Whether it brings back fond memories of summer-camp evenings or clambakes on the beach, there’s just something special about gathering around a crackling fire. Building a fire in your backyard with logs isn’t for everyone—and some communities don’t allow it—but you can create the same relaxation and camaraderie around a backyard gas fire pit.
Today’s gas fire pits come in a variety of sizes and designs to complement all styles of backyard décor, and gas burns cleaner (and safer) than wood. When looking to create the mood and ambiance found around a campfire, check out our top picks for fire pits—one is sure to be the best gas fire pit for your backyard.
- BEST OVERALL: Endless Summer 30″ Outdoor Propane Gas Fire Pit
- RUNNER UP: Outland Living Series 403 Fire Table
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Giantex Gas Fire Pit
- BEST PORTABLE: Outland Firebowl Premium Outdoor Gas Fire Pit
Before You Buy a Gas Fire Pit
Gas fire pits have some distinct advantages over wood fire pits. Gas, whether propane or natural gas, burns cleaner than wood, and it doesn’t produce choking clouds of smoke—so you might enjoy it more. With automatic ignition systems, gas fire pits are also easier to light, but they still might not be the right choice for everyone.
Most gas fire pits are powered by 20-pound propane tanks that users must refill every time the gas runs out. Alternatively, a gas fire pit can be attached directly to a whole-house propane tank or connected to a home’s natural gas line, both of which a licensed plumber must do because the fittings must be sealed and tested for leaks.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Gas Fire Pit
Gas fire pits come in various sizes and designs, and some produce more heat than others, so the plans you have for enjoying your new gas fire pit will factor into the model you choose.
Size and Shape
A gas fire pit’s dimensions run the gamut from a tabletop model that measures just a few inches high and wide to a 3-foot-diameter, ground-level fire pit with a perimeter made of natural stones, cinder bricks, or cast concrete. Some gas fire pits come with sleek exteriors that will complement your patio décor, while others might feature a kit designed to convert an existing wood-burning fire pit to gas.
Gas fire pits can be round, which is traditional for ground-level pits; oblong or square; or built into the top of a column or table. So many designs are available that one is sure to complement your backyard’s décor.
Gas fire pits are rated for heat output in Btu (British thermal units), and the higher the Btus the more heat the fire pit will produce. You can find fire pits with Btu outputs that range from around 15,000 to 100,000 Btus, depending on size, but most average 30,000 to 60,000 Btus.
Choosing a fire pit solely on heat output can be a bit deceptive because how close you sit to the fire pit, in addition to the outside temperature and whether there’s a draft, will change the amount of heat you feel emanating from the pit. For the best results, locate your gas fire pit in a spot where it will be protected from strong wind.
The three basic ways to light a gas fire pit are manually (or “match light”), spark ignition, or electronic ignition, and each way has its benefits. The type you choose may be regulated by local fire codes, so call your local fire department if you have any questions.
- Manual ignition: Just as it sounds, a manually lit gas fire pit requires a lighter or a match to ignite the gas every time you want to light the fire. Although this might take a bit more effort, it’s one of the most reliable methods because there’s very little to go wrong—just turn on the gas and light the fire.
- Spark ignition: A spark ignition option features a push-button igniter that provides just enough spark to ignite the gas. This is similar to the way outdoor gas grills are lit.
- Electronic ignition: As this is the most advanced of all ignition systems, all you need do is flip a switch (it might be located in your home) or even push a button on a remote, and an electronic ignition system will light the fire pit.
Propane comes in small 1-gallon tanks, which are typically used to power tabletop fire pits or portable fire pits that can go along to tailgating events and camping, but typically it is more convenient to connect a gas fire pit to a 25-pound propane tank to keep from having to change the tank so often.
If you aren’t thrilled about the look of a propane tank or the cord that snakes along the ground or patio to connect the fire pit to the tank, you can have the fire pit professionally connected to a whole-house propane tank (200- to 500-gallon capacity) or to your home’s natural-gas line. Both connections must be made by a licensed plumber.
Gas fire pits present a couple of dangers, including risk of burns from someone touching a hot portion of the pit or an explosion from leaking gas. This is always a risk with small children nearby, and the safest fire pit will feature an outer casing that remains cool to the touch.
The other hazard with a gas fire pit is the possibility of gas leaking out. Some pits come with a safety shutoff that turns off the gas supply if the fire goes out.
Our Top Picks
To qualify as a top pick, a gas fire pit should be well designed, easy to operate, and, above all, safe to be around. The following models were chosen for a variety of heating and design needs, and one is sure to be a good addition to your backyard.
For an attractive fire pit that produces enough warmth to keep everyone toasty even after the sun dips below the horizon, check out this Endless Summer gas fire pit. It produces a hardy 50,000 BTUs of heat and runs on a 20-pound propane tank, which tucks neatly out of sight in the sleek steel cabinet beneath the fire bowl.
Flames dance among 12 pounds of fire glass (included) that fill the fire bowl and produce a shimmering flame effect. The Endless Summer fire pit also comes with an automatic igniter for quick fire-ups that is equipped with a safety valve and a steel insert to cover the fire bowl when not in use. The unit weighs 80 pounds, measures 30 inches by 30 inches square, and stands 25.14 inches high.
Measuring a full 44 inches long, the Outland Living fire pit table does double duty. As a full-size coffee table, it can hold drinks and plates, while its oblong center fire pit sets a relaxing mood with dancing flames that flicker throughout 15.5 pounds of fire glass (included).
The Outland Living fire pit produces up to 50,000 BTUs of heat and is constructed from high-quality aluminum that’s covered on the sides by durable polyethylene wicker. The cabinet beneath the fire bowl conceals one or two 20-pound propane tanks, so you can always have a spare tank ready to go if the other runs out.
The fire pit weighs 96 pounds, measures 32 inches in width, and tops out at 24 inches high. This model comes with a push-button igniter, and a tempered-glass insert is available (sold separately) for covering the fire bowl when not in use.
You can enjoy the flickering flames of your own backyard fire pit and still stay within your budget with the Giantex. It features a natural stonework design that adds campfire appeal while producing 40,000 BTUs of radiant warmth and reflective flames.
The fire pit comes with lava rocks to create natural-looking flames, a stainless-steel fire bowl, and a 10-foot connection hose and tank seat so you can tuck a propane tank out of sight. It also includes a cover for when not in use.
The round fire pit measures 28 inches in diameter, stands 9.5 inches high, and weighs 52 pounds. The fire pit stones are made from flame-retardant magnesium oxide to give them a realistic look, and the electric igniter helps ensure easy startup.
This smaller unit is great for people with small yards and patios, emitting an impressive 58,000 BTUs of heat. It measures 19 inches in diameter, and stands just 11 inches high, so storage in a garage, utility room, or closet is simple.
This option comes with 4.4 pounds of lava rocks and features high-quality steel construction in addition to a push-button igniter. A 10-foot connector hose allows you to position a 20-pound propane tank out of sight. The Outland Living fire pit also comes with a steel cover and carrying kit for easy transport.
Safety Tips for Using a Gas Fire Pit
Any time you have a live flame, a measure of danger exists. Still, by following all of the manufacturer’s safety instructions and checking with your local fire authority before installing a gas fire pit, you can reduce the risks.
- Follow all the manufacturer’s safety instructions.
- Keep children away from a fire pit while it’s burning and immediately afterward, until it cools down.
- Keep a water hose or a portable fire extinguisher handy in case someone places something flammable too near the fire pit and it catches on fire.
The Advantages of Owning a Gas Fire Pit
A fire pit offers warmth and ambience, and having one might make your backyard the go-to spot in the neighborhood. While wood fires are rustic and soothing, gas fire pits offer some advantages.
- Gas fire pits do not emit the sparks that are common with wood-burning fire pits.
- Gas burns clean, so you can enjoy the warmth of a fire without trying to dodge the smoke.
- Gas fire pits light quickly and easily—no need to gather kindling or nurse a tiny flame until a fire starts. Just push a button for instant fire.
FAQs About Your New Gas Fire Pit
If this is your first time shopping for a gas fire pit, you probably have some questions.
Q. Do gas fire pits keep you warm?
All fire produces some warmth. Smaller gas fire pits (starting at around 15,000 Btus) will have beautiful flames but not an appreciable amount of heat. If your main goal is to produce heat, go with a model with at least 35,000 Btus or more.
Q. Can you cook hot dogs over a gas fire pit?
Cook hot dogs and toast marshmallows, but be careful not to let them drop into the fire pit, or there will be a mess to clean later. Use a long stick or skewer so you can stay safely away from the flames while your dogs are roasting.
Q. Can a gas fire pit get rained on?
A little rain shouldn’t hurt a gas fire pit, but it can lead to moisture buildup on the inside, which can interfere with the fire igniting. If a gas fire pit is left out in the elements on a continuous basis, its metal fittings might rust and corrode. Some pits come with covers, but if yours doesn’t, consider purchasing a cover that will prevent rain, dirt, and debris from getting in the pit.
Q. Can gas fire pits run continuously?
Do not allow the fire pit to burn unless an adult is present. A gas fire pit will continue to burn until the gas runs out—when using a standard, 20-pound propane tank, that’s typically about four to six hours.
Q. How long does a gas fire pit last?
If you keep it covered when not in use, your gas fire pit should last at least a few years.