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Infrared is the future of outdoor heaters

The hospitality sector has been able to capitalise on outside areas because of increasingly efficient methods of outdoor patio heating. Restaurant, pub and cafe owners can add to their number of covers and offer their customers pleasurable alfresco facilities extending way beyond the summer months. This can transform the economic performance of the property.


Patio heating has enabled alfresco hospitality to become an increasingly viable and popular feature and the sight of customers enjoying their wining and dining in the great outdoors is now familiar throughout the UK. This “cafe society” trend has undoubtedly been stimulated by the indoor smoking ban but that is only part of the story.

Being able to eat and drink outside is relaxing for customers and especially appealing to families with children. From the proprietor’s point of view, using gardens, patios and terraces increases capacity, often providing a huge boost to the number of customers that can be accommodated and the versatility of services the establishment can provide.

Wall-mounted gas-fired infrared radiant heaters are a particularly attractive option for outdoor heating, creating consistent, reliable and comfortable temperatures throughout patio areas. Unlike conventional mushroom patio heaters, they are not intrusive and do not take up valuable terrace space, so the potential for more covers and open areas is created.

These heaters act on the same principle as the sun, generating radiation, which is turned into heat when it reaches people and objects in the vicinity. This means that the air is not heated directly. Heat is therefore only applied where it is needed.

There are further features which make wall-mounted gas-fired infrared radiant heaters preferable to mushroom heaters for the hospitality sector and its customers. These include:

  • They can offer energy savings of over 60% when compared with mushroom heaters, therefore contributing both cost and environmental benefits.
  • Unlike LPG-fuelled mushroom heaters, they have no gas bottles requiring to be stored and renewed.
  • Comfortable heat can be activated by a single switch and felt almost immediately.
  • Heat is distributed uniformly even across large terraces without the separated hot spots associated with mushroom heaters.
  • Wind protection systems have been developed for wall-mounted radiant heating products that can ensure that the heater’s flame is almost completely wind resistant – a great asset particularly in coastal areas.

Experience has shown that installation and operation costs of wall-mounted gas-fired infrared radiant heaters can be frequently paid off within a few months through increased revenues from enhanced customer facilities. Securely mounted and made from robust materials, these heaters can withstand the kind of weather that would deter even the hardiest alfresco customer. Easy to install and requiring minimal maintenance, they are a tremendous asset for all types of hospitality venue.

Steve Sherman is managing director at Schwank

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