Patio Heater vs. Fire Pit: Which One Should You Choose?

Patio Heater vs Fire Pit

Cold temperatures can interfere with your peaceful lounging in your backyard and force you back into your house. Although you may want to stay outside, keeping warm there will undoubtedly be a problem, and burying yourself under several layers of blankets and sweaters is quite uncomfortable. That is when you should consider purchasing an outdoor heating system.

We settled on two heating systems: a patio heater and a fire pit. But, which one is better?

If you are looking for a heating system that generates more energy and instantly produces heat, then a fire pit is ideal. However, if you are just looking to get enough heat to raise your room temperature by a slight degree, go for a patio heater.


What Is a Fire Pit?

A fire pit may be a hole dug in the ground or precast bowls designed to contain the fire in one place and keep it from spreading. There exist stone, metal, and concrete fire pits. Materials that make precast fire pits are cast iron, steel, or copper, and come in various designs and sizes.

It is essential to have a hole when making a fire pit, whether on the ground, hollowed on a wall in the middle of your metallic table, or hang at a safe place. To light your fire pit, you will need fuels such as natural gas, liquid propane, ethanol, or wood. Fire pits are manually lit and controlled. Modern fire pits, though, have a new feature called switches, thanks to which you can control the fire simply by flipping the switch.

You should be cautious when operating a fire pit. For instance, make sure you completely douse the fire when not in use. Also, your pets and children should be kept at a safe distance from the fire. Finally, make sure to keep a fire extinguisher close by.

Pros of a Fire Pit:

  • There is a wide variety of designs to choose from, and they are easily customizable. Fire pits may either be holes in the ground or beautifully decorated bowls.
  • Fire pits ensure you get the ultimate camping and barbequing experience. You can roast your marshmallows and other goodies with this feature.
  • Fire pits provide heat and light at low prices.
  • The beautiful glow of the fire is an easy way to improve the aesthetics of your patio. A fire pit may even serve as decoration during your outdoor parties.
  • Fuels like wood and coal are pretty cheap, making them an inexpensive way of staying warm and cozy.
  • Fire pits have long lifespans. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about rebuilding your fire pit for a very long time.

Cons of a Fire Pit:

  • A fire pit has a limited heat range. Besides, built-in fire pits are not portable and will require you to be close to them to feel the heat.
  • As with any case involving fire, fire pits are hazardous and require a lot of caution, especially if children and pets are around. The sparks and embers may cause fires if flammable materials are within close range. When lighting the fire, make sure it is at a safe distance from the house.
  • Maintaining the aesthetics and operations of fire pits is quite hectic as they require constant cleaning. To make sure they don’t rust, you should constantly treat fire pits made from metal.
  • Fire attracts bugs, which may cause you discomfort, especially at night.
  • You need fuel to keep the fire burning, and may run out of it in little to no time, making it a quite inconvenient heating system.
  • Fire pits, especially those using wood and coal as fuel, are pretty messy. After throwing in coal or wood, you will have to clean the ashes left behind.
  • Some fire pits are not easily controlled and may overheat the place. Wood fuel also produces smoke, which may make you quite uncomfortable.
  • Fire pits cannot withstand all weather conditions. For instance, strong winds and rain will extinguish the fire. Thus, you have to keep them covered or constantly relight them.
  • Burning fuel creates carbon oxide emission, which pollutes the air around you.


Looking for ways to improve your patio’s design and functionality? One of the most common ways of doing this is adding a fire pit to your outdoor space. But, is it safe to install a fire pit in this area of your home? Can you install a fire pit on a patio? Read our article to find out. 


What Is a Patio Heater?

A patio heater is a heating appliance used to generate heat by burning fuel and emitting radiation. Patio heaters have different supports depending on the fuel you use. They may be floor-standing, wall-mounted, or table-top heaters.

This equipment also requires fuels, like propane or electricity. Patio heaters have burners that burn fuel and direct the flames toward perforated metal plates. The plates radiate the heat in a circular pattern around the appliance. A silver burner reflects convectional heat losses at the top of the device. The silver plates also reduce heat loses by conduction.

Pros of a Patio Heater:

  • They have safety features to ensure you, your children, and your pets are safe, including anti-tilt and automatic shut-off. Besides, they don’t have flying sparks and embers.
  • They are portable and quite easy to move, thus allowing you room to move around.
  • Patio heaters have a pretty extensive heating range with a 3-meter radius, at least.
  • They have temperature control and cannot overheat. However, you should be cautious and keep combustible materials kept at a safe distance from appliances.
  • They are waterproof, and thus, can withstand rain, thus ensuring you are warm throughout the winter.
  • They do not take long to heat up and start warming your space.
  • They come in various sizes and are suitable for both small and large spaces.
  • Patio heaters are modern and stylish, and create a lovely ambiance on your patio.
  •  You can mount patio heaters on walls. Therefore, there are reducing obstructions on the ground.
  • You can switch on patio heaters at any time of the day and regulate temperatures to make sure you are comfortable.
  • Once installed, patio heaters require little maintenance.
  • Portable patio heaters are easy to move around and do not pose any risks while doing so.
  • Patio heaters warm up your space without leaving any mess behind.

Cons of a Patio Heater:

  • Gas heaters consume high quantities of gas for the relative heat output, making them inefficient.
  • The fuel used, like propane, is pretty expensive, making patio heathers uneconomical.
  • They are not easy to customize and provide limited design options. The standard shapes of patio heaters are mushroom-like, pyramid-like, or pillar-like. You only get to choose their colors.
  • The cords attached to electric patio heaters may cause accidents.
  • Some heaters, especially gas heaters, cause pollution by leaving a carbon footprint.
  • They require professional installation, making it a costly investment.
  • Though not their primary use, patio heaters do not provide sufficient light.


What Are the Differences Between a Patio Heater and a Fire Pit?

Fire pits Patio heaters
They must have holes or vessels to hold fire They have no open containers to hold fire
Fires from fire pits are open, produce embers and sparks, and are not necessarily covered They do not create neither embers nor sparks. The heating element is in an enclosed space
They are versatile and help in heating, cooking, and lighting They are only helpful for heating
They come in almost all possible shapes The standard shapes for patio heaters are mushroom, pillar, or pyramid shapes
They have minor security features They have switches and remote controls to ensure safety at all times
Some fire pits using electricity only use it for ignition Electric patio heaters use electricity to provide heat
They heat through convection and radiation They heat through radiation


Is your fire pit not generating enough heat? This will be a problem, especially during the colder months. If you want your fire to burn stronger and generate more heat, check out our 5 ways to get more heat from your fire pit


Should You Choose a Patio Heater or a Fire Pit?

Now that you know what patio heaters and fire pits are, how do you choose between both? Consider the following points.


Burning propane in a fire pit is more economical than using this fuel in a patio heater. Indeed, the heat output of a fire pit compared to that of a patio heater is more significant for the same amount of propane. However, if you have a reliable and efficient source of electricity, go for the patio heater instead.


If you are in a rural setting, natural gas is a cheap and readily available option for you, which prompts you to turn to a patio heater. Also, consider what permission you need from local authorities.


If you plan on investing in a quality outdoor heating system that doesn’t strain your pocket, I would suggest getting a fire pit. On the other hand, if you want a lavish one and are willing to spend money on it, go for a patio heater.

Environmental Impact

If you are looking to preserve the environment and avoid leaving a significant carbon footprint, you ought to purchase an electric patio heater. Trees are vital, so cutting them down to make wood for your fire pit is not ideal. You may need to use gas or electricity instead.

Available Space

If you decide to incorporate a fire pit in your backyard, ensure you place it a safe distance from the house. For that, you will need a pretty large backyard. However, if you do not have much space in your backyard, you should buy a patio heater.


The Bottom Line

Spending time outdoors in your own backyard is typically a simple and easy thing to do. But once the seasons change the temperature starts to drop, spending time in your patio and backyard will be more challenging. If you still want to enjoy your outdoor spaces even when the weather is cold and freezing, you need to invest in a good outdoor heating system, the most common of which are fire pits and patio heaters. 

Investing in a quality patio heating system is a good decision. Although, make sure to buy a heater that meets your budget, heating, and safety needs. Fire pits and patio heaters will allow you to extend your stay outside, even on chilly summer evenings. They are also an excellent addition to have in the winter if you want to keep enjoying the outdoors even when the temperature is below zero.

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