Wood Burning Fire Pits

Pros: The quickest and most affordable option, wood burning fire pits are easy to setup and start using right away. Simply choose the style that fits your design, set the fire pit in place, add your wood, and enjoy! Wood will give you the largest flame and most heat, when compared to gas.

Cons: Most of us know how to enjoy an old-fashioned wood fire, but it’s still a good idea to think about potential hazards. Wood fires will create smoke and soot, often leaving an odor in hair and on clothes. Depending where you live, wood can be expensive. Make sure to place your fire pit on a non-combustible surface like concrete or stone. Always use a spark screen to prevent accidental fires. Open fires are dangerous and should always be supervised. You also should check with your local governing authorities, as many do not allow wood burning fires. Wood fires also leave ash and soot, which will require cleanup after use.

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Natural Gas or Propane "Direct Plumbed" Fire Pits

Pros: There are lots of positive reasons to choose a gas fire pit. Running a natural gas or propane hard line to your fire pit creates a convenient way to enjoy family night without all the hassle that comes with a wood burning fire pit. Simply turn on the gas, light, and enjoy! Some gas fire pits have electronic ignition options which offer added safety and convenience. You can even use an app or add to your home automation! You can add colored fire glass, ceramic fire balls, ceramic logs, or an array of other decorative options that helps to personalize your design. Speaking of design, “direct plumbing” your fire pit allows you to choose lower, more modern fire pit designs since there are no height restrictions. It’s nice not having to worry about smoke blowing in your face every time the wind picks up, or adding more logs as the fire begins to die. And in most areas, natural gas is sold as “therms” which is quite affordable, often costing less to burn than wood.

Cons: Although gas fire pits are the most popular option amongst consumers, there are still some added costs to consider. Gas fire pits are typically more expensive because they have engineered burner systems, valves, hoses, and ignitions that wood burning fire pits don’t have. Running a gas line from your meter or whole house propane tank can cost anywhere from a few hundred, to a few thousand dollars, thus adding higher up front costs.

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Hidden Propane "Tank" Fire Pits

Pros: If you’re sold on getting a gas fire pit, good choice! But perhaps your patio was already built without a gas line. Or maybe where you live, they don’t offer natural gas. That’s okay, because you can still enjoy all the benefits of a gas fire pit mentioned before, by using a “portable propane tank”. Hidden Propane Tank Fire Pits can be placed just about anywhere outdoors, even on combustible surfaces like wood decks (check your owners manual to verify). This is very convenient for most people, plus you can take it with you if you ever change your patio design or move!

Cons: A typical 20lb BBQ propane tank can only burn a maximum of 60-90k BTU’s an hour, which is good for around 4-8 hours of continued use, depending on how high of a flame you burn. At around $20 per tank, this can start to add up over time. If you’re wanting a huge flame, you will be limited by what a small propane tank can offer. If you have a weak back, it can sometimes be difficult to lift a tank to set it inside the fire pit, although there are some very nice options that offer glides that make swapping tanks a breeze. For all you designers out there; in order to store a propane tank, most fire pits are 24” high, or “chat table height”. Most people don’t mind this, but if you’re going for a lower modern and contemporary “coffee table height”, you may want to keep your propane tank off to the side and use a longer hose.

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Ethanol Fire Pits

Pros: Most people don’t think of ethanol as a fuel option for fire pits, but this clean burning fuel has really made some great strides in the last few years. Believe it or not, Ethanol fuel is made from natural sources, so it’s renewable and green, plus it can be used outdoors AND indoors! That’s right, put it wherever you want! No gas lines, no heavy propane tanks, just fill the burner with the appropriate ethanol, light, and enjoy! Because the ethanol burners are sleek and low profile, the decorative fire pit, or “vessel”, can be a variety of designs. This is perfect for interior or exterior designers or architects that want the beauty and ambiance of fire, without all of the hassle of running gas lines or specifying ventilation or air control. A great option indeed!

Cons: The biggest thing to consider is cost of fuel. The cost to burn ethanol each hour is greater than gas or wood. Ethanol is similar to all fuels, in that there is a minimum cost and will constantly need to be maintained.

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Once you've chosen the fuel that will power your fire pit, you need to decide on what purpose the fire pit will serve you. There are many shapes, sizes, and styles to choose from.

Common Fire Pit Sizes

36" or Less

These are typically referred to as fire “bowls” or fire “urns”. The purpose of these smaller fire features is more for decorative use, such as accent fire bowls around a pool.

36" - 45"

This is a very popular size that fits on most patios. Large enough for 6-8 people to enjoy. Think about adding a nice deep seating sectional or club chairs to make this your nightly go to spot!

45" - 60"

If you have a large backyard or patio, consider a larger fire pit in this size range. Guaranteed smiles and fun, you can easily have between 8-12 people around a fire pit of this size. The only question is, who has the best campfire story to tell?

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