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Most homeowners today want more than the conventional wood deck with a grill on their patio.
These days, the most requested outdoor accessory is fire pits, as stated by the American Society of Landscape Architects.
Nothing adds a bright ambiance to your patio space comparatively like a fire pit.
Fire pits can be as elaborate, simple, and affordable as you want. You may want to recreate your childhood campfire memories or go for a spectacular landscape accessory.
Or maybe you just want to enjoy your patio on a cool evening; after all, nothing beats the warmth of a fire that transforms your outdoor to a cozy gathering place.
There are two choices to make when it comes to fire pits: Whether to buy a portable fire pit or build a permanent one and the type of fuel to use.
Choosing the size, material, and style of a fire pit is not as easy as it seems.
You need to consider even the smallest of issues such as safety, functionality, maintenance, and convenience that ensure you end up with the right fire pit for you.
The most common fuel choices are propane, natural gas, and wood.
- Propane — Propane burning fire pits are mostly portable. These fire pits are usually fueled by propane gas. They are usually small and top out lower flame output and temperatures. Propane is typically easy to find than wood, but they need to check its supply continually is a disadvantage.
- Natural gas — Natural gas fire pits usually need access to your home’s existing natural gas. You will have to run the gas line from the fire pit to your home, which means a permanent installation. Gas burning fire pits offer better control over heat and flame, thus being suitable for small spaces. Natural gas is better than propane in the following ways: natural gas is cheaper than propane, and you don’t need to check the fuel supply regularly.
- Wood — To enjoy a wood fire pit, you need lots of space for proper ventilation and gives you space to get out of the smoke during heavy winds. Wood fire pits also require a big fire pit ring to keep you and your family safe around the flames. Wood burning pits are semi-permanent as they can be moved around your home if need be though they require simple installation.
Wood vs. Gas Fire Pit
- Safety — Gas fueled fire pits do not produce flying embers or sparks and have a controllable flame. When you turn off a gas fire pit, you will be assured the fire is completely off. On the other hand, wood-fueled fire pits require more attention when extinguishing them. Most gas-fueled fire pits come with a glass shield. This safety design not only reduces the impact of the wind on the fire; it also protects everyone gathered around the fire. As for wood fire pits, they only have a safety screen to reduce embers and sparks.
- Maintenance — Gas fire pit valves and burners should be cleaned regularly to avoid dirt build-up and blockages by insects. Although you can easily do this, you should hire an expert to inspect your gas fire pit periodically. On the other hand, wood-fueled fire pits need minimal maintenance other than emptying its ashes.
- Convenience — The plus side of gas is that you can have your fire instantly with minimal effort. There is no groundwork needed and no clean up afterward. Gas fuel does not produce smoke, so it is perfect for areas where smoke might be a problem. Unless you have gas lines in your home, you will be required to change the gas tanks when they are empty, while with wood, you only need a load of timber.
- Appearance — Any type of fire pit is a beautiful addition to your outdoor space. Gas fire pits are ideal if you want a more contemporary appearance. Consider covering the pit burners with rocks, fire glass, or fireplace wood. Fire glass is available in a wide range of colors; hence will upgrade your fire pit to a spectacular level.
- Eco-friendliness — It is no secret that fire pits are for enjoyment than necessity. If the impact of fire pits on the environment is important to you, choose propane or natural gas fire pits as they burn more cleanly than wood smoke, which is a contaminant.
Permanent Fire Pit vs. Portable Fire Pit: How do they compare?
As you start planning for your fire pit, you may consider permanence.
Do you prefer a fire pit built at the heart of your backyard or portable, so that you can move it when necessary?
Permanent Fire Pits
These are fixed fire pits that are either built using durable materials such as mortar and bricks, stone and rocks, or are so weighty that you can’t move them.
The plus side of a permanent fire pit is that you can design it to blend with your existing backyard. The only limitation may be your creativity and imagination.
Common types of permanent fire pits include concrete fire pits, concrete block, and veneer stone fire pit.
The most basic permanent fire pit is built by:
- Digging a hole in the ground.
- Proceed and add sand and gravel for drainage and to create a level base.
- Line the fire pit with a steel ring to help focus the heat and contain the flame.
- Surround the external edge of the fire pit with logs or stones.
What are the pros and cons of a permanent fire pit?
Permanent fire pits will offer you many years of comfortable and safe fires.
Another advantage of permanent fire pits is that they come in many finishes and colors to match your yard.
The only disadvantage is that the space assigned for your pit cannot be used for anything else.
Portable Fire Pits
These are the most versatile and flexible fire pits out there. They come in materials, sizes, shapes, and are affordable.
The range from small campfires you can take with you on holiday to large fire tables.
They only superiority they have over permanent ones is that they can be moved whenever you want to.
Examples of portable fire pits are:
- Camping fire pit
- Fire tables
- Fire bowls
What are the pros and cons of a portable fire pit?
Many portable fire pits are made of steel, copper, iron, and clay. Cast iron is very robust; thus can’t be easily knocked over.
They are also resistant to rust and heat quickly.
The main disadvantage is that they are heavy hence hard to move, and heat retention can harm the children.
Steel fire pits are durable and easy to move; however, some designs may tip over easily.
Copper fire pits are easy to find. However, some models have less fuel capacity and may have constraints.
Which to choose?
Most backyards will accommodate a permanent or portable fire pit.
However, you should consider the amount of focus your fire pit has on your backyard.
If you are sitting near the flames to warm up or for interesting conversations, a permanent fire pit is ideal for you.
On the other hand, if your yard has toys or doubles as a playing space, consider purchasing a portable fire pit as it will not interfere with the outdoor fun.
Permanent fire pits, especially those fitted with fire pit rings, are usually a safe option as they reduce the concern of a tip over.
Regardless of which fire pit style you choose, it’s important to consult an industry professional before use and always practice proper safety.
A few general safety guidelines include:
- Do not use the fire pit during strong winds.
- Never leave the flames unattended.
- Always ensure the fire is completely off before going to bed.
- Keep an extinguisher, sand, or bucket of water handy.
- Do not leave kids unsupervised around the fire pit.
- Use a safety screen to keep down sparks and flying embers.
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