Get cozy outdoors with the perfect heating system for your backyard living space. From basic wood-burning fire pits to elaborate outdoor fireplaces, you can keep your family warm on any budget.
Chimineas have become increasingly popular in recent years. Originally created in Mexico, the chiminea was designed to keep rain and dew off the fire and to maximize heating potential with minimal wood for fuel.
The rustic look and efficient, safe design make a chiminea an excellent choice for your backyard heating system. A well-designed chiminea will draw air into the fire and direct smoke upward away from people sitting on your patio. Cleanup is minimal as well, since the fire burns hot and leaves only a small amount of ash. Additionally, chimineas enclose the fire, making them a safer choice.
While chimineas are extremely efficient, they were designed to be used in Mexico, where temperatures never drop too low. During the winter, store it inside your home, basement or garage. Freezing temperatures could cause it to crack.
Watch out for cracking, flakes in the glaze and crumbling clay in chimineas, particularly after a sudden downpour of rain. Small pores and cracks can be sealed with floor wax and a clean cloth. When you're not using your chiminea, protect it with a chiminea or grill cover.
Wood Burning Fire Pit
Gas Fire Pit
|Needs to be connected to gas line or tank|
|Portable||Requires gas line; not portable|
|Produces more heat, but also more smoke||Produces less heat, but no smoke|
|Capable of grilling food||Not suitable for cooking|
|Requires routine cleaning and mainenance||Requires less maintance (no ashes)|
|Slower to heat, and may be difficult to use in inclement weather||Faster heat time and easier to ignite in bad weather|
|Fuel (wood) can be expensive, especiailly in urban areas||Fuel can be more affordable|
There are many options for an outdoor fire pit design, from tabletop to fire bowls. You can aslo build your own fire pit with concrete blocks and a fire pit bowl, or you can explore pre-made versions. Sizes range anywhere from 25 to 45 inches.
You can choose bewteen gas or wood as fuel for your firepit, and each one has its benefits. Refer to the chart to determine the type that will work best for you.
An outdoor fireplace can combine the potential for higher heat output of a fire pit with the tidiness and safety of a chiminea. Because the outdoor fireplace is a self-contained unit, it's safer for families with children than an open fire pit.
Like fire pits, you can use wood or propane to fuel your outdoor fireplace. Styles range from sleek and modern to embossed models with an old-world feel. Outdoor fireplaces are generally more expensive than a fire pit or chiminea, but they can heat a larger area and provide a cozy environment for entertaining. An outdoor fireplace will be heavier than a chiminea or fire pit, so it's not a good choice for those wanting a portable heating source.
Patio heaters pack a large punch in terms of heat output. Depending on where you live, it can extend the use of your outdoor living space by a few weeks or even months. Gas and electric models are available, and they warm the space around them using radiant heat. Most models can heat from 6 to 20 feet in diameter.
When choosing your patio heater, consider the size and model needed to suit your purposes. Full-size models sit on the ground, but there are also ceiling, wall-mount and tabletop versions available. Even larger patio heaters are portable, and many have wheels for easy mobility.
Patio heaters are energy-efficient and safe for your family. Most models have a built-in anti-tilt switch that automatically shuts off the heater if tilted over.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all outdoor heating systems. Allow the proper clearance for combustibles and flammable materials to prevent fires and protect children from hot surfaces.