Before you build or buy an outdoor fireplace it may pay to learn about the differences between the different types and styles. If you know how to buy the right one for your needs it can be something you can enjoy for many years.
There are different styles of outdoor fireplace and a lot of difference between the experience you will get from each. The the basic kinds are open pit and enclosed or partly enclosed fireplaces.
An open pit fireplace is simply a surface that you build a fire on and it burns in the open air similar to a traditional campfire. This can be as simple as a spot on the ground with a ring of rocks around it or a structure that will hold it off the ground. Most open pit fireplaces are made of metal and they are simple a shallow container with low sides or maybe a shallow bowl shape. They are usually held above the ground by a metal frame which allows them to be used on a concrete patio without damaging the patio.
The advantages of an open pit are they are simple, can be inexpensive, easy to move and they give you an open fire experience which is what many if not most people think of when it comes to outdoor fires. With an open pit fireplace it’s like a campfire in your backyard where people can sit or stand all around with 360 degree access to the fire.
There are disadvantages to an open pit. Open pit fires can tend to smoulder and produce a lot of smoke. The smoke is easily pushed around by the lightest breeze and can blow into peoples faces. If you have ever sat around a campfire you probably know what that is like.
The other kinds of outdoor fireplaces are the enclosed or partly enclosed fireplaces and chimineas. An advantage of these designs are better air flow and smoke venting. Most will have an actual smoke stack that vents the smoke above head level where it is less likely to bother people. This and other features create an air draft that causes a cleaner and more efficient burn. They can also be safer since the fire is enclosed.
The disadvantages of enclosed fireplaces is increased cost, increased weight and they can be awkward to move. You also lose some of the open fire atmosphere.
A big factor to consider in an outdoor fireplace is the materials they are made of. Clay and thin metal aren’t going to last as long as thick metals. Cast iron and cast alluminum can last a long time if the metal is thick. Copper will cost more but it can last a lifetime.
There are many styles of outdoor fireplaces and they all have advantages and disadvantages. The one you pick should depend on our own tastes and needs.
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