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An Outdoor Fire Pit vs. A Fireplace: Which One Should You Choose?

An Outdoor Fire Pit vs. A Fireplace: Which One Should You Choose?

It’s not just the design you should consider, but also the mood you want to set

So after so many sleepless nights, you finally gave in to your desire of adding an outdoor fire…

After all, adding a spellbinding fire to your cold nights is never a bad idea.

However… Your dilemma doesn’t end there! Now you’re stuck deciding between an outdoor fireplace vs fire pit.

It’s a classic quandary for all homeowners.

But don’t worry, you’re not the first client whom we’ve helped overcome this dilemma. We’ve received so many inquiries about this topic that we decided to write about it.

So keep reading… because at the end of this blog, you’ll have a better idea of which outdoor fire will perfect your scenic backyard.

Fire Pit Vs Fireplace: Things You Should Know First

Before you can truly be ready to choose between fire pits for sale and fireplaces for sale you first need to know the basics. This will give you an idea of what suits you and your family’s personality and living space.

Difference Between Fire Pit And Fireplace


The key difference between an outdoor fire pit vs fireplace is their design.

A fireplace, whether it’s outdoor or indoor, is (almost) always a permanent structure.

So if you think about it, it’s almost a lifetime commitment. However, you can always choose to redesign it after a few years but it will come with a hefty cost.

While a firepit is more of an open-space fire and it’s movable.

Dimensions & Regulations

When it comes to an outdoor fireplace, the size should be according to the new International Residential Code (IRC).

But of course, you still have the option of whether you want a big or a small fireplace as long as it’s compliant with the chimney code.

With a fire pit, on the other hand, the chimney code does not apply. But because it’s considered a recreational fire, depending on where you’re located in the US there are local laws that you should observe.

Types Of Outdoor Fireplace Vs Fire Pit Fuel

Choosing the fuel type for your outdoor fire is as important as choosing whether to get a Prism Hardscapes or a Hearth Products Controls firepit.

Because it can affect your backyard's ambiance and space; not to mention how you will spend your days maintaining it. And there’s also a question about which fuel type is eco-friendly and less hazardous to you and your family’s health.

To make it easy for you, we’ve ranked our list from the least source of heat to the hottest source of heat.

a. Electric Fire

We can sense your hesitation…

Yes, electric fire is possible outdoors and yes, it’s safe! As long as you follow the electrical code and safety usage.

If you live in a warm climate and you just want an elegant outdoor fire for aesthetic purposes, an electric fire is perfect for you.

So what makes electric fire a good choice?

  • It’s eco-friendly - obviously!
  • It doesn’t emit any smoke or hazardous materials which means it’s a healthy choice for you and your family
  • Elegant design with real-life flames
  • No additional cost in building vents or chimney
  • Easy to use, no more intimidating fire lighting - plug and use

Okay… Great! But what are the disadvantages?

  • You might pay huge on your eclectic bill. Especially if you decide to leave it on all night
  • Compared to other fuel sources, it emits the least heat

b. Ethanol Fire

If you’re looking for the most environment-friendly fuel type, then ethanol is for you.

So what makes ethanol a good choice?

  • It’s the most eco-friendly source of fire (well, with real fire) and it’s a renewable energy source
  • Does not produce smoke, soot, or ash - zero emission of toxic compounds
  • No health hazard, you can enjoy it without worrying about your health
  • Because it doesn’t emit smoke, you’ll be able to save money on vents

Sounds perfect, but.. What’s the catch?

  • Compared to wood and liquid propane, it doesn’t produce as much heat - but it’s hotter than an electric fire

c. Natural Gas

So what makes natural gas a good choice?

  • Inexpensive in the long run and energy efficient
  • Burns cleaner than propane and wood

Let’s hear the disadvantages…

  • Natural gas is not as safe as ethanol for your health
  • It’s a non-renewable source of energy and produces harmful emissions
  • You need to install a chimney and an additional gas line

d. Liquid Propane

If you want more heat, then propane is for you!

So what makes propane a good choice?

  • It burns like summer! If you live in a very cold place, propane is an incredible source of heat
  • It’s inexpensive and burns cleaner than wood

What are the disadvantages?

  • It emits carbon dioxide
  • Compared to natural gas, it needs periodic refilling
  • Installation can be expensive because you need a chimney

e. Wood

If you’re looking for a classic outdoor fire, then nothing beats wood.

So what makes wood a good choice?

  • Sets the mood and it’s more romantic
  • It’s a great source of heat compared to other types of fuel

What makes it not so good?

  • It’s the most toxic and poses health and safety hazard
  • Needs regular cleaning by a professional chimney sweeper
  • Even with fire safety in place, it still presents a safety risk

Fire Pit Vs Fireplace: 3 Things To Consider

Obviously, you need to consider the things we mentioned above.

But these 3 factors are the deal breaker when you’re deciding on whether to get a fire pit or a fireplace.

1. Money

    Do we need to say more?

    As you already know, an outdoor fireplace will cost you more than a fire pit.

    Fire pits are budget-friendly. With just $1.7k you can already own a stylish The Outdoor Plus fire pit. But with an outdoor fireplace, you need to set at least $3k to buy one.

    2. Function

    Now that you already have a financial estimate, we should determine the function or purpose of why you want an outdoor fire.

    Here are a few questions you might want to think about:

    • Are you going to use the space for entertaining guests?
    • Do you want an outdoor fire so that you can spend quality time with your family?
    • Are you expecting a weekly visit from your friends and other family members?
    • Do you want it for downtime, where you can relax and curl up with a good book?

    If you want a more cozy, intimate time with your loved ones or yourself, then cuddling in front of a fireplace is perfect.

    But if you’re planning to throw a grand party with your friends, then a fire pit is what you need. It gives you more space to socialize while keeping everybody warm.

    Consider the mood you want your family, guests, and yourself to feel when you see the outdoor fire.

    3. Space

    Before you jump and buy the perfect outdoor fire, first consider the space you have.

    If you have limited outdoor space, then go for a fireplace. Fire pits can take up a lot of space because you need to place them in the middle of your backyard.

    If you have an outdoor kitchen, it would be best if you maximize your space while also considering the heat coming from a fireplace and kitchen.

    As much as we love getting warm, too much heat is not fun - or comfortable!

    Not sure if you should get an outdoor kitchen? Read our blog about the benefits of an outdoor kitchen to help you decide.

    So… What Mood Do You Want To Set?

    We know… We know… We gave you a lot to think about.

    So to make it even easier for you here’s a summary of what you should consider when buying an outdoor fire:

    1. First of all, set your budget so that you can set your expectations
    2. Picture your backyard, now imagine the senses you want to awaken when you step outside, what mood and scene you want to set
    3. Now, consider the space you have and how you want your things positioned
    4. Take a photo of that mental picture and make it a reality

    Ready for warmer nights? Check out our catalogue and create the ambiance you’ve been dreaming of!

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