If you don’t like Calgary’s weather at any given time, just wait 5 minutes! Calgary’s outdoor time is precious given our long winters. And even when the chinooks roll in, it’s still a bit chilly to enjoy an hour or two on the patio.
While the springs, summers, and falls can be warm, it’s still easy to feel the chill sometimes, especially near the evening. It doesn’t mean you have to abandon your patio, though. With the right patio heating, you can enjoy your patio despite cooler winds or temperatures.
Patio heaters are a simple but effective method for distributing heat to your patio. They’re sold in many places because they’re easy to use, and they have a dedicated function; they heat your patio! They also vary wildly in fuel consumption (or power in case of electric), and size.
But the downside is that they’re hard to move if you buy a bigger one, they take up valuable space, whether portable or not, and they don’t have a lot of other uses. You can’t use them for seating or as a place to set anything, like drinks, dishes, books, etc.
Fire bowls take up less space, opening up the option to bring classic wood-burning to your patio, without the need to dig a contained pit. It can sit openly on your patio, on legs that raise the burning wood to knee level and contain flame hazards with fine screens. They’re quite economical, but potential downsides include a reliance on dry, chopped wood, which must be the same size as your fire bowl.
Fire tables leverage the strengths of providing quite a bit of function and a lot of heat. From 15,000 BTU economy size tables to heavy 90,000 BTU dining fire tables, size varies. You can enjoy heating as well as somewhere to rest your handhelds and drinks, all without being too far away to rely on the temperature.
Gazebos & Cabanas
Whether you’re enjoying a patio heater or not, a little bit of shelter can keep heat trapped near your furniture. A gazebo is a great complement to your patio heating choice because it naturally insulates heat, trapping some of the warm air. The downside is that large patio heaters can take up too much space to fit safely and comfortably inside.
While these shelters can also help your choice of heat source, each type has a heat source that’s a little mismatched. For a cabana, a fire bowl or a fire table could fit without much issue. For a gazebo, a fire bowl might present a hazard to the wood pillars, making the fire table a better choice. For either, large, free standing patio heaters won’t have sufficient room.
Alternatives to Patio Heating
As mentioned, gazebos provide a bit of insulation when compared to open air, so whether you’re heating the patio or not, you can trap some heat with the shelter they provide. Heat sources might not be your first choice, and that’s understandable. While they work for many people, some just want to know how they can better trap heat.
Opting for Wood & Wicker
Steel and aluminum patio furniture have durability advantages, and they’re less likely to attract small creatures burrowing into or chewing on solid wood, as with wood and wicker furniture. Still, there’s a lot you can do to keep critters from damaging wood patio furniture in the winter. That makes wood & wicker great options, on par or better than metal furniture for some.
Temperature wise, wood and wicker patio furniture seating doesn’t heat up or cool off as quickly, so you can enjoy the twilight hours on the patio without the chill of conduction heat loss through your skin, or radiation heat loss with the cooling air.
Umbrellas are quite efficient at trapping heat because of their tight knit material. If you’re out on the patio and you’re losing heat, you can always put your umbrella up over a seating area to save some of it.
The right cushion sets can also be quite insulating if you get them specifically for cooler weather. Coupled with your own blankets you can certainly bundle up for temperatures down to about 15 degrees celsius. Fire bowls, fire tables, and patio heaters can allow you to go even lower, comfortably, but it’s up to your preference.
Some patio chairs have minimal cushioning deliberately, to make them lightweight, and cooling for hot summer days. Matching them with cushions can insulate them quite a bit.
If you’re relying on cushions to take care of some of the insulation, they definitely need to be dry at all times. Cushion storage options grant you more flexibility, and less indoor clutter, so you can switch thick and warm cushions out for thin and light ones depending on the weather or time of day. You can even keep blankets in there to save you a trip indoors.
Preserve Heat & Generate Heat for Best Results
All the ways to preserve heat can combine with a fitting heat source to provide you with the ultimate patio warmth in cooler temperatures.
Cozy cushions with a knee height, safely contained fire bowl make a good combo. Or you might want a high fire table with bar height chairs all nested in a gazebo, or cantilever umbrella. If you’d like advice on more combinations or help planning the warmest patio yet, please don’t hesitate to reach out for a consultation! We can suggest combos that can work for your patio, not just any patio.