Reviews

Does Your Fire Pit Need a Battery-Powered Fan? We Tested a BioLite FirePit+ to Find Out!

Whether or not this fan is a true convenience depends on your point of view. Here’s mine.
Mark Wolfe Avatar
BioLite FirePit Plus Review
Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila

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Relaxing by the campfire is a great way to unwind, until smoke drifts your way. It is possible to build a less smoky fire by avoiding green wood and only burning seasoned firewood, but eliminating smoke altogether is nearly impossible. That’s why smokeless fire pits were invented. These portable outdoor appliances nearly eliminate visible smoke from wood fires, and they contain the fire much more safely than old-fashioned fire rings. Some of the most popular smokeless fire pits feature barrel-shaped burn chambers with dual walls, but I recently tested something totally different in the BioLite FirePit+.

BioLite is a New York-based company that engineers and manufactures off-grid energy products like charging equipment, stoves, and lighting for outdoors enthusiasts and those living in energy poverty. Some of its unique product introductions include biomass-fueled camp stoves that can also charge mobile devices as well as solar generators and USB lanterns. I tested the FirePit+ smokeless fire pit to find out how it might fit in among the others I’ve reviewed. Read on to find out how it performed and whether this compact, portable model might be right for you.

BioLite FirePit+: At a Glance

View of Orange BioLite FirePit Plus from the side
Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila

Rating: 7.9/10

PROS

  • Lightweight, compact fire pit is easy to transport for tailgating, picnics, or camping
  • Compatible with both firewood and charcoal for grilling or campfires
  • Mesh sides enhance visibility and allow warmth to radiate outward
  • Unique rechargeable ventilation system accelerates fire starting and reduces smoke

CONS

  • Some users may find the sound of the fan less appealing
  • Burns through firewood faster with the fan operating
  • The fan reduces and redirects smoke, but the fire is not entirely smokeless

Get the BioLite FirePit+ at:

What is the BioLite FirePit+?

The BioLite FirePit+ is a compact, portable fire-pit-and-grill combo that can burn either firewood or charcoal. It weighs just under 20 pounds and comes equipped with foldable legs, a rechargeable airflow pack, grill top, fire poker, and soft-sided carry case. At 27 inches long by 13 inches wide by 15.8 inches high, it is ideally sized for one to four people to sit around and enjoy a smokeless campfire or grilling experience.

Several standout features set this fire pit apart from other popular smokeless models. Instead of a dual-wall burn chamber, the FirePit+ incorporates mesh sides that allow excellent flame visibility and let the fire’s warmth radiate outward. It features a unique fire ventilation system, which includes a small fan powered by a rechargeable battery—the airflow pack—and four vent tubes built into the bottom and sides of the fire pit. More than 50 air jets oxygenate the fire, reducing and redirecting the smoke.

The four-speed vent fan can be controlled with the buttons on the side or via the BioLite Energy mobile app. At lower speeds, it helps to get the fire going and ensures a steady air supply to the mature fire. The higher speeds help eliminate smoke when conditions are extra difficult, like when the air is humid and heavy or if the wood is slightly damp. In a pinch, users can charge a mobile device by connecting to the power pack’s USB port.

Product Specs

  • Material: High-temperature enamel-coated steel
  • Fuel: Firewood or charcoal
  • Dimensions: 27 inches long by 13 inches wide by 15.8 inches high
  • Weight: 19.8 pounds
  • Maximum log length: 16 inches
  • Features: USB rechargeable airflow pack; 12,800mAh battery; 51 air jet ports; folding legs; grill grate; mesh siding; Bluetooth connectivity; and mobile app option to control fan
BioLite FirePit Plus Review
Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila

Is the BioLite FirePit+ easy to assemble?

The BioLite FirePit+ ships mostly assembled, with the exception of attaching the handles. The remaining parts are removable for transport and maintenance. I had it up and running in about 10 minutes, after the 2 hours required to charge the battery pack. The only necessary tool was a Phillips screwdriver.

To assemble the fire pit, I secured the handles to the burn chamber with the four screws, washers, and star washers included with the kit. Then I folded out the four legs before attaching the rechargeable airflow pack. Finally, I inserted the fire grate. The fire grate has two placement options: a low setting for firewood or a high setting for charcoal. For grilling, slide in the grill grate (optional).

Is the BioLite FirePit+ a good choice for bonfires and grilling?

The FirePit+ worked out well for small fires and grilling, but please note that it is not intended for use on sensitive surfaces like wooden decks or lawns. Concrete, stone, sand, or bare soil are the best surfaces to set it on. The airflow chamber helped accelerate fire starting; it also helped minimize smoke when used as directed. Therein lies a critical detail.

BioLite offers three key tips for best results: Charge the airflow pack before use, build the fire gradually, and let the air jets do their job. I initially tested the fire pit under ideal conditions while strictly adhering to these recommendations and enjoyed a pleasant smoke-free fire. But when I turned off the fan or fed the fire too quickly, smoke soon followed.

It’s also important to use dry, seasoned firewood. In my experience, firewood that was somewhat damp, had too much bark or moss, or had started to decay produced smoke, even with the fan. The fire also smoked when the burn chamber was overstuffed, fed too quickly, or if logs were sticking out above the rim.

The small size of the burn chamber limited the amount of fuel that may be burned to a practical maximum of three firewood logs (about 4 inches in diameter and 16 inches long) at a time. This in turn limited the potential size of the fire. With a little air space between the logs and airflow on the low setting, the fire was pleasant.

The 10-inch by 24-inch grilling surface made this unit more intriguing. It was just the right size for grilling skewers or a few burgers. After grilling, I could slide back the grill, lower the fuel grate to the firewood position, and use the charcoal embers to start a bonfire. In this scenario, the fire pit proved to be a convenient space saver, whether for home use or for outings.

Is the BioLite FirePit+ worth the money? 

I compared the BioLite FirePit+ to other smokeless fire pits in order to sort out its market niche, and to see if the price was right. It is definitely on the smaller end in terms of size, but it offers unique functionality in that it’s easily portable, grills well, works with charcoal or firewood, and is capable of recharging mobile devices.

When looking strictly at smokeless fire pits, the popular Solo Stove Bonfire offers a bigger fire that’s more consistently smokeless and a larger capacity for about the same price, and it doesn’t need a battery. On the other hand, that Bonfire model takes up more space in storage and transport and visually encloses the flame. But FirePit+ is not strictly a smokeless fire pit, and those who value its multiple applications will find the price is about right for the value.

BioLite FirePit Plus Review
Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila

Is the BioLite FirePit+ right for you?

In my experience, the BioLite FirePit+ was easy to set up, easy to transport, burned mostly smokeless, and offered unique features not found elsewhere. The added airflow reduced smoke and accelerated the fire-building process. I especially liked that the carry handles remained relatively cool to the touch, even while the fire was actively burning. Plus, it offered a smooth transition from grilling to campfire mode. The small capacity is a limiting factor, and fan noise on the highest settings tends to become a distraction, but those issues may not be problematic for everyone in all situations.

Shoppers will likely be ideologically split by a fire pit that requires a battery and fan for full functionality. Those in one camp will scratch their heads at the overcomplication of an entirely natural act. After all, relaxing under the stars beside a crackling fire is one of the most ancient of human activities, and we don’t need to add higher technology to the equation. These shoppers are not the target market for the BioLite FirePit+.

The other camp will recognize that we drink bottled water and breathe filtered air. Thoughtful design and engineering infuse comfort and convenience throughout our lives, and upgrading the campfire experience makes sense, too. These are the shoppers who will appreciate a portable smokeless fire pit that doubles as a grill and can charge a smartphone.

Where to Buy the BioLite FirePit+

Get the BioLite FirePit+ at:

Meet the Tester

Mark Wolfe is a writer and product tester with an extensive background in the nursery and landscaping industry. For more than 20 years, he mowed, edged, planted, pruned, cultivated, irrigated, and renovated beautiful landscapes. Now he tests and writes reviews about the latest outdoor power equipment, hand tools, lawn-care products, and other outdoor living goods.

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Mark Wolfe

Staff Writer

Mark Wolfe is a second-career freelance writer based in Georgia and has an extensive background in the horticulture industry. Since 2020, he has contributed numerous gardening and home improvement articles to BobVila.com, along with a variety of consumer product reviews.

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