Which Fire Pit Should You Get? Pros, Cons, And Costs

Written By Kenneth Wilson  |  0 Comments

Do you like camping and sitting around a cozy campfire while exchanging stories and enjoying some s’mores? You can achieve a similar experience and ambiance in your home by getting an outdoor fire pit.

Compared to a traditional campfire, you won’t have to collect large logs and dig a hole anymore with fire pits. It is also a safer alternative since it would be enclosed in some type of walling. Your family and friends will be able to safely gather around a fire, perfect for cool nights.

Not only will you feel the comforting warmth while roasting marshmallows or hotdogs, but a fire pit will make a great addition that can enhance the overall look of your backyard, deck, or patio. It will be an entertainment area for your family and friends where you can gather around a cozy fire while watching the stars.

Now, if you’ve decided on getting a fire pit, the next step is determining which one to get. To help you out, here are the advantages, disadvantages, and costs of the different fire pits.

Propane Fire Pit

One of the most common types of fire pits is the propane-fueled one. This fire pit has a burner that connects to a removable propane tank using a gas line. The burner, which emits propane gas at regular intervals, is surrounded by materials usually made out of fire-resistant glass, ceramic logs, or lava rocks. This type of fire pit can be made out of rock pebbles, glass, or faux wood.

It is also convenient and easy to maintain a propane fire pit. You won’t have a difficult time getting the fire going and won’t need to keep refilling the fuel during use. After connecting it to the fuel source, you can easily turn on this type of fire pit. Most models have an ignition switch to easily start the fire pit.

This fire pit also produces a clean and smoke-free fire, which means there won’t be any ashes, embers, or sparks because it has an air mixer that helps prevent soot. Compared to other types, it is also easier to control and adjust the heat because it has a fuel valve to control the flow of the gas or a regulator to change the height of the flame. This makes it safer and prevents fire hazards and risks.

On the downside, you won’t get that nice smoky flavor when cooking over propane. While you may not need to constantly add firewood to keep the fire going, you will still need to refill the propane. Make sure to check the fuel source before starting the fire pit so the flame doesn’t instantly die when you run out of propane. You don’t want to be stuck with half-cooked meat. A propane fire pit will also not be as warm as the other types, but it will burn more efficiently.

The average cost to get a propane fire pit installed is $300 to $400. For the recurring expenses, you will need to keep spending on replacing or refilling propane tanks. It costs around $20 for a standard 20-pound tank or $4 per gallon of propane. You can get a refill or exchange your tank at a local gas station or hardware store.

Here are the different kinds of propane fire pit:

1. Portable Propane Fire Pit

If you want a large fire pit, most propane fire pits are built large which can accommodate more people to gather around it; but you could also get a small and portable one. There are some models that come with wheels, so you can easily bring your propane fire pit anywhere. It is also easy to assemble and usually doesn’t require any tools. You’ll just have to cook more rounds since it would not be as large as the normal propane fire pit and will have a smaller capacity.

2. Propane Fire Pit Table

Another kind of propane fire pit is a fire pit table. This makes it easier to cook and dine outdoors since the fire pit will have a surrounding table for cooking utensils, dishes, snack bowls, wine glasses, and other drinks.

If you’re not in the mood to eat, you can use it for card games or board games, provided that your fire is safely enclosed. It’s also a good alternative for those who have children or pets since it’s usually elevated and has a ledge, keeping them from getting close to the fire.

3. Propane Copper Bowl Fire Pit

If you’re looking for a fancy-looking propane fire put, you can get a copper bowl fire pit. This materials has a high melting point, which makes it a great heat conductor. Copper is also extremely durable and resistant to corrosion.

Wood Burning Fire Pit

If you’re looking for the closest experience to having a traditional campfire in your yard, wood burning fire pits will be able to provide that. You’ll be able to feel the same cozy warmth, smell the burning wood, and see crackling wood and glowing embers, while still being able to contain the fire.

(Source: Fire In Style)

A wood burning fire pit can be made out of stones, bricks, or cinder-blocks. This type of fire pit produces a stronger fire and the food you will cook will have that smoky taste that a propane fire pit can’t produce. Most models come with a grill grate so you can leave your meat cooking while you entertain your guests.

While the fire may be stronger, it will also be more difficult to control and does not burn cleanly. There will be smoke and you have to watch out for dangerous flying embers and sparks. You can get a wire mesh screen to prevent getting burnt with flying sparks. I also recommend getting a fire pit poker stick to prevent burning yourself and a log grate so you can easily adjust or add wood. You can also get a model with a swiveling grate so you can bring it up and down, keeping the meat from getting burnt.

It will also be more difficult and takes longer to start the fire, especially if the logs or fire pit is wet. That’s why you need to cover or store this fire pit to keep it dry. You would also have to continually add or adjust the firewood when using this fire pit. It also takes a long time to extinguish and produces ash that needs to be cleaned up regularly. Always make sure to watch the embers until the fire has completely burned out. (Related article: How to Clean and Maintain a Fire Pit)

While it will be difficult to maintain, getting this fire pit will be easier. It is more affordable and easier to install. A wood burning fire pit costs around  $300 to $800. For maintenance, you need to regularly clean out the ashes and make sure you have enough supply of firewood. Firewood can be expensive and it’s important to properly store it since bugs gather around it. The average cost of a cord of wood is $150 to $575.

Here are the different kinds of wood burning fire pit:

1. Wood Burning Fire Pit Table

Similar to a propane fire pit, you can also get a wood burning fire pit table. It will have space for your plates, drinks, and cooking utensils. You could get a large one so that it can accommodate more people and hold more wood. You won’t have to keep refilling the logs, giving you time to entertain your guests. Just make sure you have enough space for a large fire pit table in your yard.

2. Portable Wood Burning Fire Pit

There is also a portable version of the wood burning fire pit. This way, you can bring it anywhere, even when you go camping. But why would you use a portable fire pit when you can have a real campfire?

With a portable fire pit, you can make cooking and the clean-up easier and prevent a fire hazard. There are also some models that barely emit smoke, almost considered smoke-free fire pits. 

Natural Gas Fire Pit

A natural gas fire pit is a more efficient version of a propane fire pit. This type runs on fuel from a natural gas line, which usually comes from the same gas supply that runs to your home. It also produces fewer emissions than wood burning fire pits and can be easily ignited and started with a flip of a switch or turn of a key. Similar to propane fire pits, it is also smoke-free and won’t produce sparks or ashes.

While it is easy to maintain and clean, it won’t produce as much heat as wood burning fire pits. You’ll be able to control the heat but won’t get that nice smoky flavor. Another downside is the cost of installation. Since you will have to tap the natural gas supply of your home, you will need a gas plumber to run a new line and connect it to the fire pit.

This means it would be difficult or not possible to DIY, and you’ll have to check if you need to obtain a permit before installing or getting one installed. You should also carefully choose the location of your natural gas fire pit since it will be permanent due to the gas line connection.

Getting a natural gas fire pit can cost around $400 to $3,000. If you don’t have a gas line, you would have to add $200 to $500. For the maintenance, you will have to pay your natural gas bills, but at least you won’t have to refill every time. The installation costs may be more expensive, but it will be easier to maintain. This added feature also boosts the value of a home, which homeowners who plan to resell with be able to take advantage of.

If you’re looking for a contractor to install a fire pit for your home, head on to HomeAdvisor to compare prices of different contractors in your area. You can easily find licensed and insured contractors, saving you time and effort on comparing quotes.


Pros, Cons, and Costs Comparisons



  • It can be made out of different materials
  • Start or ignite a fire with a switch
  • Burns more efficiently
  • Produces clean and smoke-free fire
  • No ashes embers or sparks
  • Easy to control and adjust the heat
  • Convenient and easy to maintain
  • Safe and prevents fire hazards and risks
  • Multiple options to get fuel source
  • More affordable fuel source
  • Comes in portable models


  • Need to regularly refill or replace the propane tank
  • Does not produce the same smoky flavor
  • Does not generate as much heat as wood burning fire pits


  • Installation cost: $300 to $400
  • Fuel cost: $20 per 20 lb tank or $4 per gallon

Wood Burning


  • Almost similar to a real campfire
  • It can be made out of different materials
  • Produces a stronger fire than other types
  • Gives a smoky flavor to the food
  • Easy to install and more affordable
  • Comes in portable models
  • Safer than a traditional campfire


  • Produces smoke
  • Difficult to control the fire
  • Does not burn cleanly
  • Produces flying embers and sparks
  • Difficult and takes longer to start a fire
  • Continually add or adjust the firewood when using this fire pit
  • Takes a long time to extinguish the fire
  • Need to regularly clean the ashes
  • Expensive fuel source


  • Installation cost: $300 to $800
  • Fuel cost: $150 to $575 per cord of wood

Natural Gas


  • More efficient and easier to control the fire
  • Endless supply and no need to constantly refill
  • Fewer emissions than other types
  • Easily ignite with a switch or turn of a key
  • Smoke-free and no sparks or ashes
  • Easy to maintain and clean
  • Boosts the value of a home


  • Won’t produce as much heat as wood burning fire pits
  • No smoky flavor
  • Difficult to DIY
  • Permanent due to gas line
  • Need gas line installation, if none
  • Expensive to install


  • Installation cost: $400 to $3,000
  • Gas line installation: $200 to $500

About the Author

I can build it, and I can help you get the patio enclosure you want! I got my start in the Florida patio industry back in the 70s as a young general laborer looking for something to make a few bucks. At the time I never thought it would end up as my career. Over the years I grew beyond the laborer position, becoming a foreman, superintendent, and then into executive management for some of the largest patio contractors, and material vendors. Now into retirement and slightly bored, I offer consulting services to new and existing contractors, and publish this website to help the people who love their patio's and screen enclosures the most - YOU!

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