Maybe your deck or patio plan includes a gas fireplace or maybe you’re upgrading a wood burning fireplace inside your home. Whatever your home renovation plan, the choices you have available today in gas fireplaces continue to grow and evolve.
In many ways, the parameters for the design for an outdoor fireplace are similar to those used indoors. In most homes today, fireplaces are fitted with gas allowing you to enjoy the warmth of a fire without the wood. The same is true with outdoor fireplaces. There are the associated issues with buying, storing and cleaning up after wood fires. There is also some debate on the the environmental issue of burning wood. You can learn more about that issue in this article by the Smithsonian. In any case many communities have banned wood burning appliances of all types. With these type of restrictions, gas fireplaces become the ultimate solution.
Of course, a wood burning fire pit or fireplace might be exactly what you are looking for. If that’s the case it’s wise to incorporate a gas line so that you have this option and can convert to gas as required. For many great ideas on outdoor fireplaces and fire-pit designs, you can review our recent article here.
Propane or Natural Gas
Gas fireplaces can be fitted for propane or natural gas depending on what’s available in your community. Propane tanks can be located virtually anywhere they fit in your design and yard. Natural gas will require you to tie into the homes supply lines. This makes the difference in how much it will cost to supply you gas fireplace location. Often when integrated into an outdoor kitchen or grilling area, gas is already there to easily hook up. Without and existing supply, costs can rise as piping of natural gas requires long expensive runs of buried lines.
Whats the DIFFERENCE?
Propane and natural gas are both fossil fuels, and both produced domestically. For homeowners, the main difference between the two is that propane is compressed into a liquid form and sold in portable canisters, or delivered via truck to a permanent storage tank on their property. Natural gas, however, remains in its gaseous state and delivered to the home via a pipeline.
Another comparison between the two fuels is the BTU output. The BTU is a measure of heating efficiency – in the case of propane vs. natural gas, propane has more than double the BTU rating (1030 to 2490). This means that, even if you are paying more for propane on a per-unit basis, the fuel you’re buying will burn cleaner and heat your home with greater efficiency.
When locating the gas fireplace you should always keep in mind the hook up location. The further you must go from the fuel source the more costly the installation. It may require you to trench all the way to the main gas meter line or a closer line junction. Gas lines due to their potential volatility if damaged, are buried deep in the ground. You will need to confirm the local building codes and your with your gas installer to insure the lines are installed correctly.
This is part of the reason for the popularity for many of the new propane units appearing on the market these days. Just look at any home improvement retailer’s flyer on a summer weekend. You will see anything from tabletop designs to units incorporating cold storage, dining tables and various combinations. One thing to consider if you do choose one of these options is to use a designated tank to supply the fuel so that you do away with the hassle of frequent tank change outs.
Sitting in the dark around an outdoor fireplace is no longer the only option, as exterior illumination now helps enhance the overall nighttime experience. An additional benefit of the exterior lighting is to better integrate the fireplace structure with the home and landscaping all year long. You can easily create an enhanced outdoor environment with the developments in solar lighting products. No need for underground wiring for these products. Have a look at our outdoor lighting article here.
At this time of year its understandable why the gas fire pits and fireplaces are so popular. It’s a means to create an inviting outdoors space that lasts beyond the daylight hours. People are looking for more fully functional outdoor living spaces that allow for almost year round use. The fireplace typically serves as the center of attention in these settings