Find a Stockist near you

What Gas Bottle Do I Need for a Patio Heater?

There’s nothing better than a day spent relaxing in the sun or a meal shared outside in your garden with friends and family. As the evening draws in and the sun disappears, you might find that the air turns a little too cool for comfort. You don’t want to let your enjoyable evening get cut short just because there’s a nip in the air, so it’s time to fire up the patio heater and get everyone gathered around for a warm and cosy night. With any luck, the Great British weather will hold up, and you’ll have many evenings spent around your patio heater without the threat of rain. You’ll likely be using a lot of gas to keep you and your guests warm all night. Before you start reaching out to bottled gas suppliers to keep your patio heater burning all year round, you first need to know what to look for in patio gas bottles.


Gas Patio Heater at night


How do Patio Heaters Work?

Patio heaters may look space age and futuristic, but the actual functionality is straightforward. All patio heaters in the UK run on portable LPG cylinders of either propane or butane. Gas from a connected cylinder is pumped up through a hose that runs up the length of the heater; once it reaches the burner, it is ignited and produces a warming flame.

To help dispense the gas safely and efficiently, a gas regulator connects the hose to the cylinder. The gas regulator controls the pressure at which gas is released from the cylinder. There are many different types available, and you must pick the correct gas cylinder for your patio heater’s regulator. Propane and butane need to be released under different pressure levels, meaning their gas regulators are not interchangeable without swapping the regulator.


Propane, Butane or Patio Gas?

Propane and butane are the two most well-known fuels when it comes to domestic LPG usage. Propane typically comes in a red cylinder; whist butane comes in blue. The main difference between the two gases is their boiling points. Butane becomes a liquid when it reaches -1⁰C, whilst propane requires cooling all the way down to -42⁰c before it will liquify. As a result, propane needs to be stored at much higher pressures than butane to keep it liquefied whilst at room temperature.

There is no notable difference between propane and butane in terms of heat output efficiency when it comes to patio heater gas. However, propane is usually the preferred choice because of its lower boiling point. Propane fuelled patio heaters can function without trouble down to -42⁰c, whereas butane will begin to struggle to vaporise if the temperature drops close to 0⁰c. The higher boiling point of butane won’t be an issue during the summer months, but if you’re a fan of getting cosy next to your patio heater on a frosty winter afternoon, you might find that your butane heater isn’t too keen to get going.

You may come across a third option when shopping for gas – patio gas. This is a brand of gas rather than a type of gas. Patio gas can be propane or butane and is sold with outdoor use such as barbeques and patio heaters in mind. Keep in mind that patio gas may have a different valve and connector to a propane cylinder, so the two are not necessarily interchangeable. The best thing to do is consult your patio heater’s instruction manual to figure out whether you need a propane, butane or patio gas LPG cylinder.



Which Gas is Safer?

Whilst propane has the benefit of being suitable for outdoor use all year round, its lower boiling point means it is more volatile than butane. The ability to use propane in icy conditions may be appealing to mountaineers or experienced campers, but it’s not always a necessity for patio heaters.

Butane, by comparison, is safer for the casual user. It won’t light as quickly and has less thermal energy output, meaning it can be transported and stored easily with significantly less risk of accidental combustion. If the manufacturer’s safety advice is being followed, there is little chance of butane catching fire.

Providing the gas cylinders are stored correctly and care is taken during use, you can use both propane and butane safely with a patio heater providing your heater has the correct gas regulator.


How Can I tell When My Gas Bottle is Empty?

It can be tricky to know when your LPG bottle is empty or running out, and there’s nothing worse than trying to turn your patio heater on only to find that you’re out of gas. There is a quick and straightforward way to find out, though.

Fill a bucket with hot – but not boiling – tap water and pour it slowly down the side of your LPG bottle; the more water you use, the easier it will be to measure the amount of gas left. Wait for a few seconds before running your hands down the side of the bottle in the place you poured the water. You’re feeling for a change in temperature, the cold part of the bottle indicates how much gas is left. If you can’t feel any variance in temperature, then it is likely that your gas bottle is empty and needs replacing.


Always check the instructions on your patio heater to confirm what kind of gas you need. If you’ve not purchased your patio heater yet, you can use the information provided today to help inform your decision when deciding what kind of patio heater you should buy.

We have a huge range of bottled gases available for both industry and home use at Adams Gas, including patio gas bottles. If you would like to find out more, contact us today.