one litre bottles which cost approximately £3 per litre (when bought in multipacks). It is worth taking into consideration that, bioethanol heaters and fire pits come in different sizes.

This means that a small tabletop garden heater may hold 1 Litre of fuel, however, a fire pit could hold 4 litres of fuel. Bearing in mind that the fuel will burn at the same rate, the 1 litre fire could cost £3 for 5 hours, whereas a 4 litre fire pit could cost as much as £12 for 5 hours burn time.

How do Bioethanol Heaters Compare to Electric and Gas Powered Garden Tabletop Heaters

  • Electric A 2 kW electric garden heater costs 37p per hour or £1.33 for 5 hours.
  • Gas 62p per hour or £3.10 for 5 hours. Based on a 3 kW gas-powered tabletop garden heater.
  • Bioethanol Heaters 2ooml per hour, £3.00 for 5 hours, using a 2 kW fire.
FuelHeat OutputCost per Hour
Bioethanol Fire2 kW60 pence
Gas Tabletop Heater3 kW62 pence
Electric Garden Heater2 kW37 pence

What Tabletop Garden Heaters are Available?

Gas-powered and electric tabletop heaters may work out cheaper to run but they are not cheap to buy. The heaters are also quite large when placed on a table. With an average height of nearly 1 metre and a base footprint of around 350 mm, these heaters can take up considerable space on a garden table.

Take into consideration that the power cable or gas pipe (for non-internal gas bottles) draped over the table could become a serious hazard in the dark.

Tabletop Garden Heater Conclusion

If budget is important then electricity is definitely the cheapest way to heat your patio, but there is a downside, halogen heaters may produce heat but the light that they emit is not that comfortable to look at and if the heater has a fan, this could be noisy.

Gas-powered tabletop garden heaters produce impressive heat, more so than any other garden patio heater. However, they are not the best heaters to have on your patio table. This is because you have to look through the heater when talking to friends on the opposite side of the table. The cost is comparable with that of a bioethanol fire.

Bioethanol heaters, actually tick all the boxes, they produce impressive amounts of heat, they are very relaxing as they have a real flame and they are not obtrusive. They can also be used anywhere in the home throughout the year.

Where can I use a Bioethanol Heater/Fire?

You can use bioethanol heaters anywhere, literally anywhere! They do not need chimneys. Where Bioethanol fires can be used:

  • In the garden.
  • Patio tables under garden parasol or umbrella.
  • Under Gazebos.
  • Use In any room in the house.
  • In caravans.
  • In Boats.
  • Outside igloos.

What is Bioethanol and is it dangerous?

Bioethanol fuel is eco-friendly and manufactured by fermenting vegetables and using enzymes to convert the sugars in the vegetables into alcohol. This is then distilled and dried to create the fuel. The only products produced when burning bioethanol fuel in your home or garden is Heat, Water Vapour and trace amounts of Carbon Dioxide.

The fuel is not dangerous, However, common sense and care are needed, as with any flammable liquid. Bioethanol fires have real flames… Fire so safety precautions should be observed.