The backyard has a new companion: the propane fire pit. These lovely fire pits invite owners and guests to gather round the fire as they share the making of memories in a multitude of climates. Be it a spring evening or the heart of winter, fire pits offer the best of entertainment while still managing to be part of the background and decor of the backyard they grace. The fire pits themselves offer a spectacular dazzle for the backyard that rivals any interior home improvement project for exquisite design and the wow factor. Friends and family gather round for campfires, grilling, or just to kick back and relax around a beautifully decorated fire that features lava rock for its secret ambiance.
Propane fire pits do, of course, come in a variety of sizes and styles. They can be installed professionally or built with labor and love from a do-it-yourselfer. There are safety precautions that must be taken, though, before installing a pit into any space. Since the flame is real and not created through artificial means, care must be taken in placement to avoid hazardous fires. In addition, it is not recommended that children be around the fire pit without proper supervision. Also, no flammable materials should be stored within 3 to 5 feet to avoid an accidental fire hazard. Some styles of the propane fire pit include brick, copper, and stone. A few fire pits can take natural gas or propane as a fuel source and others are propane only. The advantage of a fire pit is its versatility. Propane fire pits can be used for a source of heat on a chilly night in the backyard, for cooking, or for roasting toasty marshmallows. The pit is also ash less since the flame is actually from propane and does not burn wood to create flames. The fire pits can also be customized with lava rock in multiple colors. In addition, propane is cheaper than wood, so the cost of fuel is lower than with a wood burning design. Air pollution is also less than in wood burning fire pits since propane burns cleaner than traditional fuels. Lighting the stove is also easy since it only takes a properly hooked up propane tank. Owners only have to set it to ignition to see their fire pit come alive. Before purchasing a propane fire pit, it is advisable to do a little research. They are not all created equally, no matter what a dealer might say. The chosen fire pit should come with UL endorsement. It should work as expected to work, and that is what a UL endorsement means. The product is tested to ensure that it does what is says it will do, in this case, create a fire fueled by propane that is safe based on the features of the fire pit.
Efficiency should also be on the list of desired features. If a fire pit is efficient, the result is less costs in fuel consumption, which means a significant savings for the proud owner of the pit. One should choose a fire pit with higher ratings than comparable brands with lower ratings. The general rule of thumb is that the higher rated fire pits are more compatible with higher energy efficiency.
Cooking on a propane fire pit is definitely safer than on a wood burning pit since wood often comes from a source that has seen the use of pesticides that can be passed onto that hotdog. Propane fire pits are smokeless, too, meaning no dried out eyes or sudden lung malfunction if you get a good whiff of wood smoke. The lack of ash makes propane fire pits a great choice, even in times of restrictions on open fires as they are usually exempt from fire bans.
Another way to ensure cost efficiency is to buy a pit that has variable speeds and temperature controls. A cool summer night will need less heat to enjoy the ambiance of a fire pit than a crisp autumn morn.
Propane fire pits are environmentally friendly as well. They make a great way to go green since no trees are used; no smoke is released into the atmosphere, basically reducing the carbon footprint created. As these pits are regulated in temperature, it also makes them the most comfortable fire to be around. If it’s too hot, lower the temperature; if it’s too cool, raise the temperature.
When compared to similar wood fire pits, there really isn’t a contest. Propane fire pits are a better fit economically, environmentally, and aesthetically. While they must be monitored as any fire would have to be, they offer the most advantageous method of enjoying an open fire without having to deal with smoke, pesticides, and the smell a wood fire imparts to everything it is near.
Best Propane Fire Pit
Do you ever have moments where things which are so obvious, for some reason elude your mind, and when you do finally find out, you can’t help wondering if you are turning prematurely senile? Well, this is surely one of them. I guess, I had always assumed that a propane firepit would somehow require a tube to run from your home gas supply, out through the door, into the garden and to the firepit, not unlike the bunsen burners have those orange plastic tubes at highschool (or at least, when I was in school). But apparently not, said my colleague: “They are completely portable.” Apparently, all I needed was a gas tank. I was set.
The propane firepit that I finally chose to buy was a Camp Chef FP29LG, mainly because of its popularity and the strength of the reviews customers had already given it. If I don’t know about something I always tend to look for other unbiased customers’ opinions to help me make my decision. You could say I am a bit of a ‘sheep’ in that regard, but to be quite honest, this buying technique has served me rather well so far.
Indeed, I am quite pleased with my purchase of the Camp Chef FP29LG – it was a bit more expensive than my original wood burning firepit, at $333.99, but from the reviews it looked like it was worth it. I wasn’t wrong. These days, it just feels so ‘clean’ to have a lovely gathering of family and friends, with a beautifully ambient fire burning for hours on end, and not having to scrape out ashes the next morning! I have to confess, the first morning after I used the Camp Chef Propane Firepit I went out into the garden, looking to scrape ashes out of habit, but then what a refreshing feeling that there was nothing to clean, no mess whatsoever, well, apart from the dishes! But my dishwasher does those! (Thank heavens for modern technology!)
The Camp Chef FP29LG gives all the warmth of a traditional wood fire, and this is something that I was concerned about before buying. Would this propane powered blaze be nothing more than a ‘fake’ fire? The answer is, thankfully, no. It’s completely real, but considerably cleaner. Now, neither
I, nor my family, nor my guests, have to go home and take a shower after each gathering – there is no stinking smoke or fumes and this is just one of the many advantages of a gas firepit over the wood burning firepit. There is a certain ‘elegance’ about the Camp Chef FP29LG, maybe its designed coupled with the cleanliness aspect, I’m not sure, but it just gives me a good feeling. I like knowing that I can have a beautiful, clean fire with next to no effort on my part.
One thing I would note is that this gas fire bowl comes with lava rocks, not ceramic logs as some people might expect. Personally, I prefer the lava rocks and have had no problems with them so far. It’s definitely comparable to the more traditional wood burning copper fire pit in terms of heat emitted, but of course with a wood burning fire bowl you do have the choice of adding more wood. Gas is a lot less flexible but far safer and cleaner. Also, for the average party lasting about 4-8 hours, you can use a whole tank of propane which costs about 10 to 15 bucks, so it’s not that bad, and overall, I’m very pleased.
I have always liked firebowls / firepits, and have had them since my very first house in ’87. I originally started with a much smaller firepit than the Blue Rhino – it was a little thing I bought from a hardware store for $99. It was wood burning, and my friends and family were all mighty impressed with it. Fast forward to the present day, and I have, fortunately, done very well for myself and have been able to move to a large house in the country, which my family and I absolutely adore. We have a breathtaking garden which we use mainly to relax and ponder life’s greatest questions, especially with our front row seat of the stars at night; but we also use the garden to entertain guests. I love the fact that my house is now seen as the ‘go-to’ place for all my friends and family in the area. Everyone has the most fun at my place – something which I had always wanted for those dear to me for some time.
One of the main reasons, apart from the beauty of the house itself, for the enjoyment of myself, my friends and family alike, is the fantastic new firepit I purchased for our patio. It was quite pricey at just under $600, but luckily I can afford it. I would advise anyone going for the high end firepits to consider whether you are looking for a small to medium sized firepit, or whether you are looking for another ‘asset’ to your garden in the sense of it being a permanent feature there. For example, this Blue Rhino GAD860SP Propane Firepit is so large and heavy, weighing at over 130 kilos, that it is almost a requirement that it stay stationary, unless you have some heavy lifters in the family. The mantel is made of beautiful slate and marble, which really adds to the natural, authentic, antique feeling to the piece, but it sure does weigh a lot!
It seems almost insulting to the Blue Rhino GAD860SP to call it a ‘firepit’. It’s so much more than that – for my garden, I see it as an ‘outdoor furniture piece’. When I entertain friends and family, it’s not just admired for its practical value, i.e. heat, light, ability to toast marshmallows, etc., but it’s admired visually as well. I never stop getting compliments on it, and even though compliments aren’t enough to make me consider something a good purchase, if it works well and does everything I hoped it would do, compliments sure are a nice bonus. It feels good that people like my tastes – it lets me know that I’m not losing touch with society, even if I do (finally!) live away from the city.
I get a 20 lb liquid propane tank for about 20 bucks at my local store, and that lasts me about large gatherings, or if I use it every day in short bursts, for example a family meal outside, or just sitting outside with my wife gazing up at the stars, it might last around a week. So, I would say this firepit delivers as good value for money in terms of fuel as any other smaller fire pit. It doesn’t really use more fuel, to be quite honest, which is something I was pleasantly surprised at. Also, don’t worry about assembly – it’s quite a big item, true, but the instructions are clear and it really is a breeze to set up. All in all, if you have the space and are looking for a high class firepit, the Blue Rhino GAD860SP is it! I really don’t have anything negative to say about it other than it weighs a lot, so beware! All in all, I am extremely happy with my decision to get it.
We had just moved house to a nice semi-detached property in the suburbs – one of the major selling points of this new home to me was its spacious garden, consisting of a lush, green lawn complete with sprinklers and fertilizers, garden tools etc. from the previous owners, and a most wonderful stone paved patio. In the winter it can get very cold here in Nebraska, not to mention the fact that at night the garden felt like it was ‘missing’ something, and that’s when my husband suggested purchasing a fire pit to warm up the patio so that we could sit outside at night and look at the stars.
I immediately went online and found the Uniflame WAD820SP 34″ Slate/Marble Fire Pit – it was one of the bestsellers so it already had quite a lot of reviews from other people who had already purchased it so I was put at ease. I got mine for $220 at the time (around 3 months ago) so it was quite a good deal.
Now, on to the item itself. The fire pit is really quite beautiful – the beautiful metal legs (I think they are iron) are curved giving a nice touch of elegance to the piece as well as being sturdy for those breezy nights. The copper accents are also lovely. The actual ‘table’ of the pit is my favorite though; it really looks like some kind of hand made mosaic with the slate and marble pieces so intricately placed together. It really has a high class, mediterranean feel to it – but not so mediterranean that it wouldn’t fit in the average back yard. Where safety is concerned, the wood burns very well and the steel grate really does a good job at keeping the embers/ashes, so I’ve yet to run into any problems so far.
The firebowl is made of porcelain and is 22″ across – so you can get quite a large fire going to keep you warm when you’re entertaining guests outside. I found putting on the firewood to be very easy, it can take a very decent amount of wood so that it truly does feel like you’re having a campfire outside. But without the mess! This firepit is quite heavy at around 30 Kg, so moving it and assembly requires two people, but it’s not that much of an ask at all if you’ve got someone to help you, and with all the barbeques and gatherings I’ve had in the back yard after buying this fire pit there has never been any shortage of willing helpers if I do need to adjust the position of the pit.
Although I’ve yet to run into any problems so far, I feel quite comforted that this fire pit comes with a 1 year warranty. At first I wasn’t sure whether this type of product can actually have a warranty, it turns out that it does. I expect it doesn’t cause the manufacturer too many problems / callouts, because of the good quality of the pit. For 220 bucks, I am quite happy with the UniFlame WAD820SP; I’d recommend it for anyone who hasn’t had a fire pit before, who is looking for one of the most popular, dependable and good looking fire pits for their back yard.
Best Propane Fire Pit Buying Guide
This is a very important factor to consider. The style should be guided be the kind of outdoor decor you have. Try to find a style that reflects your personality and taste. Some of the most common fire pit styles include:
- Table style
- Stove or house style
- Square style
- Rectangular styles
- Oval or circular styles
The majority of outdoor fireplaces are made from two basic designs, fire pits and chimineas. In essence, it is just an open fireplace that is raised. It might have a chimney though 360 degree opening is quite common. The low down with 360 degree opening is the inhibition of proper drafting. This leads to smoldering because of inadequate airflow. This leaves behind large amounts of partly burned charcoal. On the other hand a well designed chiminea draws in fresh air directing fumes away from revelers. In addition, the fire will be hotter and enclosed to enhance your safety.
Material is important because you will be socializing around this outdoor propane fire pit. Choose a beautifully designed structure and pattern to complement your backyard or patio. Cast iron and cast aluminum are popular materials because they are very durable. Some other materials available on the market include:
- Copper-Looks great before it is used, but changes color to a tarnished green after use. It is advisable to use a rain cover when the fire pit is not in use. Make sure you regularly replace nuts and bolts as well as pop rivets.
- Stainless steel-These are either held together with pop rivets or welded. It is advisable not to buy a stainless steel fire pit. This is because the chromium oxide layer on the surface decomposes when the fire pit is cooled from high temperatures. It is a great material for grills but not fire pits.
- Cast iron-For these, you would require to carry out regular maintenance in order to keep rust at bay. Ensure you paint the fire pit with high temperature stove paint and avoid constant movement.
- Cast aluminum-Consider a cast aluminum fire pit a solid investment that is durable and requires low maintenance. This material will never rust, crack or warp and is very light.
When using an outdoor propane fire pit, safety should be the first priority. Keep a fire extinguisher near and never leave the fire unattended. This will prevent any nasty surprises from smoldering ashes.