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This article is about our former summerhouse specification, which has since been replaced by our brand-new Garden Rooms (under 12m2). It's worthwhile reading, but to jump straight to learning more about the new spec, click on!

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By Amy Hanlon on 05 Oct 2023

What Is The Best Way To Heat A Summerhouse?


Why would you want to find out the best way to heat a summerhouse?

Let’s face it, weather-wise, Summer 2023 was a bit of a washout. In fact, it was so wet that we almost added an ark to our range of buildings.

But you sensible summerhouse owners, you were all right!

I’ll admit, sitting in a summerhouse doing whatever you love to do in your summerhouse is much nicer when it’s sunny and warm outside.

But you can still do it while it’s raining. That’s kind of the point of a summerhouse! Your lovely little garden building keeps you sheltered from the elements, so you can continue enjoying the peace and quiet of your garden.

Can I only use a summerhouse in summer?

Now that the summer has skulked off looking a wee bit sheepish, you might be shuttering up your summerhouse for the colder months.

After all, garden buildings can be pretty chilly places. But can adding heating to your summerhouse extend the use of the building?

Bear in mind that single-skinned summerhouses aren’t designed to be used all year round. If you want a year-round building, you need a Garden Room. This situation is exactly what led us to retire our summerhouse specification. More and more, people want to use their garden buildings in all seasons, and we had to evolve our specifications to meet these expectations.

And even in a seasonal building, around these parts, you might still find that heating is necessary, especially if our summers carry on like the last one.

Can I insulate a summerhouse?

If you’re ahead of the heating game, you may have installed an insulated summerhouse. Insulating and lining a garden building will help warm air stay inside the building during the winter, and help keep warm air out during the summer.

If you’re adding a heating source, it makes sense to have an insulated building, as it will lose heat much more slowly than a single-skinned building. Heat is expensive, after all! The last thing you want to do is lose it all through the walls.

While you can insulate and line your summerhouse when it’s installed, you can also add this to your building at any point after installation. You can even do it yourself, or find a professional to make it look easy.

Will adding insulation and lining give you a building that can be used any day of the year? Not necessarily. If your summerhouse has single-glazed windows you may still find that it’s pretty chilly, even with a heating source.

But it very much depends on how comfortable you expect to be. If you don’t mind cranking the heating up and wrapping up warmly, you can make your insulated summerhouse work in the dead of winter.

So let’s take a look at your heating options!

Can I add electric heating to a summerhouse?

If you’ve already added an electricity supply to your summerhouse, adding heating can be as simple as plugging in an electric heater.

There are tons of options available. Here are some suggestions:

Can I use an electric radiator in a summerhouse?

Electric radiators work in much the same way as a central heating system, but they aren’t connected to a network of pipes.

They are either filled with a thermal fluid that is heated or they have a heating element.

Electric radiators are extremely energy-efficient. Once their element or oil is heated, they retain that heat and can be thermostatically controlled. This means that heat is not wasted, and these radiators use less electricity than some other types of electric heating.

Depending on the type that you choose, electric radiators can either be hard-wired or wall-mounted.

If they’re hard-wired, make sure you get an electrician to install your heaters. If they can be wall-mounted this is an easy enough job to do by yourself.

Can I use an infrared heater in a summerhouse?

Infrared heaters are a really inexpensive way to heat a summerhouse. They simply plug into a socket and are easily wall-mounted. They range in price from around £60 for a single panel, up to around £200 for more advanced heaters.

Infrared heaters act like your own personal sun. They radiate infrared waves which heat up the people inside the summerhouse, rather than heating the air inside the building. This means that they work very quickly – you’ll feel the benefit within about a minute of plugging the heater in.

Infrared heaters don’t store heat like radiators do – they are warm when switched on and cool down quickly when switched off. However, their inexpensive running costs and energy efficiency make them a great option for a garden building.

Can I use a convection heater in a summerhouse?

Convection heaters, such as panel heaters or fan heaters, are usually cheaper to buy than electric radiators.

However, because these heaters work via convection, they can be more expensive to run.

Convection heaters heat up the air inside a space. The heated air circulates around the room and in larger spaces, this can mean that you only really feel warm right next to the heater.

But in a small enclosed building like a summerhouse, a convection heater will do just fine. Just be aware that convection heaters tend to use the most electricity compared to the other two options.

Can I have electric underfloor heating in a summerhouse?

If you want to install underfloor heating in your summerhouse, consider the construction of the building’s floor. Without building up the floor with a solid insulator, most of the heat generated by the underfloor system will be lost to the air and ground around the floor.

Another option is to install underfloor heating beneath laminate flooring or carpet, which adds the cost of your flooring to the project.

Underfloor heating like these Roma systems is more expensive to install than the other types of electrical heating, but it is an economical option in the long run if the building is designed to accommodate it.

Given the cost and the extra alterations needed, this type of heating is probably more appropriate for a Garden Room or a better-insulated building.

If you’re looking for a cheap and cheerful way to warm up your summerhouse, there are more accessible options. But if you want to spend extended periods of time in your summerhouse and you want to invest in high-quality surroundings, it may be worth considering underfloor heating.

Can I add gas heating to a summerhouse?

A portable gas heater is an electricity-free and reasonably inexpensive way to heat a summerhouse. However, there’s one really good reason why this isn’t the best option for a garden building.

Condensation.

Without wishing to go all science teacher on you, the burning process for paraffin and gas creates moisture. In fact, an average-sized gas bottle in a portable heater produces around eight pints of water.

While the outside of your summerhouse is painted to protect it from the weather, the inside may not be. And even if it is, all those pints of water will remain inside the building unless you ventilate it well, and of course, ventilation lets all the heat out. It’s hard to stay warm if you have to get up and open all the windows and doors every few hours!

To help it have a long, happy and mould-free life, keep water out of the air inside your summerhouse.

And if you are considering a gas heater, even for occasional use, make sure to also fit a carbon monoxide alarm.

Can I use a wood-burning stove in a summerhouse?

Wood-burning stoves are a popular addition to a summerhouse. They give a rustic feel to the building and create a cosy atmosphere.

Wood burners aren’t ideal in very small spaces, as they tend to make the space very warm very quickly. However good-quality stoves should retain heat. Even a small fire will provide heat that lasts beyond the life of the fire itself.

Always make sure that a wood burner is installed by a professional. We recommend Carse Country Stoves to our customers. They take care of the flue, the components and the stove itself, making sure that everything is fitted safely. If you live in a Smoke Control Area, check that your stove is exempt from the regulations. You should also check which fuels you are allowed to burn.

Installation costs for stoves are higher than for electric heaters or oil-filled radiators. But if you have access to a good supply of firewood, you’ll recoup the cost in the long term. Running costs will vary depending on where you buy firewood.

Can I use solar power to heat a summerhouse?

I’m not saying that you can’t, but you’d have to be seriously invested to make this option work for you.

Converting sunlight into electrical energy still isn’t hugely efficient. Running a heater would need solar panels plus appropriate batteries. Most summerhouses would run out of roof space for solar panels before you had enough power to charge your batteries. If you can’t charge your batteries, you can’t run your heaters. And if you’re losing heat through single-glazing and uninsulated walls, you’ll need more power than the heater would generally use.

As I say, if you’re really invested in making solar work for your summerhouse heating, it’s not impossible. However, the outlay required to establish a solar heating system is significant. You’d need many years of successful running to recoup that investment.

The benefits of solar power are best achieved in established buildings, like your home, rather than in a garden building.

What’s the cheapest way to heat a summerhouse?

Electric infrared heaters are the cheapest option for summerhouse heating, both in terms of initial outlay, installation and running costs.

Convection heaters are the next step up. While these heaters don’t cost much, the running costs tend to be higher.

What else should I consider when heating my summerhouse?

The size of your timber building will also factor into your choice. Keeping an 8′ x 6′ shed warm is a different situation to heating a 12′ x 12′ summerhouse.

Finally, think about how often you plan on using your summerhouse in the colder months. For occasional use, electric heating is ideal. If you want to spend hours poring over your stamp collection or perfecting your craft, oil-burning radiators or a wood burner might be a better fit for you – and don’t forget your thermals!

Where can I find out more about summerhouse heating?

So many options! Choosing the best one for you is simply a matter of education and awareness. Make sure that you know exactly what your needs are and which options are available before making a decision.

What else can I do to use my garden building all year round?

All of these heating options are absolutely fine for a single-skinned summerhouse.

But do bear in mind that even if your summerhouse is insulated, if it has single-glazed windows and doors, you’ll lose heat through these. This means that whatever type of heating you install won’t work as efficiently or as economically as it could.

If you’re serious about using your garden building all year round, our new Garden Room specification provides an affordable alternative to our larger, custom Blackstone Garden Rooms.

With layered walls, an air cavity and aluminium double-glazed doors and windows, this specification ensures that heat is kept inside the building, whichever way you choose to generate it.

And if you have any other questions about timber buildings, take a look at our Learning Centre. We’ve been making your choices easier since 2015 with our vast collection of content.

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