There's a chill in the air, and it's time to close up your outdoor entertaining space for fall and winter. Or is it? With an outdoor fireplace, you can create a four-seasons living area that's comfortable and warm. If you're considering this type of fireplace, check out these answers to your important questions before you make a decision.
What are some benefits of outdoor fireplaces?
You don't have to stop enjoying your outdoor living space just because the weather's getting colder. Outdoor fireplaces make it possible to continue using your patio through most — or all, depending on where you live — seasons. Aside from the functional benefit of providing warmth, outside fireplaces come in a range of design styles, so they make great decorative accents that really boost the cozy ambience of your space.
Many outdoor fireplaces are freestanding, which means they efficiently emit heat from all sides. That makes it easy for guests to gather around. One more related benefit is that these outdoor fireplaces are portable. You can enjoy them almost anywhere it's safe and convenient to do so
Where should I put my outdoor fireplace?
It’s a good idea to set up the fireplace at least 10 feet — or ideally 20 feet — away from any structures, like your home or your hot tub, and trees or shrubs. This will provide enough space for heat to dissipate. Find a spot that your fireplace can be close enough to your home or swimming area to be convenient — but also far enough away that it doesn’t become a safety hazard. Choose a fireplace that's scaled to the size of your space, too. A 15-inch-diameter chiminea, for example, is better for a small patio. A large, 56-inch rectangular fireplace puts out enough heat for a wide open yard.
For added safety, set up your fireplace on a level area so there's no risk of tipping. If you're thinking about putting the outdoor fireplace on a grass or wood surface, use a fireproof pad underneath it. Do you have plans to set up the fireplace on a stone or concrete surface? Then a fire pad typically isn't necessary.
What fuel source should I choose?
One of the great things about outdoor fireplaces is their versatility — and that even applies to the range of fuel sources you can choose from. Review the fuel types to decide which works best for your individual situation:
Wood-burning will provide the traditional crackle and flaming logs of a classic campfire. It's a great fuel source for that classic ambience, but keep in mind wood can produce a lot of debris and be harder to keep clean.
Natural gas is a low-cost fuel option, but upfront installation costs can be higher. You'll need to have a gas line run to this type of fireplace, so that also means these typically aren't portable. However, natural gas is clean-burning and it makes a nice, hot flame.
Propane is another type of gas that fuels outdoor fireplaces. It burns hotter than natural gas, and these fireplaces are also portable because they run on small tanks of propane. Keep in mind that propane is more expensive than natural gas, and you'll need to refill the tanks when they get low.
Electric won't actually require fuel, you simply plug the fireplace into a safe outdoor outlet, and they're "fueled" by electricity. They often don't produce as much heat as other options, and placement is restricted to wherever an outlet is located. You may also be able to hardwire them into your home's electrical system, but this can be costly. However, electric options are environmentally friendly because they don't create exhaust.
Are you ready to get cozy? While your considering the fuel source and planning the placement of your desired outdoor fireplace, have a look at our outdoor fireplace buying guide for more helpful shopping tips. You'll be ready to open your yard or patio up for many more evenings of enjoyment.