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The Ingenuity of Fire Pits: Tips on Buying, Use, and Safety Precautions
I know you’ve heard it before: a cool summer night setting in and the darkening of our trusty blue skies sooner and later. With summer all too quickly approaching and a cool fall on the way, it’s time to fire up the fireplace and get ready for cooler, cooler temperatures. But don’t start batting the hatches just yet! With the ever-increasing popularity of outdoor fire pits, you can while away the summer and fall nights in comfort and enjoy the beauty of nature a little longer and a lot warmer!
Now…how do you know which type of fire pit best suits your needs and lifestyle? Should you use wood or gas? What shape or design should you look for? And most importantly, how can you ensure that your new toasty outdoor fire is maintained and used safely? A campfire isn’t a fireplace or a bonfire – it’s an entirely different animal. That’s why we’ve included important tips for differentiating between types, shapes, features and costs, as well as crucial safety tips for your pit.
· Permanent or portable?
Before you even start researching outdoor fire pits, you should first check your city or area ordinance to make sure they allow fire pits, what kind of fire pits, and what the safety parameters are. Once that’s done, the first step is to decide if you can benefit more from a portable fire pit or one that is permanent. Portable fire pits are usually made of light metal (Mexican fireplaces are made of clay or cast iron) and have a round design. These include wheels for easy on-the-go activity as well as patio or backyard use. With this versatility, you can move your pit to your deck, patio, different areas of your backyard, or garage with ease. Another invaluable advantage is that you don’t have to leave the toasty heat at home. Pack it in the truck or SUV for the annual camping trip or take it on the road to a tailgating party. Because portables are made of lighter materials and don’t require installation for use, they’re the most cost-effective and hassle-free way to fight the post-summer chill — both on the road and in the backyard.
The permanent fire pit (or custom designed backyard or patio fire pit), also known as a stationary or custom fire pit unit, is made of stone, brick, rock or concrete; and for most, they are the most aesthetically pleasing addition to a patio or backyard. Custom-made fire pits should rise 1 to 2 feet off the ground and have a center-of-road diameter of approximately 36 inches for wide use and safety. Like portables, you can choose between wood or gas to heat the desired area, but most products are energy specific, so be sure to check before you buy. All in all, custom-made fire pits are much more expensive, due to the professional installation, attention to design, and strong, durable materials required; but it will last you a lifetime (with proper and regular maintenance) and will certainly provide an increase in the equity value of your home.
· Design and shape?
The design and shape of your outdoor fire pit usually depends on whether you opt for portable or stationary outdoor fire pits. Most of the time, portables will be metal or copper, have a large round bowl design, and sit on a metal stand. The wood will be placed in this bowl, or if you choose a gas connection, ceramic logs or fake coals, and the removable protective screen placed on top. As mentioned before, laptops are more about function than design, so your options are somewhat limited. Fireplaces also fall into the portable category, with the old-fashioned look of a wood stove, but because they are smaller and allow much less heat to radiate, they are less practical. Custom or permanent fire pits, on the other hand, come in a wide variety of shapes and designs, due to the fact that you have the unit professionally installed. You can usually find these devices in round, square or rectangular configurations depending on the material of your choice (brick, stone, wood or concrete) and are equipped with an integrated steel screen cladding and metal closing doors to enhance them . protection when not in use.
· Wood or gas?
Both portable and permanent fire pits will require wood, gas, or both. If the campfire you have your eye on prefers wood exclusively, the most important thing is to know what type of wood. Some fire pits will burn regular logs exclusively (aged wood is always the best choice over new or green wood), so you’ll only be buying the same kind of cords you would for a fireplace. To avoid risks to the safety and general maintenance of your pit, you should never attempt to burn pressed wood or a fire log (fast light with paper). The reason is; that since fire logs are made of sawdust materials, they will burn hotter than a fire pit made for cordwood can handle. Some fire pits, however, will offer the versatility of burning cordwood, pressed wood, and fire logs; in its safety specifications. Just remember that unlike regular wood, you only need to burn one log at a time. Also note that if a pit’s specs allow pressed wood, it will be able to burn somewhat comparable logs. The alternative to a wood fire is a gas connection. Gas will burn cleaner than wood, uses ceramic logs and fake burning coals, and can provide an almost real look and warmth for your driveway or patio. The only problem with gas-fired outdoor heat is that it requires closer and more constant attention, due to its unlimited supply of flammable energy.
Cost is always an important factor to consider when looking for an outdoor fire pit. Portable fire pit units are the simplest and most cost effective solution for your outdoor heating. Depending on the various features and supplies that come with the laptop, it will usually range from $150 to $500. This is because your portable pit is constructed of lighter and subsequently less durable materials for ease of transport; and it doesn’t require the expensive installation that a permanent or custom-built fire pit does. Portables are the perfect investment for people who want a low-maintenance outdoor fire; but can’t afford the solid structure of a custom build, or hasn’t yet found a relatively permanent home to reap the long-term benefits. Bespoke or permanent fire pits use all-weather materials such as stone, brick, concrete or wood; and typically need a backyard space 15-20 feet wide. Because of their lifelong permanence and the different landscapes they require, professional installation is labor intensive and can run you thousands. It all comes down to your particular situation, though. For most homeowners, lifetime durability and intended use often outweigh cost. But if cost is an issue, portables are the quick easy and cost effective solution to your outdoor heating whims.
· Dangers and safety precautions
We all like a good fire, but it is essential to remember that it is a fire; and if we don’t take proper safety precautions and adhere to specific fire hazards, your pit could get out of control and cause property damage, illness, and possibly death.
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