Best Fire Pit
Fire pits fill the need for city or suburban dwellers who yearn for a campfire but who are confined to the rules of controlled burning within city limits. Many fire pits can be set up outside of a home on a patio, and some fire pits are even rated safe for areas where ground camp fires are not allowed. If you're ready to add the ambience of natures flame to your backyard or other outdoor setting, take a look at our fire pit buyer's guide below for all the information you need to get started on your search.
Best Propane Fire Pit:
Propane fire pits run off of bottled or LP gas, and by their nature, in most cases they can be portable. All you need is a tank of propane gas and a safe place to set the fire pit, light it and go. However, newer fire pits are designed to look like fireplaces, and as such, they are heavy and made to stay in one place.
The top rated models on this list were chosen because they showcase the practicality and versatility of a propane fire pit, with design and usability a plus. In general, price won't be an object because the larger fire pits that are meant to remain stationary can't compete with a less expensive portable fire pit, so overall usefulness gets top billing here.
The Heininger Outland 5995 58,000 BTU Portable Propane Outdoor Fire Pit comes with a 10 foot hose complete with regulator, weighs 22 pounds for portability and it will give you a cozy warm fire whenever you want one. Read Full Review
The Blue Rhino GAD860SP LP Gas Outdoor Firebowl with Slate/Marble Mantel has easy to use electronic ignition, a ceramic firebowl for easy cleaning and it looks terrific in any setting. Read Full Review
The Camco 58031 "Little Red Campfire" Propane Camp Fire is incredibly portable. It features a locking cover with handle, an 8 foot hose with regulator and is safe to use even in fire restricted areas. Read Full Review
The Uniflame GAD1380SP Lp Gas Outdoor Firebowl with Decorative Tile Mantel is heavy, big and lovely to behold. Although expensive, if you want a centerpiece on your patio or deck, you won't be disappointed. Read Full Review
Best Gas Fire Pit:
Natural gas fire pits are made to be permanently plumbed with a natural gas line. They are not considered portable, and once in place, they stay in place. They are made to be the centerpiece of your entertainment area like a patio, a deck or a pool setting where heat and ambiance are desired.
The natural gas fire pits on this list were selected because they have the most eye appealing aesthetics and the most unique design features. After all, they all effectively burn natural gas, but doing so in the most beautiful structure possible will be the key.
The Firegear Ironwood Natural Gas Fire Pit Bowl With Log Sculpture is made to resemble logs burning in a fire bowl. Realistic cinders hide the burner while a patina builds up after every use to enhance the beauty over time. Read Full Review
The FireScapes The Virginian Octagonal Natural Gas Fire Pit is made of concrete for durability with a natural veneer finish. It includes two bags of lava rocks and will be the centerpiece in any rustic setting. Read Full Review
The Napoleon Linear Patio Flame 60,000 Btu Natural Gas Fire Pit is a modern contemporary fire pit that burns as good as it looks. The flames dance through a topaz glass bed, the base is powder coated for durability and the burner and cover are made of stainless steel. Read Full Review
The Peterson Outdoor Campfyre 34 Inch Natural Gas Manual Safety Pilot Fire Pit Package With Granite Tile Ring And Emerald Green Glass is a contemporay fire pit with a stucco base and emerald glass insert. Read Full Review
Best Wood Burning Fire Pit:
A wood burning fire pit has only one mission in life, and that is to burn wood and make it look pretty. Sure, you can make a case for roasting marshmallows, but really, every fire pit should have that capability. To that end, those that add something extra will make it to the top of the list. Price will also be considered, but design and function take precedence here.
The Rectangular Tile Top Fire Pit is large at 37 inches long, but it is practical as well as functional. Powder coated for durability, the tiled top will act like a small table for beverage or knick-knack placement. Read Full Review
The Landmann Crossfire Fire Pit has a unique lattice design, it is portable, has a deep fire box and it even comes with a cooking grate to double as a grill. This is the best bang for the buck unit here. Read Full Review
The Pleasant Hearth Bradford Slate Fire Pit is the most versatile fire pit listed, but it is also the most expensive fire pit too. It has a cover that will turn it into a table when not in use, a cooking grate to grill on and a natural slate edge to hold implements. Read Full Review
The Fire Sense 22-Inch Folding Fire Pit is the most portable fire pit on this list, and weighs in at less than 15 pounds. Take it camping, to the beach or to a friends for a fire that you can have anywhere. Read Full Review
Fire Pit Buyers Guide
Fire pits have essentially been around since humans first learned and understood about fire. The simplest fire pit was probably nothing more than a slightly hollowed out space on the ground where wood could be burned. To make it safer, rocks or stones may have lined the outside of the pit, which kept the fire better contained. Rocks also became useful to rest sticks or spears, with chunks of impaled meat or vegetables over the fire for cooking purposes. This type of fire pit has not changed much in the modern era with many campgrounds across the nation still incorporating a variation of this most basic style of fire pit.
Modern home-owner fire pits began by pulling the grates off of charcoal-fired barbecue grills and just building a fire inside. This became very popular for kabob and marshmallow roasting on sticks. In fact, during the population’s mass transition to suburbia in the 1950's, permanent stone and brick grills were constructed in back yards that doubled as a fire pit for entertaining family and friends. This was the beginning of an actual fire pit where fire, and not cooking, was one of the primary reasons to have one built.
Modern fire pits can be constructed of many different materials, and are designed almost exclusively to showcase off a fire above any other function they might have.
Fire Pit Types
Portable fire pits are the most common and the most popular. They’re generally made of lightweight metal so they can easily be carried from place to place and small enough to be loaded into the trunk of most cars. They use no exotic fuels, simply relying on wood or propane for burning. For a quick and basic fire pit, they can't be beat.
These types of fire pits can be portable, but because of their overall heft and size, they generally stay in place once situated. They’re usually more ornate, made of heavier weight steel, stone, bricks or composites. Semi-portable fire pits may also use fuel sources other than wood.
Permanent fire pits are either so heavy that they can't be moved once they are put in place, or they are bolted down to one space as an actual permanent fixture. Most of these types use a different type of fuel other than wood, and their beauty, both burning and construction, are the main reasons to acquire one.
The most common fire pits are all made of metal. They can be steel, galvanized or coated steel, stainless steel, cast iron, copper or aluminum. The most popular style of fire pit, the tried and true bowl shapes, are virtually all made of some type of metal.
Regular steel types are the least expensive of the lot, but they also do not hold up as well to the environment. Steel types degrade the quickest, and may need to be replaced after only a few seasons of burning if they are left out in the elements. Cast iron would last considerably longer, but they will eventually rust and degrade over time.
Stainless steel, copper and aluminum may last a lifetime with proper care, but you will pay a premium for these types. Although metal types lend themselves best to a bowl shape, they can be crafted into virtually any configuration; however, the more complex the shape, the higher the initial price point.
Stone and Brick
These are some of the heaviest pits made but they will last a lifetime with minimal care. Most of these types are more decorative and many are permanent fixtures, but there are some stone and brick fire pits that can be classified as semi-portable. They are movable, but generally once they are put in place, they stay in place.
These types of fire pits are also some of the largest made, and they can be rectangular, round, or built upwards vertically. Although they are capable of giving off usable heat, their claim to fame is the beauty of the structure and the loveliness of the flame contained within.
Many of these are constructed vertically and resemble the traditional Chiminea style which originated in the southwest and Mexico. These are very versatile units that can be used for cooking as well as a fire pit. Although heavy and bulky, they can be moved from place to place.
Virtually all tile fire pits would be classified as a permanent fixture. Usually, a brick or other substrate is used as the basic fire pit which is then tiled over for decorative purposes. As a result, the heft of a unit like this relegates it to permanent status.
Composite fire pits are the newest types available. They can be molded into virtually any shape, yet they are generally light enough to be either portable or semi-portable. These are the most ornate and decorative units made, but they are also some of the most expensive fire pits in their class.
Wood is the most basic fuel out there, and it is one of the reasons why fire pits have become so popular. Wood is easy to get, inexpensive if purchased, lights easily, and gives off a romantic fire that cannot be matched by any other fuel type. The more wood you stack on, the hotter and prettier the fire becomes. Without question, the original fuel is the best fuel.
Propane fire pits use a cylinder of gas as their fuel source. You can literally have a fire pit virtually anywhere, as long as you have a propane canister with you. Some of these fire pits are the smallest and most portable types, and for camping in a no-fire zone, a certified propane fire pit may be the only option.
Many permanent fire pits are fueled with natural gas. A gas line needs to be piped in and much like a natural gas fireplace, there will be an igniter and a regulator. This fuel is the most expensive way to have a fire, but it is also the most convenient way since all you need to do is light the fire pit, kick back and relax.
These alternative types of fuel satisfy a niche for either the eco conscious, when no other fuel is present, or for fire pits specifically designed for their use. They are exceptionally clean burning fuels, and as such, these fuel-specific fire pits and fireplaces can be designed without a flue or a chimney.
Some bio fuels can be piped in and therefore are a viable alternative for permanent structures. However, the latest types are semi-portable, and although a bit cumbersome, they can be taken apart and moved from place to place. And because they give off no soot or fumes, designers have taken the liberty of creating glass sided fire pits that allow 360 degree viewing without ever having to worry about being burned.
Food, Heat, Beauty or All of the Above
Since all fire pits give off a flame, you'll have to decide what to do with it. Virtually any fire pit flame will look appealing, and if that's all you want in a fire pit, feel free to choose the one that best suits your area.
If you plan to use a fire pit as an integral barbecue cooker, than you need one that comes with a cooking grate. Many metal bowl types and Chimineas are perfect for cooking, and these are also the most common kinds that have included cooking grates supplied, or as an option.
Every flame gives off heat, but different types of fuel burn hotter than the others. A traditional wood burning fire pit may be the best choice for gathering around on a crisp fall day, sipping hot toddy's or warming up next to one after a day spent outside. They also make gorgeous fires and no fire is more pleasing than a crackling pine wood flame. Plus, any camper will tell you that wood is one of the best and most flavorful mediums to cook over.
Propane is also a good choice as well. This fuel is equally adept for cooking, gazing and giving off heat. A propane fire may not be the most economical way to fuel a fire pit, but it is relatively hassle free when lighting.
Now, you might think that a natural gas fire pit would be a perfect place to get the chill out, but most of these kinds are made for aesthetics rather than heat or food making production. You would generally sit back from the fire which functions mainly to establish a mood. They can be cooked over and you could be warmed by the flames, but that's not the reason why a permanent natural gas fire pit is mainly designed for beauty above all else. This also applies to eco fuels and gel fuels as well so don't expect much warmth and you might only attempt to cook food over them only in an emergency.
What's Best for You
Form and function are the key words when deciding on a fire pit for your home or living area. City regulations may not give you much of a choice in the matter, but if you live in the country, the options become almost limitless.
For those in the city, you will need to find out what regulations, if any, govern the type of fire pit you’re allowed. Smaller bowl types are very popular in the city, mainly because they don't take up much space and are self contained. Many have wire guards surrounding the flame pit which keep burning embers from potentially causing a fire. If your fire pit also doubles as a grill, you'll have a much easier time with regulations than if your pit is dedicated only to burning a fire.
Some propane models are specifically made to be used in a no burn zone and these are safe enough to use on a wooden deck or a porch. These types might be a viable alternative to a wood burning fire pit for city dwellers.
Gel and eco fuel designs can be either transported to a home, retro fitted or built in. Since they need no chimney to vent fumes, they make a perfect indoor addition to any city dwelling.
Just like the city, you may have to abide by local air quality regulations, but many of these laws are a bit more relaxed. It may depend more on overall space for a fire pit of your choice, but as a general rule of thumb, as long as you have a back yard you should be able to get a fire pit for outdoor burning.
Large suburban estates might make the perfect place for a permanent fire pit, especially if you have a large porch, patio, gazebo or any other area where people are likely to gather. They are lovely to behold and you'd never run out of fuel if it is supplied by a natural gas pipeline.
Choose a fire pit or pits that suit your needs out in the country. There may be few, if any regulations, regarding the use of a fire pit, and many fire pits are naturally made by digging out a hole and lining it with rocks. However, entertaining on a developed area (such as by a pool) a commercially made fire pit would be the perfect addition to your property.