While most people think of a gazebo as a purely warm-weather setting, your gazebo can be just as enjoyable during the winter. You may not want to roast chestnuts over an open fire, but there are plenty of ways to stay warm in your gazebo while you enjoy the colder weather.
Electric infrared heating
Infrared heaters can spread warmth throughout your gazebo without dangerous carbon monoxide emissions. Hanging infrared heaters are a good option for fixed gazebos with a sturdy frame and electrical wiring, but you might also find some portable heaters. Most outdoor infrared heaters are rain-resistant and offer enough power to heat up to an 18-foot radius. Portable stand heaters may offer even more heating power. Each gazebo may be different, and if yours is enclosed, you may have more options if you can protect the equipment from the elements.
Hanging a tent or canopy in the gazebo can add to the atmosphere and help keep warmth inside. While this option won’t keep you as toasty as infrared heating, it will help block chilly winds and retain as much heat as possible. An even better option is getting professionally installed enclosure material which can insulate even better and keep wind and wet weather outside while you stay warm and toasty inside.
Furniture and blankets
Maybe the weather isn’t cold enough for a fire or large heaters, but just cold enough to make it uncomfortable without something extra. Consider the type of furniture you’ve placed in your gazebo. Is it all-weather, but all plastic? How about metal or even wicker? Hard solid surfaces that are hot to the touch in the summer can be cold in the winter and just as uncomfortable. If you find yourself placing towels down to avoid the heat of the sun in the summer months and blankets in the winter, maybe you’ve been valuing style over comfort. If style is indeed important, make your gazebo more comfortable with fleece chair covers and a few blankets. This will keep you warm enough while you enjoy the view without breaking the bank.
Enclosing your gazebo with glass or windows can transform it into a year-round space for enjoyment. An enclosed gazebo will keep bugs out in the summer and help retain warmth and block the wind in the winter. Enclosing your gazebo may run you up to a few thousand dollars, but it is an investment in creating an outdoor space you will use more often. If you find yourself in an area where bitter cold and snow are common, this might be a better option than a simple canopy or removable covering.
Fire pit nearby
Ventilation is the most important consideration in any structure. If your gazebo has a closed roof, you shouldn’t be using a fire pit. If you want a fire inside, you’ll probably need a wood stove with a chimney that leads outside, and even then, ventilation is of the utmost importance because a small structure like a gazebo can be a real big hazard with carbon monoxide poisoning. Smoke can become trapped and sparks can easily ignite dry wood. A much safer option would be adding a fire pit close by. Make sure open flames are at least ten feet away from any structure and away from flammable objects. If the wind is whipping, consider a fire screen covering and always have an extinguisher on hand. With this option, you can stand next to the fire pit when you want to get warm before retreating to the gazebo with a warm blanket to enjoy the fire. Oh, and don’t try using something like a grill just for heat. Grills are for cooking, but even if that’s part of your activity it still doesn’t mean you should be using it inside the gazebo without proper ventilation.
Hot tub or spa
How much room do you have in your gazebo? Do you have professionally installed electrical wiring? You might consider a hot tub! If the tub can be used outdoors, can fit inside the gazebo and you enjoy a warm dip while the weather outside is frightful, maybe a hot tub is the answer. Just make sure you have a way to get warm and dry safely after you’re done and that your investment won’t be damaged by the elements.
Patio heaters are a fairly new option. Most patio heaters are free-standing and they’re often used in outdoor bars and restaurants to provide radiant heat during the cold months. Patio heaters can be powered by natural gas, liquid propane, or electricity to produce up to 45,000 BTUs and radiant heat up to 25 feet. They’re also specifically designed to be safer to use near structures.
Like any combustible heat source, those that burn fuel to produce heat need ventilation. If you don’t have an enclosed gazebo (and with an industrial-sized behemoth like this you might not need one) it may be safe to use, although it’s still important to check the safety ratings first. Many large patios heaters require up to ten feet of space which might make it too large for your structure. Electric heaters don’t have the same restrictions, but require different safety precautions thanks to the wiring. If inside the gazebo doesn’t work, it might be possible to place the heater close enough (up to 25 feet away in some models) that you still get the warmth without the safety hazard.
While heating a gazebo for winter use can be challenging, it is possible to safely heat your gazebo to stay warm and toasty. You might toss in one other suggestion—how about a favorite winter beverage? Hot cocoa, coffees, teas or warm cider or wassail are all ways to keep you warm enough on a cooler winter day!