Propane vs. Natural Gas for a Fire Pit

Get all the info you need on propane vs. natural gas for a fire pit.
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Closeup of a fire pit with blue glass and a burning flame surrounded by marble in this outdoor space.

Photo by: Harris Shiffman

Harris Shiffman

By: Sean McEvoy

If you're looking to heat things up in your back yard, you may want to explore the pros and cons of propane vs. natural gas for a fire pit. Both flame sources have advantages and disadvantages, and ultimately the choice will come down to your own preference. However, if you keep a few considerations in mind, the decision should be fairly easy.

20 Cozy Outdoor Fireplaces

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Design a Fireside Retreat

Outdoor fireplaces set the scene to dine alfresco and provide warmth for outside gatherings on cool nights. Photo courtesy of Mega-Bergerac

Photo By: Chipper Hatter

Materials and Structure

"Traditionally, outdoor fireplaces were made of brick and needed a foundation to be laid before they were built," says Lou Manfredini, Ace's Home Expert. Browse pictures of this outdoor living room from HGTV's 2012 Dream Home.

Photo By: Eric Perry

Solid Advice

"Stone can be used outdoors as either the entire makeup of the fireplace or as accents within the design." says Lou.

Natural Beauty

This large outdoor fireplace, with its beautiful stone facade, has a grand allure. With lush greenery peeking from behind the fireplace, this outside space invites you to relax. Photo courtesy of Concrete Network

Use Local Resources

Rich wood textures and a cozy stone fireplace make this outdoor living room the ultimate mountain escape. For a custom fireplace design use materials significant to your area, like river rock for a cabin in the woods or shells for a beachy cottage. Photography by beall + thomas

Photo By: Kreis Beall & Heather Anne Thomas; beall and thomas 8656816128

Plush and Inviting

The standout element in this courtyard is the stucco fireplace. Sleek sofas add modern style and comfort to the outdoor escape. Design by Color Design Art

Evening Charm

This Tuscan-style outdoor room features a rustic fireplace and iron details that set the stage for an intimate outdoor gathering at sunset. Photography by Keith Summerour

Add Year-Round Comfort

Outdoor lighting, furniture, and a fireplace blur the boundaries between indoors and out. A covered patio adds to your home's livable space. Photo courtesy of Kichler

Beautiful, Custom and Cozy

Decorate your outdoor space the way you would think about outfitting your living room. This deck blends a traditional stone fireplace with modern furniture. Photo courtesy of Rich Pomerantz

Intimate Elegance

A porthole mirror and potted plants dress up this outdoor fireplace. Courtyard seating faces the fireplace, creating the perfect spot for company and conservation. Design by Chris Johnson

Double-Sided Duty

This patio features a built-in outdoor fireplace you can enjoy from both sides, rain or shine. Design by Knitter Partners International, Inc.

Find the Perfect Fit

A fire pit is one of the many focal points in this deck's multi-level design. A built-in bench curves around the fire pit for toasty seating on chilly nights. Photo courtesy of Trex

Ready for Company

The entertaining deck at HGTV's 2012 Dream Home offers a warm and cozy respite even on the chilliest winter's evening. This fire pit has a modern design and features four separate gas units.

Photo By: Eric Perry

Shop to It

When choosing an outdoor fire pit, "look for heavier materials, nothing flimsy," advises Lou. "And you'll need to cover your fire pit when it's not in use." Design by Laidlaw Schultz Architects; Photography by John Ellis.

Salvage Materials

"Many companies that make paving stones for driveways and patios also make outdoor fireplace kits," says Lou. "Essentially all these bricks get stacked on one another to form the fireplace. All you need for the base is gravel and sand." Design by Jamie Durie

Just Heating Up

An outdoor fire pit does more than create ambiance — you can use it for a range of cooking options, including slow-cooking meats and grilling kebabs. Photography and design by Debora Carl

Roast and Relax

Sure, an outdoor fire pit creates warmth on chilly evenings and a place to gather together in the open air. But its best use might be roasting marshmallows to make s'mores.

Built-In Arrangement

Nothing beats a cozy fire with a view. A stone fire pit like this would be more costly than a portable option, due to the cost of transporting and laying the stone. Photo courtesy of Belgard MegaArbel

Photo By: Chipper Hatter

Position it Right

For safety reasons, it's best to position your fire pit away from any foliage or nearby trees. Browse more outdoor pictures from DIYNetwork's Blog Cabin

Photo By: Frank Murray

Decked Out

The freestanding fireplace is the focal point for large outdoor gatherings on this curvy deck. Photo courtesy of TREX

The first difference to consider is portability. Propane comes in tanks that can be attached to a grill or fire pit, meaning the whole operation can then be moved depending on where you want the focal point of your backyard gathering to be located. Natural gas, on the other hand, is fed to the fire pit by a gas line that attaches to your home—so it's likely that if you choose this option, your fire pit will need to be stationary.

Next up is cost. Natural gas definitely has the advantage here, coming in at one sixth the cost of propane in some areas. Additionally, natural gas is often seen as more convenient than propane, since you'll never need to run to the gas station or convenience store for a tank of the stuff.

In terms of efficiency, propane has the advantage, providing about 2,500 BTUs, with the same volume of natural gas providing around 1,000 BTUs.

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