As the cold weather comes around an outdoor lover needs to ensure that they have their fire pit situation in check. As the difference between having a fire pit and not having one in the fall and winter is days and nights spent by the television compared with time outside with families and friends. Like many things on the market, fire pits come in a variety of sizes, types and price ranges. Having the most expensive product does not necessarily mean it is going to be the best fire pit for your needs. The size, fuel, material and local regulations all playing a major factor in what product will ultimately determine which fire pit is the best for your needs. The following guide will show you the pro’s and con’s of different fire pits so that you can make an informed decision when choosing yours and enjoy it for many years to come.
There are a number of areas to consider when buying a fire pit. These can be broken down into a number of categories. The first is the fuel type; will it be powered by wood, coal or gas. Will it be a fixed fire pit of moveable. What material it will be made of and where it will be placed. By taking into account these factors and having an understanding of what each of the benefits are the fire pit owner can be confident in their purchase and be able to enjoy it for many years to come. Large stone fire pits are great, but if the prospective owner knows that they will be moving house regularly then this is probably not the most appropriate purchase for them.
CharcoalUsing charcoal as a fuel has the main advantage that a lot of heat can be generated in a small space. This makes it a great fuel for those that want to have a portable fire pit as the fire pit itself can be quite small and the charcoal is also very light making transport easy. The concern with using charcoal is also that it generates more heat, which means that if someone wants to have a large outdoor fire pit that is the centre piece of the garden they won’t be able to make a big flame without making it almost unbearable for people to sit around. The increased temperature is also a concern for the material of the fire pit itself. One must ensure that the fire pit is able to use coal in it without destroying its construction. So generally, charcoal is best suited to small, heavy duty fire pits that may or may not be portable.
WoodA wood burning fire pit will give you the traditional look and also gives you the option of burning specific woods to give a nice scent. Owners must be cautious with their wood selection if they are planning to cook food over their fire pit as it can give the wood a strange scent. On the plus side firewood can be bought almost anywhere for a fair price and even gathered for free helping to keep the fire pit cost low. Also it can be kept in a large supply so that the firepit is always ready for action. Controlling the heat can take a little practise, as it is easy to add too much firewood, but this is a short term issue and with experience this can be overcome. Wood can also be a viable option for portable firepits, but is definitely heavier and more cumbersome than using charcoal. For a permanent firepit wood is one of the most visually appealing options.
Gas will give the user the most control over their fire pit. It can quickly be turned up or down to provide the ideal temperature almost instantaneously. This is a great option for fire pits that are used for short periods of time as the user does not need to wait for it to heat up and then doesn’t need to worry about putting out the fire, instead merely turning off the gas. Gas flames can also be very visually appealing if they are set up correctly. Although gas bottles can be quite easily easily moved around, gas is better suited to permanent fire pits or at least the ones that will remain in a backyard. The risk of storing gas is higher than the previously mentioned fuels, but if cared for correctly should not be a deterrent to buying one. Natural gas or propane fire pits can be very attractive options as you can see on the picture.
Fire pits can quite easily become the feature of a backyard and the main spot for people to congregate. They can be made into a whole outdoor dining/relaxation area with no expense spared. Or they can be the type of steel firepit rings that is more rustic and is semi buried into the backyard as shown on the picture. So that people can sit on the ground around it. There is also the option to have a fire pit ring as big as necessary which is not the case with a portable as someone still needs to be able to lift them.
The best portable fire pit feature is a mobility – they are great for those that have multiple entertaining areas as the heat can easily be moved from one area to another. Although caution definitely needs to be taken when the fire pit is hot. Conversely they are also suited to those with limited space as the outside fire pit can be kept out of the way when not in use and throughout summer when it is not needed. They are generally smaller than fixed fire pits and therefore won’t provided the same amount of heat to a large group of people. Portable firepits are best suited to using charcoal or wood as it is generally not advisable to be moving a gas cylinder around with the firepit. Portable products are also a good option for those who are buying their first firepit and want to see if it is something they will use often and enjoy. As they have a significantly lower investment than a permanent fixed firepit and are much easier to set up for their first use. They can even have wheels like the one pictured that make their movement easier.
There are really four main options for fire pit materials. The more traditional is stone which by its nature is best for fixed pits as they are not very practical or easy to move. The second is steel or metal fire pits which need to have some protective paint to allow it to handle the heat as well as to resist rust. The third common material is cast iron which is very good at retaining the heat and is also very aesthetically pleasing. There is also homemade brick ones, that should be avoided as they are unstable and carry a high risk of injury, as well as being the uglier option of the four. A recent trend is faux materials being used to imitate the more traditional options such as stone. This can be very useful for people that want a semi-permanent solution. There are also some very unique options that are made from high end materials such as outdoor copper fire pit. You can see one of copper fire pits on the picture.
AccessoriesChoosing a fire pit is the most important step, but accessorising it with the right equipment will allow the owner to use their pit safely and also get the most enjoyment out of it. A key accessory for those that have children is a fire pit spark screen or fire pit lids, which will keep sparks from shooting out of wood fire pits and burning children. These are available in a range of sizes and a fire pit lid that fits correctly should be chosen. As a fire pit spends its time outside in the elements, they are built tough. But that doesn’t mean one should forego a cover. Outdoor fire pit accessories give an extra layer of protection and keep it clean. As well as keeping pets and children from playing in the dirty ashes in the case of wood and charcoal burning fire pits. Although fire pits are generally bought for people to warm up around and for their decorative look it is also possible to cook with them. The setup can be quite complicated or it can also be simple like the option pictured. Even though not necessary for a patio fire pit, there is nothing that says sitting around the fire more than roasting marshmallows. So a roasting set like this will save you searching around for sticks and will also be more hygienic.
Before purchasing a fire pit it is a good idea to check your local areas regulations as even in your backyard there can be restrictions on locations. For example they can only be more than x metres from a permanent structure and fences. There can also be certain times of the year where they can’t be lit or only gas fire pits can be used to reduce the chance of accidental forest fires occurring. The same can be true for public parks and reserves, but it is best to check with your local authority to ensure you are complying with the latest and the most relevant legislation.
Aside from regulations, personal safety should be taken into account with fire pits. This is an even bigger concern for those with small children and pets. Fire pits are low to the ground and it can be quite easy for children to access them and cause themselves harm. This might mean that a raised solution is the better option or fencing off the areas to ensure children only have access to the fire pit area when parents are around.
The preceding guide highlights the main areas that need to be taken into account when someone is choosing the best fire pit. There is no one best model and a prospective buyer needs to take into account the size of the pit they desire and whether it will be a permanent structure or not. What fuel they want to burn and what material the fire pit needs to be made of. Secondary to this is if it going to be a major focal piece of the backyard or if it will be more of a workhorse that will double as a barbeque. Once these primary concerns are taken care of the user needs to identify the relevant legislation and safety factors to see if their chosen solution is possible. If all of this is in order the fire pit can be purchased and then any relevant accessories can be acquired. By following this buying procedure you can make sure that you will select a fire pit that you will enjoy for years to come. You should also visit our fire pit reviews section to see details about individual products and also some of the best fire pits on the market.