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How to Heat Outdoor Dining Spaces

Tansun Infrared Heaters Heating Outdoor Dining Area

In this article we look at the options available to heat outdoor eating spaces efficiently.

Despite the volatile financial climate that many businesses have become accustomed to over recent years, the bar and restaurant sector remains a booming segment of the economy, both in the UK and Europe.

Demand for unique, stylish, themed bars and restaurants has never been higher and with this has come a growth in the popularity of outdoor dining areas.

Whether offering dining under awnings, parasols or retractable canopies, there is one particular challenge that all premises face - how to heat outdoor dining spaces effectively.

So, what options do you have when seeking to keep your diners warm?

Avoiding heat loss & loss of floor space

Perhaps the biggest decision you make when considering outdoor heating solutions is whether to choose an electric or gas solution.

In terms of gas, the choice is largely limited to patio-heater type products. The main problem with these is that the heat isn’t directed very well so a large part of the heat (some estimate as much as 70%) goes to heat the sky. This isn’t good for your pocket or the environment.

Another drawback is that they require a large amount of floor space - which comes at a premium in the high-end restaurant and dining sector. The safety aspect is also an important consideration, as with all gas appliances. There have been incidents of customers being burnt by gas heaters toppling over.

With the drawbacks of gas, it is not surprising that bar and restaurant owners are increasingly turning to electric heating solutions.

Quartz Infrared heating - up to 96% efficient

Electric quartz Infrared heating is possibly the most efficient alternative to other established heating methods..

In contrast to other heating solutions, an electric infrared heater only heats surfaces rather than the air around it. So it warms diners using outdoor areas but doesn’t heat the air around them. It works by the same principle by which the sun makes us feel warm, without the harmful UV radiation. Like the sun’s rays, infrared heating offers an attractive, gentle and natural feeling heat that warms outdoor areas extremely effectively.

One of the huge benefits of infrared heating is its energy efficiency, especially in the outdoor setting. Whereas other outdoor heaters typically achieve 40% efficiency, a modern infrared heater can reach efficiency levels of 96%.

What to look for when choosing an infrared heating solution

  • IP rating. If you are planning to install infrared heating in an outdoor or exposed area, choosing an IP rated product is essential to make sure that water and moisture in the air cannot cause damage or danger. Although IP24 is considered sufficient for most situations where heaters are under an awning or canopy), all Tansun heaters are manufactured to IP55, giving you complete confidence in their ability to withstand the weather. 
  • Reflector. There are various options available for reflectors which can give a different tone depending on what is required for the environment. Gold, for example, is highly effective in reducing glare.
  • Heat Coverage Area. This will allow you to match the product type to your specific needs.
  • Longevity. With an important investment such as this, be sure to choose a solution that is built to last. Tansun products, for example, come with a two year manufacturing guarantee as standard. The replaceable lamp elements that we use have an impressive lifespan of around 7000hrs. In fact, our heater bodies and reflectors have been known to last for over 20 years!

Tansun’s solutions for heating outdoor eating areas


Our flagship  Monaco infrared heater is ideally suited to the outdoor dining environment. With its low glare and the option to be manufactured in any RAL colour, it is unobtrusive and can blend into the unique character of any dining experience. Available as a single, double or even triple unit, the Monaco is an exceptional solution for even the most challenging of situations. The Monaco’s ease of installation has also made it a popular choice amongst installers for the restaurant dining sector.

As well as being effective and practical, the Tansun range is an economical alternative to established gas and electric alternatives, offering substantial advantages through reduced energy conversion wastage and energy savings through the elimination of pre-heating.

About Tansun

Established in 1982, Tansun is a world leader in radiant heating and has a wealth of experience in the hospitality sector, working with leading bars and restaurants as well as suppliers to the trade.

For some examples of our solutions in action in outdoor eating environments, see our case studies -

Piccolino, Birmingham  Boisdale of Canary Wharf

We welcome direct enquiries from bars and restaurants as well as distributors and installers to the sector. To request further information or arrange for a member of the Tansun team to contact you, call us on 0121 580 6200 or use our online contact form and a member of the team will get back to you as soon as possible. 

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