Fire pits have become popular outdoor features adding ambience and warmth to the space.
Choosing an outdoor fire pit: things to know
If you’re looking for a way to enhance the atmosphere in your garden, take a look at our guide to choosing an outdoor fire pit.
An outdoor fire pit allows you to spend more time outside, even in the cooler months. There’s nothing quite like huddling around the warmth of a glowing fire toasting a few marshmallows. Before you go and plonk just any old fire pit in your garden, find out what style will best suit your outdoor space and read our installation tips.
Outdoor fire pit designs
The days of the old concrete block or rusted drum fire pits are long gone as more styles enter the marketplace. When choosing an outdoor fire pit you’ll have several options to consider, including:
- Freestanding designer fire pits
- Fire pit grills
- Built-in permanent stone or brick fire pits
- Fire bowls
- Portable fire pits
- Tabletop fire pits
Depending on the design these fire pits can be made of metal, stone, concrete, brick, glass or copper. They can also vary in size and shapes, as well as the amount of heat they will radiate. Some fire pits can be installed into the ground with built-in seating surrounding it. This can provide a snug-like experience and be a great destination in the garden.
Types of fuel
When choosing a fire pit, you’ll need to determine which fuel you’d prefer to burn. This not only will come down to personal preference but will also depend on the location of your fire pit.
Timber is the traditional fuel source for fire pits and still remains popular as it offers that true campfire experience. However, one concern of timber fire pits is the release of burning embers. To combat this, some timber-fuelled designs will come with screens. There are also ways you can minimise fire danger which you can read about below.
Clean-burning ethanol / Bioethanol
This is becoming a popular fuel source for both indoor and outdoor fires as it is low-maintenance and has a modern aesthetic
Gel fuels are typically isopropyl alcohol or methanol based combined with a thickening agent. Fire pits fuelled with gel are suitable in smaller gardens, courtyard or balconies.
Fake logs can be placed in a fire pit instead of real timber. They are usually fuelled by gas, ethanol or gel and can be used in confined spaces.
Outdoor fireplaces are another effective solution for adding ambience to your garden. Explore our Learning Library for more inspiration and advice.
Suitable locations for Outdoor Fire Pits
One of the last things to consider when choosing a fire pit is the location. The position of your fire pit needs to be considered for both safety and aesthetics. As mentioned, where you choose to locate your fire pit will also determine the design and fuel source.
You’ll have a greater choice if you’re positioning your fire pit in an open area of your garden. Freestanding pits, fire bowls and permanent stone fire pits will be suitable. If you are opting for timber as your fuel, you’ll want to consider nearby structures, branches or other flammable materials such as grass or furniture that are a risk of catching alight from frames and flying embers.
If you’re short of space, choosing a smaller design such as a fire bowl, portable fire pit, chiminea or table top will be best. A smaller space such as an inner-city courtyard is more suited to clean-burning ethanol, gel or fake logs as a fuel source unless it is enclosed such as a chiminea or a built-in fireplace.
A balcony space can still benefit from a fire pit, although your options are limited to small fire bowls or tabletop depending on the size. As with smaller spaces, you’ll best to opt for clean-burning ethanol, gel or fake logs in confined areas. It’s also important to check with the council and building regulations before purchasing a fire pit.
Top tips when installing an outdoor fire pit
1. Choose location
Ensure your fire pit is located away from flammable materials including trees, foliage and structures such as a timber pergola, shed or house.
2. Make sure the surface is suitable for the outdoor fire pit
If you’re installing a firepit in an existing outdoor space, make sure you’re placing it on a suitable surface. It’s best to place the fire pit on gravel or a paved area. Avoid installing your fire pit on a timber deck.
3. Consider the wind direction
If you’re choosing timber as your fuel source, consider the direction of the wind. You don’t want to be blowing smoke into your neighbour’s home every time you fire it up!
4. Consider traffic
You’ll want to position your fit pit in a spot that isn’t in the way, especially if you have young children around. Allow enough space for people to easily and safely move around when it is alight. This is especially important if you’re installing your fire pit below ground level.
5. Do you need a professional
Most fire pit designs won’t need professional installation. However, if you choose a model that requires a natural gas outlet, you’ll need a professional to install a connection.
6. Council regulations
Before you choose your fire pit design, you’ll want to check your local council regulations. Some councils prohibit open-air burning in residential areas to minimise smoke emissions and odours. It’s also important if you live in a complex operated by a body corporate, you check the type of fireplace permitted.