Updated: June 8, 2015
Best Fire PitsHanging out in the backyard on a summer or fall evening is always fun, but bringing the excitement of a camp fire to your yard changes everything. The outdoor firepit is a relatively new creation. Chimineas were around for a while, but most people complain they don't use them much after they buy them. But an outdoor fireplace or fire pit brings to mind campfires, beach bonfires, and of course the perfect excuse for smores. A backyard fireplace is a pretty big project, and needs to be planned in the context of patio and yard design. But a backyard firepit is inexpensive, small, and easy to setup. Below we will review some of the most popular fire pits, check out some firepit pictures, and get some advice on buying a fire pit.
Everyone, from kids to adults, seem to love kicking their feet up around a the roaring glow of an evening fire. Adding a firepit to your yard will bring your family and friends together in a relaxed, outdoor setting.
Fire Pit Reviews and Buying GuideWhen buying a fire pit, there are a few things to consider. The first is style or design. Are you looking for a chimney-style look, a camping ring look, a fire bowl design, or a table-top firepit? Second, what size do you need? The smaller fire pits are about 20-25 inches in diameter, while medium-sized pits are 25-35 inches. The largets fire pits are about 40-45 inches in diameter, almost the size of a patio table. Consider where you want to put in and plan accordingly. If it will be on a smaller patio, you will lose a lot of patio space with a 45 inch fire pit - consider 20-25 inches instead. The final consideration is price. You can get a cheap fire pit for about $99 - but the stand or base may not be very sturdy, the metals used may corrode or rust, and the screen may fall apart - the real low end units are not meant to last more than 2 or 3 seasons. On the high end, you can easily pay more than $500 for gas-powered fire pits that use propane, or for designs that include granite tabletops around the fire pit. Have a budget and quality level in mind before you start shopping, and stick with your game plan. Be sure to follow the manufacturer safety warnings and precautions. Never place outdoor fireplaces near the walls of your home or other structure. Most also include warning about use on wooden decks. The ideal locations is a cement, tile, or other hard stone surface that is fireproof, including a similar backdrop to protect from sparks and embers. You should also be in the open air with no overhangs or enclosures around you. You also want to stay away from dry grasses and brush or firewood that could ignite. You may also want to consider portability when you buy a fire pit - some are collapsible or can be broken into simple parts and easily packed into the car or truck to take to the beach house, camping, the lake, etc. Most fire pits will come with a screen to keep sparks and embers from igniting your neighbors roof, but they can rust out, get bent or damaged, and sometimes you need a replacement. Vinyl fire pit covers are another popular option, keeping it out of the rain and protected from the elements when not in use. Some of the nicer firepits have finished table surfaces around a central fire bowl, and keeping them clean and nice looking requires a little more protection that the simple copper bowl firepits. You can browse the most popular fire pits online here.
Coleman Backyard FireplacesA leading name in camping and outdoor equipment is Coleman. Coleman.com shows their collection of 6 or 7 different styles and designs of fireplaces (they don't use the word fire pit). They offer one model that looks a bit like a Weber grill on wheels, called the Patio Fireplace. It has a hinged door for easy access when adding wood, and a solid cover so more heat is radiated out the screen covered sides. It sells for $129. They also make a 30 inch round stainless steel fire pit. The design is mainly the steel firebowl resting atop a wrought iron frame - simple, compact, not much to break. The screen (included) lifts off the top, but you will want either a fire poker to loop through the handle or an oven mit if you plan on grabbing the handle that sits right above the roaring flames. Their larger 35" model sells for $129, and includes a firepit cover, lifting tool, and wood burning grate. If you like copper, they have a $159 copper dome fireplace. The dome acts like a chimney and there is a hinged door for side access. Our favorite was the 40" Granite Table with Copper Fire Bowl.
The bowl itself is 30" diameter of lovely copper. Add a 5" granite ring (1/2 inch thick) around the outer edge, and you end up with a 40" total table diameter. Having the stone rim around the fire bowl is nice - it lets you prop your feet up near the fire and/or give you a place to set a drink or snack. It does get dirt though being near the sparks, ashes, and soot associated with a fire, so plan on cleaning it after every few fires to keep it looking its best.
FirePitShop.com is another site we liked. They have special sections devoted to best sellers, sales, materials, fuel, and size and price, making it easy to zero in on just the model of fire pit you are looking for. They have a couple real cool models with an open fire ring design made of cold rolled steel with a rust-finish look applied to it. They come with cutouts of various shapes and designs, allowing the glow of the fire to be seen from all sides. The Star and Moon design is $248, with free ground shipping. The Grapevine Fire Pit is emblazoned with vines and grape bunches in cutout relief, $239 with free shipping. It comes with a grill insert, poker, safety screen, and cover. Finally, take a look at eco-gardening.com - they have more than 40 outdoor fireplaces and fire pits to browse and choose from. They even carry accessories like firepit benches and log racks. We liked their sharp looking 28" diameter Stainless Steel Patio Hearth (45" tall). The "weber" design looks great in the shiny metal, though keep in mind even stainless steel starts looking weathered and dirty after a few uses. The dual swing-out access doors make it easy to add wood or pop in some marshmallow skewers over embers. Pricey at $475, its still a great firepit. RECOMMENDED - View all top rated fire pits here.