Fire Pits or Fire Tables – Propane or Gas – How to Decide

Published on 06-Jun-2017

I have heard it said that “Summer should get a speeding ticket.” I would add, “especially in New England” where Summer takes forever to get here, and is gone in a flash.  We can’t stop the seasons from changing but we can prolong our outdoor time! By adding warmth to your outdoor space, you can thaw out from that long winter a bit earlier than normal and stretch those pleasant Summer nights well into Fall.

One of the best ways to prolong the outdoor season in New England is with a fire pit, fire table, or an outdoor fireplace. Creating a backyard oasis, pulling everyone nearby into a circle, your backyard fire feature will be a focal point for gathering, dining, story-telling, and relaxing.

In Spring, a warm fire pit or fire table draws people out of their stuffy homes into the open air where spirits are lifted and renewed. In Summer, the bright flames attract everyone and create an ambience perfect for renewing friendships and starting new ones. Late Summer/early Fall is where your very own fire pit, fire table, or outdoor fireplace will really shine. As the warm summer days and nights start to wane, and evenings turn a bit cooler, you can still escape into your outdoor spaces without having to bundle up. You can stay warm by the fire!

There are a multitude of options to choose from. You can go with a fire pit, a fire table, or even an outdoor fireplace. Each has advantages.

The first thing to determine is whether you want to use wood, propane, or natural gas. Most people are moving away from wood and choosing to use either propane or natural gas. Here’s why.

1.     When burning gas there is NO SMOKE, NO SPARKS and NO EMBERS. You can enjoy the fire all night and when you shower the next morning, you will not be reliving the smoky camp fire from the night before.

2.     You can also ensure you fire stays lit even on windy days with a sophisticated burner and glass wind guard.

3.     With easy ignition, gas fire pits/tables/fireplaces can burn full tilt in less than 5 seconds and be turned off immediately – there is no need to hassle with gathering wood, getting a fire started or watching for embers.   

4.     They are safe to use in city limits and next to houses, on your patio, next to your pool, or on a wooden deck.

5.     Gas fire features provide both heat and ambience with an adjustable flame that allows you to control the temperature and flame height.

6.     You can change the look with pebbles, colored fire glass, traditional or driftwood log sets or other media.

7.     They are UL listed for safety.


So, if you want to avoid the mess, smoke, hassle, dangers, and maintenance associated with wood fires, your next question is whether to use liquid propane or natural gas. Let’s compare propane to gas.

  • o   Natural gas typically needs to be run from the house to a fixed point in your yard or patio.
  • o   Propane is portable allowing you to put your fire pit or fire table virtually anywhere.
  • o   Natural gas is less expensive – in some areas it is 1/6th the cost of propane.
  • o   Natural gas is convenient as you will not have a tank to refill.
  • o   Propane wins on efficiency – 2500 BTUs versus 1,000 BTUs per volume.
  • o   Natural gas burns cleaner – however, a cleaner flame will not burn as bright (or yellow) as propane.

The principle advantage many people see with propane is portability. With a propane tank, your fire pit or fire table can be relocated to suit your need – perhaps with a larger group gathering, you need to move it somewhere that would accommodate more people; or you just want to have it by the pool one night, and by the porch another. The fire table is unique, in that it actually has a dual functionality – it’s a fire feature and it’s a table. These can be normal dining table height, chat height, or pub height. Another advantage is that when the fire element is not in use, it can be covered and now you have a fully functional table.

Although the portability function is important to some, the creativity that comes with a gas-fired, in-place fire pit can be the deciding factor. The choice of shapes, the different facings, including stone, brick, stamped concrete, marble, or even metals, such as copper are what attracts many home-owners to a built-in fire pit.  The flexibility in design is based on the fact that these types of fire pits can be constructed using pre-made concrete shapes that are ready to be finished with the material of your choice.  Or one could build their own custom masonry structure and outfit it with a gas burner. The ingenuity and inventiveness of your outdoor fire feature is limited only by your imagination.

Finally, we shouldn’t forget the outdoor fireplace. These can be free standing or, in many instances, a part, or extension of the house. These will be very similar to the fireplace in your home, i.e., a powered appliance with a sealed fire box, but specifically made to withstand the elements.  With efficient heat output an outdoor fireplace can easily turn a patio or deck into a true outdoor living room.  

All of these choices are open to the vision of what you want to see in your outdoor space. They can be refined, rustic, classic, modern, and anything in between. Our in-house experts at Fine Home Details will work with you to determine what is best for you and your family, while delivering an outdoor fire feature that will provide years of memories. Contact us today!