Are plumbed-in or standalone outdoor heaters the way to go?
Considering a new outdoor heater? Here are four things you should know when you're deciding between a plumbed-in or standalone unit.
With plumbed-in and standalone units both being good options, now’s the time to consider which is best for your home.
1. Comfort and quality
Standalone heaters are a more popular option due to their portability and easier retail accessibility. However, their LPG cylinders need to be replaced, which can be both a hassle and a hazard.
For plumbed-in units, apart from consumption, there are no ongoing charges to consider, and no need to refill or replace cylinders. The heat reach of both types of heaters will depend on their make and model, but powerful heaters on higher settings can cover an area of 13 square metres.
2. Outdoor heater safety
Both plumbed-in and standalone units require regular safety checks and must be serviced every two years. Safety checks can be done by a licensed heating technician. Common warning signs that heaters aren’t working properly include gas flames and panels that burn yellow or produce soot.
Fire safety organisations recommend plumbed-in outdoor heaters over standalone units as they offer a permanent solution, eliminating trip hazards and the need to store and handle LPG cylinders at home. No gas cylinders mean no potential gas leaks.
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If you opt for cylinder-powered heating, it’s handy if someone in your household knows what they’re doing when it comes to dealing with the cylinders. Standalone heaters can be fire hazards if incorrectly stored or stored too close to flammable materials. So it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for warning signs, such as a gaseous smell or a change in the heating panel colour.
Plumbed-in heaters with radiant panels should be fixed at least 2.5 metres above the ground and away from awnings and other combustible fixtures. As standalone units provide heat 360 degrees, they should be placed in an open area, but far enough from outdoor furniture to avoid trip hazards and the risk of fire. For more safety specifications, talk to your retailer about the safest area to install your unit. Safety specifications can vary from state to state, but all registered units will come with an approved safety label.
3. Gas consumption of outdoor heaters
Consumption varies from area to area and depends on the energy used to run your unit and the gas consumption (measured in MJ) – you can find this on your product details. For plumbed-in units, consumption depends on the ease of access to the mains, distance required from line to line, and the number of appliances connected to the pipes.
The charge of running your outdoor plumbed-in heater depends on whether you have a peak/off-peak or a basic meter. The timing of the peak/off-peak meter is decided by your distributor and is on your energy plan.
AGL’s energy rate calculator provides an estimate of how much your energy might cost. You can type in your suburb and your average gas and electricity usage is calculated based on the tariff determined by your distribution company.
Standalone units may cost more to run, depending on the frequency and price of refilling or replacing your gas cylinder. Another way to calculate the average energy use and cost of your unit is through the LPG consumption calculator.
The upfront cost of units varies across different makes and models, and running costs are determined by gas consumption. Plumbed-in heaters do not incur cylinder-refilling costs but might have a one-off plumbing cost if gas mains aren’t already connected to your backyard.
To install a pipe for natural gas access to your backyard, you’ll need to hire an external gas plumber, either through a gas company or privately. Ease of access and the distance from your unit to the mains gas connection will largely determine this cost.
Standalone units generally have a cheaper starting price than plumbed-in units, ranging from around $100 to a few thousand dollars. You can expect to pay $20-$60 for cylinders depending on brand and retailer. Both heater types may have maintenance costs.
Ready to make the leap?
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