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Dr Infrared Heater DR-338 Carbon Heater review

On or off the patio, the Dr Infrared Heater DR-338 can provide safe heat, wherever that warmth is needed the most.

Dr Infrared
(Image: © Amazon)

Our Verdict

We admire the thought behind this heater, but it’s directional heat means it’s only suitable for certain situations, and even then you might feel the chill.

For

  • Precise heat direction
  • Can be used indoors too
  • Remote control

Against

  • Not suitable for large patios
  • Cannot heat wide spaces
  • Not as powerful as proper patio heaters

The Dr. Infrared Heater DR-338 Carbon Infrared Heater fills a slightly different niche from most outdoor heaters. Rather than relying on fuel, it works with (safe) radiation, which makes for a more flexible and movable device than most. If you're looking for one of the best patio heaters for travel use or for using to heat up small, specific outdoor spaces, this might just fit the bill.

For example, if you've recently invested in one of the best hot tubs and want to stay warmer when stepping out of your spa tub, an infrared heater such as this one, when placed close by, is worth considering. How come? The heat generated by the Dr Infrared Heater DR-338 means you can direct it to a specific area only to dry off in relative warmth.

Heating large outdoor spaces isn’t on the cards with the DR-338, but that doesn’t mean to say it isn’t without its uses. In our Dr Infrared Heater DR-338 Carbon Infrared Heater review, we look at the heater’s spec, design, features, benefits, and what current users think of it, to help you figure out if it’s the right choice for your outdoor space.

Dr Infrared Heater DR-338 Carbon Infrared Heater review: Overview

Where gas-based patio heaters primarily heat the air around them, infrared heaters like the DR-338 use radiation to pass that heat to the objects surrounding them without wasting energy heating the air. Think of a big, mostly-invisible light bulb, without any energy-saving concessions.

Dr Infrared Heater DR-338 Carbon Heater: Key Specs

RRP: $239

Material: Aluminum

Heat source: Infrared

Heat output: Up to 1500W

Heating range: Not stated

Height: Up to 75"

Dimensions: 35 x 8 x 4 inches

Weight: 15lbs

Going infrared might be an attractive idea if you're forever burning through propane tanks, and this kind of device can make for far faster and more directional heat than gas heaters.

It also means that the Dr Infrared Heater DR-338 Carbon Infrared Heater can be used inside your home if required, and the bundled remote control adds a lot of convenience. With it you can adjust the heat from afar, should things get too hot, or put this heater out of reach to keep any little ones safe.

Dr Infrared Heater DR-338 Carbon Heater review: Design

The Dr Infrared Heater DR-338's design, which places a high power carbon infrared lamp in front of an aluminum reflector, should offer a high level of energy efficiency. This version comes bundled with a tripod, and while it does appear to be listed without, non-tripod versions are harder to come by.

On a patio you'll probably want the tripod included anyway: it adds a second tip-over power cut-out circuit to the one built into the unit itself for a double layer of safety. This also makes positioning the Dr Infrared Heater DR-338 Carbon Heater precisely where you need it – between 46 and 75 inches off the ground – a much easier task. Sandbags are also included to keep the tripod stable, so you’ll be ready to go.

The main unit is made from anodized aluminum, four inches deep, and the manufacturer's listing states it is IPX5 rated, which means it can withstand a low pressure water spray and should hold up to rain no problem. That said, we’d recommend packing this away when it's raining, or at least mounting it under a cover just to be sure. The instructions some customers have found bundled with the Dr Infrared Heater DR-338 Carbon Heater say not to expose it to moisture at all, so count yourself warned if you do decide to leave it out in all types of weather.

Dr Infrared Heater DR-338 Carbon Infrared Heater

(Image credit: Amazon)

Dr Infrared Heater DR-338 Carbon Heater review: Features

This is one of the more versatile heating solutions out there. There is no gas involved and no open flame, which means no carbon monoxide. Therefore the DR-338 is suitable for indoor use as well as outside. While we probably wouldn't put it in a lounge, you might find it just the solution for warming up a chilly workshop or garage through the colder months.

Ceiling- or wall-mounting the Dr Infrared Heater DR-338 Carbon Heater (or just leaning back and enjoying the heat) isn't an issue thanks to the included fittings and its remote control. This allows you to switch it on and off, set a power off timer, and select between 900W, 1200W and 1500W heating modes, indicated by an LED readout on the front of the unit.

Indeed, ceiling mounting might be the thing to do; infrared heaters like this essentially just output very warm (and mostly invisible) light, so installing it high up can help spread that over a wider area; if you're not directly in line with the beam, expect to feel nothing at all. 

The unit itself has a 3ft power cord, and includes a 12.5ft extension. If your patio area is far from an outlet, you may wish to supply your own extension. It's a high-draw electrical device, pulling (if our sums are correct) 15 amps through its single carbon heating bulb at full load. That's just about the maximum possible on most 120V circuits. That might seem like a lot, but in reality you may have to be quite close to the Dr Infrared Heater DR-338 Carbon Heater to really feel the benefits, and it seems to be a lot more effective when used indoors.

Dr Infrared Heater DR-338 Carbon Heater review: How could it benefit you?

If you're looking to get warm outside, the market is awash with better options - take a look at our AmazonBasics Commercial Outdoor Patio Heater review for a start. However, the DR-338, like most infrared heaters, has several key advantages that make it a solid selection over gas or other fuel equivalents.

  • Heat without fuel means you're never going to be stuck with an empty propane bottle and a cold patio.
  • It can be positioned and angled to hit the specific spots you want to heat, where a gas patio heater might simply throw heat out over a broad area.
  • If things get cold inside, you can bring the DR-338 inside safely - and it's light enough for anyone to move.
  • The DR-338 Carbon Infrared Heater can be hung or mounted, freeing up valuable patio space. Or why not use it to warm a gazebo or pergola?

Dr Infrared Heater DR-338 Carbon Infrared Heater

(Image credit: Amazon)

Dr Infrared Heater DR-338 Carbon Heater review: User reviews

Amazon's reviews for the Dr Infrared Heater DR-338 Carbon Infrared Heater with Remote peg it at 4.3 out of 5 stars, which is a reasonable, if slightly misleading, score. On the plus side the construction seems to be solid; outside of a few shipping breakages, something we don't consider a genuine downside, most people are very happy with how the DR-338 is put together.

The power, though, seems to lack a little: even the most positive reviews mention that its heat does not reach far. Some say you need to sit around five feet away to feel any benefit at all, though some offer a more generous suggestion of six to eight feet.

It certainly seems as if the DR-338 is most at home, well, inside the home.

Yes, it does not wastefully heat the air, but if there is nothing to catch its radiation its heat dissipates quickly. In a garage or workshop, it may warm certain surfaces and reflect that heat around; on your patio, beaming that heat into the dark, you may join numerous reviewers in struggling to raise the temperature even a couple of degrees. This seems to be a particular issue if there's any wind blowing.

The remote is a nice feature, but virtually every buyer that mentions it suggests you need to get very close to make it work. We're not overly surprised - the DR-338's IR sensor may be slightly confused by the massive amount of infra-red its bulb is putting out, after all. Speaking of which, make sure you're plugging in to a circuit which isn't already under heavy load, as the hottest setting does produce a high level of power draw, something which has tripped more than one reviewer's breaker.

Should you buy the Dr Infrared Heater DR-338 Carbon Infrared Heater?

If you're looking to heat one very specific spot - a seat at an outdoor bar, a cosy corner of your patio, a back porch or a cold garage, then you’ll be pleased with the results the Dr Infrared Heater DR-338 Carbon Infrared Heater can offer. There's certainly some warmth to be had when you're up close.

But if you're looking to heat a whole patio? Look elsewhere, namely at our Fire Sense Commercial Patio Heater review. We absolutely appreciate the lack of propane here, but gas is going to be a better choice if you want a broad heat for your patio.

Alex Cox

Alex is an experienced copywriter, reviewer, and sub-editor with almost 25 years' experience in the consumer publishing industry. Creating reviews for Top Ten Reviews covering gas grills to fire pits, Alex also writes for sister sites including TechRadar and T3.