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(5’ x 5’ stone fire pit, installed)
(2½’ x 2’ gas fire pit table, installed)
(2½’ x 2’ gas fire pit table, installed)
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Fire pits are a beautiful, comfortable addition to any home’s backyard. Choosing the ideal firepit, however, takes some consideration. Gas and wood are two of the most popular firepit choices. We will explain the differences between them to help you make a more informed decision on which might be better suited for your backyard.
Gas fire pits work with liquid propane 1 or natural gas, while wood fire pits require the use of dry wood. Due to having to hold large logs, wood fire pits tend to be larger than gas fire pits.
For both types of fire pits, it is important to know that you have a supplier for the fuel. Wood fire pits need good firewood, while gas fire pits require the use of a natural gas or propane 1 supplier. Having easy access provides a simple way to keep your fire pit going.
Storage is also something to keep in mind. Wood fireplaces need a spot to hold all of the wood. You have to ensure that it stays dry, and it must be away from the home because wood can hold termites. On the other hand, gas fire pits need a large storage tank for the gas it requires to run. Companies provide containers from 15 to 100 gallons. Keep in mind that this tank is not going to be attractive, so consider a landscape plan that will hide it.
A gas fire pit is much more efficient at lighting and providing continuous heat. There is generally just a button that needs to be pressed to light the flames. On the contrary, a wood fire pit requires the effort of building a fire. Once a larger wood fire is going, though, it can put off continuous heat for some time until a new log is needed.
Gas fire pits are always going to be the more energy-efficient. Gas burns more cleanly and produces fewer emissions into the atmosphere. Wood fire pits emit around 28 or more pounds of emissions into the atmosphere every time they’re used. This is compared to natural gas, which produces 99 percent fewer emissions than that of the wood fire pit.
Gas fire pits are harder to install. Since gas lines need to be run for the fire pit, it requires the use of a professional, and this also means it needs more time to be installed. Wood fire pits can be a DIY project, but it is recommended that a professional build a fire pit for safety reasons.
However, even with the longer installation of gas fire pits, they do not require the time you’d spend stacking, ordering, seasoning, and carrying all of the wood needed throughout the year for a wood fire pit. Once the gas fire pit is installed, you do not have to do anything else but press a button to start it.
The installation from professionals differs since a wood fire pit requires only a metal frame, brick or stone over top of that, and be a specific distance away from the home. A gas fire pit has fewer rules to follow, but the gas lines that go to the fire pit have to be installed correctly and out of the way of those walking through the yard.
The cost of a wood fire pit varies depending on the specifics such as the type of stone or brick on the outside of the fire pit. The cost of materials can range from $300 to $800 or more. Installation generally runs around $50 to $60 an hour, with a fire pit being installed within a day, costing $200 to $500. The total cost of a wood burning fire pit is between $500 to $1,300, depending on the final touches the owner chooses.
Gas fire pits vary depending on the specifics as well, such as the type of materials, size, and placement. The costs of materials range from $400 to $3,000 or more. Installation for a gas fire pit usually runs between $500 to $800 depending on the difficulty of the gas line. The total cost for a gas fire pit is much higher initially, coming in between $900 to $3,800.
Wood fire pits are harder to maintain because they hold the soot, ash, and logs. This will need to be shoveled out from time to time. Creosote may be an issue with wood when it is burned since it is a tar substance that can leak harmful chemicals into the air. When breathed in, they’re not good for the health of those nearby. Additionally, unclean wood fire pits can produce a fire if the embers are not put completely out.
In comparison, a gas fire pit does not require much maintenance at all. Since it burns clean, with no logs or soot, there is nothing to clean out. The outside of the fire pit can be wiped down, and a cover can be placed over it for when it rains or snows.
The experience that a user has with a wood fire pit is much different from that of gas. Gas fire pits do not leave odors on clothes when used. Wood-burning fire pits have a distinct smell and provides a natural experience with the sound of the logs crackling, which are two reasons why someone would choose wood over gas fire pits.
It is always important to have the gas system checked thoroughly for any leaks that might occur. If a leak happens, things can quickly get out of hand. To avoid this situation, keep the fire pit in the best shape and have routine maintenance performed on the gas lines. Wood-burning fire pits also have to be used with caution. Make sure that the fire is completely out each time. It should also be away from any structures that can catch fire.
Wood is a renewable resource that is ideal for the environment, but gas is the cleaner choice. The impact that wood has on the environment is not as good as gas, but this also means that the gas is cleaner and better for those users to breathe in, especially those with asthma. The particles from the wood can cause problems for those with breathing issues.
Both fire pits can increase the resale value of the home. Not only that, but they can make the home sell faster by providing homeowners with something that they want, without having install it later on. Gas fire pits, because they more eco-friendly and cleaner, have a higher return on investment. However, wood fire pits do provide a beautiful outdoor look
Local ordinances may prohibit open burning within fire pits. Some areas have a burn ban that is in place at certain times of the year. This only covers fire pits that have open, wood-burning flames. Additionally, any fire should be placed away from any structures in the backyard. This must be done to reduce the chances of having a fire that doesn’t stay inside the pit.
Some areas or neighborhoods may require a permit to have any fire pit on the outside of the property. It is important to check your local laws.
If you’re not having a pit custom built, the number of choices for kits and readymade pits can feel overwhelming. That’s why we’ve listed our top picks for both wood and gas fire pits below, to help make the selection process easier for you:
This kit makes a beautiful fire pit that’s large enough to provide a very good blaze that will heat more than 10 square feet in every direction. It’s made of concrete pavers made to look like limestone, with a variegated color range. It includes both a ledge to go over the pavers and a metal fire box to put inside for safety. It’s easy to assemble, and will give you a custom appearance for your yard or patio once you’re done.
BEST VALUE: Nantucket Pavers Ledgestone Ring Kit
If you’re looking for a really simple, classic fire pit this is a great kit from Nantucket Pavers. It’s also made of concrete pavers made to look like stone, but comes in a more traditional round shape. It’s 47-inches in diameter, so it will heat up a good sized area, and also includes a finished ledge and an interior steel fire ring for safety and stability. It’s easy to assemble and comes with some sandbags you can use to help support the base.
ALSO CONSIDER: Pavestone Rumblestone Kit
This is a slightly smaller square kit, that’s a little taller as well. Better for smaller areas and more intimate settings, with a nice, contemporary appearance. It’s made of concrete pavers that have been tumbled to give them a rustic appearance, and is designed to be easy to assemble. It uses a mortarless adhesive for long lasting results and it also includes a fire pit insert. No ledge, but it has a pillar style that matches the footprint nicely for a unique look.
BEST OVERALL: Sonoma Natural Fire Pit Gas Bowl
This is a really impressive fire pit that will make a statement in any yard. It consists of a 39-inch round, concrete bowl that you fill with 54 pounds of black lava rock, which comes included. It installs really easily, and provides a lot of heat to the surrounding area, so you can easily heat the entire patio with this at the center. It runs on natural gas, and is easy to set up and get running every time. The housing material inside is stainless steel for long term durability and continued use.
BEST VALUE: Morgan Hill Fire Column
This is a nice looking, smaller fire pit that consists of two parts - a beautiful granite top, which sits on top of a stone-look column. It runs off of propane, which you can easily hide inside the column for a better looking finish, and without the need to run a gas line to your patio. It will produce up to 40,000 BTUs of heat, so even though it’s small in size, you can rest assured that it will heat up your patio or even your yard with little effort. It’s also easy to use and to assemble.
ALSO CONSIDER: Real Flame Baltic Square Fire Pit
This is a super contemporary gas fire pit that measures 36-inches square. It puts out an amazing 50,000 BTUs, so it will heat up even the biggest patio with ease. It has a nice, thick square rim so you’ll be able to gather near it without worrying about getting too close to the flames. It comes with a lava rock filler for a better look, and burns propane so you can get a brighter, more clear flame. The pit itself is made of a type of fiber cement, so it’s really durable and long lasting. It sets up quickly, and comes with a lid you can use to turn the entire pit into a table when it’s not lit.
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