Which outdoor fireplace is best?
On both chilly fall evenings and lazy summer nights, an outdoor fire makes for a lovely experience. Sitting around a fire with family and friends is a relaxing and entertaining way to pass the time, but only if youâ€™ve got the right fireplace for the job. Ranging from built-in fireplaces that connect to your homeâ€™s natural gas lines to a fire pit that can go with you on camping excursions, youâ€™ll need to consider what you want out of the experience before you buy.
If you prefer to spend less time fussing with the fire and more time relaxing, the reliable Outland Living Mega Outdoor Propane Gas Fire Pit is the one for you.
What to know before you buy an outdoor fireplace
Types of fuel
Outdoor fireplaces use one of four types of fuel:
- Wood: Wood is the choice of purists, but it can be challenging to build a roaring fire. Wood also requires constant tending and dry storage,
- Propane: Propane won’t give you a fire’s signature cozy aroma, but it will give you an easy-to-start and consistent flame. If you want the look of a fire, you’ll need to purchase rocks or a fake log to use with your propane fire pit.
- Natural gas: Natural gas is used mostly for permanent outdoor fireplaces that are not portable. Professional installation is required, which makes this type of fuel impractical for camping or travel away from home.
- Charcoal: Charcoal is an option, but itâ€™s used more for cooking than for a fireâ€™s flickering ambiance.
Do you prefer a roaring inferno or a gentle flame? The size of a fire pit will dictate the size of fire it can contain.
Propane-fueled fire pits are measured in terms of the number of British thermal units they produce. The higher the number, the more what the unit throws off. If you are using your outdoor fireplace for heat as well as ambiance, make sure your unit provides 50,000 Btu or more.
What to look for in a quality outdoor fireplace
Outdoor fireplaces need to be resistant to rust and weather. Steel fire pits should be powder coated, and any other material must be treated against rain and other weather damage.
A cover for your fire pit can protect it from the weather when not in use. This is especially helpful if you do not have indoor storage space such as a garage or a covered deck.
Handles should be riveted securely onto the side of your metal outdoor fireplace, or molded into the body of a ceramic vessel. Keep in mind that you should never move a fire pit when it is in use. Wait for it to cool completely before relocating or storing.
A spark screen is useful for wood burning fire pits. While it does not keep all tiny sparks contained, it prevents a shower of larger burning pieces from bursting out of the pit every time a log pops or sputters.
How much you can expect to spend on an outdoor fireplace
The price varies depending on the type of fireplace, the fuel source and the size. Expect to spend $150-$500.
Outdoor fireplace FAQ
Are outdoor fireplaces safe?
A. An outdoor fireplace is safe if used properly with attention to a few general guidelines:
- Use a fire pit on a natural stone or ceramic surface. Fireplaces that use wood in particular should not be used on a wooden deck.
- Make sure the area above and around the fire pit is clear of brush, branches or dried grass.
- Skip the outdoor fire on windy days.
- Have natural gas lines inspected annually.
- Burn wood in a wood-burning fire pit only. Do not attempt to burn wood in a natural gas or propane-fueled pit.
- Children and pets should never be left unattended around a fire pit.
- When you are finished using your fire pit, make sure that flames are completely doused.
How close can you use a fire pit to a house?
A. Regulations may vary depending on where you live, so it’s best to check with local codes and guidelines. In general, aim for at least three feet of clearance on all sides of the fire pit or fireplace you are using. This means that no flammable materials should be closer than that.
Additionally, your fire pit should be located at least 10 feet away from your home or other structures. Some people err on the side of caution and double that distance.
Whatâ€™s the best outdoor fireplace to buy?
Top outdoor fireplace
What you need to know: This is a sleek, attractive and clean-burning fire pit thatâ€™s great for the backyard or patio.
What youâ€™ll love: It is a steel fire pit that has a protective enamel finish, stainless steel burner and fasteners. The attached 10-foot hose has a regulator with a chrome valve knob for adjusting the height of the flame. Over 6.5 pounds of natural lava rock increases the rustic charm of the flame. It has a UV-resistant protective cover that stands up to all types of weather.
What you should consider: This may not produce enough heat on really cold nights.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top outdoor fireplace for the money
What you need to know: Just add propane and you are ready to go.
What youâ€™ll love: It uses a 20-pound propane tank and puts out 50,000 BTUs of heat. Itâ€™s safe for wood decks and ideal for camping and tailgating. The steel frame has a contemporary rubbed bronze finish. This kit includes a protective lid, firestones, tank holder and gas hose with regulator.
What you should consider: It can be challenging to light.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This is a traditional wood fire pit for the sweet smell of outdoor campfires.
What youâ€™ll love: It is a 30-inch fire pit that is 24 inches tall, including the height of the spark screen. It is made of rust resistant steel with a black high temperature paint finish. Handles make it easier to move wherever you want it. comes with a mesh spark screen and fireplace poker oh, and it comes with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.
What you should consider: Some users noted rust forming. It can also be challenging to maintain a wood-burning fire.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Suzannah Kolbeck writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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