Tis the season to stay warm and toasty next to a fire pit in your outdoor living area. In our first installment on fire pits, we reviewed regulations and codes, whether or not a construction permit is required and the best locations. In this second installment of our three-part series, we examine additional things to know before buying a gas fire pit. These considerations and tips should help you make a confident and informed decision as to the type of fire feature that best fits your location, needs and safety concerns.
Above all else, you must ensure that the location and operation of your outdoor fire pit is safe and secure. It is important to minimize risks, especially if you have young children in your family or you entertain often.
First, make sure that everyone knows how to completely turn off the fire feature and how to turn off the gas to the fire pit, whether that’s natural gas or propane.
Location is very important. It is recommended that you clear a 10’ foot area all the way around the fire pit. Be sure that all debris, overhanging branches and flammable materials are cleared away and that the unit sits on level ground. Best choices for ground cover include stone pavers, brick, concrete, gravel or, at minimum, bare earth that is continually cleared of weeds. Even when buying a gas fire pit, which is the safest choice, there is a chance that a stray spark could ignite a fire.
Although the fire pit, when lit, will provide some illumination, add pathway lighting so that family and guests do not have to stumble in the dark to enjoy time fireside. The pathway should be clear and easy to maneuver.
Fire Pit Fuel
While many homeowners enjoy a real wood fire, we do not recommend this option for those in Southern California due to the number of days when fires are prohibited. Natural gas or propane are better alternatives as they do not put off smoke that adds to the poor quality of the air. They also light instantly and are much cleaner.
A natural gas installation will be more expensive initially, but if your home already has gas lines installed, it makes sense to run an additional line to the fire pit. This project will require a permit, which is another big consideration when buying a gas fire pit.
While propane is a less expensive alternative, it also requires regular tank refills. But this does allow you to easily move the fire pit as necessary. Some homeowners do not want the propane tank visible; many of today’s models come with a built-in chamber for storing it safely out of sight.
Installation or Portability?
Finally, when buying a gas fire pit, decide if you want it to be movable or if you are okay with keeping it in the same location. As mentioned above, a fire pit fueled by natural gas is generally a permanent installation whereas a propane fire pit can be more easily moved when you wish to renovate your backyard space. If you do not plan on staying in your current home for many years to come, a propane model is your best bet.
We hope that these two articles about buying a gas fire pit will help you make the right decision for your needs.