Propane Fire Pit Buyer's Guide
Want to know more about an outdoor propane fire pit? This article is the buyer's guide for you. Propane fire pits share many characteristics with their natural gas counterparts. Many times you'll get the same appliance but fueled by a different gas. So, why pick a propane firepit over a natural gas version if the appliances are the same? Well, it comes down to location, cost, and how you'll use your fire pit.
- Fire Sense Finn Square Aluminum Propane Fire Pit
In this article, we will go over the reasons you'll want to pick up a portable propane fire pit over a natural gas fire pit. If it's not for you, then it's not for you. But, you'll find some compelling arguments to pick up a propane appliance for your outdoor space.
Why You Should Consider a Propane Fire Pit
When you compare a propane fire pit to a wood-burning fire pit, the differences are pretty stark. One burns gas; the other burns wood, right? Beyond this obvious information, there's a lot of work that goes on before the wood is ever burned. This includes the chopping, seasoning, and transporting, which all happen before you ever have a chance to burn a fire in your wood-burning fire pit. Unfortunately, you can't turn a knob or press a button to start a wood fire either.
- Gathering wood fuel for fire pit
Now, when you compare a propane fire pit to a natural gas one, that's where the similarities come in. They both use gas lines and ignite in similar ways, and the fire appliances look precisely the same.
So why can't you hook a natural gas fire pit into a propane tank and let it burn? The big reason is that propane is heavier than natural gas. This means you need different valves and regulators attached to your propane fire pit than your natural gas fire pit. See, those regulators create the correct pressure that lets the propane flow through in a safe way.
If you were to connect a propane tank to a natural gas fire pit, you would create an unsafe situation. Trust us, you don't want to do that!
There are a lot of great qualities to the propane fire pit that a natural gas fire pit does not have. Let's go over a few of the advantages of picking up a propane appliance over a natural gas one.
- Endless Summer Alton Propane Fire Pit
- Outdoor Events - If you are hosting an outdoor event, a propane fire pit is the perfect focal point. With propane as the fuel source, the fire appliance is more portable. A natural gas fireplace is locked in position because of its gas line. With a propane fire pit, you can rearrange your back yard to suit your needs at any time. Distance from the gas line is not an issue because the propane tank sits inside the fire pit.
- Remote Locations - Setting up a fire pit out in the sticks can be tough if you're looking to fuel it with natural gas. Many times the utility provider will not run a gas line to more rural areas. If this is your situation, propane is the way to go. It's mobile, and it can give you the fire pit you want no matter the location.
- Cost Savings - Propane fire pits are self-contained. There's no need to run a gas line from the house to the fire pit as you do with natural gas. If you don't have a natural gas line, you'll have to install one. That can get costly. And depending on your area, propane may be less costly than natural gas. Research your area and discover if propane is a cost-effective solution for you.
Not everything is roses and rainbows when it comes to propane fire pits. There are some downsides you should know before owning one of these fire pits.
- Refillable propane tank
- BTU output - If you opt to use a fire pit that burns a 20-pound cylinder, your BTU output will be limited to 65K or less. 65K BTUs will provide about 6.5 hours of burn time. This output gives the fire pit adequate burn time between refuelings. But, it also gives you less ample flames. This limited BTU output, however, does not apply to larger fire pits housed in a permanent installation.
- Burn times - Because propane is stored in containers and not provided by the utility company like natural gas, your burn times will be limited. Smaller 20-40 pound propane tanks need refilling, and those big whole-house tanks will need to be replenished by a supplier.
- Hazardous - Propane gas will pool on the ground if there is a leak. It is heavier than air. Most fire pits have shut off or check valves that can sense a leak. Beyond the fire pit, though, there is a chance for human error. Keep your propane tank in a well-ventilated area and be vigilant in your check for leaks.
Types of Propane Fire Pits
There are various types of propane fire pits out there. It's best to know what you're looking at in order to make the right buying choice.
- Chimeneas - Gas fueled chimeneas are crafted from steel and hold a circular or square burner. The burners inside gas chimeneas usually create a large flame.
- Fire Bowls - Gas fire bowls are not always round. You'll find fire bowls in various shapes but the configurations are usually the same; a container with a burner and media that sits inside. Fire bowls are common fire pits and you'll find them in round, square, and rectangular shapes.
- Fire Tables - These fire pits stand higher than fire bowls and have a large surface. The fire pit sits in the middle of the table giving you enough room to eat and drink around it. Standing height tables are called "chat height". Smaller tables are said to be at "dining height."
- Fire Urns and Fire Columns - Gas fire urns look like vases. They can be tall or short and are much more narrow than a fire table or fire bowl. Usually, fire urns are set on a base to give it a little elevation and to enhance the look. Fire columns are taller than urns. No need for a base as these make a statement.
- Unique Fire Pits - Everything else not covered above sits in the fire pit category. Usually, these are unique builds. You'll find aspects of the other categories in these appliances. For example, a fire pit that's too short to be a table or too narrow to be a bowl would fit here.
Where do I store my propane tank?
Finding a spot to store your storage tank isn't tricky, and it doesn't need to be a headache. Small tank systems, 20-pound cylinders, include storage within the fire pit. Larger tanks, 40 to 80-pound cylinders, should be stored nearby in a ventilated enclosure.
- Fire pit propane tank storage
Larger cylinders allow you to get creative. For example: if your fire pit sits on a deck, think about storing the propane tank under there. Just be aware of any local codes and regulations before letting your mind run wild.
The number of propane fire pits on the market is overwhelming. There are many companies that make great fire pits. In this section, we'll tell you about a few of those companies to help you give you a head start on your search.
- Napoleon - With Napoleon, you will find an excellent selection of fire pits and fire pit tables. If the shape and size of these fire pits fit your personal aesthetic choices, then you can't go wrong with a Napoleon product. They are well-crafted from durable materials, they look great, and they put out a good amount of heat. A Napoleon outdoor appliance will fit well with any outdoor decor. It's just a matter of do you think it looks good.
- Endless Summer - An Endless Summer fire pit has endless charm. You can find a range of sizes and styles to fit your outdoor aesthetic. Endless Summer has everything from a standard fire pit to those with large fire columns. The Endless Summer selection is quite large compared to the other manufacturers on this list.
- HPC - If you want more control over the look of your fire pit, HPC is a great option. They have copper fire pits in a few shapes and sizes to choose from, but they also offer what's called paver kits or inserts. That means you don't have to buy the entire bowl, just the components to build the pit yourself and insert the HPC components. They also offer fire and water bowls and inserts as well. With HPC, the limit is your imagination.
- American Fyre Designs - AFD is another company with a lot of choices. American Fyre Designs' bread and butter is the outdoor fire feature. They have fire pits, urns, bowls, tables, and contractor models. A contractor model is an unfinished fire pit. There is no design; it's a blank slate ready for you to add tile, stone, or any veneer you'd like.
- Fire Sense - If you're looking for a more low-key look or have a smaller outdoor space, Fire Sense is a great option. Manufacturers like Napoleon and HPC are looking to give you warmth as well as style. If you live in a warm region where that's a bit overkill and want more of the ambiance a fire can provide, Fire Sense is your brand.
Care and Maintenance
The key to a long-lasting propane fire pit is proper care and maintenance. Follow these simple steps, and your fire pit could last you a decade or more.
- Shutting off propane gas
- Shut off the gas. When it's time to go inside or the party is over, do not forget to shut off that gas! A gas leak is dangerous, and that brings us to the next point.
- Store your tank in a ventilated area. Right, so if a gas leak does occur, it's best to have it happen in a well-ventilated space so the gas can dissipate.
- Remove debris. The outdoors is a messy place. Sticks, rocks, animals, can all get into your fire pit. Before starting a fire, take the time to remove all that stuff. One way to prevent that is our next tip.
- Get a cover. Wrap that fire pit in a cover. A cover protects your fire pit from the weather, animals, and the harsh sun. It's the perfect way to protect your fire pit when you're not using it. Just remember to put the cover on after the appliance has cooled down.
- Clean it. Once a season, clean the fire pit. Use some soap and water and wipe it down. Put that shine back into it. It's also a great opportunity to check for any problems; rusted components, leaks, blocked holes, etc.
How your propane fire pit ships depend on the size and weight of the unit. Smaller models can ship via parcel. Most likely, you'll see your unit shipped via freight.
The manufacturer loads Freight shipments onto a pallet. When it arrives, you'll want to inspect the package before accepting the delivery. If you find something wrong, contact the manufacturer as soon as possible. Warranty times differ from product to product.
- Cozy linear propane fire pit
Propane fire pits are a great outdoor feature to add to any home. You get ambiance, style, warmth, and gathering spot for all those future get-togethers.
There's a ton of choices when it comes to propane fire pits. You can find the perfect pre-made fire pit or make one yourself using an insert or paver kit.
We hope this article has answered all your questions, but if we haven't, feel free to give us a call. We have a plethora of NFI certified professionals ready to help you out.
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