The Best Fire Pits – Buyers Guide and Comparison

There’s nothing quite like cozying up by the fireplace on a cold winter night. However, a fireplace doesn’t really fit year-round and keeps you inside – away from the beautiful night sky.

Fortunately, with a fire pit you can experience the warmth and coziness of a fire year-round while enjoying the beauty of the outdoors.

best outdoor fire pit

Fire pits can be the center piece for your backyard and are the perfect spot to have some family time and escape the hassles of modern life. There is a certain magical feeling that only comes from sitting around and watching the flickering flames.

They come in a variety of styles, fuel sources, and price ranges so there’s a good chance an outdoor fire it would fit your yard perfectly.

Why Use a Fire Pit?

cooking marshmallows on fire pit

Everyone loves huddling around a campfire, whether it’s on the beach or a local campsite. You don’t want to have to leave your property just to enjoy a campfire song though!

That’s where a fire pit comes in – it allows you to bring the campfire to your deck or yard (mostly) safely, along with all the cool things a fire lets you do.

Some fun activities that a fire pit lets you do are:

  • Roasting Marshmallows
  • Staying Warm on A Chilly Night
  • Setting the Atmosphere for a Party
  • Using a Grill Rack for Cooking
  • Smoking Meats
  • Contemplating the Intricacies of Life

Okay, so the last one may be a little extreme, but dating back to the prehistoric ages, people have always been obsessed with fire. It looks cool, it’s useful, and with the right outdoor fire pit, it can become a centerpiece of your backyard.

Choosing Your Outdoor Fire Pit

In addition to prebuilt metal devices, you can also make your own semi-permanent pit either from scratch or with a “do it yourself” kit.

While we primarily recommend that you buy an outdoor fire pit, there is always that option for DIYers or those seeking custom options. There is a great guide on building a DIY firepit here.

In general, a prebuilt fire pit is going to be cheaper than custom-designed options and easier than making your own, so be ready to either pay a lot or do some manual labor if you skip the prebuilt option!

You have options when it comes to your fire pit. Once you decide between buying or building your pit, you’re going to be faced with a variety of other decisions.

Below are some of the most important questions to ask yourself, which will allow you to refine your search as much as possible.

Portable or Permanent?

In some homes, you will find a permanent fire pit – one built into the deck or built into the ground in a specific area – that cannot be moved. While these are great for forming a designated spot to sit around the fire, they don’t offer much versatility in location.

Permanent fire pits are also more expensive because they will often need to be custom-installed.

With a portable fire pit, you will save more and be able to move the pit from your deck to your yard to storage if you choose. You’ll need to provide your own seating, though!

Wood, Natural Gas, or Propane Fuel Source?

Your next big decision will be your fuel source. What you burn for heat will play a huge role in the convenience, cost, and type of fire pit you can choose.

The first and most common is a wood fire pit, where you can burn pieces of wood in a bowl or heat-proof area, allowing the heat to radiate and the smoke to vent out. You will have to keep it stocked with wood, but this option allows you to enjoy the smell of a campfire, cook marshmallows and other foods the ol’ fashioned way, and will provide the crackling spectacle that only wood can offer.

Another option is natural gas, which allows you to ignite your fire pit like a stovetop. Unlike fire, this heat is much more direct and will need to be dispersed by the pit to be an effective source of heat. It will also require a natural gas connection – something not everyone has in their yard – but will be easy and convenient to use.

The last choice is propane, which acts similarly to natural gas without requiring a gas line. If you use a propane grill, chances are that you’ll be familiar with how to fuel them. You’ll also know how heavy the tanks are, though! You will also miss out on the campfire-look that a wood fire pit offers, but it will be less smoky and cleaner to use. These offer more versatility and portability than natural gas choices, but less than wood fire pits.

Overall, we recommend burning firewood for your heat source and buying an outdoor fire pit that allows for a sizable flame and is large enough to provide ample heat.

Standing Pit, Bowl Pit, or Ground Pit?

bowel fire pit
The Tuscola bowl fire pit – available from Wayfair.

You’ve probably seen the most common form of fire pit – the bowl fire pit. It looks like a wok or pan used for cooking and is often wide and shallow with an open top. You can add a top lid or grate to it to keep the crackling down, or you can just let the flames burn as high as the edges allow.

standing fire pit
The Lanesboro Standing Fire Pit – available at Wayfair

However, there is also the fancier and more advanced standing pit. These often look like tables or other furniture that have a heat source radiating from their tops. Standing pits are primarily gas or propane powered because an open flame would pose a danger to the item itself.

in ground fire pit
An in ground fire pit

Finally, there are pits in the ground that look like permanent campfires or bonfires. These are almost always wood-heated and are perhaps the most authentic experience you can get.

They are more expensive and will require extra-careful planning to make sure they’re used safely, however.

Where Should It Go?

Fire pits get very, very hot, so it’s no surprise that location is important both to its effectiveness and safety of use. Generally, the location of your fire pit depends on the type of fire pit.

A bowl pit is often more dangerous to surrounding areas because of the open flame, so locating it near or inside a stone patio would be safe. You’ll also want to keep it away from any overhanging foliage, away from your home, and away from your fence. Consider some heat-resistant wood benches or even better, use stone or metal for anywhere near the pit.

Gas-powered outdoor fire pits have less restrictions on their location because there is no open flame, but they still give off serious heat, so you’ll want to keep the area above the fire free of flammable materials. You can likely surround the gas fire pit with standard furniture, as the heat shouldn’t radiate outwards. Just be careful not to get too close to it or set a cushion down on top!

Our Recommendations

Now that you know what to look for, here are some of the best outdoor fire pits for you to consider. Each of them is our pick for their specific category, and a surefire way to start or upgrade your fire pit.

Best Decorative Bowl Fire Pit

Sun Joe SJFP35-STN fire pit

If you’re looking for a stone fire pit look without the hassle of stacking stones, this could be the wooden fire pit for you. It has a large 29-inch bowl to hold enough wood for sizable flames and is also big enough to be a focal point of your yard.

You’ll want to keep it away from your deck, but it would fit perfectly on a stone patio with some chairs surrounding it. It even comes in a variety of patterns, so you can match it to your sitting area.

On Sale - Save $20.99
Sun Joe SJFP35-STN Cast Stone Base, Wood Burning Fire Pit w/Dome Screen and Poker
  • Ideal outdoor centerpiece for warmth and enjoyment
  • Durable cast stone base adds a sophisticated touch to any outdoor décor
  • Large 29 in. (73.8 cm) fire bowl accommodates hardwood logs up to 21.5 in. (54.6 cm) long
  • Mosquito-safe tip: add sage, Lemon balm, or Citronella leaves to your fire pit to help repel mosquitos
  • No wood burning fire pits should be used on a wood deck

Best Value Fire Pit

Landmann USA Bromley Fire Pit

If you’re looking for a smaller fire pit that is extremely portable and inexpensive, the Bromley wood fire pit may be for you.

It comes with a decorative bowl and legs made of sturdy steel to keep the fire contained while offering a large enough bowl to radiate the heat outward. It will also include a grate to block sparks and has holes for better oxygen flow and a better burn.

Landmann USA Bromley Fire Pit, Black
  • Decorative cutout design on firebowl create incredible ambiance
  • Lightweight and easy to carry for easy transport
  • Decorative legs add style while providing stability and support
  • Includes spark screen to keep the embers contained
  • Includes poker

Best Luxury Gas Fire Pit

Outland gas Fire Pit

When it comes to gas fire pits, this is about as fancy as you can get. This full-table propane fire pit comes with arctic ice glass rocks to reflect the flames for a better visual effect. The top of the table is tempered glass and the outer material is weatherproof wicker, making it as stylish as it is hot.

The concentrated gas-power also allows it to be placed on decks or patios without exceptional fire risk.

It comes at an exceptionally high price range, but when it comes to looks, this is about as good as it gets.

On Sale - Save $1.47
Outland Living Series 401 Brown 44-Inch Outdoor Propane Gas Fire Pit Table, Black Tempered Tabletop w/Arctic Ice Glass Rocks and Resin Wicker Panels, Espresso Brown/Rectangle
  • Gas powered to fuel is always easy to come by
  • Made of high quality weather resistant materials
  • Stainless steel burner rated at 35,000 BTU
  • Looks great and is sure to impress

Best Standing Gas Fire Pit

endless summer gas outdoor fire place

If you want a standing gas fire pit but don’t want to spend a ton or have a giant table, consider the smaller Endless Summer gas fire pit.

Powered by propane, this model has a mantle made of slate that surrounds the heated stones where the heat comes from. This mantle is primarily unaffected by the heat outside of ambient heat, so it can host drinks or food without posting much of a fire threat.

It would fit the middle of an outdoor patio set perfectly and is very affordable compared to other standing gas models.

On Sale - Save $79.96
Endless Summer, GAD1429SP, Gas Outdoor Fireplace with Slate Mantel
  • 30,000 BTU stainless steel burner
  • Hidden control panel with electronic ignition
  • Slate tile mantle with steel bowl and wicker base design
  • Includes lava rock. Bowl Depth (inches): 1.18, bowl length (inches): 17.52, bowl Width (inches) :17.52
  • LP tank not included

Pricing last updated on 2019-05-07 at 09:54 / affiliate links - Details

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